JOHN Brayford put Albion on course for victory with the opening goal on his 35th birthday as Albion took all the points from a tense 2-1 victory over Forest Green Rovers.
The skipper chose the perfect time to score, barely seconds before the half time whistle, after a scrappy first half and it was never a comfortable ride for the Brewers as they took until the 89th minute to extend their lead, Bobby Kamwa scoring at the second attempt. Forest Green refused to give in and having earlier seen Ben Garratt make a superb save from Jamille Matt's penalty, Myles Peart-Harris pulled one back deep into stoppage time but Albion held on to record back to back League wins for the first time since November 2021.
Looking to build upon the Boxing Day victory over Lincoln City Dino Maamria made two changes for the first EFL trip to Forest Green Rovers. Adrian Mariappa returned at the heart of defence in place of Sam Hughes, who dropped out after picking up a knock in the second half against the Imps. Further up the pitch Tyler Onyango returned in place of Kamwa as Dino Maamria freshened up his attacking options for the final game of 2022.
Starting just one place above the Brewers in the table the home side started briskly but took until the twelfth minute to create a serious chance, a corner from the left pinged into the box and the ball eventually coming to Jamie MATT who lifted his shot over the bar from twelve yards.
Albion took a while to settle and get a foothold in the game and their first real chance came on 28 minutes when Deja Oshilaja was able to play Jonny Smith in down the left and his cross was aimed towards Adeboyejo in the centre with his effort smuggled around the post by keeper Luke McGee.
A lung bursting run from Onyango on 36 minutes took him deep into Rovers territory but with the angle to goal tightening all the time the best he could do was win a corner to keep the pressure on the home defence.
As the game entered the solitary minute of added time at the end of the first half Albion were hunting a goal and it came as Hamer’s cross was cleared by Baily Cargill and Terry Taylor was able to send a wicked corner to the back post where the birthday boy, BRAYFORD, headed home.There was barely time for Rovers to kick-off again before referee Thomas Kirk brought the half to a close. A great time to grab a goal.
Half time: Forest Green Rovers 0-1 Burton Albion
An elaborate training ground routine for a free kick, early in the second period, was eventually worked to Onyango for a low cross that was deflected behind for a corner but this time Albion could not capitalise from Taylor’s delivery.
Forest Green tried to mount some pressure with some searching balls over the top which were stretching the Brewers backline but it was Jonny Smith with the next big chance of the game when a Hamer long throw found its way to him on the penalty spot with the winger unable to keep his shot down.
Referee Kirk awarded Rovers a penalty midway through the second half harshly adjudging Corrie Ndaba to have bundled Josh March over inside the box for what seemed like just a coming together. Skipper Jamie Matt stepped up to take responsibility for pulling the hosts level but Ben Garratt was equal to his effort going away to his left to push the ball away from goal.
Albion turned to their bench on 77 minutes with Kamwa entering the fray in place of Smith who had been quieter than on Monday.
But for all their pressure Albion hit Rovers with a sucker punch of a goal on 89 minutes. KAMWA did well to turn his man giving him the opportunity to burst into the box and after forcing a save from McGee at his near post the ball looped up nicely allowing him to guide a stooping header inside the near post.
Albion were not home and hosed by any means as Rovers piled forwards and halved the deficit three minutes into added time, Cargill was able to flick on a long ball forward and PEART-HARRIS was able to slot home from the edge of the box.
Rovers attempts to force an equaliser by pumping the ball forwards were all to no avail. It had not been pretty but Albion had got the job done and with Morecambe’s victory at home to Accrington it ensured that Albion would start 2023 outside of the League One bottom four, albeit on goals scored.
ALBION: Garratt; Brayford, Mariappa, Ndaba; Hamer, Taylor, Oshilaja, Borthwick-Jackson; Smith (Kamwa, 77), Adeboyejo (Mancienne, 90).
Substitutes: Sinisalo, Powell, Keillor-Dunn, Carayol, Dodoo.
GOALS: FGR - Peart-Harris (90+3) ; ALBION - Brayford (45+2), Kamwa (89)
Referee: Thomas Kirk
Attendance: 2,584 (229 away)