Cheltenham Town inflicted Burton Albion's first home defeat of the season and in addition prevented the Brewers scoring for the first time this season as they leapt to third place in the npower League 2 table courtesy of second half goals from Josh Low and James Spencer. After an even first half where only a great save from Robins keeper Jack Butland kept the scores level at the break a 47th minute header from Low caught Albion flat and it was a goal from which they never really recovered.
Full back Kevin Amankwaah was given a full Brewers debut against one of the sides he appeared for on loan earlier in his career. The experienced right sided player was one of two changes to the side that won at Rotherham United last weekend. Calvin Zola was the second change as he returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Billy Kee who, like Andy Corbett, dropped to the bench.
For the visitors there was a return to the Pirelli for former midfielder Russell Penn who spent two years with Albion being the record signing for the club when he joined from Kidderminster Harriers in summer 2009.
Albion were the first side to seriously threaten the scorers with a dangerous corner in the 6th minute. Calvin Zola's industry inside the penalty area won the set piece and when John McGrath's flag kick was aimed at the back post Cheltenham looked unsettled and Ryan Austin, steaming inaround the back could not quite get there and the ball went wide of the post for a goal kick.
The popular central defender also had Albion's next chance in the 16th minute. when Marlon Pack avoided a card for a slightly cynical trip on the advancing Jimmy Phillips it allowed an inviting opportunit for Austin to try his luck with a 40 yard free kick that flew disappointingly widde of the target.
Former Derby County defender Steve Elliott decided he wanted to try and join the centre halves goal attempts club moments later when a corner kick found its way to him beyond the far post but his firmly effort was well turned away by Ross Atkins. The Albion stopper then had to get down well to keep out a header from Sido Jombati that looked goalbound.
Just as Cheltenham looked to be dominating the game Albion struck back with an effort of their own through the pacey running of Cleveland Taylor who drove at the Robins defence and unleashed an angled drive that was not far off target.
Tony James picked up the first yellow card of the game after making his third foul of the night on former team mate Russell Penn. The Brewers then strung together their best move of the evening so far on the haf hour mark. Kevin Amankwaah intercepted the ball and surged forwards feeding Taylor of the right. The winger picked out a first time cross that looked destined for the head of Zola before Cheltenham skipper Alan Bennett got in a superbly timed header to flick the ball away from danger.
Former Cheltenham striker Justin Richards was then denied the opening goal of the game by a superb save from England under-21 keeper Jack Butland. Again Zola provided the industry inside the penalty area and when he set the ball up for Taylor his measured cross to the back post gave Richards time to pick his spot but the keeper made himself big and somehow got a fantastic block in to deny Albion's leading scorer.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Cheltenham Town
The visitors caught Albion cold within two minutes of the start of the second half. On loan Everton full back Luke Garbutt swung in a peach of a cross and Josh LOW met the cross with a firm header that Atkins got his hands to but was powerless to prevent going into the net.
The Brewers went lucky not to find themselves two goals down shortly after when James Spencer found himself in space but his rising drive flew just over Atkins' crossbar.
Kaid Mohamed was also tempted to try his luck from distance and his effort also flew off target before Jimmy Phillips reignited home hopes with a surging run and cross from the right that resulted in Cleveland Taylor hitting a rising shot wide of the target when a ball inside to a team mate may well have been a better option.
Phillips tried his luck in the 64th minute and produced another excellent save from Butland. the ball sat up nicely for the winger to try his luck from the edge of the box but the keeper got his fingertips to it to touch it over the bar. From the resulting corner kick though Cheltenham broke and doubled their lead. Mohamed sped away down the right and when Tony James' slip on the edge of the area allowed the striker to advvance further and provide a cross that James SPENCER was able to bundle in.
Albion's response was to throw on Aaron Webster and Billy Kee on 67 minutes with Cleveland Taylor and Danny Blanchett the men withdrawn to allow the change. Kee was almost instantly in the action turning on a low pass into the area only for Alan Bennett to make a superb intervention to prevent the shot.
Burton were struggling to make any serious impression on the Robins defence and even when there were any loose balls inside the Cheltenham box there was always a visiting defender in there to get in a block.
Zola managed to get a flicked header away but Butland was able to watch the ball go just wide of his post. Substitute Chris Palmer was then denied in the closing stages as a deflection took the ball into the awaiting arms of Butland.
Albion were close to conceding what would have been a harsh third when some hesitant defending allowed substitute Jeff Goulding to hit an overhead kick off the top of the crossbar.
ALBION: Atkins; Amankwaah, James, Austin, Blanchett; Taylor, Bolder, McGrath, Phillips; Richards, Zola. Substitutes: Poole, Webster, Corbett, Palmer, Kee.
CHELTENHAM: Butland; Elliott, Pack, Low, Spencer, Bennett, Penn, Garbutt, Jombati, Mohamed, Summerfield. Substitutes: Lowe, Duffy, Goulding, Smikle, Graham.
GOALS: Cheltenham - Low (47), Spencer (65)
Referee: Mr.S.Mathieson (Cheshire)