A stunning 3-0 victory at Hillsborough heralded a spectacular start to the new year as Nigel Clough's side fine away form continued with a third successive away win, the first time the club has achieved that feat since their League One promotion season.
Tom Flanagan's second goal in as many away games gave Albion a half time advantage, the defender lashing home from just inside the box and after a barnstorming run from the back and second half goals from Lloyd Dyer and Tom Naylor completed a comprehensive victory over the managerless Owls.
Dyer raced onto Lucas Akins' through ball less than five minutes after the break to slot home and Naylor wrapped things up with a poachers finish at the back post after more good work from Dyer and Akins. It was Albion's biggest victory on the road since Colchester United in April 2016 although a looked a long way away when Akins saw an early penalty saved. On its own the result was not enough to lift Albion out of the Championship bottom three but the Brewers are only in the drop zone on goal difference as the chance for Clough to reinforce his squad during the transfer window opens.
Rotating the squad was key for Nigel Clough as he made three changes from the side that battled to a goalless draw with Norwich City on Saturday. Having been rested in readiness for the trip to Hillsborough both John Brayford and Jake Buxton were recalled to the starting line-up in a five man back line. Brayford slotted in on the right hand side of the defence whilst Buxton was one of three central defenders. Will Miller was the other man to return as part of a four man midfield. Jamie Allen, Sean Scannell and Marvin Sordell all dropped to the bench.
After a bright start to the game Albion were handed a penalty after just six minutes of the game. Will Miller intercepted a loose pass out of defence and scampered into the penalty area. It looked aS though Jacob Butterfield, covering, had got to the ball first but referee Darren England pointed to the spot. Akins stepped up but saw Joe Wildsmith drop to his left to save the spot kick.
After a sloppy start it was Wednesday who started to string their passes together and they were looking for their wide men in the main, Morgan Fox sending a wickedly teasing cross through the Burton penalty area on 17 minutes which evaded both yellow and blue shirts alike.
The tenacity of Miller was again evident a minute later as good pressure in the centre circle allowed the former Spurs youngster to send Dyer through. Only a very tight looking offside decision prevented the Burton winger from having a free run through on goal. Albion continued to enjoy the better of the play and Flanagan made Wildsmith save his header after patient and probing work from Naylor on the right. Akins was also close to making amends for his missed penalty when he kept the ball in on the left hand side, when many thought the ball had run out of play, but after cutting inside his low shot only found the side netting.
Both sides were struggling to create clear openings but Lucas Joao spurned a decent chance for the Owls when a right wing cross picked him out at the back post, the big Portugeuse forward heading over from close range.
Jack Hunt was proving to be a good outlet for the home side getting into advanced positions on the right and his cross that was only half cleared on 34 minutes fell nicely for David Jones to try his luck from outside the box, a probing shot ending up just wide of the target.
Regaining their attacking flow once more it was Albion who stunned the Hillsborough crowd with the opening goal on 37 minutes. Naylor played the ball into the path of FLANAGAN bursting forwards and after riding a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and getting the luck of the bounce the defender slammed home his second goal in as many away games.
The Brewers were almost the architects of their own downfall as Wednesday went in search of an equaliser. Buxton and Bywater went for the same ball with the Burton keeper spilling it near the touch line. Adam Reach did well to keep the ball alive and deliver a pinpoint cross for Jordan Rhodes to head on goal. Fortunately for Albion Bywater had got back and was able to clutch the ball as it camer towards him and prevent what looked a certain equaliser.
As the game entered first half stoppage time Albion went hunting for a second goal but when Akins' curling effort landed straight into the arms of Wildsmith that was the last chance of the first period over. Wednesday left the pitch to a chorus of boos. Just what all those of an Albion persuasion wanted to hear.
Half time: Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Burton Albion
Wednesday, not surprisingly, were first to make a change with skipper Glenn Loovens failing to appear for the second half and Daniel Pudil coming on his place at the back.
Less than five minutes into the second half though and it was Albion strolling through to double their advantage and heap more misery on the home fans. Wednesday was trying to build an attack but having been dispossessed in midfield Albion turned defence into attack, Akins playing DYER in and the winger bursting through to slot past Wildsmith in front of the Burton fans.
Owls caretaker boss Lee Bullen responded by sending on his big striker Atdhe Nuhiu in place of Butterfield to try and salvage something. The big frontman was almost in the right place at the right time as Wednesday upped their game. A curling cross in from the left was headed goalwards by Rhodes forcing Bywater into a good save low down to his right and the ball was nicked off the toe of the substitute before he could pounce for the rebound.
With a new focus of their attack on the pitch Wednesday began to look more of a threat and it was all hands to the pumps for Albion at the back as the ball was continually pumped into the Burton box during a spell of concerted home pressure.
Albion were having to play more on the counter attack now and they almost had a clear opening just after the hour mark, Murphy sending Dyer away down the left once more and only a recovering defender prevented the ball getting through to Naylor unmarked racing in on the right hand side.
Flanagan blotted his copybook with a booking on 61 minutes after halting Hunt's burst down the right and Hunt was soon replaced by Liam Palmer as Bullen played his last card to try and turn things around.
Bywater it was who came to Albion's aid again on 70 minutes with an excellent save low down to his right as Nuhiu lashed in a low shot, the keeper's save ensuring the ball went past the outside of the post at the expense of just a corner.
Clough opted to turn to his bench for the final twenty minutes and it was Miller who made way as Allen was brought in to occupy the right hand side of midfield.
Wednesday continued to probe and send crosses into the Burton box and Fox was the next to get up first and head towards goal but this time Bywater was able to watch as the ball dropped safely wide of the post.
Nuhiu finally got the cvhance to show his aerial strength with a little uder ten minutes remaining as Wednesday won a corner and the big Kosovan got up early to head Ross Wallace's delivery onto the roof of the net as Albion survived another threat on their goal.
As Hillsborough emptied it was Albion who made it 3-0 with a couple of minutes to go. Dyer and Akins worked the ball superbly around the edge of the Wednesday box and when Akins played the ball to the back post, NAYLOR stole in completely unmarked to stroke home.
Albion brought on Sean Scannell and Joe Sbarra for the closing moments in place of Murphy and Dyer but there was precious little to worry the Brewers by this stage and a remarkable victory was secured to see in the new year in style.