Justin Richards tenth goal of the season was enough to ensure Albion's first ever victory over Rotherham United. His close range eighth minute tap in owed much to good work from wingers Jimmy Phillips and Cleveland Taylor but was the difference between the two sides. Albion had to soak up plenty of pressure in the second half but as they did at Southend United earlier in the season the defence held strong for another impressive clean sheet at one of the pre-season promotion favourites.
Although both Ryan Austin and Aaron Webster were available following the completion of their one match bans for red cards at Gillingham it was only Austin who returned to the starting line-up at the Don Valley Stadium. The former Crewe central defender renewed his partnership with Tony James while Danny Blanchett retained his place after an assured League debut against Bradford City last weekend.
Further up the field there was a surprise start for Cleveland Taylor who returned on the right wing after playing more than an hour against Telford in a behind closed doors friendly in the weekend. Taylor's inclusion was at the expense of Calvin Zola who made way for Billy Kee to partner Justin Richards in attack.
With a pre-match downpour making the pitch tricky inevitably there were a few stumbles early on as players tried to keep their feet. However the fleet footed Jimmy Phillips kept his feet well enough in the 8th minute to set up an opening goal for the Brewers. There looked little danger as he picked the ball up near the half way and drove at the Rotherham defence. Picking out Cleveland Taylor on the right there was acres of space for the winger to drive into and when his goalbound shot took a deflection off Tom Newey, Justin RICHARDS, looking suspiciously offside, tapped into the empty net.
Taylor was close again moments later with a teasing cross that went just past the far post as Rotherham continued to feel aggrieved that an offside flag had not gone up for the goal.
Albion continued to look the more inventive and composed side and twice Billy Kee had shots blocked as he looked to double the Brewers advantage. Jimmy Phillips was the creator on both occasions as the young winger continued to cause endless problems for the home defence.
However Rotherham hit back and when Lewis Grabban saw a shot deflected out for a corner it was the home sides turn to have a spell of pressure with Danny Schofield seeing a rising drive from a very tight angle tipped away for corner by Ross Atkins and some strong defending being required as Rotherham flung the resulting corner into the penalty area.
On the whole though the game was somewhat scrappy in nature and lacking in any real tempo.
Danny Harrison was the first player in the referee's notebook just after the half hour for a crude challenge on Phillips after the winger had shown just a bit too much trickery for him in the centre of the pitch.
Another good Albion move in the 33rd minute almost reaped rewards. Good interplay from Richards and Phillips created an overlap for Danny Blanchett and his teasing cross was put just over his own crossbar by Johnny Mullins.
At the other end Grabban wasted a good chance when he blazed well over the bar after Schofield's cross had been knocked into his path by former Derby midfielder Ben Pringle.
Skipper Alex Revell was next to try an attempt on goal for the home side in the 37th minute but having been given time to pick out a shot his angled effort went over the bar with Atkins at full stretch diving to his right.
Rotherham began to ask more questions of the Brewers defence late in the first half but more stout defending kept the home side at bay. Albion's response was excellent and they almost doubled their advantage as the half came to a close. Only a superb challenge at the near post from Michael Raynes denied Billy Kee the chance to convert another teasing cross from Phillips and the home defence were at full stretch to repel the Brewers from the reuslting corner.
Half time: Rotherham United 0-1 Burton Albion
The home side began in more purposeful fashion after the break and they came the nearest yet to scoring in the 49th minute when Grabban's long range shot beat Atkins but flicked off the top of the bar and out to safety.
Ten minutes into the second period saw Albion make their first change. The Brewers had been resorting to long balls out of defence and seeing the ball come back at them quickly so Billy Kee was replaced by Calvin Zola in the hope that the ball would stick more in the attacking third.
Soon after Rotherham made their first change with Pringle the man sacrificed as Andy Scott introduced Gareth Evans to try and add more punch to his attack and the striker was soon involved in the action. Danny Harrison went close at the far post with Atkins scrambling to clear his lines and after Cleveland Taylor's swift counter attack had been repelled Evans went close at the far post sliding in to divert a cross wide from close range.
Chris Palmer was brought on for the tiring Taylor just after the hour mark and a flurry of substitutions were complete a minute later as Marcus Marshall replaced Danny Schofield for the Millers.
Albion's goal however continued to lead something of a charmed life especially when Atkins made a fine save to deny Harrision in the 65th minute and and could only watch as substitute Marshall drove the rebound across goal and wide of the upright.
Both Adam Bolder and Jimmy Phillips picked up yellow cards for the Brewers as the home side began to increase the tempo and pressure on the Brewers.
Evans then made a driving run across the middle of the field as the pitch opend up ahead of him and with nobody closing him down it was left to Atkins to fingertip a goalbound shot over the crossbar.
Rotherham were penning Albion back more and more and Johnny Mullins squandered another good opportunity for the hosts in the 73rd minute from a corner. Marcus Marshall's delivery from the left was goon enough but the former Stockport man could not direct his far post header on target.
Paul Peschisolido's final change was to replace goalscorer Justin Richards with Aaron Webster, the long serving Brewers man slotting into a central role as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Albion really should have been almost home and dry in the 80th minute. Zola beat the offside trap and played in Palmer. The substitute played in a delightful cross to the former Crewe striker who got his header on target but Andy Warrington somehow pushed the ball away from goal.
It was a sign that Albion were breaking the pressure that the Millers were putting them under, especially since the change in formation but as the clock ticked agonisingly towards the final whistle the home side began to test the Albion rearguard. A barrage of the balls into the box had Albion defending for their lives. A late free kick concede by Palmer gave the hosts one last chance but the Brewers held strong to record their second away victory of the season.
ROTHERHAM: Warrington, Tonge, Raynes, Mullins, Newey, Pringle (Evans, 58), Harrison, Taylor, Schofield (Marshall, 63), Revell, Grabban. Substitutes: Logan, Foster, Warne.
ALBION: Atkins; Corbett, James, Austin, Blanchett; Taylor (Palmer, 62), Bolder, McGrath, Phillips; Richards, Kee (Zola, 55). Substitutes: Poole, Webster, Amankwaah,
Referee: Mr.A.Haines (Tyne & Wear)
GOALS: Albion - Richards (8)
Attendance: 3,645 (344 away)