KWADWO Baah scored what proved to be the winner as Albion gained their first three points of the season with a stirring 3-2 victory over Staffordshire rivals Port Vale.
Baah’s strike just after the hour, his first in Albion colours, added to maiden strikes from Beryly Lubala and Steve Seddon, the former having the honour of bagging Albion’s 800th EFL goal when he gave the Brewers an early lead.
Ben Garrity cancelled out Lubala’s strike just before half time but, reminiscent of last season’s similar result at Vale Park, Albion roared back into a three-one lead courtesy of Seddon’s close range strike and Baah’s excellent solo effort before Vale made for a nervy finish through Ollie Arblaster’s late goal. Albion though were not to be denied the points to lift them to within goal difference of safety.
Three changes for the Brewers saw a full debut for on-loan forward Baah in place of Josh Walker whilst Seddon returned after suspension to take over from Jake Caprice on the left. The third change saw Mustapha Carayol preferred to Bobby Kamwa in a wide attacking role.
On a windy night in the Potteries Max Crocombe was the first of the two goalkeepers forced into meaningful action, shovelling Conor Grant’s angled effort around the post at the expense of a corner inside six minutes.
But it was Albion who struck after eleven minutes to stun the home side. Hamer’s long throw was initially cleared and when the full back was allowed time to put a cross back into the box LUBALA was left completely unmarked to steeer home a close-range header.
Ben Garrity quickly had another opening for Vale in a similar position to Grant and again Crocombe was well placed to get the ball blocked away.
Lubala really should have made it two for Albion on nineteen minutes. Crocombe’s clearance picked out Carayol in acres of space down the left and the winger’s cross was onto the head of Albion’s latest recruit who could not steer his effort on target.
Carayol almost pulled off an audacious attempt to catch Connor Ripley out on 25 minutes launching an effort from just inside his own half towards the goal with Ripley having to watch it all the way to ensure it didn’t sneak in at the last moment.
The Albion goal had something of a let off three mintues later when Vale eventually worked the ball through a packed Brewers defence, but the far post came to Crocombe’s rescue from James Wilson’s effort.
Ollie Arblaster was next to go close with a rasping effort that flew just wide on the half hour mark as the hosts continued to grow in belief.
But Vale’s pressure told five minutes before the break. A low shot was blocked away but when the cross was quickly put back into Albion’s box, GARRITY rose to head in via the post.
Crocombe again came to Albion’s rescue deep into added on time saving with his legs from Alex Iacovitti’s effort as the sides reached half time level.
HALF TIME: PORT VALE 1-1 BURTON ALBION
Vale started the second half in positive fashion, but it was Albion who struck again six minutes after the break. A short corner routine enabled Powell to swing in a right footed cross. Hamer got his head to it to nod it into the danger area and SEDDON was there to prod home from close range.
Vale had to go again, and they quickly mounted another spell of pressure which Albion resisted before Carayol was able to venture forwards and lash a 25-yarder just wide of the goal.
Just after the hour mark and Albion had a two-goal cushion. BAAH broke forward on the right onto Mark Helm’s flick and drove into the box. The winger got a kindly bounce when challenged inside the box before turning and lashing an unstoppable effort beyond Ripley.
Grant extended Crocombe with an opportunist effort from the edge of the box but Albion’s Kiwi stopper was able to help it over the bar.
Inside the last twenty minutes Jake Caprice took over from Carayol on the left and with Baah tiring Rekeem Harper was sent on to bolster the middle of the pitch.
Funso Ojo saw a free kick pushed away by Crocombe as Vale looked to set up a tense last five minutes but the home side were able to keep the pressure on and Arblaster fired home after a frantic scramble inside the Albion box.
It was all hands to the pump for eight minutes of added time and Ryan Sweeney was thrown on to aid the defensive cause with Helm struggling in the latter stages.
Crocombe had one last vital part to play as Vale threw everything at Albion, the keeper in the right place to make an excellent last ditch stop to deny Wilson and earn his side all three points preventing Vale from going top of the table in the process.
ALBION: Crocombe; Hamer, Hughes, Moon, Seddon; Oshilaja, Powell; Carayol (Caprice, 73), Helm (Sweeney, 90+6), Baah (Harper, 76); Lubala.
Substitutes: Blackman, Gordon, Walker, Gilligan.
GOALS: VALE – Garrity (40), Arblaster (86) ; ALBION – Lubala (11), Seddon (51), Baah (61)
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 5,993 (286 away)