BEN Fox's 91st minute goal gave the Brewers a welcome home win over Bristol Rovers after a tense and often frustrating afternoon for the Brewers
The locally born midfielder, on as a second half substitute to try and make things happen, did just that, when he turned smartly in the box onto a ball from Lucas Akins to tuck the ball past Jack Bonham just second after the added time board had gone up.
Albion had hit the woodwork twice in the second half through Kyle McFadzean and Will Miller who was so unlucky to see his curling effort come back out off the inside of the post but it was Fox that finally produced a moment of cunning brilliance to snatch a deserved three points for Albion after a second half where they battled for long spells to try and break down a determined and organised Rovers defence who ended the game having scored in only one of their last seven league outings.
Having made half a dozen changes for the Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Port Vale in midweek the side to take on Rovers showed just two changes to the starting line up that suffered defeat in League One at Wycvombe the previous weekend. Damien McCrory was restored to the left back berth with the back four taking on a more recognisable line-up asd John Brayford switched back to right back. The change allowed Lucas Akins to return to a central striker role with Liam Boyce away on international duty with Northern Ireland. The other change came on the left hand side of attack where Marvin Sordell missed out having picked up a hip injury in training on Friday. His place went to Will Miller who made his first league start since January when he picked up his knee injury against QPR.
And it was the former Spurs youngster who made a bright start inside the first minute with a purposeful run that drew a foul on the edge of the box inside the first sixty seconds which gave him the chance to swing in the free kick which came back out for Stephen Quinn to fire a tame effort straight at Jack Bonham in the Rovers goal.
Rovers settled down on a blustery afternoon at the Pirelli and when Ben Turners clearance was charged down it allowed former Tamworth winger Alex Rodman to make good progress on the Rovers right sending over a teasing cross that was just out of the reach of both Alex Jakubiak and Ollie Clarke in the middle as Albion tried to get back and cover.
Quinn made a better fist of his next effort on 14 minutes picking up a loose ball in midfield and taking a step forwards before forcing Bonham to get a vital touch on the ball to divert it wide of the post.
The game desperately needed some quality as both sides struggled to find any real rhythm and flow to their game. Too mnay passes were going astray and both keepers remained relatively untested. Rovers skipper Tom Lockyer picked up a yellow card for deliberately handballing on the ground as Miller threatened to scamper around him on the left. From the free kick Jake Hesketh picked up the ball on the right and eventually managed to work space for the cross that was cleared at the near post as Bonham started to come to get there before Akins.
It was Kyle McFadzean with the best effort so far on 39 minutes, a dipping and swerving shot forcing Bonham to dive across to his right and get a strong hand to push the ball wide.
Scott Fraser also found himself in referee Coy's book when he deliberately delayed Rovers from taking a free kick as frustration on both sides grew.
Defender Tong Craig thought he had given the visitors the lead just before half time amidst a scramble inside the Burton box. Rovers luck was out though as the assistants flag was quickly raised to rule out the experienced former Millwall man's effort.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Bristol Rovers
The quality didnt really improve in the early stages of the second half, Ollie Clarke perhaps summing things up with a wayward shot from inside the box that threatened the corner flag more than it threatened Dimitar Evtimov's goal.
With Scott Fraser seemingly struggling it was on 55 minutes that Albion made the first change of the game with Ben Fox sent on to try and inject some life into the game as it threatened to meander along.
Fox's introduction certainly gave the Brewers a lift and it was his pass on the hour mark that helped release Hesketh for a run to the edge of the box ending in a curling low shot that just ended the wrong side of the upright.
Albion were knocking on the door now and with twenty minutes to go it looked as though the deadlock had been broken when Miller cut inside his man and bent a shot on goal that looked for all the world like his first of the season until it struck the inside of the post and bounced out again. Desperately unlucky for Miller.
Ollie Clarke was next into referee Coy's box, a scything challenge on Hesketh halting a quick break out after the referee had allowed the Brewers to take a quick free kick after a foul on Allen.
With Miller tiring as the game ticked on he was replaced for the last twelve minutes by Joe Sbarra as Albion looked for another substitution to provide a spark in the closing stages.
When McFadzean hit the bar with a header from a Sbarra corner the ball seemed to come down nicely for Akins inside the six yard box but his header was too close to Bonham who gratefully clung onto the ball.
Fox's last gasp finish brought a sense of relief for the Brewers after a difficult week and put a smile on all Brewers faces, the young midfielders sheer joy at scoring evident for all to see at the finish.