Adam McGurk’s second half header earned Burton Albion a solid 1-0 victory at home to Wycombe Wanderers to consolidate their hopes of promotion.
Manager Gary Rowett made four changes from the weekend defeat to Scunthorpe United, welcoming back Ian Sharps at the heart of defence, along with a debutant Callum McFadzean, McGurk and David Gray.
The first ten minutes were fairly uneventful as both sides fought to gain a foothold in the game. Josh Scowen sliced a shot from 20 yards out which dribbled wide in the sixth minute. This was followed by Burton's first good spell in the match as both McGurk and Kee missed chances to control the ball and get into a dangerous area.
The first real chance of the game came in the 13th minute as Wycombe winger Dean Morgan’s lively run which resulted in a drilled ball across the six yard box which, no Wycombe player could connect with.
The Burton fans got their first real glimpse of McFadzean in the 16th minute as he produced a lovely bit of skill which led to him being brought down on the edge of the area. Palmer’s free-kick was met in the box by Phil Edwards, but couldn't convert the header as Mike Ingram in the Wycombe goal dealt with it comfortably.
Wycombe immediately charged down the other end with Reece Styche, before he was hauled him down on the edge of the box by Robbie Weir. Nick Arnold's free kick was met by Aaron Pierre, with his header being deflected wide for a corner from which couldn't make the right contact with a header as the Brewers cleared their lines.
Burton came again in the 20th minute as Kee and McGurk, linked up well on the edge of the area, with Kee holding the ball up well to tee-up McGurk, but he could only fire over with a first time effort.
McGurk was quickly becoming the focal point for the Brewers’ attacks as he was bundled over in the box under a challenge, but the referee was having none of it. Gary Rowett looked animated on the bench as he urged his team to press higher up the pitch in search of the opener, and it very nearly paid off, as McGurk let lose a beautiful left footed curling effort from the edge of the area, only to see it crash off the post with Ingram well beaten.
Albion continued their pressure as two corners were swung in, both cleared well by the Wycombe defence. The Chairboys responded well, breaking with Arnold, then Marvin McCoy forcing a corner of their own which Pierre could only head wide of the mark once again.
Wycombe began to dominate as the first half drew to a close as Rob Lainton was forced into a smart save from Arnold. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was the first player to be booked as the Australian defender brought down Scowen.
Half-time came with the two teams even, although Burton had looked the livelier with Kee and McGurk linking up well.
The first action of the 2nd half came in the 49th minute, as, Pierre met another corner for Wycombe. But his header was off target. A long ball up field left Kee and Ingram in a fifty-fifty challenge on the edge of the box, and Ingram came off worse, needing treatment.
The deadlock was deservedly broken in the 54th minute by McGurk, who latched onto Kee’s nod across goal following Edwards’ cross. McGurk was left with a free header from six yards as the striker guided the ball towards the far corner and edged the Brewers ahead with his tenth goal of the season
Burton had Wycombe rattled, and nearly added a second as good link up play between McGurk and McFadzean resulted in a dangerous cross being hacked clear by Stewart. Weir then had a speculative effort which caused Ingram no problems, ending up high and wide. The first change of the night came on 59 minutes, as McFadzean was replaced by Alex MacDonald.
Wycombe applied pressure after the hour mark, with dangerous crosses being swung in by Wood and Styche, but no Wycombe player could find the final touch and Lainton was left relatively untroubled.
MacDonald was straight into the thick of it, having a couple of long range efforts in the 66th and 67 minutes, with the latter forcing Ingram to spill the shot onto the onrushing Gray, who could only fire wide.
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth brought on Steven Craig and John-Paul Pittman in an attempt to shake things up going forward for Wycombe, who were struggling to mount any serious attacks on Lainton’s goal.
Ian Sharps’ return was ended as Marcus Holness replaced him after 74 minutes as a precautionary measure.
The Brewers could have doubled their lead in the 77th minute as Kee once again held the ball up well following a long, searching ball forward, but couldn't find the final ball to McGurk. It was clear Burton were keen to add a second goal and kill the game off as Weir had an effort saved inside the box followed by a shot from Kee, which trundled wide.
Kee and McGurk had blocked shots in the 83rd minute in another spell of Burton pressure. The returning McGurk was withdrawn with seven minutes remaining as Gary Alexander replaced him.
Wycombe pushed for the late equaliser, with substitute, Jeffrey looking most likely to prise open Albion's defence. However, to no avail as every cross flung across the box either found clean air or a Burton head to clear away.
For the second home game in a row five minutes of additional time were signalled by the fourth official and after the events of the prevous game against AFC Wimbledon there were inevitably some nerves amongst those inside the Pirelli Stadium but the Brewers saw that out without any trouble to record a hard fought but well deserved home victory.