LIAM Boyce's ninth goal of the season ensured a safe passage into the third round of this season's Emirates FA Cup for the Brewers after a narrow 1-0 victory over League Two side Oldham Athletic
The Northern Irishman made it goals in successive games by sliding home Colin Daniel's cross midway through the first half but Albion had to see off a second half fightback from the home side before finally clinching their place in Monday night's third round draw.
Albion bossed large parts of the first half and perhaps should have been further ahead at the break but Kieran O'Hara made a couple of useful saves after the break and had to survive shouts for a red card when he handled outside his box but a yellow card ensured he finished the game on the pitch and able to ensure a clean sheet guaranteeing Albion's passage through a tricky fixture.
Injury and the intensity of the fixture list meant that Albion showed three changes to the side that produced the impressive midweek win at Sunderland. Colin Daniel returned to the defence as a reshuffle meant Lucas Akins dropping in at right back with both Richard Nartey and John Brayford not fit to start. Kieran Wallace moved into central midfield to provide a shield for the back four alongside Stephen Quinn. That meant a tweak in the formation to a 4-2-3-1 with David Templeton and Joe Sbarra coming into the side in place of Scott Fraser and Oliver Sarkic to play alongside Ryan Edwards as part of the attacking trioe behind lone striker Liam Boyce.
Albion were quickly on the attack and an early corner could have resulted in another stunner from Templeton if he had made a decent connection with his attempted volley but after recovering possession he tricked his way through to find a pass for Sbarra who was halted in his tracks by an offside flag.
Zeus De La Paz in the Oldham goal looked far from assured with his kicking especially when he kicked a clearance straight at Ryan Edwards, under little pressure and was mightily relieved to see the ball rebound over his goal.
Templeton, as so often he is when he starts, was looking a real threat on the ball and he fired a cross not far wide before sending in a searching near post cross that Edwards was not quite able to turn onto the target as the Brewers continued to carry the greater threat early on.
Sbarra found himself in referee Andy Davies book on the quarter of an hour mark after pulling back Alex Iacovitti as the home side looked to try and launch a quick counter. De La Paz continued to look slightly less than convincing needing two chances to catch Wallace's curling effort under no pressure whatsoever.
It was still pretty much all Albion from an attacking perspective and Templeton would have been disappointed to not hit the target when a defensive slip allowed Daniel to slip him in for a chance on goal.
Halfway through the first period and Albion had the opening goal that their dominance had merited. Templeton found a clinical ball through for Daniel overlapping on the left and he picked out the run of BOYCE to sidefoot home from inside the six yard box.
Things werent going great for the hosts when they had to make a substitution before the half hour mark as well with Mohammed Maouche having to come on for Christopher Missilou.
Oldham looked bright in patches but could not find that spark of quality to really open up the Brewers defence with O'Toole often the man in their way with a block or clearance inside the box. But having failed to trouble Kieran O'Hara throughout the first period they were almost level on the stroke of half time when Jonny Smith cut inside and fired low towards the near post, O'Hara doing enough to touch it onto the woodwork.
Half time: Oldham Athletic 0-1 Burton Albion
Albion made a brisk start to the second period as well with Sbarra being set free down the right, his shot blocked when he cut inside to open up the target but it was the start of a sustained period of pressure that Oldham had to do everything to survive.
As the game became somewhat frantic Albion missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 on 53 minutes. Templeton was released down the left by Boyce and the striker was in the middle of the box to receive the ball back after a typically tricky run from the Scot but the striker missed his kick altogether as he looked to finish off a flowing move.
Oldham were definitely coming into the game more and a neat interchange of passes provided the opening for Desire Segbe Azankpo to open up and curl an effort towards goal with O'Hara initially concerned but happy eventually to see it drift wide of his goal.
The game was too open for Albion's liking and substitute Maouche should probably have levelled things on 64 minutes when he worked space on the edge of the box but put his shot too close to O'Hara who cut out the danger low to his left.
And as the ball bobbled around the box on 69 minutes it was Iacovitti who had a great chance to restore parity but only finding the waiting arms of O'Hara.
Smith exploited a good ball through to him on the right to get Daniel one on one but his eventual shot skewed wide of the goal with what looked like a deflection although referee Davies saw it as a goal kick in the end.
Fraser made his entrance for tyhe final quarter of an hour after Templeton had done his bit and he quickly picked out a sliderule pass for Sbarra, the youngster picking out Edwards at the back post but the Australian failed to hit the target. A good chance spurned.
There was an almightly let-off for the Brewers with ten minutes remaining when a long ball over the top and O'Hara made the decision to come and clear up. He came out of his box and handled before trying to get back into his box. With all of a home persuasion baying for a red card Davies produced yellow having deemed it not to be denying a goalscoring opportunity.
During the commotion surrounding the yellow card there was an opportunity for Albion to get Reece Hutchinson back on the pitch after an injury lay-off with Sbarra making his way off.
Smith eventually fired the free kick wide and also slid another chance outside the post as well as the home side's challenge fizzled out and Albion eventually saw themselves through to join the big boys of the Premier League and Championship in Monday evening's draw.