MAX Watters' second half goal condemned the Brewers to defeat on the road as play-off chasing MK Dons edged victory at Stadium:MK.
With not much to choose between the two sides it was always going to be a game of fine margins and Watters, who had several first half chances, finally found the back of the net midway through the second period as a through ball found him through and able to convert.
It was a touch harsh on the Brewers who rode out periods of pressure to force errors from the Dons defence but could not find the cutting edge to take any of the, mostly, half chances that came their way, particularly late in the first half.
Looking to get the Brewers away from a run fo three successive league defeats Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made five changes from last weekend's reversat at home to Charlton. Both Terry Taylor and Daniel Jebbison returned from international duty and were restored to the starting line-up immediately, Taylor slotting back into midfield alongside Michael Mancienne and Jebbison coming straight back into attack. With Deji Oshilaja starting a suspension for his red card against Charlton there was a return to the defence for Michael Bostwick who also assumed the skipper's armband. Tom Hamer returned after his one game ban to fill the right wing back slot and there was a first league start since the opening day of the season for Jacob Maddox, the loanee pairing up with Joe Powell to support Jebbison.
Less than ninety seconds were on the clock when the home side spurned a good chance to grab control of the game. A long ball down the right channel got Max Watters in behind the Burton defence and the striker advanced deep into the Burton box before trying to slip the ball beyond Garratt but pushing it wide enough that Scott Twine could not sneak onto it at the back post.
Twine then turned provider with a sumtuous ball in to Watters and the striker this time lifted the ball beyond Garratt but without the power to go in as Ryan Leak got back to clear the danger as the MK striker looked set to celebrate.
Albion began to grow into the game after the home sides intital burst and Taylor was quick to set MAddox free in the box with Aden Baldwin getting a vital nick on the ball to prevent the ex-Chelsea man getting his shot off.
Hamer picked up an yellow card within the first quarter of an hour when referee Neil Hair adjudged him to have baulked home keeper Andrew Fisher as he looked to release the ball quickly after gathering at a corner.
The game paused for a few minutes mid way through the half when Leak appeared to pick up a blood injury after an aerial challenge with Peter Kioso and required a period of treatment before being able to continue.
Albion were closing to snatching the lead on the half hour mark when they waited patiently and picked the ball off MK as they overplayed. Borthwick-Jackson refused the easy pass and instead found Taylor in an advanced position and he quickly found Powell on the left, the winger's cross finding Jebbison in the box and the striker unable to turn it inside the post, firing just wide.
Having snuffed out the MK threat for a good while the home side started to press forwards again in the latter stages of the opening period, Watters again making inroads into the Burton box before pulling the ball across the face of goal and as they kept up the pressure a loose ball came to Kioso, the defender letting fly from 25 yards and seeing it go not far wide.
Maddox exited the game in first half stoppage time after pulling up with what appeared to be a hamstring problem meaning an early introduction for Kane Hemmings from the bench.
Half time: MK Dons 0-0 Burton Albion
The home side started the second period brightly and a flurry of corners, initiated by Bostwick's execellent block on a Kasumu cross, had the Brewers under the cosh for several minutes until Jebbison was eventually able to clear the danger.
Albion again weathered home pressure to grow into the second period and JEbbison did it all himself on 63 minutes winning possession and weaving through a couple of challenges to find himself on the edge of the MK penalty area but his composure failed him on the shot, skewing it high and wide.
When WATTERS had another chance at the other end within minutes, latching on to MAtt O'Riley's threaded pass, he showed a calm head to get goalside of his defender and calmly steer it beyond Garratt.
A good chance to equalise came Albion's way on 69 minutes but meeting Hamer's cross at the back post, Borthwick-Jackson, on the stretch could not quite volley home the opportunity.
Mancienne found in himself in referee Hair's book for a poor challenge on Kasumu, the midfielder's fifth caution of the season.
Shortly afterwards, with ten minutes remaining he was one of two players replaced as Albion pushed for the equaliser. Joe Powell joined him in heading for the bench as the energetic, fresh legs of Omari Patrick and Charlie Lakin entered the fray.
And while Albion bossed much of what remained in the game and had the home side penned in their own half a clear cut chance couldnt be fashioned to find an equaliser leaving Albion frustrated at the final whistle.
ALBION: (3-4-2-1) Garratt; Shaughnessy, Bostwick, Leak; Hamer, Mancienne (Lakin, 80), Taylor, Borthwick-Jackson; Maddox (Hemmings, 45), Powell (Patrick, 80); Jebbison.
Substitutes: Balcombe, Akins, Patrick, O'Connor, Gilligan, Lakin.
GOALS: MK DONS - Watters (65)
Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 9,770 (424 away)