FA Cup 1st round from the Pirelli StadiumBurton Albion are still in this season's FA Cup but only just. Calvin Zola's header three minutes into added time ensured a replay at Moss Lane after Altrincham had shaken the Brewers by racing into a two goal lead by half time and missing an early penalty. Albion helped their Blue Square opponents along the way with two own goals and had to rely on a second half fightback inspired by goals from Zander Diamond and Jacques Maghoma.
Burton boss Gary Rowett afforded Altrincham the respect they deserved by making just the one change to the side that beat Bradford last weekend. Loan signing Jordan Chapell was granted permission to play by his parent club Sheffield United so he took the right hand side of midfield slot with Cleveland Taylor dropping to the bench.
Goalkeeper Mark Oxley who enjoyed such a quiet debut against Bradford was quickly the centre of attention as he conceded a penalty by bringing down Simon Richman as the visitors made a bright start to the game. Referee Michael Bull had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot but Oxley redeemed himself quickly with an excellent save to push away Damian Reeves effort.
The Blue Square Bet North side looked anything but the underdogs in the early stages and as Albion continued to look very lacklustre they wasted another good chance just short of the quarter of an hour mark. Nicky Clee managed to get to the bye line and cut the ball back for James Lawrie but the ball squirted wide of the far post as the Alty man failed to guide his shot on target.
Burton finally sprang to life on twenty minutes with Billy Kee going agonisingly close to making the breakthrough. A long throw was brought down nicely by the former Leicester youngster and when his marker slipped it opened up the space for him to hit a low left foot shot that was only just tipped around the post by Stuart Coburn. The danger was not over and when Lee Bell swung in the resulting corner Zander Diamond guided a shot just over the crossbar.
Albion continued to look disjointed and lacking in ideas but Jacques Maghoma was not far wide with a speculative effort in the 27th minute that curled just wide of the post.
The lackadaisical start cost Albion dearly in the 29th minute as Altrincham deservedly took the lead. Clee worked hard on the right hand side of the penalty area and got away all too easily from two Albion markers before putting the ball into the six yard box for Carl RODGERS to volley home.
Albion quickly had a chance to equalise as the usually reliable Coburn made a hash of saving a shot from Kee only for Robbie Weir to drive the rebound wide of the target.
Things got worse for Albion five minutes later as they found themselves two goals down. Alty won a corner on the right and when Clee swung the ball in Oxley missed it and Nathan STANTON at the far post could do nothing but help it into the net under pressure from Rodgers.
Reeves had a great chance to make up for his penalty miss just before half time when Albion's defence were once again carved open but his angled shot was saved by Oxley at the second attempt as the hotshot scorer threatened to pounce on his own rebound.
Maghoma forced another save from Coburn as the first half came towards its close and it was the signal for Albion to lay siege to the Alty goal with a series of corners, the best chance coming to Zander Diamond who saw a towering header scrambled off the line, the half time whistle eventually coming along to enable Altrincham to go in at the break with their two goal lead in tact.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-2 Altrincham
Albion began to look better after the break but there were still too many misplaced passes. Robbie Weir let fly with an effort from twenty yards on fifty minutes but it failed to trouble Cobirn as it flashed wide of the upright.
The early goal that Albion needed came in the 53rd minute as they capitalised on a set piece. Jordan Chapell was upended on the right and Lee Bell's delivery was perfect for Zander DIAMOND to steer the ball wide of Coburn and into the net.
It was just what Albion needed and they quickly went in search of an equaliser. Chapell produced a wonderful curling effort that Coburn pushed over the bar and as Albion kept Altrincham penned back he drilled a low shot wide after Nathan Stanton had seen a shot blocked inside the area with Albion appealing in vain for handball.
Albion briefly thought they were level on the hour mark when Zola slotted home but the assistant referee's flag instantly ruled it out for offside.
They had an even better chance to equalise in the 63rd minute when they were awarded a penalty after a needless handball inside the area by Jake Moult. The midfielder went up to challenge for for Damien McCrory's cross but a flailing hand made contact with the ball giving Robbie Weir the chance to restore parity. The midfielder strode up but blasted his spot kick wastefully over the top of the goal giving Altrincham a reprieve.
Albion made their first change on 69 minutes with Matt Paterson given the chance to make an impact in attack in place of Billy Kee.
Just when it looked like Albion were getting themselves back into it Altrincham almost stunned them with a third. A flowing move across the pitch ended with Moult in space inside the box to hit a shot that rattled the underside of the crossbar with Reeves unable to steer the rebound into the back of the net.
Albion had more strong shouts for a penalty when Diamond appeared to be brought down with referee Bull waving away the appeals.
The defender had the last laugh as Albion equalised on 76 minutes. Reeves went into the book for a foul on O'Connor and from another teasing Bell delivery the ball ended up in the back of the net with both MAGHOMA claiming the vital touch although Diamond was on hand to apply a touch had it been needed.
Albion had their tails up and had it not been for Weir and Paterson getting in each others way as another opportunity presented itself only for a defender to get in an excellent block.
The introduction of substitute Duncan Watmore proved crucial as Alty took the lead with five minutes remaining. The youngster slung in an innocuous looking cross and Damien McCRORY was the unlucky man to skew the ball past the helpless Oxley.
It took the wind out of Albion's sails but they had a late chance in stoppage time to equlaise and they took it. Jordan Chapell swung over a teasing cross and Calvin ZOLA was there to head home from close range. A get out of jail card if ever the Brewers needed it.
BURTON: Oxley; O'Connor, Diamond, Stanton, McCrory; Chapell, Bell, Weir, Maghoma; Zola, Kee. Substitutes: Richards, Lyness, Paterson, Dyer, Holness, Taylor, Palmer.
ALTRINCHAM: Coburn, Densmore, Doughty, Rodgers, Leather, Hall, Richman, Moult, Lawrie, Reeves, Clee. Substitutes: Grimshaw, Lacey, Watmore, Mitchley, Brooke, Reid.
Referee: Mr. M.Bull (Essex)
GOALS:Burton - Diamond (53), Maghoma (76), Zola (90+3); Altrincham - Rodgers (29), Stanton (34 own goal), McCrory (85 own goal)