Fleetwood Town 2-3 Burton AlbionA typical game of two halves in driving rain on the Lancashire coast but it was Albion who left victorious at the end as they won a five goal thriller. First half goals from Rene Howe, Adam McGurk and Chris Hussey looked to have Albion in complete control but with the conditions in their favour in the second half, goals from Jeff Hughes and substitute Jamille Matt set up a grandstand finish from the home side.
Howe swept home the first after a move down the left and McGurk grabbed his first in Albion colours drilling home from Chris Hussey's corner before the former Coventry City full back fired home from the edge of the box for his first ever Football League goal. Hughes turned smartly inside the box to find the bottom corner before Matt finished from close range to have Albion rattled and having to defend manfully.
Manager Gary Rowett had to quickly reshuffle his goalkeeping resources just hours before the game as Jordan Pickford returned to parent club Sunderland for treatment on a slight knee injury. His absence opened the door for Dean Lyness to stake his claim for a regular run in the team. As back-up Rowett snapped up Derby County's young Norwegian keeper Mats Morch on a one month loan. The back four remained unchanged but there was a change amongst the attacking players as Alex MacDonald returned to the line-up in place of Billy Kee but slotting in on the right of midfield with Adam McGurk partnering Rene Howe up top.
Fleetwood created the first real opening of the game with some slick passing on the greasy surface. The ball came out to Ryan Crowther on the left wing and he cut inside before delivering a curling cross into the centre where Jeff Hughes was left unmarked to flick a header just wide of Lyness' right hand post.
Despite a confident start from the hosts it was Albion who took the lead on 12 minutes. Rene Howe started the move in midfield sweeping the ball out to Chris Hussey. The former Coventry man fired the ball into the box where Adam McGurk headed it back into the middle. Robbie Weir, back to goal, mistimed his over head kick and if there was any doubt about last week's goal, there was no doubt this time as HOWE fired high into the net.
Fleetwood rallied and put some pressure on the Albion back line but on 24 minutes Albion had the comfort of a two goal lead. Another teasing Hussey cross was headed goalwards by McGurk and although it was looping, Scott Davies had to palm it away with Hussey winning a corner as a result. The wideman whipped in a low dellivery to McGURK and he swept the ball home beyond an unsighted Davies.
Amazingly it was 3-0 to the Brewers on 34 minutes. A routine long ball forward was flicked on by McGurk and helped on by Rene Howe into the path of Chris Hussey. The winger, now centrally position took a pace forward and fired a low shot unerringly into the net off the inside of the post.
It was almost four a few minutes later as Marcus Holness slung in a cross from the left and although McGurk just failed to get a touch to it, home skipper Mark Roberts was not far away from putting it through his own net.
As the half drew to a close Fleetwood pressed forwards again and looked dangerous as they spread the ball out wide to Crowther. His cross was perfect for Hughes in the centre but he could only direct his effort straight into the waiting arms of Lyness.
It was the last real action of a first half played in awful conditions but giving Albion one of their best first halves for a long time.
Half time: Fleetwood Town 0-3 Burton Albion
Neither side made any changes after the break and it was Fleetwood with the first glimpse of goal as David Ball lashed a low effort wide from 22 yards but it was soon Albion on the attack again as a delightful turn in midfield by Alex MacDonald had him scampering towards goal onto to be denied by a smart save at his near post by Davies. From the resulting corner taken by Hussey it was Rene Howe going close again with a thumping header inches wide.
Fleetwood waited just eleven minutes into the second half before making a double change with Jamille matt replacing Steven Schumacher and Gareth Evans replacing Ryan Crowther as Graham Alexander went for more attacking options to try and get his side back into the game.
With the wind now at their backs Fleetwood pressed forward and a free kick from Junior Brown on 58 minutes had to be headed clear by Rory Delap as it went just over the head of Ryan Cresswell powering forward at the back post.
The play switched quickly from end to end as Albion hit the post and then saw David Ball miss a great chance for the hosts moments later. Some great play in and around the Fleetwood box allowed McGurk to try a left foot shot and a deflection off Roberts saw it thud back off the post. Fleetwood raced forwards and Junior Brown found space to race into the box to pull the ball back for Ball who scuffed his shot well over.
Fleetwood got themselves back into it on 64 minutes as more good pressure found Jeff HUGHES on the edge of the six yard box and his shot on the turn lacked power the the accuracy was perfect to deceive Lyness and find the bottom corner.
Albion made their first change on 67 minutes with Adam Reed brought on to replace Alex MacDonald on the right hand side of midfield.
Five minutes later and it was truly game on. Former Crewe youngster Antoni Sarcevic raced into space on the right and got to the bye line before cutting the ball back for MATT to fire home from close range.
Albion's second change was to bring on Phil Edwards and sacrifice Adam McGurk as part of a reorganisation at the back. Edwards dropped in at right back as Rory Delap moved into a holding role in front of the back four.
Albion's final change came on 85 minutes and was more of a straight swap. Dominic Knowles provided the fresh legs as Rene Howe was withdrawn for the final few minutes.
Liam Hogan saw the first yellow card of the day for a scything challenge on Hussey as he tried to break away and he was quickly followed by Dean Lyness who was carded for taking too long to take a free kick.
There was one last chance for the home side to grab a point, deep into stoppage time when referee Steve Bratt awarded a free kick just outside the box but once Junior Brown's curling cross went wide without a touch from anyone the final whistle was sounded to great relief from all associated with the Brewers who celebrated an impressive victory.