three games into the League season and the Brewers have three draws to their name, all against sides fancied for promotion. The signs are encouraging but the Brewers need to put teams to bed when the chances arise after this 1-1 draw with local rivals Port Vale. The Brewers took the lead half way through the first period through Aaron Webster with his 98th career goal but moments after Stuart Tomlinson made a smart save from Calvin Zola the visitors raced up the other end for Doug Loft to equalise.
Both sides went for it in the second half but in the end it was a point apiece to keep both sides unbeaten at the start of the season.
An injury to popular winger Cleveland Taylor forced Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido for the Staffordshire derby match against Port Vale. As expected Jacques Maghoma was moved out to the right wing and John McGrath was restored to the centre of the park alongside Adam Bolder. With Greg Pearson and Adi Yussuf picking up knocks there were changes on the bench with Jimmy Phillips and Danny Blanchett moved up to the bench.
Chances were few and far between in the opening exchanges as referee Graham Salisbury seemed keen to let the game flow despites ome meaty challenges.
Tom Pope headed a Gary Roberts corner over the bar and Doug Loft jinked his way into the Albion box only to be denied by Ross Atkins rushing from his goal to clear the danger.
Pope then dragged a 22 yard shot wide of the target before Albion took the lead in the 23rd minute. Calvin Zola did well to win a corner and it led to a trio of corners well taken by Chris Palmer, keeping the Vale defence under pressure. It was third time lucky for the Brewers as a left wing corner swung in on his right foot found Aaron WEBSTER at the back post to head home from close range and open his account for the season.
Vale almost equalised from a corner of their own in the 33rd minute. Roberts swung over another corner and John McCombe, so often a scorer from set pieces saw his header deflecte dover the crossbar.
Former Albion man Adam Yates, now a regular at Vale Park tried his luck with an angled drive from just inside the area. Ross Atkins, well positioned on his near post dealt with the shot comfortably.
Albion had to weather a spell of pressure but always looked dangerous on the break and Stuart Tomlinson, another ex-Brewer watched nervously as a Jacques Maghoma cross shot drifted wide of the post with the keeper having to check his angles before letting the ball go.
Calvin Zola almost had the Brewers two goals to the good in the 40th minute as John McGrath intercepted a loose pass and fed the Congolese striker. Tomlinson stood up well and beat the shot away and it was to prove a costly miss as Vale broke up the pitch and equalised straight away. The ball found its way to LOFT and he squeezed a shot inside the near post of Atkins who perhaps should have done better.
Half time - Burton Albion 1-1 Port Vale
Buoyed by the goal before the break it was the visitors who had the first opportunity of the second period. Good passing worked a chance for Anthony Griffith who struck his shot well but straight at Atkins who made a comfortable save. The Brewers keeper came to the rescue of his defence in the 52nd minute as Pope had a clear sight of goal. Loft again was instrumental with a long range effort that deflected into the path of the Vale striker but wanting too long to shoot the striker allowed the keeper to set himself and save the shot when it came in.
The visitors were just starting to dominate and Loft posed another threat when he latched onto Sean Rigg's long ball with the Albion defence stretched to clear their lines.
Albion weathered the storm and with Maghoma prominent began to look more of a potent attacking threat. The Brewers attacking intent was highlighted on the hour with ther introduction of Jimmy Phillips. The winger replaced Chris Palmer and immediately slotted into the right wing slot.
Maghoma was looking more and more dangerous drifting inside from the wing and he was unlucky to see a wickedly dipping shot drop just over the crossbar as the Brewers continued to press.
Pope again headed too high from a corner and as Albion again broke at speed Maghoma just took a touch too many as he broke clear of the Port Vale defence allowing Tomlinson to make a vital block.
Sean Rigg also tried his luck from the edge of the area. From a similar position to that of Griffiths earlier the midfielder let fly but Atkins was equal to it. Again it did not take long for a chance to come at the other end. Tom Parkes found Zola and he played a lovely ball through for Justin Richards. the striker was just unable to get clear of the last defender and Tomlinson was again able to keep Vale on level terms.
Vale made a double change with on 76 minutes. Robert Taylor and Ben Williamson were brought on in place of Gary Roberts and the lively Sean Rigg.
The two substitutes created an opening for the visitors which really should have given them the lead on 80 minutes. a long ball out caught out Andy Corbett who handled the ball as it bounced over him. Williamson latched onto the ball and whipped in a low cross that Taylor met at the near post but could not keep down, the ball sailling high over the crossbar.
Vale were even closer moments later as Loft found space to pick out Jjohn McCombe at the back post and when he headed back across goal Pope was only inches away from scoring in front of an open goal.
It was all set for a frantic end to the game. Williamson dragged a shot across goal as Albion's defence momentarily switched off and quickly Albion were countering with Phillips winning a corner at the other end.
Pope squandered another chance after breaking free down the left side of the penalty area. The former Rotherham striker dragging his shot across the face of goal and it was the last action as Louis Dodds replaced him on 90 minutes. Ryan Austin also had to come on as Tom Parkes picked up an injury in the build up and left the field on a stretcher after receiving treatment.
There was one final chance for the Brewers deep into stoppage time as John McGrath swung over a cross to the far post but Calvin Zola could not quite climb high enough to head home
BREWERS: Atkins; Corbett, James, Parkes, Webster; Maghoma, Bolder, McGrath, Palmer; Zola, Richards. Substitutes: Poole, Moore, Austin, Phillips, Blanchett.
VALE: Tomlinson, Yates, Griffith, McCombe, Owen, Loft, Pope, Roberts, Collins, Rigg, McDonald. Substitutes: Taylor, Dodds, Burge, Haldane, Williamson.
Referee: Mr.G.Salisbury (Lancashire)
GOALS: Albion - Webster (23); Vale - Loft (40)