MARK Helm fired home his third Burton Albion goal to give the Brewers a 1-0 victory over Cambridge United
Having secured safety with three games to go the pressure was all on the visitors with their League One fate still undecided and in a game of few real chances, where both sides hit the woodwork, Helm’s moment of quality decided the destination of the points and maintained Albion’s good home form.
Albion made four changes for the first of two home games to close the season. Jordan Amissah came in to the side in goal replacing Craig MacGiilivray whilst Jonny Smith and Charlie Kirk also came back in with both Jasper Moon and Conor Shaughnessy missing with injuries picked up in Saturday’s game at Plymouth Argyle. Up front Dale Taylor returned in place of Josh Walker.
Cambridge began purposefully needing a positive result to enhance their chances of avoiding the drop and Sam Hughes had to produce a well timed challenge to deny Sam Smith on five minutes as the striker looked to get on the end of Harvey Knibbs’ cross.
Smith had another opportunity on the quarter of an hour mark but pulled his effort wide of the far post after another raid down the left. Latty-Fairweather had already picked up a yellow card for a mistimed challenge on Knibbs and was lucky to escape a card in United’s last attack and was withdrawn for another Academy graduate, Ben Radcliffe, to come on for his Football League debut.
Mark Helm’s through ball to Taylor on 22 minutes looked to have the Irish striker in but as he rounded the goalkeeper the flag of the assistant ruled out any chance of him scoring.
HELM had looked Albion’s brightest spark and on 28 minutes he made the breakthrough cutting past a couple of challenges in and around the edge of the box and driving a low shot that was deflected off a defender out of the reach of keeper Dimitar Mitov and into the bottom corner.
Radcliffe was not afraid to step forward and support the attack and was able to run onto a pass from Helm on 41. Minutes driving his effort not that far over the bar from 25 yards.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Cambridge United
The visitors made an attacking double change at the start of the second half with George Thomas and Joe Ironside sent on for Mark Bonner’s men.
But it was Helm who went close to doubling Albion’s lead. The midfielder burst onto Powell’s pass and was brought down by Mitov. Referee Andy Haines was poised to blow for the penalty but played advantage when Helm quickly got to his feet. Forced wide he still tried to score but saw his effort cannon back off the post. Albion would surely have preferred the spot kick.
Cambridge responded well and both Smith and Paul Digby saw efforts blocked deep inside the Albion penalty area as the hour mark approached.
Albion turned to the fresh legs of Bobby Kamwa on 64 minutes as Smith left the action.
Deji Oshilaja took advantage of some loose Cambridge defending to drive into the box on 75 minutes but his low cross just evaded Taylor steaming in through the middle.
John Brayford, vigilant was ever, made an important cleanse inside his own box but then ended up slicing a hopeful Cambridge cross just wide of the target as the visitors went for broke in the final ten minutes.
Ryan Bennett flicked a header against the face of the crossbar before Sam Smith headed the loose ball wide with Albion under concerted pressure.
Amissah produced an outstanding moment of goalkeeping to deny Smith whose header appeared destined for the top corner, the Sheffield United loanee using all of his 6ft 6in frame to claw the ball away.
Brayford fired a late effort wide in stoppage time after Helm had forced a good save from Mitov but there was no way back for Cambridge as Albion moved to fourteenth in the table ahead of the final day of the season.
ALBION: Amissah; Latty-Fairweather (Radcliffe, 18), Brayford, Hughes, Ashworth; Helm, Oshilaja, Powell; Smith (Kamwa, 64), Taylor, Kirk (Winnall, 84).
Substitutes: MacGiilivray, Winnall, Walker, Carayol, Gilligan.
GOALS: ALBION - Helm (28)
Referee: Andy Haines