Shrewsbury Town edged out the Brewers in a tense and tightly fought encounter at Greenhous Meadow as Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro's late goal snatched all three points and condemned Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to his first defeat at Albion manager. It was a game that had goalless draw written all over it with defences most certainly on top throughout but a late defensive slip allowed former Albion loanee James Collins to feed his strike partner for the goal that split the sides.
After the victory over Luton Town manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink opted to stick with what he hoped was a winning team. The starting eleven remained unchanged for the visit to Greenhous Meadow although there was some slight tinkering with the formation. John Mousinho, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and George Taft formed a back three with Phil Edwards and Damien McCrory slightly more advanced as wing backs. Robbie Weir held station in front of the defence with Alex MacDonald and Matty Palmer given more licence to get forward in support of Adam McGurk and Stuart Beavon. The substitutes bench showed three changes. New signings Kelvin Maynard and Remi Matthews came into the eighteen replacing Joe Doyle and the injured Chris Weale respectively while Dominic Knowles returned to the squad in place of Lee Bell.
Shrewsbury almost got off to a flier through their new loan signing from Fulham, Josh Passley. An early ball out to the right for the Shrews allowed him to attack George Taft and get a decent delivery in that picked out former Albion loanee James Collins. Fortunately he had not had time to set his radar properly and his first time effort looped wide of the target.
Alex MacDonald quickly latched onto a good ball from Adam McGurk to open up space through the middle but his final shot failed to trouble Jayson Leutwiler who watched the ball go wide of his right hand upright.
Collins was loitering with intent again on five minutes as a searching cross from left back Mickey Demetriou picked him out beyond the back post but his firm header was comfortably saved by Jon McLaughlin guarding his near post.
Skipper John Mousinho found himself in referee Sebastian Stockbridge's notebook on 14 minutes. A pull back on Shrews striker Jean Louis Akpa-Akpro was enough to hold up the striker's progress down the left and the official brought play back and showed the yellow card to the Albion captain.
The home side continued to look the more lively and Demetriou scooped a shot over the bar midway through the first period after more good work from Passley. Collins fired in a stinging effort a minute later as Albion failed to clear their lines with McLaughlin getting strong hands to the shot to beat it away to his left.
MacDonald almost had a slice of luck when a shot from outside the area looped up off a defender and looked to be dropping into the net but Leutwiler got his angles and positioning spot on the safely catch under neath his crossbar.
George Taft sent McGurk free down the left on 28 minutes and he got in behind the Shrews defence but his final ball in was scooped away to safety just before Phil Edwards, steaming in on the right, could get to the ball.
Beavon almost capitalised on some sluggish defending on 32 minutes, The Shrews making heavy weather of clearing a Burton attack and Beavon was able to slip inside a couple of challenges before whipping a shot just over the top.
Collins, in turn, opened up space for a shot of his own at the other end but he too was unable to keep his shot down and the shot failed to trouble Albion's keeper.
It continued to be a game of few clear openings but Demetriou probably came closest as the first half drew to a close as he attacked a teasing cross from Passley but could not keep his header down under pressure from Cansdell-Sherriff.
Half time: Shrewsbury Town 0-0 Burton Albion
Shrewsbury set about their task with relish after the break and it was all hands to the pumps in the early moments as the home side looked to seize the initiative once more. Jermaine Grandison saw one hopeful effort hacked clear and amidst a packed penalty area it was Albion who kept themselves together to eventually clear the danger. Bobby Grant, playing a slightly deeper more withdrawn role off the strikers warmed the fingertips of McLaughlin with a raking shot that forced the best from Albion's keeper.
Beavon led a quick break out that relieved the pressure for Albion as he raced deep into Shrewsbury territory before playing in Matty Palmer but with the home defence getting back in numbers the chance to test Leutwiler was snuffed out.
It was nip and tuck now and both sides clearly fancied their chances of leaving with the three points. MacDonald skipped round a challenge on the left forcing the Shrews to scramble his cross clear.
Grant fired well wide under pressure from George Taft and it turned out to be the last meaningful action for the Blackpool loanee as Micky Mellon boosted his attacking options with the introduction of striker Andy Mangan just after the hour mark.
Half way through the second period Edwards picked up a yellow card for a block on Demetriou which ensured that the popular defender will take no part in the game at Exeter next week after racking up five cautions for the season.
Collins frustration got the better of him on 70 minutes with a little tug back on Palmer but it was right in front of the referee who showed the striker a yellow card as well.
By now Albion had reverted to a more conventional 4-5-1 formation and with a little over a quarter of an hour to go the hard working MacDonald was given a breather from his role in the centre to make way for Bryn Morris.
Akpa-Apro also picked up a yellow for a high foot that floored Edwards momentarily. It was now getting to the stage of the game where one goal was probably going to win it. Mousinho produced an excellent clearing header on 78 minutes that took Passley's tempting cross away from danger and kept Albion in with a chance of nicking the points.
What Albion did not need was to give possession away needlessly on the edge of their own box. With seven minutes to go McCrory, under pressure, tried to find Cansdell-Sherriff but he slipped and allowed Collins to nick the ball off him. racing in he pulled the ball back for AKPA-AKPRO who made no mistake from close range.
Albion quickly sent on Maynard to replace Palmer in the centre of midfield and shortly after it was the turn of Jacob Blyth to come on for McGurk as the Brewers went in search of an equaliser.
Maynard's first touch earned him a yellow card as he was a touch late on Demetriou. The Brewers pressed as stoppage time loomed and it was the home side hanging on at the death but the Shrews miserly defence held out for a big three points.