A frustrating afternoon at the Pirelli Stadium as that first win of the calendar year continues to elude the Brewers although it was not for the want of trying against Rotherham United. Shaun Harrad was inevitably the man that spoiled the Burton party as he netted his third in as many games for the Millers to equalise from close range moments after Albion should have doubled their advantage at the other end. Calvin Zola was the man on target for Albion five minutes before the break but he left the pitch at the end no doubt more disappointed that he had not won the game for Albion with two late chances that went begging as Burton looked to bag the points all for themselves.
With the likes of Tony James and Billy Kee returning from injury it was perhaps something of a surprise that Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido went with an unchanged side for the visit of the Millers.
The game got off to a rather sedate start with both sides trying to get used to the swirling windy conditions. Sam Wood was the first player from either side to have a go at goal but his low effort was a long way off target. Jacques Maghoma was the first Burton player to go for goal however he found Johnny Mullins in the way of his thumping shot.
It was quickly becoming something of a stalemate with neither side able to dictate proceedings but the game sprang to life in the 23rd minute as Albion cleared from the edge of their own area and as Mark Bradley slipped on the half way there was an opportunity for Maghoma to surge forwards but his attempted chip from distance floated over the crossbar.
That gave the Brewers something of a lift and Adam Bolder was close to breaking the deadlock in the 27th minute as John McGrath's challenge put the ball into his path but after cutting inside his shot was blocked before Rhys Taylor could be called upon to make a save.
After surviving the first corner of the game from Rotherham another Burton move threatened to open the scoring as Calvin Zola and Adam Bolder contrived to play in Andres Gurrieri but the Argentine's first time shot was saved by Taylor at the second attempt.
The opening goal that the game needed came five minutes from the break. Jacques Maghoma won a free kick on the right side and when John McGrath swung in the set piece a number of Burton players went to the near post and it was Calvin ZOLA who emerged to take the plaudits as the ball found its way past Taylor at his near post.
Jack Dyer picked up the first yellow card of the game for a foul that gave Rotherham a free kick in a dangerous position twenty five yards from goal and there was late pressure from the visitors as the half came to a close but thankfully Ross Atkins was not called upon to make a meaingful save.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Rotherham United
Rotherham came out swiftly at the Brewers at the start of the second half, no doubt after an ear bashing from manager Andy Scott, and there was a dangerous moment as Shaun Harrad received the ball just inside the area bbut he was immediately closed down by John McGrath to snuff out any threat of a shot on goal.
After weathering a storm of Rotherham pressure Albion had a gilt edged chance to double their advantage on 54 minutes. A swift breakaway instigated by Maghoma almost played in Zola but even when he failed to bring the ball under control it ran on for Adam Bolder who should have done better than chip over the bar wastefully.
It was a crucial miss as Albion surrendered their lead a minute later. Rotherham won a corner and when it was swung in by Sam Wood from the right the ball flew across the six yard box with ex-Albion goal hero Shaun HARRAD able to nudge the ball over the line from no more than a yard out.
On the hour mark Albion made their first change with the welcome return of Billy Kee seeing the withdrawal of Andres Gurrieri. His first action was to send Maghoma racing away from a crossfield ball but Mark Bradley made a superb challenge before the Albion man could get his shot away.
A flurry of changes saw Cleveland Taylor replace the hard working Dyer as reverted to a 4-4-2 and there was a further change as Maghoma pulled up and had to be replaced by Chris Palmer.
In between Rotherham made an attacking change with Kieron Cadogan replaced by Lewis Grabban, the Millers top scorer.
Taylor drilled a low cross just beyond the far post and then hit a low shot into the side netting as Albion pressed the visitors back. Albion missed a great chance with ten minutes to go. John McGrath and Adam Bolder worked the ball into the middle but the ball would not quite come under the control of Zola and Taylor in the Rotherham goal was able to grab the ball gratefully.
An even better chance presented itself to the Congolese striker moments later as Rotherham burst forward and were almost hit on the counter. Adam Bolder's ball forward found Zola onside and able to race away but having skipped round Taylor as he went to ground the angle became more acute and Zola chose to shoot rather than play a pass to Billy Kee and the chance was gone as he shot wide.
Grabban had a chance to punish the Brewers for their profligate finishing but his close range header although on target lacked the power to beat Ross Atkins.
Harrad and Alex Revell had chances towards the end to nick the points but it took a good save from Taylor to keep out Adam Bolder's rasping effort with Billy Kee unable to steer his heade ron target from the final action of the match, the resulting corner.
BURTON: Atkins; Driver, Austin, Stanton, Blanchett; Dyer (Taylor, 67); Bolder, McGrath; Maghoma, Zola, Gurrieri (Kee, 60). Substitutes: James, Richards.
ROTHERHAM: R.Taylor, Harrison, J.Taylor, Revell, Harrad, Bradley, Mullins, Griffiths, Wood, Naylor, Cadogan (Grabban, 68). Substitutes: Tonge, Cresswell, Pringle, Warrington.
Referee: Mr.G.Eltringham (Tyne & Wear)
GOALS: Burton - Zola (40); Rotherham - Harrad (55)