Burton Albion and York City ground out a hard fought draw at Bootham Crescent with two of the meanest defences in League 2 cancelling each other out in the battle for crucial Skybet League 2 points. Billy Kee went closest for Albion with a rasping shot that cannoned back off the crossbar whilst York's best effort was an early chance when Michael Coulson was denied by a block from Lee Bell.
Gary Rowett was forced to make one change to the side that overcame Wycombe Wanderers on Tuesday night at the Pirelli Stadium. With Robbie Weir struggling to shake off a hamstring strain there was an opportunity for Lee Bell to return to the midfield alongside Matty Palmer. The rest of the starting line-up remained unchanged but there was good news on the bench where Jimmy Phillips returned after initially fearing that his season was all but over due to an ankle injury. New loan signing Ashley Hemmings had to settle for starting his Burton career as a substitute with the manager hoping to be able to use his pace and trickery in the latter stages of the game.
York were skippered by former Brewers midfielder Russell Penn and he lined up in the centre of the park alongside Adam Reed who linked up with the Minstermen after his release from Albion back in January.
As the side in form York City unsurprisingly started off full of confidence and although they were foiled from an early corner they really ought to have taken the lead through Michael Coulson on eight minutes. A long ball forward had the striker one on one with Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and when the centre backs attempted pass back to keeper Rob Lainton fell short Coulson tried to make a better angle but saw his shot blocked by a retreating Lee Bell to keep the Brewers on level terms.
Burton had their first corner on 11 minutes and when the ball was laid in short it was Adam McGurk who made the dart to the near post to curl and scoop his shot over the crossbar.
Albion's goal also had something of a let-off when Matty Palmer also tried to steer the ball back and as Lainton came out to clear he lashed the ball against the back of Coulson with the ball spinning across the edge of the penalty area and away to safety.
Having weathered the early York storm Albion began to settle more and Phil Edwards was almost the unlikely source of the opening goal when he flicked a cross from David Gray just over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net as Albion continued to press after a corner.
Callum McFadzean stung the palms of keeper Nick Pope after wriggling free inside the penalty area but the keeper stretched up and held onto his rising shot.
Burton were enjoying the better of the play at this stage and Bell was close to a rare goal on 33 minutes when Ian Sharps laid the ball into his path after a short corner routine and the skipper's 30 yard piledriver was plucked out of the air by Pope as it arrowed towards the top corner.
Billy Kee twice went close to breaking the deadlock as Albion resisted a spell of York pressure, turning just inside the York half he spotted Pope off his line and went for an audacious shot that dropped wide of the post and a minute later he rattled the crossbar with an instinctive turn and volley from the edge of the area that had Pope grasping at thin air.
York threatened themselves when Palmer fouled Reed twenty five yards out and Coulson had Lainton at full stretch watching the ball drop just wide of the upright.
Lainton was glad to be in the right place at the right time moments later when a cross found its way through to Ryan Bowman and he was able to turn and fire in a low shot that the Albion keeper got right behind to stop.
Half time: York City 0-0 Burton Albion
York came out strongly at the start of the second period and only a near post clearance from Matty Palmer denied Ryan Brobbel from putting the ball into the danger area of Albion's six yard box.
However the first real opening came from a Burton corner as Palmer tried to negate the height of Pope with a lower corner that Sharps was able to flick goalwards at the near post but Pope was well placed to hold onto the ball.
David Gray was the first player to go in referee Darren Deadman's notebook on 56 minutes as he brought down Penn looking to drive towards the edge of the Burton box but Hayhurst's delivery from the free kick was poor and failed to threaten the Burton goal.
Just short of the mark Albion were inches from going in front. Kee did well to play in Palmer inside the box and although the keeper half stopped the low shot the ball continued to trickle towards the line only for Pope to get back and drop on it before it could cross the goal line.
Towering defender John McCombe headed across the face of goal from a Reed free kick before Callum McFadzean watched as an angled cross shot flew just wide of the far post with the aid of a deflection.
Albion made their first substitution on 73 minutes introducing Gary Alexander for Kee and he almost set up a goal with his first touch laying a neat pass into the path of McFadzean who in turn forced Pope to drop to his right to block a near post shot.
Alexander was then the victim of a clumsy and untidy challenge from Penn that earned the York skipper a yellow card and as that was being brandished Albion introduced Hemmings for his debut at the expense of McFadzean.
A final change for Albion saw McGurk take his bow to be replaced by Alex MacDonald and he almost instantly won a free kick just outside the box drawing a foul and a yellow card from McCombe but the free kick was ultimately smashed into the defensive wall.
Albion continued to press looking for a winner and as the game moved into added time MacDonald was only denied a clear run through on goal by an offside flag as he tried to latch onto a through ball from Alexander.