ALBION completed their away campaign in League One with a 1-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle who sealed promotion with their win.
Former Brewers loan striker Niall Ennis grabbed the only goal of the game in the dying moments of the first half when things were getting nervy for the Green Army who knew that victory would secure their place in the second tier for next season. Albion had chances to take something from the game, the best being Dale Taylor’s late header but despite a good showing Albion left Devon with no reward for their efforts.
With safety secured last time out against Lincoln City, Dino Maamria made two changes for the trip to league leaders Plymouth Argyle.Having run himself into the ground for the Albion cause in recent games, Dale Taylor was given a breather and Josh Walker given another chance to impress in attack. There was also a recall for Academy graduate Thierry Latty-Fairweather but with Zac Ashworth staying in the side at left wing back the versatile youngster was employed on the right hand side, Deji Oshilaja pushing further forwards on the right hand side.
For the Brewers it was a third away game in the space of eight days and didn’t come much tougher than against the side looking to secure promotion to the Championship after an outstanding campaign.
With a full and vociferous Home Park crowd behind the hosts Danny Mayor had an early chance to settle any nerves but he skewed an effort across goal after Sam Hughes had blocked his initial attempt
It was not all one way traffic with Albion threatening on eleven minutes, Ashworth curling a cross in from the left and Oshilaja getting up well but unable to steer his header on target, keeper Callum Burton happy to see it loop over his crossbar. John Brayford was closer with a back post header from Joe Powell’s corner three minutes later to at least test Burton.
Walker nicked possession wide on the left as Argyle’s defence momentarily switched off but as the striker bore down goal defender James Wilson tracked back to make an important intervention before Walker could get his shot away.
It was turning into quite an even game but a combination of Jasper Moon and Craig MacGillivray had to contrive to clear the ball from off the line when Adam Randell curled a deflected effort towards goal on 26 minutes.
The hosts began to get up a head of steam and a clever ball down the channel found Mayor with room to advance towards goal but having dinked the ball over MacGillivray as he advanced from his goal, was denied as Brayford anticipated well and headed clear.
Ennis went close to breaking the deadlock as half time approached, Moon again in the right place to do enough and deflect his shot over the crossbar and from the resulting corner Plymouth went closest yet, defender Macaulay Gillesphey sending a header onto the top of the crossbar.
But ENNIS was able to put the home side ahead in the final minute of the half breaking clear down the right and cutting inside the box before sliding home via a deflection off the recovering Moon.
Half time: Plymouth Argyle 1-0 Burton Albion
An early knock for Shaughnessy in the first ninety seconds of the second period led to a first change for Albion with Taylor sent on to replace him with Oshilaja dropping deeper to fill the gap in midfield. Play restarted with a free kick for the home side but a head injury for Moon as he went up to challenge immediately halted proceedings once more. Unable to continue after lengthy treatment it meant another quick change for Albion with Charlie Kirk the preferred option in a move that saw Oshilaja slot into the back three.
After soaking up some strong pressure Albion were able to advance down the left with Ashworth sending in a good cross for Walker whose attempt to flick the ball in was blocked. As Albion maintained the pressure Powell got to the bye line and chipped in a cross that Hughes met with a firm header only for it to be blocked at close range again.
Ashworth was the first name to go in referee Lewis Smith’s book for a mistimed tackle on Randell on half way as both sides battled for possession.
Plymouth were looking for a second goal to settle things definitively their way and they were wasteful on 76 minutes when substitute Ryan Hardie was denied inside the box before Callum Wright screwed the rebound wide. The midfielder was then invited to burst forwards but dragged a left foot shot comfortably wide of MacGillivray’s upright.
Another substitute, Finn Aziz tried to wrap things as the game headed into the final ten minutes but, like Wright, dragged his effort across goal and harmlessly out for a goal kick.
MacGillivray produced a smart stop at his near post as Bali Mumba took his turn to try and score Argyle’s second from close range.
Six added minutes were indicated by the officlals to delay the promotion party for Argyle. In that time Albion sent on Smith and Mustapha Carayol and the latter picked up a yellow card for tugging Mumba to the ground as he tried to burst into the box.
Taylor had a late chance to equalise and spoil the atmosphere in the green part of Devon when he headed wide from ten yards out.
It proved to be the last action of the game as Plymouth celebrated their promotion to the Championship.
ALBION: MacGillivray; Brayford, Hughes, Moon (Kirk, 53); Latty-Fairweather (Carayol, 90), Powell, Shaughnessy (Taylor, 48), Ashworth; Helm, Walker (Smith, 90), Oshilaja.
Substitutes: Garratt, McCann, Ahadme.
GOALS: PLYMOUTH - Ennis (45)
Referee: Lewis Smith
Attendance: 16,634 (283 away)