Accrington Stanley 0-1 Burton AlbionAdam Reed was Albion's late, late hero at the Store First Stadium as he bagged his first Albion goal in the EIGHTH minute of stoppage time to break the hearts of Accrington Stanley who had produced a stirring second half performance and who had looked the more likely of the two sides to nick the points.
Reed had earlier been adjudged offside as he prodded home a Michael Symes header that could have been dropping in at the far post anyway but when he slid in to guide Adam McGurk's late cross into the net with almost the last kick of the game there was no doubting the outcome.
Unsurprisingly given the exertions of extra time and penalties against Premiership Fulham on Tuesday evening the Brewers line-up showed four changes for the trip to Accrington. Rory Delap and Adam McGurk shook off their slight injury concerns to return to the line-up at right back and right midfield respectively. Michael Symes, an ex-Stanley striker, earned a place in the starting line-up following two goals in two substitute appearances in the week to partner Rene Howe in attack but the surprise change was in the centre of midfield where the regular partnership of Lee Bell and Robbie Weir was broken up to give Adam Reed the chance to impress alongside skipper Bell.
Burton were out of the blocks quickly and twice in the early stages won free kicks on the left from attacking play through Damien McCrory and Chris Hussey. The latter took both free kicks stretching the home defence although home keeper Marcus Bettinelli remained untroubled. When Symes set his sights on goal shortly after the Fulham loanee was grateful for a slight deflection off one of his own defenders for taking the shot wide of the post.
Accrington took a little while to get a foothold in the game and when they did they were almost caught on the counter straight away. Albion broke quickly on twelve minutes and when Symes headed the ball down into the path of Rene Howe, the striker turned and fired in a shot that Bettinelli had to beat away smartly.
Peter Murphy, the Accrington right back found himself in the book after just fifteen minutes as Albion again raided down the left and Hussey drew a foul to earn another chance to test the home defence. This time it was Lee Bell who swung the free kick in right footed with referee Jeremy Simpson adjudging Symes to have fouled Bettinelli as he rose to try and head home.
Accrington began to string some decent passing moves together but their best chance came on 32 minutes after Marcus Holness conceded a corner. James Gray put in a teasing ball that reached the back post but Kal Naismith arriving late could only head wide. It was the signal for a spell of pressure from Stanley and after Delap was fouled as Luke Joyce chipped into the net the experienced campaigner made a smart block to deny Michael Richardson.
In between it was Hussey continuing to look one of Albion's real danger men with a stinging right foot shot that Bettinelli had to stretch to keep out.
Naismith was only inches away from breaking the deadlock with a rasping left foot shot across the penalty area with Lyness diving to his left and watching it fly just pass his upright.
Hussey again set his sights on goal on 42 minutes picking up a loose ball in midfield after Accrington had tried to play their way out of danger but his low raking shot went wide of the post as well.
Burton had one last first half chance from a corner but McGurk's header well over from Hussey's delivery was the last action of a somewhat underwhelming first half.
Half time: Accrington Stanley 0 - 0 Burton Albion
The first half started in similar fashion to the first with Albion immediately on the front foot and a surging run into the box by Rory Delap almost unlocked the Accrington defence with only an outstretched defender's leg preventing his cross from finding a team mate ready to slot home.
Albion thought they had broken the deadlock on 53 minutes when McGurk's cross was headed back across goal towards the far corner. It was difficult to be sure but the ball seemed to quite possibly be heading for the bottom corner when Adam Reed prodded the ball over the line prompting an offside flag from the assistant.
It was Burton continuing to press but things were not quite falling for them in the box. A Hussey cross was blocked inside the area with more than a hint of handball about it and when Symes and Howe both helped the ball on to McGurk the former Tranmere man struggled to cope with the bounce and hooked the ball well over the target.
Substitute Will Hatfield, who scored the opener when the sides last met on Easter Monday had a sight of goal as the hosts broke forward from Michael Richardson's pass but Dean Lyness was behind the shot and saved comfortably.
Albion made their first change on 73 minutes just moments after Stanley had carved out another good chance to open their account. Peter Murphy was given space to cross on from the right and Stanley's other second half substitute, Connor Mahoney could not quite direct his header on target.
Jimmy Phillips was the man that Gary Rowett turned to for an impact from the bench and he replaced Hussey with Adam McGurk switching to the left flank with Phillips dropping in on the right side of midfield.
Phillips appearance almost lasted no more than five minutes as came off decidedly worse in a clash of heads with Mahoney but after prolonged treatment he was able to carry on. It came amidst a spell of heavy Accrington pressure. Damien McCrory conceded a free kick just outside the box for a foul on James Gray and as Albion struggled to get out of their own half the ball came back to Gray who fired a shot against the inside of the post with Rory Delap having to clear off the line as Stanley attempted to bundle home the rebound.
Local boy Dominic Knowles was brought on for the closing stages in place of the hard working Symes before Phillips earlier injury finally caught up with him as he went down in the centre circle and he left the pitch on a stretcher to be replaced by Jack Dyer.
After the restart it was Albion pressing and McCrory's cross in from the less was flicked on by Knowles for Howe to force Bettinelli into an excellent save to divert his header over the bar.
With stoppage time looming, and seven minutes at that, Stanley had another good chance as the lively Mahoney again worked some magic on the right and fired in a low cross that just eluded everyone inside the six yard box to drop agonisingly wide of the post.
It was the home side who were striving for the but it was Albion who struck the devastating blow in the EIGHTH minute of stoppage time. Adam McGurk delivered the low cross and this time there was no doubt about Adam REED's finish as he guided the ball across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
There was just time for Accrington to kick off before the referee brought an otherwise mundane encounter to a close with Albion perhaps rather fortuitous to escape with all three points.