Burton Albion slipped out of this season's Johnstones Paint Trophy at the first round stage after losing a penalty shoot-out to Doncaster Rovers following a goalless draw at the Keepmoat Stadium. Tom Naylor was the unlucky Albion man missing the Brewers third spot kick with a low effort that was easy for substitute keeper Marko Marosi to get down to. Rovers netted all of theirs, Cameron Stewart finishing things off to complete a 5-3 win on spot kicks.
The preceding ninety minutes had seen Albion have arguably the better chances in a game where clear cut chances were at a premium, debutant Tom Flanagan seeing a header stopped at point blank range by Marosi and Lucas Akins steering another good chance wide of the target.
It was another demonstration of Albion's strength in depth as they pushed another established third tier side all the way, perhaps considering themselves unfortunate to still be winless in the competition after seven attempts.
Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made seven changes but all within the rules of the competition. JPT rules state that either six players from the previous game or six of the eleven leading appearance makers for the season need to feature. With that in mind Remi Matthews returned to the starting line up in place of Jon McLaughlin. A new look back four featured Tom Naylor at right back, Anthony O'Connor alongside Flanagan in the centre and Damien McCrory on the left. Akins returned on the right, Mark Duffy starting against his former club on the left, Robbie Weir and Calum Butcher in the middle. Matty Palmer slotted in behind Aurelien Joachim in attack.
Early chances were few and far between although Albion had the better of the territory and possession. A well flighted corner from ex-Rovers man Duffy found the forward run of O'Connor inside the box but a Doncaster defender did enough to ensure that the centre back could not get a first time shot away.
After a slow start the home side briefly threatened when Curtis Main headed a free kick over the bar but other than that the Brewers were looking fairly comfortable.
It took until the 21st minute for a serious threat on Albion's goal. A corner from the left was only half cleared and when the ball came out to Paul McKay his shot was heading towards the goal until Flanagan got enough on it to deflect the ball wide of the target.
Albion swifly broke upfield and Duffy forced an awkward looking save from Thorsten Stuckmann in the Rovers goal, the big German glad to see the ball deflect away from Joachim lurking in search of the rebound.
Cedric Evina was perhaps harshly booked for what was no more than a tangle of legs that brought Akins to ground and Rovers were grateful to their keeper from the resulting free kick, Matty Palmer's deflected header from Duffy's delivery having to be tipped around the post at full stretch just when it looked like it might be sneaking into the bottom corner.
Both Butcher and Palmer tried to break the deadlock with shots from distance but neither could keep their shots down, Stuckmann able to watch comfortably as both efforts sailed comfortably over his crossbar.
Main briefly had a clear sight of goal on 36 minutes but rather stumbling into a shot O'Connor was able to get enough of a block on it to avert any serious danger.
The Doncaster man then thought he had spotted a gap at Matthews' near post but the Norwich loanee soon cut down the space to shovel away a low angle drive from the edge of the box.
Akins then appeared to be clear through on goal. The assistant referee was well in line and clearly thought that the through ball had come off a Rovers defender but referee Ross Joyce, well placed to see, over ruled his colleague who belatedly flagged the Burton man offside.
Half time: Doncaster Rovers 0-0 Burton Albion
Donny made a double change at the break with Stuckmann interestingly one of those to not reappear. Reserve keeper Marko Marosi took over between the posts and his first action was almost to pick the ball out of his net, Akins capitalising on a defensive slip before driving a left foot shot just the wrong side of the post and into the side netting. Experienced midfielder Richard Chaplow was also thrown into the fray at the break as a straight swap for Paul Keegan.
Matthews was called into action four minutes after the break as Main wriggled his way into a shooting position outside the box, Albion's stopper getting a good hand to the ball to push it wide.
Albion made a change early in the second half with Butcher making way for Callum Reilly to show what he could do in the middle of the park.
Main was looking like the most serious threat to Albion's goal and a towering header at the back post on 57 minutes was heading in the direction of Liam Mandeville until O'Connor got there first to hook the ball away.
On the hour mark Albion made their second change. Jerome Binnom-Williams, so impressive in his cameo appearance on Saturday at Shrewsbury, was sent on in place of Duffy on the left side of midfield and he almost had an immediate impact squirming past a half hearted challenge near the corner to pick out Akins in the middle, the winger's shot skewing wide of the target on the volley.
Akins snapped up possession when Evina miscontrolled in the centre and the Burton man wasted no time getting forward and laying it into the path of Palmer who curled a shot wide of the goal. Last season's top scorer then set up a chance from the wing with a well placed cross for Joachim whose flick header landed wide of the mark.
Rovers made their final change with twenty minutes to go with marquee summer signing Andy Williams sent on to try and swing things in favour of the home side. Youngster Mandeville was the man to make way.
Flanagan almost capped his Brewers debut with a goal on 74 minutes. Palmer sent in a teasing, hanging corner and if anything the new signing from MK Dons met it too well with a bullet header that was straight at Marosi who was in the right place to block. One of those that a yard either side would have flown past him before he knew it.
Binnom-Williams again got by his man with ease on the left and picked out a cross into the six yard box. Marosi this time was grateful to see Paul Mckay get there a split second before Joachim to deny him a first Albion goal.
Marosi was having a good half as well and another great block from Akins kept it scoreless as Albion were starting to dominate heading into the final ten minutes.
Main was determined to have a say in it though and his shot on the turn was always rising as it flew past Matthews and over the bar.
If the teams and fans were to be spared a penalty shoot out a winner was going to have to come very late. Doncaster were handed a good situation heading into the final minute of normal when O'Connor was penalised for a push on the edge of the box but Cameron Stewart's delivery was easily dealt with by the Albion defence. It was the last threat to either goal and so it was down to the penalty shoot out with Naylor the unlucky man to miss allowing Doncaster to successfully convert all five of their spot kicks and proceed to the second round.