Burton Albion sit proudly on top of SkyBet League One tonight after Stuart Beavon's 27th minute strike clinched another three points on the road against last season's beaten play-off finalists Swindon Town. Beavon may not have ended up with the final credit for last week's goal at an almost identical time of the game but this time there was no doubt as the striker swooped on a loose ball in the Swindon box to comprehensively beat Lawrence Vigouroux off the post.
All too often Swindon's approach play was too thoughtful and involved passing back to their back four and keeper which was mostly food and drink for Burton's high pressing game. Swindon failed to force a meaningful save out of Burton keeper Jon McLaughlin apart from a late free kick that the Burton keeper had to tip over and would have been disappointed had it beaten him. Albion had other chances to wrap up a more comfortable victory but a temptation to play an extra pass in good positions cost them the chance to win by a more comfortable margin.
After the battling 1-0 home victory over Rochdale last weekend that took Albion to the heady heights of third in the League One table manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink resisted the temptation to change his team for the visit to the Robins, with Jon McLaughlin recovering from the dead leg suffered against Dale to start in goal., That decision extended to the substitutes bench as well where the same personnel were in place.
An early slip by Phil Edwards allowed the home side to launch the first real attack of the match as the ball was worked infield towards skipper Nathan Thompson. An extra touch to switch the ball on to his left foot probably didnt help although Jon McLaughlin still had to be alert to beat away his shot.
A lot of the build up play from Swindon early on was quite slow and ponderous although they did show the ability to move up the gears with a pacy run from Thompson getting the better of Jerome Binnom-Williams, no mean feat in itself but the Town man lost his footing as he went to cross the ball under some pressure from Damien McCrory.
Binnom-Williams got up well down the left to support the attack moments later but after working his way deep into the Swindon penalty area his pull back form Beavon lacked the accuracy to provide a shooting chance for the Burton striker and Swindon were able to clear.
Anton Rodgers, son of Liverpool manager Brendan, produced a pinpoint accurate pass through the Brewers rearguard for on loan striker Wes Thomas to run on to and having turned Shane Cansdell-Sherriff will have been disappointed to lift his angled shot well over the bar without even testing Albion's keeper.
Burton were being starved of the ball for long periods but the first real chance they had on 27 minutes they made Swindon pay. Edwards was brought down just outside the box and although Duffy's free kick was half cleared back out again Damien McCrory returned the ball with interest where BEAVON picked up the scraps to turn and fire home off the inside of the far post.
Former Derby County youngster Henrik Ojamaa quickly had a chance to equalise sneaking into space on the left to latch onto a pass from Thomas but he lacked composure outside the box and blazed over.
Akins led a breakout, three on three on 35 minutes but ignoring the two to his right he worked space for a low shot that was straight at Liverpool loanee Lawrence Vigouroux.
Binnom-Williams had been struggling with a knock for a few minutes and having swapped to the right hand side was quickly replaced by Nasser El Khayati.
Thomas was once again pulling the strings for Swindon and he dinked in a delightful ball to Thompson who had continued a run into the box and with McLaughlin and the Burton goal at his mercy he volleyed wide of the far post.
El Khayati swept a superb ball out to Akins, still patrolling the left and his low cross had Swindon at full stretch as it came back out for Butcher whose initial shot was blocked and his second effort deflecting over for a corner.
Beavon was close to a second as more ponderous defending from the Robins was almost punished, a loose clearance from Vigouroux allowing him a snap shot on the turn that flew wide.
The frustrations of the Swindon fans was clearly evident as half time approached as they gave their players an ear bashing, something that former Tamworth boss Mark Cooper would surely have been echoing in the dressing room. A sure sign that Albion had done well in frustrating their hosts in the opening half.
Half time: Swindon Town 0-1 Burton Albion
The hosts certainly started with a quicker tempo as the second half began but after a quick burst they started to revert to type.
Phil Edwards picked up a yellow card as he challenged for the ball and was adjudged to have used his hand to win it.
El Khayati tricked his way into a good position in the box but was quickly closed down before he could fire home on his right. The ball broke back towards Robbie Weir but he blazed well over.
Swindon were starting to look more dangerous with Ojamaa making a nuisance of himself down the left and after he sold McCrory a dummy he teed up Drissa Traore for a driven shot that was blocked deep inside the area.
The Robins threw on Yaser Kasim and Jon Obika in an early bid to grab the initiative back in the game, Rodgers and the more anonymous Nicky Ajose making way.
Butcher led a three on one breakout and played in Akins to his right but instead of taking on the shot the winger came back inside and tried to find Butcher again, Swindon getting back and sparing their own blushes as they closed down the chance and forced Beavon to smash the loose ball disappointingly wide.
Butcher then found found himself the second Burton man in the book for a foul on Thomas as he looked to surge away through the middle. Thomas then squandered a golden opportunity to equalise. Weir carelessly surrendered possession on the edge of his own box and when the ball fell kindly for the Swindon striker he lashed it towards the far post but just wide of it. A real let off for the Brewers.
Beavon, as ever, was showing real industry leading the line and a superb cross in from the right picked out the head of Duffy who could only direct the ball into the grateful waiting gloves of Vigouroux.
Obika was forced into a shot from outside the box as Albion's defensive resilience continued to frustrate the Robins.
Albion introduced Matty Palmer for Duffy and in a last throw of the dice for the home side Fabien Robert, brother of former Newcastle winger Lauren came on for Ojamaa to pep up the left hand side of the Robins attack.
Beavon was the victim of a heavy challenge that seemed to go unpunished by referee Scott Duncan and with twelve minutes to go he made way for the fresh legs of Timmy Thiele.
Louis Thompson strode forwards to the edge of the box to smack a shot over McLaughlin's bar as the game headed towards its final ten minutes and with the home side still searching in vain for an equaliser.
Thiele had a chance to put the game to bed latching on to a loose ball but having turned his defender and been pushed wide he pulled his effort across the face of goal with no-one in a Burton shirt there to finish it.
As the clock ticked into four minutes of added time Swindon threatened to break Albion's rearguard and as Thomas burst into the box his heel was clipped by McCrory offering the home side a dangerous set piece. Substitutes Robert and Kasim stood over it with the latter forcing McLaughlin to tip over underneath his crossbar. In reality it was a comfortable save for the Burton stopper. A strong header from Shane Cansdell-Sherriff cleared the corner and Albion were home and hosed for another clean sheet and three points on the road.