Capital One Cup 3rd roundThe Brewers are out of this season's Capital One Cup but they were left to wonder how as they were finally beaten 3-2 in extra time by League 2 rivals Bradford City.
2-0 up with less than ten minutes to play after first half goals from Billy Kee and Aaron Webster, Bradford produced a stirring come back with two goals from Nakhi Wells taking the game into extra time and a long range effort from defender Stephen Darby finally sealing victory for Phil Parkinson's men.
Gary Rowett made three changes to the side that drew away at Torquay United as the Brewers looked to make more history by reaching the fourth round of the Capital One Cup for the first time. To do so thoiugh the Brewers would have to beat a Bradford side with a 100% home record. Aaron Webster made just his second start of the season on the left side of midfield and there were recalls for Billy Kee and Adi Yussuf in attack. Young midfielder Matty Palmer took up a place on the bench although Albion were still only able to name six substitutes.
Although the pitch was in seemingly immaculate condition given almost two days of constant rain both goalkeepers started off by making conditions look awkward. Former Albion stopper Matt Duke spilled a loose ball at the feet of Billy Kee with Stephen Darby clearing the danger and when Stuart Tomlinson spilled Bradford skipper Gary Jones' long range effort it looked like Garry Thompson had a tap in until Tomlinson spread his frame superbly to block his follow-up effort as well.
Tomlinson also spilled a long range effort from defender Andrew Davies as the ball proved to be like the proverbial bar of soap and this time it was Will Atkinson denied on the follow-up.
The pacy runs of former West Ham winger Zavon Hines were a threat and when he threaded a pass through to Thompson on the left the opportunity was there to shoot but he drilled wide.
A minute later and Albion were ahead, decidely against the run of play. Billy Kee played the ball out to Jack Dyer on the right and the young midfielder did well to firstly keep the ball in and then fire in a cross to the edge of the area that KEE had tracked before lashing a shot beyond Duke before he even had chance to move.
Bradford quickly won a corner that Albion managed to clear as the hosts sought a quick response but the Brewers had the next chance from a corner of their own. Jack Dyer swung over the corner and Aaron Webster stooped to head the ball back into the danger area with Zander Diamond scooping the ball over the bar from close range.
Albion continued to look dangerous and Lee Bell almost made it two goals in a week with a raking effort from twenty five yards that took a wicked deflection and from there Albion went two up.
Dyer's corner again proved dangerous and WEBSTER got a header in from eight yards touch to send the ball over the line with the referee's assistant confirming the goal to the dismay of Bradford players and supporters alike as a Bradford defender tried in vain to head clear from under his own crossbar.
the home side were almost gifted a route back into the match five minutes before the break when Damien McCrory was hassled into playing the ball into the path of Thompson who had a clear run on goal. Tomlinson though, stood big and forced the Bradford man to go wide allowing Nathan Stanton to track back and get in a vital challenge and preserve Albion's precious lead.
Just before the break Tonlinson pulled off an excellent stop to deny Rory McArdle. The former Aberdeen man was perfectly place to head for goal from a left wing corner but Albion's stopper got down well to his right to push the ball away from danger.
Half time: Bradford City 0-2 Burton Albion
Nathan Stanton failed to reappear for the start of the second half and that meant a reshuffle in Albion's back line. Anthony O'Connor shifted to his more favoured centre back role and Andy Corbett filled the gap at right back.
The Brewers were soon under pressure again and there was danger when they conceded a free kick just outside their own penalty area. Jones took control of the situation but fired a curling effort just over the crossbar.
Bradford fans were incensed on 53 minutes as striker Alan Connell went down in the box, referee Nigel Miller taking a different view to those of a Yorkshire persuasion by producing a yellow card for the Bradford man for diving.
O'Connor almost had Albion three to the good soon after when he met Dyer's corner with a meaty header only for the ball to go wide if the goal.
There was half an hour to go when Bradford boss Phil Parkinson made a triple substitution bringing on three of his big guns. Off went Connell, Hines and Ricky Ravenhill to be replaced by James Hanson, Nakhi Wells and winger Kyel Reid.
Reid quickly had a chance to make an impact as he lined up a free kick in a similar spot to the chance Jones had. Fellow substitute Wells was bundled over by Lee Bell but the free kick had the same result as the previous effort dipping over the crossbar.
Albion were becoming increasingly penned into their own half as Bradford surged forwards. The Brewers sacrificed Billy Kee in favour of an extra man in midfield in the form of Cleveland Taylor but Gary Rowett's men were having to defend for their lives, epitomised when O'Connor made two outstanding clearances to keep the lead in tact.
The pacy Wells had a glimpse of goal as he raced onto an angled pass but as he was forced slightly wide he could only lift his shot over the bar.
Wells then had another sight of goal as Reid caused mayhem down the left. The speedy wide man pulled back a cross to the edge of the area but the striker could only drill his effort wide of the post.
Reid then jinked his way all the way into a shooting position on the edge of the six yard box but that man O'Connor was there again to repel his shot.
The goal had to come for Bradford and with seven minutes it was game on. WELLS was given too much time to turn just inside the box and he fired unerringly across Tomlinson and into the far top corner of the net.
Albion substitute Matt Paterson, brought on for the tiring Yussuf had an excellent opportunity to put the game beyond Bradford when he raced clear from the half way in the last five minutes but Duke was down well to save his low shot as Albion clung on.
As the game ticked into the 90th minute Albion's defence were undone once more. A free kick for a foul on Reid was slung into the box and as the ball was fired goalwards WELLS got the vital touch to equaliser off the post.
In reality it was the least that Bradford deserved after dominating the vast majority of the second half.
Score at 90 minutes: Bradford City 2-2 Burton Albion
Extra time began at something of a slower pace but Albion had the first real opportunity three minutes in as Paterson stretched for a ball in the box and poked a shot just wide of the post.
As play switched to the other end Wells with glory in his sights blazed an angled shot over bar from fifteen yards.
Chances were at a real premium as both sides took a more considered approach to extra time. Davies did venture forward from the back for the home side as the first half ticked down but his effort safely cleared Tomlinson's crossbar.
The second half of extra time started with Albion on the attack and with Robbie Weir now pushed forward to support Paterson up top Albion had more of a threat.
Cleveland Taylor was the first to try and break the deadlock when he cut inside onto a Weir pass but his curling effort failed to trouble Matt Duke.
Almost from nowhere the Bantams had the lead for the first time in the game just five minutes from time. There seemed no danger when full back Stephen DARBY picked the ball up just inside the Burton half but a few paces forward he launched a speculative shot that flew in beyond the reach of Tomlinson and into the bottom corner from all of thirty yards.
BRADFORD: Duke, Darby, Meredith, Ravenhill (Reid, 61), Davies, Thompson, Atkinson, Connell (Hanson, 61), Jones, Hines (Wells, 61), McArdle. Substitutes: McLaughlin, Oliver, Reid, Hanson, McHugh, Wells, Doyle.
ALBION: Tomlinson; O'Connor, Diamond, Stanton (Corbett, 46), McCrory; Dyer, Weir, Bell, Webster; Kee (Taylor, 66), Yussuf (Paterson, 81). Substitutes: Atkins, Taylor, Richards, Palmer, Paterson.
Referee: Mr. N.Miller (County Durham)
GOALS; Bradford - Wells (83, 90), Darby (115); Albion - Kee (18), Webster (29)
Attendance: 4,178 (241 away)