Hartlepool United v Burton AlbionPhil Edwards' second goal in Burton colours earned the Brewers a well deserved point from a tricky trip to Hartlepool United as Albion go into the Christmas period in fifth place in Skybet League 2 just two points from the automatic promotion places. Edwards showed plenty of attacking prowess to turn superbly on the edge of the box before firing low beyond Scott Flinders to give Albion a 17th minute lead. Pools rallied in the second half and substitute Bradley Walker equalised with his first touch seconds after coming onto the pitch. Both sides had chances to grab all three points but for either side to lose would have been harsh.
Manager Gary Rowett was able to call on Adam McGurk after the striker returned to full fitness having missed the last two games due to concussion picked up at Fleetwood a fortnight ago. He returned at the expense of Rene Howe who dropped to the bench. With Lee Bell (hamstring) and Alex MacDonald (virus) both unable to be involved there were recalls for Jimmy Phillips on the wing and Matty Palmer in the centre. Jack Dyer and Adam Reed both returned to the substitutes bench to cover for the missing midfield pair.
Both sides had early set piece opportunities but Albion dealt with Simon Walton's free kick from the left of the penalty area before Adam McGurk saw a curling free kick loop up off a defender to earn the first corner of the game. McGurk flicked Hussey's delivery to the back post where Pools eventually managed to clear their lines with Ian Sharps almost on the goalline waiting to pounce.
The home side looked vulnerable to set pieces and Albion should probably have profited from another corner on ten minutes. Hussey was again the man with the delivery, this time to the back post where Robbie Weir headed back into the danger area for Shane Cansdell-Sherriff to flick a close range header over the crossbar.
Albion were putting the home defence under pressure and the opening goal came on 17 minutes. Matty Palmer and Pools dangerman Luke James were involved in a tussle for possession on the touchline that had home fans screaming for a free kick but with no infringement signalled by referee Richard Clark, Robbie Weir swung in a hopeful ball that EDWARDS chested down and beating centre back Christian Burgess with all the instincts of a natural striker, blasted the ball between the legs of keeper Scott Flinders who got something on the ball but could not keep it out.
It really should have been two on 22 minutes when another sweeping move had Palmer racing through but on his left foot he steered a close range shot across goal and wide of the far post.
Hartlepool composed themselves and began to come back into the game, James Poole lashing an ambitious scissor kick shot towards goal on 27 minutes before Sharps got in a crucial header to clear before Albion had a scare from the corner with a header deflected across the face of goal that Sharps eventually cleared to safety.
Edwards then prevented a certain equaliser on 32 minutes. A teasing ball into the centre from Poole was bundled goalwards by Andy Monkhouse with Lyness beaten but Albion's goalscorer stooped to head the ball away.
Robbie Weir picked up his fourth yellow card of the campaign on 37 minutes. A bursting run through the middle was halted when he slightly overran the ball and caught Jack Baldwin as he went in to win the ball back.
Lyness had to show a safe pair of hands when James tried a volleyed shot on 41 minutes before Jimmy Phillips, like Palmer earlier, squandered a good chance to double the Brewers advantage. Adam McGurk led a breakaway down the right and his cross shot was blocked only as far as the winger who cut inside but lifted his shot well over the bar.
Hartlepool pressed at the end of the half and they were close to an equaliser when Jack Compton found space on the edge of the box to turn and hit a dipping left foot shot just over Lyness' bar.
Half time: Hartlepool United 0-1 Burton Albion
When the teams reappeared for the second period it was a rare moment for the Brewers as Damien McCrory failed to come out. The left back had played every minute of every game thus far but he was replaced by Zander Diamond who slotted in at right back with Phil Edwards moving over to the left.
Pools had a clear sight of goal on 49 minutes when James was played in but Lyness stood up well to block the shot with Poole missing the rebound.
Minutes later and Kee had two great chances to put Albion further ahead. The striker headed on Sharps ball forward and got to his own header before keeper Flinders before curling a delightful shot that looked destined for the back of the net before if just drifted over the bar. McGurk then had the home defence backing off and a neat little pass to Kee should probably have been converted but Hartlepool were able to scramble the ball clear.
After a frustrating start to the second half bv the home side they made a change on 63 minutes with Jonathan Franks replacing the hard working Poole. Within a minute Hartlepool were just inches away from the equaliser. Jack Compton swung in a delightful cross and Monkhouse's flick at the far post bounced up off Lyness and seemed to be bouncing in until Diamond effected another goalline clearance to deny the Pools forward.
Bradley Walker was then thrown into the action in place of Simon Walton and the substitute scored with his first touch. As the ball pinged around the edge of the Albion area he latched onto the loose ball and drilled a swerving shot beyond a beaten Lyness.
Sharps picked up a yellow card for a foul on James as Hartlepool went in search of a winner before Albion made another change. Billy Kee was the man to make way as Rene Howe made his entrance.
Burton's third throw of the dice was something of a surprise as Adam Reed got a run out bolstering the midfield as Adam McGurk came off on 76 minutes.
James had been the dangerman for Pools all afternoon and he was so close to conjuring up a goal on 81 minutes. Having nicked the ball past Sharps on the touchline the forward drove into the area and cut back onto his right foot before drilling his shot wide of the target with Lyness at full stretch.
The expected late press from the home side failed to materialise although a free kick for a foul by Cansdell-Sherriff gave them the chance to put the ball into the box in stoppage time with Albion scrambling the ball away eventually.
A point apiece was a fair result at the end with Pools extending their unbeaten home run to seven games and Albion picking up another useful away point in their quest for promotion.