A superb Chris Palmer freekick and close range finish from Calvin Zola proved enough to see off Altrincham and set up an FA Cup Second Round meeting for the Brewers with Crewe Alexandra. After an open but goalless first half there were fears that the game could drift to extra time with a lacklustre beginning to the second period. But Palmer eased Albion's nerves with a curling freekick from over 30 yards before Zola profited from good work by Cleveland Taylor to make the game safe. John McGrath also made his comeback from almost nine months out injured as a late substitute.
Burton Albion travelled to Moss Lane in their FA Cup First Round replay against Conference North outfit Altrincham FC. A 3-3 draw at the Pirelli Stadium eleven days ago, thanks to a last gasp Calvin Zola header, ensured both teams remained in the draw with the possibility of a Second Round tie at Crewe Alexandra on the horizon.
Brewers boss Gary Rowett settled upon a 4-4-3 formation with Mark Oxley in goal and a back four of Anthony O'Connor, Zander Diamond, Marcus Holness and Damien McCrory. Robbie Weir, Lee Bell and Chris Palmer formed a midfield trio with Jacques Maghoma and Cleveland Taylor either side of Calvin Zola in attack.
Burton Albion was quickly into their stride, unlike the first encounter, and had early attempts on goal from Calvin Zola, dragging a cross shot wide, and Lee Bell, who saw an 18 yard drive deflected wide off Cleveland Taylor.
The hosts had their first real opportunity in the eighth minute when Scott Leather found Damian Reeves inside the area 8 yards from goal, the Altrincham striker lashing a shot over the bar. Two minutes later and Jacques Maghoma found himself in space on the edge of the Altrincham area, he had time to line up his shot but he sent the ball over the bar and into the Brewers fans behind the goal.
Altrincham's next real opening came in the 18th minute, Watmore was the architect, finding Moult in the centre of the penalty area who side footed over from 10 yards.
The game was swinging back and forth with the Brewers next to go close. Cleveland Taylor won a freekick wide on the right and from Chris Palmer's resulting delivery Zola thumped a header off the bar.
Burton were having more of the possession half an hour in but a quick break from Altrincham saw Nicky Clee fire in a powerful half volley on goal which Oxley spilled, fortunately for the Brewers on loan keeper he was able to drop onto the loose ball.
Chris Palmer demonstrated a lovely piece of skill, flicking the ball over his head 25 yards from goal before smashing a volley which flew straight into the arms of Coburn. Zola then had another header saved by Coburn following McCrory's cross from the left. Five minutes later James Lawrie went close to goal with a 25 yard drive which had keeper Oxley flying to his left as he saw the ball wide.
Watmore got a glimpse of goal in the 40th minute when he was played in by Lawrie. Watmore went shoulder to shoulder with Diamond before firing over from 18 yards. Watmore had another chance from similar range a minute later, this time his shot was blocked by McCrory.
Half time: Altrincham 0-0 Burton Albion
Neat interchange between Palmer and Maghoma four minutes into the second half resulted in the latter seeing a shot from the edge of the area deflected to Taylor twelve yards from goal. His shot on the turn was underhit and Coburn gathered comfortably. Maghoma then found Zola at close range a couple of minutes later but he could only divert the ball over the bar.
Burton were having most of the play as the game passed the hour mark. Taylor fizzed a shot over the bar from a narrow angle but the Brewers were still yet to craft a real opportunity on the Altrincham goal. Nicky Clee then picked up the ball in space on the edge of the area but shot on his weaker right foot high over the bar.
The deadlock was broken in the 65th minute when Maghoma was brought down thirty yards from goal. Chris PALMER stepped up to curl a wonderful freekick past Coburn and into the top corner.
Altrincham looked to respond and Jake Moult forced Oxley into a save in the 70th minute with a powerful strike from a narrow angle which the Brewers keeper tipped over the bar.
Burton doubled their lead as the hosts began to tire, Taylor was played in down the right with the Altrincham pleas for offside ignored, he made his way to the byline before pulling the ball back where Zola was on hand to apply a simple finish.
Zander Diamond almost made it 3-0 with ten minutes remaining after Coburn had failed to deal with a looping ball in the air, the Brewers defending heading the ball back on target with Coburn producing a good reaction save to tip the ball over the bar.
With five minutes remaining John McGrath made his return to first team action after almost 9 months out with a serious foot injury. He replaced Robbiw Weir with Billy Kee also coming on in place of Calvin Zola.
Maghoma shot left footed from a tight angle on the left over the bar on 87 minutes with the hosts now struggling to find any way back into the match.
Matt Palmer was brought on in injury time to make his first senior appearance in place of Maghoma.
Full time: Altrincham 0-2 Burton Albion
Scorers: Burton - C. Palmer (65) Zola (75)
Referee: Carl Boyeson (E. Yorks)
Brewers: OXLEY, O'CONNOR, DIAMOND, HOLNESS, MCCRORY, WEIR, BELL, PALMER, TAYLOR, MAGHOMA, ZOLA. Subs: LYNESS, STANTON, MCGRATH, KEE, DYER, M. PALMER, PATERSON.
Altrincham: COBURN, LEATHER, DOUGHTY, RICHMAN, HAVERN, HALL, WATMORE, MOULT, LAWRIE, REEVES, CLEE. Subs: LACEY, BROOKE, MITCHLEY, GRIMSHAW, REID.