Burton Albion clinched their first win of the new season and with it a glamour home tie against Liverpool in the second round of the EFL Cup after finally seeing off League One side Bury after extra time at the Pirelli Stadium. For the second game in a row Nigel Clough's side netted three goals but this time victory was finally theirs as the Shakers could not quite take the game to penalties. Callum Reilly's first goal in Albion colours from a clinical left footed effort gave the Brewers a deserved first half lead but sloppy defending turned over possession and handed Tom Pope a chance to equalise shortly after half time. The visitors looked a much better side in the second half and Albion had keeper Jon McLaughlin to thank for a stoppage time save to deny substitute Jacob Mellis who was clean through. A stunning finish from Stuart Beavon put the Brewers back ahead in extra time before Calum Butcher's heavily deflected effort put daylight between the two sides. Fellow substitute Niall Maher crashed home a free kick moments before the final whistle to reduce the deficit to one but Albion had just about done enough to avoid following the same path as fellow Championship sides Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa and Birmingham City in crashing out of the competition to lower ranked opposition.
Eight changes to the starting line up were the order of the day for Clough's side as the Brewers boss made sure the majority of his squad got meaningful action in the first week of the new season and also with half an eye on Saturday's maiden Championship game at the Pirelli Stadium against Bristol City. Goalkeeper McLaughlin, defender Kyle McFadzean and midfielder Hamza Choudhury were the only starters from Saturday's defeat to Nottingham Forest to feature in the starting line-up against the Shakers. Clough opted to revert to a 4-4-2 with Phil Edwards and Damien McCrory returning to occupy the full back slots and Tom Naylor deployed alongside McFadzean at centre back. Club record signing Jackson Irvine was partnered with Choudhury in central midfield, Callum Reilly on the left and Marcus Harness on the right, Beavon returning to spearhead the attack with Butcher.
Burton started very brightly but only initially had an early corner to show for their efforts. Bury were camped in their own half in the opening five minutes or so although the out ball to the familiar figure of Zeli Ismail on the right wing for the Shakers offered a good outlet to set them on the couter attack on at least a couple of occasions with probing crosses ultimately dealt with by McFadzean and Naylor at the heart of the Brewers defence.
A low drive from Choudhury failed to trouble Ben Williams in the Bury goal on 12 minutes but the summer signing from Bradford City was casting anxious glances over his shoulder shortly after when Reilly drilled a low left foot cross shot through the six yard box and wide of the far post.
Craig Jones picked up a yellow card on the quarter of an hour mark for the visitors for a mistimed challenge on the half way as McCrory nipped in to stop a counter attack. There was nothing malicious in the challenge but the Albion man was just too quick.
Burton were close to the breakthrough on 20 minutes as some slick passing looked to have got Butcher in on goal but the midfielder turned striker had just gone a split second too soon prompting the assistant to flag him offside.
Ismail went on a direct run towards the edge of the box on 22 minutes with a deep cross to the back post just forcing Hallam Hope to scuff his shot. Immediately Albion broke up field and after a slip by Greg Leigh at left back Butcher burst into the area. Trying to fashion a shooting opportunity for himself he found himself crowded out by a retreating Bury defence and when the ball fell kindly for Reilly his right foot effort zipped over the bar.
Marcus Harness almost picked up where he left off in pre-season with a teasing curling effort from the edge of the box on 27 minutes. It looked initially as though he had over run the ball in his search for an opening but wrapping his left foot around the ball his shot curled just over the angle.
Bury tried to build up some meaningful pressure around the half hour mark but a couple of corners were dealt with, Tom Pope being forced to head too high and a speculative ball into the box from the same player blocked by Choudhury.
Albion broke the deadlock on 36 minutes with an excellent finish from REILLY. Playing a one two with Beavon he showed a turn of pace to get away from his man and once on the edge of the area looked up before curling superbly beyond Williams for his first goal in Albion colours.
Ismail was quick to go in search of an equaliser, himself cutting in from his normal wing position to drill a low left foot shot from 30 yards that McLaughlin was more than equal to.
Hope and Pope linked up in a tight situation around the edge of the Burton box as half time drew closer but with bodies in front of him blocking his route to goal, the latter poking a shot well wide of the target.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Bury
Albion's hard work in establishing a lead was blown away inside three minutes of the restart. A sloppy pass out of defence from McFadzean was quickly intercepted to set the visitors on the attack. Danny Mayor was afforded too much time and space to pick out the unmarked POPE in the centre and his first time shot comfortably beat McLaughlin. Pope quickly had a chance of a second in as many minutes but an excellent header under pressure from Naylor cleared Albion's lines and kept it all square.
