A stirring second half comeback from the Brewers extended their unbeaten run to thirteen games as they came from a goal behind to sweep away Dagenham & Redbridge with three late goals and record a first win at Victoria Road in twelve years. Alex Jakubiak stunned the Brewers with the opening goal on 67 minutes as he fired low past Jon McLaughlin but Albion were roused up by going behind and were level four minutes later through a resurgent Adam McGurk. A first goal in English football from Nasser El Khayati fired Albion in front with former Dagger Damien McCrory marking his 100th Football League start for the club with a third in the final moments to cap a display that sends Albion three points clear at the top of League 2 and nine points clear of fourth placed Luton Town.
After signing for the Brewers earlier in the week, striker Mickael Antoine-Curier had to settle for a place on the bench in his first game for the club. Hasselbaink opted to remain with an unchanged side for the visit to a Daggers side unbeaten in their last five League 2 games.
Albion were immediately on the attack and won a free kick right on the edge of the box inside the first minute as Stuart Beavon was tripped after nicking the ball off a defender. Ivan Calero stepped up and curled the set piece over the wall, clipping the top of the crossbar with his effort.
Dagenham's response was to launch themselves forward and a flurry of corners had the Burton defence under pressure but keeper Jon McLaughlin was afforded maximum protection as John Mousinho marshalled his troops excellently in front of him.
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff came to the rescue of his fellow defenders after ten minutes when Phil Edwards allowed a long punt from keeper Mark Cousins to bounce and in a flash Jamie Cureton nipped in and hooked the ball past the advancing McLaughlin before the ball was cleared off the line by the reliable Aussie.
McGurk twice tried his luck from distance as he found space playing just in behind Beavon and although his first effort was high and wide his second was a low drilled shot that had Cousins scrambling to his left to push the ball away.
It was a fast flowing game with both sides in good form but Albion almost allowed the Daggers in when Calero dwelt on the ball a little too long and had his pocket picked by Luke Howell and when on loan striker Alex Jakubiak showed a neat turn on the edge of the box he looked to be in on goal but when he was swiftly closed down the young striker could only poke the ball forward and out for a goal kick.
Albion looked good on the break and when Edwards recovered well to nick possession in midfield the ball came nicely for Beavon whose 22 yard shot looped off Scott Doe forcing Cousins into an excellent save to divert the ball over the crossbar. The resulting corner seemed overhit but Darragh Lenihan recovered the ball to force a second corner but Albion were unable to profit as the first halkf came to a close scoreless.
Half time: Dagenham & Redbridge 0-0 Burton Albion
Burton again started brightly after the restart with McGurk whipping a teasing ball through the six yard box on 47 minutes after chasing down a deep cross from Akins. The former Stevenage winger then spurned a great chance on 50 minutes as good interplay between McGurk and Calero fashioned a shooting opportunity with Cousins again coming to his sides rescue with a low block and Albion unable to turn the rebound home.
Burton were beginning to dominate and Calero was unfortunate to see a sidefoot effort deflected wide of the post on 55 minutes after more good work from McGurk on the right.
Albion had to make sure they kept the back door shut as well as searching for a winner and just after the hour mark Daggers won a corner that was curled towards the back post where Scott Doe headed wide under pressure.
First substitution for Albion came on 65 minutes and saw Calero replaced by Nasser El Khayati.
Despite all of Albion's good play they found themselves behind on 67 minutes. A slip by Damien McCrory outside the box allowed Alex JAKUBIAK to nick the ball away and burst into the area before holding his nerve to find the bottom corner of McLaughlin's net.
The Daggers lead lasted just four minutes and this time McCrory had a hand to play in setting up the equaliser. Dagenham failed to clear their lines as Albion attacked the left hand side of the penalty area. McCrory really should have scored when he stole in as the defence dithered but his effort came back out off the underside of the crossbar but McGURK was on hand to finish off and level things up.
A second goal almost followed on just as quickly, McGurk just unable to adjust his feet in time as Akins crossshot rebounded out but a minute later substitute EL KHAYATI had his first goal in English football. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff played Edwards in down the right and his cross was controlled in the middle before the newcomer turned and finished well beyond Cousins.
Daggers goalscorer Jakubiak was substituted on 78 minutes with Ashley Chambers tasking his place as the home side sought to keep their own unbeaten record in tact.
Akins had to win an important header deep inside his own six yard box as Daggers threatened from a corner. The popular winger also produced a booming header to clear the danger moments later as Albion made sure their lead was preserved.
Former Albion man Ashley Hemmings managed to nick the ball away from Robbie Weir and burst purposefully into the Burton half but his finish from 25 yards was wayward to say the least.
Burton fans got their first glimpses of Antoine-Curier when he replaced Beavon on 85 minutes but it was former Dagger McCRORY who had the last say. El Khayati showed all the tricks to get deep into the Daggers box and when his shot was blocked Burton's Irish left back smashed the loose ball into the back of the net as the game entered the final minute of normal time.
It showed Albion's strength of character that they could come away to a side on a good unbeaten run and come from behind to strengthen their claims for automatic promotion. On a day when most of Burton's promotion rivals slipped up on their travels who knows how invaluable this away win may turn out to be.