GASSAN Ahadme scored the goal that secured Albion’s League One place for next season in a battling 1-0 victory at Lincoln City
In a game of precious few chances for either side it looked like Albion were going to grip their way to the point they needed to secure survival but Ahadme, on as a second half substitute, made sure with his fourth Albion league goal of the season and first since August. It was not the prettiest of strikes, a prod into the corner as the ball bobbled around inside the six yard box from Joe Powell’s corner, but it meant the world to Albion who moved onto 52 points with the win and out of the clutches of at least six sides below them in the League One table. After such a slow start to the season with just one point from the first eight games, to be safe with three games to spare is no mean feat.
Albion headed to the LNER Stadium for their rearranged game with the Imps showing just the single change to the side that was only beaten by David McGoldrick’s penalty on Saturday at Pride Park. Mustapha Carayol was the man to make way in the squad with Jonny Smith providing the fresh legs and impetus to the attack. With Carayol not making the eighteen at all there was a recall to the bench for experienced midfielder Chris McCann.
The Imps boasted a strong home record, having only lost on home soil to Peterborough United in the league although fourteen of their games at the LNER had ended all square.
After a bright start by the Brewers it was Lincoln who fashioned the first chance in the third minute, a long ball up the line finding Ben House and the striker was able to get a shot in from a narrow angle with Craig MacGillivray well positioned to catch.
Dylan Duffy struck a low effort across goal in the eleventh minute as the home side began to look increasingly comfortable on the ball in midfield.
Albion’s first real foray into a dangerous area won them a corner on thirteen minutes but keeper Carl Rushworth jumped well to easily claim Joe Powell’s corner.
When Smith was brought down in a central position on 29 minutes it offered Powell a chance from his sort of range, 25 yards out, but his effort hit the top of the wall and failed to seriously trouble Rushworth, although the resulting corner picked out the head of Sam Hughes who could not steer his header on target.
Max Sanders threatened to get in behind the Burton defence on 41 minutes but after setting himself for a shot he only found Hughes blocking his way as danger was averted.
Half time: Lincoln City 0-0 Burton Albion
Lincoln introduced substitute Danny Mandroui at the start of the second half and the replacement almost had an instant impact, fizzing a low shot through the Albion six-yard box and not too far wide of the far post.
Albion also upped their tempo and Smith went closest yet for Albion with a curling effort over the angle of post and bar after timing his run well to get onto John Brayford’s incisive pass into the area.
Zac Ashworth also had a good chance on 54 minutes when Deji Oshilaja’s deep cross found its way back to him on the edge of the box but he sliced his effort over the target.
Albion went even closer as they kept the pressure on, Smith, this time, curling against the face of the crossbar from the right hand side of the box.
Lasse Sorensen almost nipped in when a header back towards MacGillivray fell short but the Dane, having poked it past Albion’s keeper could only watch it trickle wide of the post. A real let off for the Brewers.
Albion had a stroke of fortune midway through the half when Mandroui escaped down the left and managed to slip the ball into the path of Olamide Shodipo, the striker nipping in to nick the ball past MacGillivray but also roll it inches wide of the far post.
Taylor was replaced by Ahadme to provide a different option in attack for Albion as the half reached the 67th minute.
And it was AHADME who made the breakthrough on 79 minutes poking the ball inside the post after a scramble from another Powell corner.
Josh Walker was also sent on inside the last ten minutes to try and keep Albion on the front foot in the closing stages, Smith the man to make way after another industrious shift on the right.
Substitute Luke Plange was inches away from cancelling out Academe’s strike as he lunged to try and convert Mandroui’s low ball through the box.
Lincoln tried to put Albion under pressure late on but the Brewers back line were resilient and determined to finish the game with a clean sheet and the final whistle was met with joy by both players and supporters alike.
ALBION: MacGillivray; Brayford, Hughes, Moon; Oshilaja, Helm, Shaughnessy, Powell, Ashworth; Smith (Walker, 81). D.Taylor (Ahadme, 67)
Substitutes: Garratt, Winnall, Kirk, McCann, Latty-Fairweather.
GOALS: ALBION - Ahadme (79)
Referee: Paul Howard
Attendance: 7,645 (243 away)