ALBION'S League One campaign finished with a 3-1 defeat at Peterborough United as two first half goals from Joe Ward and an own goal from John Brayford left the Brewers with too much to do in the second half in the search for a winning end to the season.
There was a bright spark towards the end as substitute Alex Bradley bagged his first senior goal five minutes from time only for Ivan Toney to seal victory for Posh three minutes later to ensure that Albion finished ninth on their return to the third tier of English football whilst Darren Ferguson's side missed out on the play-offs courtesy of results elsewhere.
For the final outing in League One this season there were a couple of surprise inclusions as both Liam Boyce and Brad Collins made quicker than expected returns from injury to take their places in the starting eleven. Collins came back in for Stephen Bywater who returned to the bench and Boyce's selection meant something of a shuffle of the pack as he replaced Kyle McFadzean. Boyce returned as part of the attacking three with John Brayford shifting across from right back to partner Kieran Wallace at the heart of the defence and Ben Fox switching to right back and Scott Fraser dropping back into the trio of midfielders alongside Jamie Allen and Stephen Quinn.
After a bright start from the hosts it was Albion who had the first opening of the game, Marcus Harness robbing a hesitant Ben White before getting into the box and cutting inside. To his credit White got back and made a good challenge to block the striker's low effort.
And Harness was even closer on seven minutes turning Jamie Allen's corner goalwards where keeper Aaron Chapman made a good save with Boyce unable to sort his feet out quickly enough to bag the rebound.
Scott Fraser was next to see a decent sight of goal ten minutes in drilling a low shot wide of the post after more good work from Harness and Boyce was not far from latching on to a low cross from Akins doing well running the channels.
As Peterborough began to bare their teeth in attack it was Collins who came out well to push away a dangerous cross from Marcus Maddison and moments later the Chelsea loanee could only watch as a searching cross picked out Toney at the back post and his curling effort came back off the crossbar.
Akins almost missed what looked a half decent chance when he went for a low effort when chipping the ball over Chapman might have been a better option but the goal to break the deadlock in a very open game came on nineteen minutes. Toney showed good strength to hold off the challenge of Quinn who had been pulled out to the Posh left and he showed great composure to put the ball on a plate for WARD at the back post to slide home from close range.
Ward was inches away from grabbing a second goal of the game on 31 minutes, a dangerous run down the right hand side of the penalty area resulting in a hopeful cross that almost deceived Collins until the tall stopper clawed the ball away from under his own crossbar, former Posh defender Colin Daniel completing the clearance.
Collins was beaten again on 35 minutes with the goal coming from the same area of the pitch in terms of delivery, this time full Back Jason Naismith fizzing in a low cross that seemed to go in off BRAYFORD before Toney could apply a finishing touch.
But Albion were far from down and out and Daniel was inches away from halving the deficit firing into the side netting when he got goalside of his man to latch onto an astute pass from Fraser inside the box.
Chances continued to come at both ends and Collins had to use his feet to deny the experienced Tomlin whose low shot went through the legs of Wallace but not the keeper and Marcus Maddison was close to deceiving Collins with a curling free kick that almost nestled in the top corner instead dropping inches over the bar onto the roof of the net.
Half time: Peterborough United 2-0 Burton Albion
Both sides made changes for the second half. Posh brought on the pacey Siriki Dembele in place of the dangerous looking Maddison who had taken a knock early on but appeared to have shaken it off while Albion made a double change with the introduction of Jake Buxton and Bradley in place of Quinn and Boyce. Buxton slotted in alongside Brayford with Wallace moving forwards into midfield. Bradley dropped into a wide position on the right hand side of what appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 formation.
Dembele was certainly a livewire and his shot on 52 minutes brought a good reaction save from Collins beating the ball away from goal and making sure that a supporting blue shirt could not get there first to the rebound.
Albion began to come forward and Bradley was showing good energy down the right as the Brewers looked for a goal. Daniel got forward well to provide a couple of testing crosses and Fraser forced Chapman to dive low to his right to hang onto a shot from outside the box.
Dembele was finding plenty of space to exploit when he came infield and in a similar move to his previous raid from the left this time his shot was wide of Collins but also wide of the post.
On 73 minutes Dembele turned provider with another pacey run into the Burton box but after teeing the ball up for fellow substitute George Cooper he looked on unimpressed as Cooper blazed his shot well over the bar.
On a final day full of twists and turns the home fans suddenly erupted when they thought rivals Doncaster had been pegged back meaning a spot in the play-offs was on the cards but their joy turned to agony when it turned out that the goal at Doncaster had been disallowed and their nerves were even more on edge when BRADLEY halved the arrears with five minutes remaining, firing home at the second attempt after his first, close range, effort had been blocked inside the six yard box.
Peterborough put things to bed with a couple of minutes remaining with Toney lashing in off the underside of the crossbar after finding himself with time and space on the edge of the box.
Substitute Reece Hutchinson had Albion's last shot in anger of the season late on but that effort went wide and when the final whistle went to bring the curtain down on the League One season both sides were all set to do it all again next season.