ALBION were on the wrong end of a seven goal thriller at the Pirelli stadium as visitors Peterborough United handed out a 5-2 defeat to the Brewers.
League One’s top marksman , Jonson Clarke-Harris, helped himself to a brace with the opening goal after Albion had started brightly and the second six minutes after half time to all but kill off any chances of an Albion revival having gone in three-one down at the break. Ephron Mason-Clark and Harrison Burrows added to the first half tally with Joe Powell firing home superbly from distance in between the second and third Peterborough strikes. Jonny Smith reduced the arrears to two again four minutes after Clarke-Harris had scored his second but Joe Ward finished with a calm finish midway through the second half to put the seal on Posh’s victory.
Looking to build on Saturday’s home win against Wycombe Dino Maamria freshened things up with three changes having played just over half the game with ten men. With Deji Oshilaja starting his suspension Ciaran Gilligan was drafted into the side for his first start since November, Maamria stuck with same defensive unit but also changed around his attacking options with Gassan Ahadme and Mark Helm starting having come off the bench on Saturday.
Helm quickly tested keeper Will Norris picking up a loose ball and driving in an angled low drive that the Peterborough keeper gratefully clutched on the skiddy, wet surface.
Albion were sharp to the ball again when Norris punted clear on nine minutes, Joe Powell forcefully heading the ball forwards to Taylor who turned Ronnie Edwards on the edge of the box but couldn’t fully punish Norris with the angle narrowing against him. Gilligan then sent the ball into the box and as Edwards ducked out of the way anticipating his keeper coming to collect Helm nipped in to head just wide.
Peterborough made the most of those near misses and scored with their first attack. Mason-Clark found space to deliver a cross from the left and Clarke-Harris rose well to powerfully thump home a header that Craig MacGillivray couldn’t keep out. MASON-CLARK added a second just seven minutes later with a tap-in finish. Joe Ward drilled in a low cross from the right and when Tom Hamer blocked the ball inside the six-yard box it stopped right in the path of the Peterborough striker to score.
Albion then created another good chance for themselves as Ahadme teed up Helm but Norris was able to block at close quarters to deny the frustrated Albion midfielder. Chances continued to come for the Brewers and John Brayford headed Helm’s corner straight into the waiting arms of Norris on 26 minutes.
Albion couldnt keep spurning chances and they were back in it on 28 minutes. Referee Craig Hicks pulled play back for a foul on Gilligan and Helm rolled the ball into the path of POWELL to thrash home a low 25-yard drive.
Mason-Clark quickly created a chance for himself working his way into the box but Macgillivray had his angles right to beat away the danger.
As a breathless first half continued Ahadme stretched to poke the ball past Norris under pressure but the Posh was able to turn and drop on the ball.
Peterborough restored their two goal advantage on 38 minutes. Another rapid break down the left from Mason-Clark led to a teasing cross to the far Paso to pick out Ward and although MacGillivray blocked his effort BURROWS tucked the ball home from the rebound.
Albion were relieved not to go in a further goal down on the stroke of half time as Mason-Clark inexplicably managed to steer a cross from Nathanael Ogbeta over the crossbar from a couple of yards out.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-3 Peterborough United
There was no surprise that Albion range the changes for the second half. Gilligan, Ahadme and Zac Ashworth were sacrificed at the break as Jonny Smith, Charlie Kirk and Josh Walker came on to try and help fashion a comeback.
Peterborough dealt Albion. A hammer blow by extending their lead even further six minutes after the break cooly converting from close range from Ogbeta’s low cross.
But Albion are made of stern stuff these days and SMITH made a quick impression tucking the ball home after Taylor had beaten Norris at his post and seen the ball come back off the post.
Norris redeemed himself wait a good save away to his right as Powell’s 25-yard free kick looked to be heading for the top corner.
I”t was anyone’s guess which end the next goal would come at but unfortunately it was at their defensive end as WARD scored what seemed his customary goal against the Brewers as he darted onto a raking pass from Jack Taylor and cut inside before sliding the ball in off there near post.
Mason-Clark squandered another half-decent chance volleying Taylor’s cross over from inside the six-yard box before Albion had another free-kick in Powell territory but his effort was straight down the throat of Norris.
Brayford to a breather with a quarter of an hour to go, Conor Shaughnessy taking his place in the centre off defence for the remainder of the game.
Both Powell and Walker lashed effort=s high and wide as Albion continued to search for goals
ALBION: MacGillivray; Brayford (Shaughnessy, 75), Hughes, Moon; Hamer, Gilligan (Kirk, 46), Powell, Ashworth (Smith, 46); Taylor, Ahadme (Walker, 46), Helm.
Substitutes: Garratt, Carayol, Mancienne.
GOALS: ALBION - Powell (28), Smith (55) ; PETERBOROUGH - Clarke-Harris (12, 51), Mason-Clark (19), Burrows (38), Ward (65)
Referee: Craig Hicks