Burton Albion boucned back from their disappointing defeat at Northampton Town by sweeping Hartlepool United aside at the Pirelli Stadium in an entertaining 3-0 win. It was something of a landmark day as the Brewers fired in three goals at home for the first time this season and after Billy Kee had swept home the first midway through the first half Jimmy Phillips curled home just his second league goal of the campaign before Lee Bell lashed in his first of the season from a free kick just under 25 yards out.
Dean Lyness, as expected, replaced the injured Rob Lainton in goal. Lee Bell returned in the centre of midfield as Matty Palmer was rested to the bench. Alex MacDonald returned to the side on the right hand side of midfield as Jimmy Phillips switched to the left and Gary Alexander also slotted back in to the attack with Adam McGurk suffering with a groin problem.
Burton were quickly out of the blocks with Phillips putting an early chance wide after good work from Edwards. The ever reliable full back then had to do some excellent defending as a free kick came into the danger area and as it looked to be dropping for a Hartlepool player to drill home Edwards was there to complete a vital clearance.
Hartlepool were forced into an early change when their talented forward Luke James hobbled off after failing to shake off an earlier knock and that offered an opportunity for the experienced Marlon Harewood to return to the side after a spell out with injury.
The former Forest striker squandered a glorious opportunity to stamp his authority on the game when he missed a one on one with Lyness on 21 minutes. Lee Bell was robbed of possession in the Hartlepool half by Andy Monkhouse and he was able to burst into the Burton half before playing a defence splitting pass for the Pools substitute who took an age to decide what he was going to do before allowing Lyness to make an excellent block.
Phillips tested Rafferty with a low drive that the keeper had to save at the second attempt and MacDonald also tried his luck from distance with the ball going narrowly wide.
After a few probing efforts Albion had the lead on 27 minutes. A long ball from his own half by Ian Sharps dropped just over the head of Alexander and fell beautifully for Billy KEE to sweep the ball under the body of Rafferty from six yards.
Kee was handed a chance to double his tally for the afternoon when Robbie Weir was bundled over just outside the box by Bradley Walker but he was just unable to get it up and over the wall and back under the crossbar.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Hartlepool United
Hartlepool were given the chance to exert some early pressure on the Burton defence when Phillips carelessly brought Duckworth down just outside the area and although the original free kick was cleared for a corner by Robbie Weir the resulting delivery was glanced wide by Sam Collins.
The response from Burton was to go within a whisker of doubling their advantage from their own corner. McFadzean delivered in a wickedly curling cross that had plenty of pace on it and just needed the faintest of touches in the middle but it evaded everyone, Alexander getting the nearest before dropping just the wrong side of the post.
Again Albion did not have long to wait for a goal to come their way after a close miss and they had the comfort of a second goal on 57 minutes. Kee did well to hold the ball up inside the box and when the ball didnt quite run for Weir he laid the ball ball into the path of PHILLIPS who, from just outside the box, curled a superb shot past Rafferty who had no chance to stop it.
A slip at the back from McFadzean almost allowed Harewood in for a chance but he was forced to cross in low and Shane Cansdell-Sherriff on the cover was able to make sure that Lyness was able to clear things up.
Kee was close to a third for the Brewers on 65 minutes when he turned superbly inside the box but this time couldnt get the connection he wanted sending the ball wide and the striker quickly sent a volleyed effort straight at a relieved Rafferty.
A quick double change for Albion came with ten minutes to go. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff limped off with what appeared to be a calf injury giving the opportunity for Marcus Holness to see out the clean sheet and Robbie Weir took a well earned rest with Matty Palmer replacing him.
Gary Alexander earned his side a free kick twenty two yards out and up stepped skipper Lee BELL to rifle home an unstoppable effort for his first goal of the season.
A late shot from Pools substitute Jack Barmby almost threatened to ruin Albion's clean sheet but Lyness was able to hang on to the ball under his crossbar to complete a comprehensive win for Rowett's promotion chasers.