NATHAN Broadhead capped his first start in the Football League with two goals in three minutes at the end of the first half to steer the Brewers to a 2-1 win at Gillingham
On a day when a swirling and blustery wind made it difficult to play free flowing football it was the Brewers, ultimately, who mastered the conditions better after the Gills had taken an early lead when keeper Kieran O'Hara was unable to cleanly take Mark Marshall's free kick allowing Ousseynou Cisse to pounce on the ball and fire home.
Albion dominated the first half and missed several good chances, including a penalty from Lucas Akins that was saved by Bonham before Broadhead struck with a peach of a strike on 42 minutes before showing his predatory instincts to finish Ryan Edward's low cross from close range on the stroke of half time. As much as the Gills pressed in the second half they could not find an equaliser and in the end Albion could have won by a bigger margin had they made the most of several good chances.
With Stephen Quinn unavailable serving his one-match suspension for two yellow cards against Ipswich Town there was just the one change for Albion going into the first away game of the League One season. Everton loanee Broadhead given his first League start after impressing in his substitute appearance last time out. Scott Fraser dropped back into a central midfield role to facilitate Broadhead wide on the left of the attacking trio.
The difficulty of contending with the windy conditions was evident from the off with Edwards making a good run through the middle and trying to find Broadhead with a pass square to his left until the wind got hold of the ball and pushed it straight to home keeper Bonham in completely the opposition direction.
And the conditions played their part as the hosts grabbed the lead after just seven minutes. O'Toole was penalised for a foul wide out on the Gills left and Marshall's delivery was swirling in the air catching out O'Hara who couldnt take it cleanly with the loose ball smashed high into the roof the net by CISSE for the perfect start.
O'Toole was then penalised again for a similar foul, this time on Alex Jakubiak, earning the summer signing a yellow card before Albion twice threatened to get back on level terms. Good work down the left resulted in Boyce heading a Colin Daniel cross over the bar before a defence splitting pass from Fraser gave Boyce another chance, this time the striker making room for a shot on the edge of the box but pulling his effort just wide.
Albion really should have been level on 19 minutes from a promising set piece move. Broadhead's free kick was fed back to Edwards just outside the box and his low effort was spilled by Bonham but Broadhead was unable to steer it past the young keeper.
A frustrating afternoon for the Brewers got even more so just after the half hour mark when Scott Fraser tricked his way into the box only to be brought down by the outstretched leg of Stuart O'Keefe, Bonham diving low to his left to keep out Akins' penalty.
Little had been seen of Gillingham since their goal but they almost grabbed a second on 39 minutes when Mikael Ndjoli found space centrally to send a dipping, swirling effort just over O'Hara's crossbar.
Just when it looked like Albion were going to go in at the break behind they struck to devastating effect on 42 minutes with a stunning equaliser. Fraser burst forwards again and picked out BROADHEAD out on the left, the youngster unerringly finding the corner of Bonham's net from 20 yards on the angle with a sumptuous first time finish. An early contender for goal of the season for sure.
And the Everton loanee was at it again three minutes later this time from all of a couple of yards finishing off Edwards low cross after good work from the Australian inside the box to latch onto Akins' astute pass.
It was a great way to finish a first half where Albion had looked the better side for long periods but only taken their chances late on.
Half time: Gillingham 1-2 Burton Albion
The response from the home side at half time was to make a double change with both Jakubiak and Ndjoli replaced with Mikael Mandron and former Albion man Mark Byrne as assistant Paul Raynor manned the technical area with manager Steve Evans serving a touchline ban.
Mandron had a sight of goal in the early stages but was foiled by an excellent block by O'Toole on the edge of the box and less than ten minutes into the half the Gills had made their final change with Elliott List replacing goalscorer Cisse. That one looked to be more enforced by injury but it was a final throw of the dice by the home side as the unforgiving conditions continued to make the game a lottery at times.
And Byrne, a member of Albion's Conference winning squad back in 2009, was close to a goal against his former employers as the ball bobbled and bounced around in the Burton box with Wallace getting in the way to divert the ball wide at the expense of a corner.
But Albion were far from sitting on their lead and a dangerous free kick whipped in by Fraser was headed goalwards by Boyce, the ball just looping over the bar to Bonham's relief.
Flowing football was proving increasingly difficult and Byrne had the chance to deliver a couple of telling crosses on his trusty left foot but fortunately, from an Albion perspective, they came to nothing as the Gills failed to get anyone on the end of them inside the box.
When Albion were able to get the ball down they made good progress and a lovely move involving Fraser, Akins and Brayford saw the Brewers full back scoop a shot over the bar from inside the box as Nigel Clough's men looked for a two goal cushion to take into the latter stages of the game.
Broadhead had his eyes on a hat-trick in the latter stages, Bonham cutting out a Boyce cross intended for him at the far post and when Fraser won a free kick 25 yards out in a central position there was only one man with designs on taking it and he wasnt far away with a curling effort that dipped just wide.
There was a third chance for the youngster on 83 minutes skipping past two clumsy challenges but rather than go for the tight angle at the near post he tried to square to Boyce allowing Bonham to intercept and Boyce was not far away from a first goal of the season with a low drive across the keeper that missed the far post as well.
Broadhead was then substituted with five minutes remaining as Reece Hutchinson came on to shore things up down the left hand side after a memorable afternoon for the Welsh under-21 international.
Byrne had a late, late chance to grab a point for the Gills when O'Hara came and punched a Marshall free kick straight to him but the ball dropped agonisingly wide of the post. The final whistle sounded moments later and Albion had their first win of the season and a day to remember for young Nathan Broadhead.