Choudhury bent a curling shot high and wide as Albion quickly looked to re-establish their advantage following more good work from Reilly before the usually reliable McCrory tried a left foot shot from inside the box that flashed past the post.
Ismail was inches away from adding to an impressive start for the visitors in the second half when he smartly turned McCrory in the left back position before surging into the box and letting fly on his right foot. Whether it was the woodwork or a smart save from McLaughlin, Albion were fortunate to still be on level terms.
Hope was replaced on 56 minutes as David Flitcroft made the first change of the evening, Jacob Mellis sent on to inject more creativity, sensing that this was their time to press for a second goal.
Albion were probably relieved on the hour mark to see Ismail withdrawn in favour of Niall Maher. The substitute dropped in at right back allowing Jones to push forward into the role vacated by the former Albion loanee.
Mellis produced a snap shot from 25 yards on 63 minutes as the Shakers began to look the more likely side to add to their goal tally. Tom Soares also fancied his chances from distance on 68 minutes although his shot was always rising. It all stemmed from a lack of communication in the Brewers defenceas they struggled to clear their lines inside their own penalty area.
Albion waited until 73 minutes to make a change and it was a straight swap in the centre of midfield. After a decent showing on debut Irvine was taken off, perhaps with Saturday in mind with Matty Palmer asked to go on and try and conjure up a winner from somewhere. HIs first touch was a free kick which was easy enough for Williams to collect inside his six yard area. The free kick came from a foul conceded by Mellis on Beavon, the Bury man finding himself in referee Heywood's book as a result.
Tom Naylor took over the captain's armband with ten minutes remaining, Kyle McFadzean making his way to the bench to be replaced by Tom Flanagan and at the same time Bury made their final change with Nicky Clark replacing Mayor.
Neither side really fancied an additional 30 minutes and Albion's response was to thrown on Lucas Akins in place of goalscorer Reilly in the hope of snatching a late winner.
Butcher, otherwise quite in the second half almost managed to seal it inside the regulation time with a curling effort that forced Williams to go down low to his left and push the ball around the post.
Palmer saw a shot blocked inside the box as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes and when the ball came back out McCrory slipped as he tried to deliver a telling cross, the ball ending up high and wide much to Williams and the Bury defences relief.
Bury squandered a golden opportunity to seal it as the game went into added time. Mellis burst through but with just McLaughlin to beat he went for precision only to be denied by the legs of the Burton stopper. Burton also had a chance to seal it with Butcher, under pressure from an onrusing defender firing a loose ball over the bar after good work from McCrory to salvage a deep ball to the back post.
90 minutes: Burton Albion 1-1 Bury
Soares was still full of running going into the additional period but it was Clark who made sure that McLaughlin was still on his toes with a dipping volley that was straight at the Burton keeper who did what he needed to do.
Chances were few and far between as inevitably an element of fatigue set in. Butcher moved across to the left side of midfield to enable Akins to push forward but it was his strike partner BEAVON who put the Brewers back in front moments before the whistle went to bring an otherwise uneventful fifteen minutes of football to a close. Picking up the ball to the left hand side and on the edge of the area the Brewers striker moved the ball across his body and with the Bury defence not tight enough he turned and smashed home a shot that was past Williams before he could even react.
The start of the second period of extra time saw Bury on the attack with Jones rising well beyond the back post to head the ball back into the danger area. None of his team mates were able to get there to meet it and Flanagan was able to hack it clear.
Mellis took control of a free kick on the edge of area after a clumsy foul conceded a dangerous looking set piece. Fortunately for Albion although the net rippled it was the side netting albeit with the aid of a deflection. Albion were well prepared for the corner and cleared their lines to edge closer to seeing the game out.
Breathing space was what Albion needed going into the closing stages and they got it when BUTCHER put the game beyond doubt with seven minutes remaining. It had a slice of luck about it as the makeshift striker worked the ball onto his right foot just inside the box and let fly, the ball taking a more than significant deflection off a defender to find its way into the back of the net.
Akins had a late chance to put something of a gloss on the result but cutting inside his man he failed to get enough curl on his shot with the ball sailing wide.
Albion were grateful for Butcher's strike when substitute MAHER reduced the arrears with a minute of extra time remaining. Choudhury seemed to be harshly penalised when he outmuscled Pope on the edge of the Burton box but referee Heywood saw it as a foul and the Bury sub meted out the ultimate punishment lashing the ball into the bottom corner.
When the final whistle went moments later it secured Albion's place in the next round and with it the prospect of a visit from Jurgen Klopp's Merseyside giants.