Goals from Phil Edwards, Alex MacDonald and Jacob Blyth got the Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink era at Burton Albion off to a superb start as the Brewers produced a vibrant display to run out, ultimately comfortable 3-1 victors over fellow promotion contenders Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Edwards headed home from Matty Palmer's corner late in the first half and Palmer was the provider again shortly after the interval, setting up MacDonald for a cool finish and although the Chairboys got back into it courtesy of Paul Hayes' penalty, substitute Jacob Blyth netted three minutes later to seal a memorable win.
Hasselbaink took the brave decision to ring the changes for his first game in charge of the Brewers. Jon McLaughlin returned to the starting line-up following the unfortunate training ground injury to Dean Lyness. John Mousinho returned to the line-up after an injury lay-off but was forced into defensive duties against his former club with Ian Sharps missing out with a knock of his own.
Reverting to a 4-4-2 formation Hasselbaink opted for the pairing of Matty Palmer and the on-loan Blackburn midfielder Darragh Lenihan. The Irishman has looked sharp in his substitute outings so far and was drafted in for his full Football League debut. Lucas Akins and Alex MacDonald were tasked with providing the ammunition from the wings for strike pairing Stuart Beavon and Adam McGurk.
The substitutes bench saw Chris Weale, signed on loan on Saturday from Yeovil, provide the goalkeeping cover with George Taft sufficiently recovered from his hamstring strain to be named on the bench.
Wycombe were struggling to the extent that with injuries and suspensions biting deep into their squad they were only able to name four substitutes.
Lenihan looked bright and sharp in the opening exchanges but it was Wycombe who carved out the first real chance of the game on seven minutes. Countering down the right an early cross in picked out Paul Hayes but having to take the effort first time, the experienced front runner guided a shot wide of the near post from the edge of the box.
Hogan Ephraim, making his home debut for the Chairboys almost carved out an opening from the right squirming into the box before driving in a low cross that McLaughlin was able to cut out before Hayes could pounce inside the six yard box.
It was a free flowing game with chances at a premium and McLaughlin was delighted when his defence closed down quickly when the ball came to centre back Alfie Mawson forcing the youngster to blaze well over. Albion quickly responded with a half chance falling to Alex MacDonald outside the box but his effort arced away from the target without forcing Matt Ingram into a save.
With chances at a premium Hayes was close again with a low shot creeping past the post once more. Matt Bloomfield swung in the ball from the right and Ephraim nudged the ball into the path of the striker who found the wrong side of the upright, this time from closer in.
Albion had their first corner of the game on 37 minutes and it almost produced a goal. Palmer's delivery caused problems at the near post and a deflection off a defender just prevented Phil Edwards connecting at the far post. the popular defender was not to be denied a second time and when Palmer sent in another teasing delivery, this time from the right EDWARDS rose superbly to thump home his header.
Edwards then picked up the first yellow card of the game for a foul that seemed to rile the home bench, right in front of him. Wycombe finished the first half with some late pressure, a low shot from Bloomfield whistling just wide with the aid of a deflection. Albion dealt with the corners that followed and could feel happy with their first half's work.
Half time: Wycombe Wanderers 0-1 Burton Albion
Wycombe made a double change at the break to bolster their midfield options. Stuart Lewis and Paris Cowan-Hall were thrown on by Gareth Ainsworth in place of Max Kretzschmar and Sam Wood and with their first attack of the half it was Cowan-Hall who tried a spectacular shot from distance but it was Albion who hit back and hit hard on 49 minutes. Matty Palmer made the burst from midfield and played an exquisite ball inside full back Sido Jombati, waiting to latch onto it was Alex MacDONALD who composed himself and slipped a shot under Ingram for his fifth of the campaign.
Kicking towards their vociferous home support Wycombe began to pump balls into the Burton box and McLaughlin needed two attempts to clear a free kick hurled in from the left.
It was game on in the 65th minute as Wycombe got themselves back into it. Substitute Lewis worked a delightful ball into the path of Hayes and he was sent tumbling just inside the box by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff. Picking himself up and dusting himself down, HAYES confidently stepped up to despatch the penalty agonisingly wide of McLaughlin who went the right way.
Albion restored their two goal cushion only three minutes later. Jacob Blyth came on before the restart with Akins struggling after a whack on the foot and the Leicester loanee was on the scoresheet almost instantly. More neat passing from the Brewers worked the ball out to McCrory on the left and his perfectly delivered cross was comprehensively headed home by BLYTH, completely unmarked, six yards out.
A breathless second half saw Wycombe find the back of the net only two minutes later but this time an assistant's flag ruled that Hayes, at the far post, was offside when he turned the ball home.
Adam McGurk also left the pitch somewhat gingerly with Robbie Weir replacing him. Blyth was only denied a second of the game by a superb save from Ingram on 75 minutes. Palmer again looked to provide a testing ball into the danger area and when he slid the ball across the six yard box Blyth got a touch and was about to go into celebration mode when Ingram stuck out a hand to somehow keep the ball out.
Darragh Lenihan became the second Burton name in referee Graham Scott's book when he sparked a melee after seeming to kick the ball at Stuart Lewis after he had been fouled. Lewis reacted furiously and sent in search of the Irishman leading to a bout of pushing and shoving, Lenihan the only one to see a card at the end of it.
There was a lengthy stoppage inside the last ten minutes when Palmer and Alfie Mawson clashed heads inside the centre circle. Palmer took a while to get up but Mawson stayed down surrounded by a concerned medical team. The young defender eventually got to his feet but clearly dazed was in no fit shape to carry on. Unfortunately for the Chairboys they had made their third and final substitution minutes before leaving them to finish the game with ten men.
Referee Scott indicated a minimum of ELEVEN additional minutes to be added at the end, most of them for the injury to Mawson. Five and a half minutes into the added allocation Albion made their final change with George Taft sent on to shore up the back line with Beavon sacrificed from the attack. A man down and two goals adrift the home side knew that the game was up and Albion saw the game out in relative comfort.
It had been a more than satisfactory first day at the office for the Brewers new boss with plenty of food for thought from those selected. Now onto another tough test against high flying Luton Town at the Pirelli on Saturday. That game already looks set to be a real cracker.