npower League 2 action from the Storefirst StadiumIt remains to be seen at the end of the season how much James Beattie's stoppage time equaliser could cost Burton Albion in the race for promotion from League 2. A game perhaps lacking in quality due to difficult conditions ended up as a six goal thriller as Albion's promotion bid and Stanley's attempts to avoid relegation made for an exciting and dramatic clash.
Albion were behind after six minutes as Will Hatfield's shot was adjudged to have crossed the line despite the best attempts of Damien McCrory but Albion hit back to equalise through Matt Paterson's close range finish after some calamitous defending from the home side. The home side restored their lead after the interval through Padraig Amond before Zander Diamond notched his fifth of the season shortly after. The drama was not over as Jacques Maghoma fired in his fifteenth of the campaign with a rasping free kick only for Beattie to deny Albion all three points in the dying second.
Gary Rowett made two changes for the difficult trip to Accrington Stanley looking to bounce back from Saturday's defeat to Chesterfield. With Robbie Weir beginning his two match suspension for ten yellow cards it was no surprise that Jack Dyer was drafted into midfield. Lee Fowler came onto the bench to fill the gap. The one unforced change was in attack where Matt Paterson's patience was rewarded with a start in place of Billy Kee who had to settle for a place on the bench against his former club.
Burton had an early free kick with the strong wind in their favour but Alex MacDonald's ambitious drive from the set piece flew well wide of the target.
As Albion struggled to master the wind, often overhitting their forward passes it was the home side who struck after just five minutes. Lee Molyneux, prolific in recent matches fired in a fierce drive that Stuart Tomlinson did well to beat out but Will HATFIELD fired in the rebound and although Damien McCrory appeared to have cleared his lines the officials were satisfied that the ball had already crossed the line.
It was debateable as to which was the best way for Albion to approach this. With a hard and bouncy pitch it was hardly conducive to passing football but with a strong wind to contend with blowing straight up the pitch an aerial approach was not ideal either. It made for a rather scrappy encounter with precious few chances for either side. Lee Bell hit a drive from twenty five yards over the bar but there was precious little else to give Albion cheer.
MacDonald, operating in a more central role after a tactical tweak managed to get one on one with his marker in the 26th minute but from a tight angle clipped a shot wide of the far post.
Burton just looked to be getting a grip on the match when Accrington almost grabbed a second. A long crossfield ball picked out Rommy Boco on the right and his searching cross picked out the run of Padraig Amond who flashed a header just wide of the post.
Albion were still struggling to break down a resolute home defence but almost unlocked it on 32 minutes. With Lee Molyneux's run halted in midfield Albion broke quickly and Jacques Maghoma's angled cross in from the touchline picked out Michael Symes who controlled the ball on his chest only for the ball to just run away from him and into the waiting arms of Paul Rachubka.
The Brewers were gift wrapped an equaliser on 36 minutes though as a stroke of luck went their way. Michael Symes tried to pick out his strike partner with an angled pass through and there wass no doubt that defender Peter Murphy had to try and intercept but he got it all wrong and pushed the ball back towards his own goal and with Rachubka having raced off his line to claim it was a race to the line as PATERSON got there first to poke it over.
Maghoma almost caught Rachubka unawares moments later as he won and took a free kick that dipped wickedly as it got near the goal, eventually clearing the crossbar by not very much at all.
Hatfield was close to restoring the elad for the home side after a mazy run but he was eventually thwarted at the expense of a corner and there was a late opportunity at the end of the half as the tricky striker curled in a cross that Laurence Wilson headed on target with Stuart Tomlinson tipping the ball over the crossbar. It came that later into stoppage time at the end of the half that there was not even time to take the reuslting corner.
Half time: Accrington Stanley 1 - 1 Burton Albion
Former Burton man Boco was the first to light up the second half with a volleyed effort from the angle of the penalty box on 53 minutes but Tomlinson was equal to it and pushed it over the crossbar.
Symes was just prevented from getting as shot in as Paterson and MacDonald carved out a chance down the left hand side but the game was opening up a bit now and left back Laurence Wilson lashed a shot wide after a surging run from Armine Linganzi in the 59th minute.
Symes was again close on the hour mark with a shot that forced Rachubka to fingertip the ball over the crossbar as he back pedalled but a minute later Albion were behind again as a long ball forward bounced awkwardly and Padraig AMOND was able to coolly lift the ball over Tomlinson from the edge of the area.
Albion made a double change on 67 minutes and it paid immediate dividends. Lee Fowler replaced Matt Paterson and Billy Kee came on for Michael Symes and instantly Albion equalised. A free kick picked out Fowler on the edge of the area and he managed to stab the ball through for Zander DIAMOND, up for the free kick, and he controlled the ball before slamming it into the net from close range.
The Brewers pushed on again and were in front in the 73rd minute as Jacques MAGHOMA lashed in a thirty yard free kick. Billy Kee was bundled over by his marker and against the wind and Albion's leading scorer stepped up to smash in a shot that left Rachubka grasping at thin air in his attempts to keep it out.
McCrory almost curled in a fourth from a free kick near the bye line with the assistance of the wind before Accrington made their final two substitutions including the introduction of former England man James Beattie as they looked for a route back into the game. Lee Molyneux saw yellow for a tussle with Alex MacDonald that resulted in an unseemly scuffle as the Burnley loanee took exception to the Stanley midfielders challenge.
MacDonald also saw yellow minutes later for a niggly foul on defender Tom Aldred when there was no need to challenge on the halfway line. Tempers were raised and when Accrington went close to an equaliser on 85 minutes from a teasing corner kick there was a skirmish in the box and both Amond and Ian Sharps were booked in the aftermath.
Stanley thought they had equalised moments later when a cross from Molyneux was headed in at the back post but an offside flag from the assistant cut short the home celebrations.
As Stanley poured forwards they were almost caught on the counter when Lee Bell picked out Maghoma who exchanged passes with Damien McCrory before poking the ball beyond Rachubka as he tried to round him and lost his balance preventing him from finishing the move he had sparked.
Molyneux had Tomlinson at full stretch in the final minute of normal time with a rasping drive that the Brewers keeper tipped onto the bar and over. A real close call if ever there was one but Albion's relief was short lived as BEATTIE struck in the third minute of stoppage time. Molyneux again tested Tomlinson and when the Brewers keeper failed to hang on safely inside the six yard box the former Premiership striker showed his predatory instincts to fire home.
ACCRINGTON: Rachubka; Murphy, Winnard, Aldred, Wilson; Boco, Linganzi, Joyce, Molyneux; Hatfield, Amond. Substitutes: Dunbavin, Liddle, Lindfield, Miller, Clark, Gray, Beattie.
BURTON: Tomlinson; O'Connor, Diamond, Sharps, McCrory; MacDonald, Bell, Dyer, Maghoma; Paterson, Symes. Substitutes: Corbett, Webster, Lyness, Phillips, Holness, Kee, Fowler.
Referee: Mr. G.Sutton (Lincolnshire)
GOALS: Accrington - Hatfield (6), Amond (60); Burton - Paterson (36), Diamond (67), Maghoma (73)
Attendance: 1,619 (268 away)