An unfortunate own goal from skipper Ian Sharps denied Burton Albion what would have been a hard earned away point on an afternoon of drab action at the Lamex Stadium against Stevenage. After the thrills and spills of Carlisle in the week this was the polar opposite with neither goalkeeper seriously tested and defences most definitely in control. What looked to be a decent point on the road was snatched away from the Brewers when Charlie Adams' rather hopeful cross striking Sharps on its way into the box and beating a wrong footed Jon McLaughlin at the near post.
With options restricted due to injury and suspensions Gary Rowett pretty much had to go with what he had available for the trip to the Lamex Stadium. Damien McCrory started at left back after coming on as a very early substitute at Carlisle in place of George Taft. With Alex MacDonald serving a one match ban for five yellow cards there was a return to the side for Adam McGurk on the left hand side of midfield and Dominic Knowles took the place of Stuart Beavon in attack as the striker also served his suspension for two yellow cards in the game at Brunton Park.
A fast and furious start saw early chances as both ends. Jacob Blyth used his strength well to win an aerial tussle on the right hand side of the area but from an acute angle could only find the side netting and as play quickly switched to the opposite end Arsenal loanee Jack Jebb delivered a low ball into the six yard box but Ian Sharps was in the right place at the right time to clear before Chris Whelpdale could pounce on the loose ball.
Former Stevenage man Lucas Akins put a tame shot safely into the arms of Chris Day and then put a decent chance over the bar when Blyth found him with a good cross to the back post following sterling work from Lee Bell in midfield to send the Leicester loanee away down the left.
There was plenty of concern amongst the Albion rannks on 13 minutes when Lee Bell felt the full force of a challenge from Dean Parrett inside the centre circle that left the Brewers club captain in some discomfort. Whilst Parrett picked up a yellow card for the tackle Bell was able to continue after gingerly picking himself up.
Parrett did not last much longer. After incurring the wrath of manager Graham Westley for pulling out of a couple of challenges in midfield the midfielder was hauled off to be replaced by Tom Pett.
Pett suddenly sparked the home side into life. A lovely crossfield ball from Jebb picked out the substitute on the right and his cross, whilst not picking out a team mate seemed to deceive Jon McLaughlin and came back into play off the face of the crossbar.
It was the only real chance that the home side in the first half, a period of play that was, overall, somewhat tame and when the half time whistle went Stevenage were deep into Albion territory but referee Andy Woolmer brought proceedings to a close with hopes for a more entertaining second period.
Half time: Stevenage 0-0 Burton Albion
The home side enjoyed a bright start to the second period with Sharps charging down a shot from Charlie Adams but it was Akins who had a good chance to break the deadlock for Albion moments later as Blyth in the centre found the Albion winger in space on the right. Advancing to the edge of the area Akins let fly but keeper Chris Day had got his angles right to beat the ball away from danger.
Albion suddenly looked a lot brighter and Bell was close to emulating his midweek thunderbolt with another shot from outside the box that was only blocked by the head of Dean Wells as it headed towards goal. From the resulting corner McGurk swung the ball in to the near post where Phil Edwards flung himself at it to head onto the roof of the net.
After that the game resorted to the stalemate of the first period until Albion tried to liven things up with a substitution on 70 minutes. Dominic Knowles who had worked hard all afternoon with little reward was replaced by Marcus Harness to enable McGurk to push further into the attack, Harness dropping in on the right with Akins switching to the left.
Stevenage also made a change with striker Chris Beardsley replacing Jebb in an attempt to inject some attacking threat.
Harness instantly got involved and delivered a teasing cross that was hastily headed clear at the near post. His second cross almost fell invitingly for Akins at the far post but the head of Whelpdale took the ball out of his path and away for just a throw in.
The game looked to be heading for a boring goalless draw until the 84th minute. Stevenage began to look purposeful in an around the edge of the box and when the ball was worked out to Adams on the left he swung in a cross that took a hefty deflection off SHARPS to loop past a wrong footed McLaughlin. It was harsh on the Brewers to say the least.
Albion's response was to make a double change with youngster Sam Austin handed his Brewers debut in place of Blyth and midweek loan signing Darragh Lenihan also introduced for Lee Bell.
Whelpdale went close to adding a second for Stevenage as space began to open up with Albion chasing an equaliser but on a day when quality chances were at a premium it was no surprise that the game ended up being settled by a scrappy own goal.