npower League 2 action from Highbury StadiumBurton Albion claimed their first away victory since November to further consolidate their push for promotion as Fleetwood Town were swept away in the second half at Highbury. After an even but uneventful first half the game sprang to life early in the second period when home keeper Scott Davies was dismissed for bringing down Jacques Maghoma on the edge of the box with the in form midfielder slotting home the penalty past substitute keeper David Lucas.
Albion went on to dominate the second half and a stunning strike from Billy Kee gave Albion breathing space before late goals from Maghoma and substitute Calvin Zola capped a resounding victory.
Gary Rowett made two changes to the side that saw off fellow promotion contenders Rotherham United at the Pirelli Stadium last weekend. Ian Sharps, unable to play against his parent club last time out, returned in place of Nathan Stanton, struggling with a knee injury and Damien McCrory came back into the side for Aaron Webster. Calvin Zola was fit enough to return to the bench as the injury situation at the Pirelli eased considerably this week.
Unsurprisingly for a game between two sides separated by just one league place, the early stages were a tight and cagey affair. The first real shot in anger came from Fleetwood midfielder Jamie McGuire on ten minutes as the home side capitalised on a stray pass out of defence from Ian Sharps with McGuire hitting a snap shot from 15 yards that was comfortably taken by Stuart Tomlinson in the Burton goal.
Albion quickly had a chance themselves as Jacques Maghoma did well to keep the ball in play on the left and found Michael Symes. The ball was quickly worked into Billy Kee who in turn found Alex MacDonald inside the box and his shot flew just wide of the far post with Scott Davies beaten in the Fleetwood goal.
The Brewers continued to pressure their hosts and a couple of teasing corners on nineteen minutes almost unlocked the defence but when Billy Kee and McGuire both went tumbling in the box it was the Burton man penalised and it gave Fleetwood the chance to relieve the pressure on them.
Burton carved out another chance on 23 minutes when Kee was this time the player fouled 30 yards out and Maghoma fired in a deflected free kick that kept Albion on the offensive.
Neither midfield was able to dominate and so clear cut chances were at a premium. MacDonald cut inside from the right to find space on 37 minutes but he was closed down just as he was about to let fly.
Fleetwood won a succession of corners as they took their turn at having a spell of pressure and the two centre halves for the Cod Army almost created a goal as Stuart Tomlinson punched the ball clear only for it to be returned into the area where Kieran Charnock headed back across goal and skipper Rob Atkinson looped a header onto the roof of the net.
Albion weathered the spell of pressure and as half time approached carved another good chance as MacDonald and Kee combined to set up a chance for Robbie Weir who looped a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the area.
It was the last real moment of danger in a first half which had been high on effort and endeavour but lacking in quality in the final third.
Half time: Fleetwood Town 0-0 Burton Albion
The second half started pretty much as the first half had ended although Dean Howell lashed an ambitious volleyed effort over the bar and over the stand on 47 minutes before Albion had a good chance to snatch the lead a minute later. Damien McCrory's cross in from the left picked out Michale Symes beyond the far post and his header down was into the path of Billy Kee who scooped his shot over the crossbar.
Albion continued to look liveley and Scott Davies had to come off his line on 53 minutes to punch the ball off the head of Kee as the Albion striker was inches away from connecting with Anthony O'Connor's teasing cross.
The Brewers were even closer moments later as Jacques Maghoma picked up a stray pass and burst into the area before cutting the ball back for Kee. The striker scuffed his shot but it fell nicely for Alex MacDonald who set himself and then fired in a shot that was well blocked by Davies.
Fleetwood were reduced to ten men on 57 minutes as again Maghoma burst through after good work from Kee had played him through. The midfielder tried to skip round keeper Scott Davies who brought him down on the edge of the box and referee Gary Sutton had no choice but to dismiss the Fleetwood stopper.
Substitute David Lucas was brought on in place in place of Dean Howell to take the place of the dismissed keeper but there was nothing he could do as MAGHOMA stepped up and fired home the resulting penalty.
The home side made a second change on 65 minutes as midfielder Jamie McGuire was brought off and Anthony Barry, another midfielder was brought on in his place.
Albion were looking ever more lively in midfielder and a bursting run from Robbie Weir almost brought a second goal but his pull back across the area was not quite accurate enough for Kee and Fleetwood eventually won a free kick that allowed them to get out of their own penalty area.
Burton's first change came with 20 minutes to go and it was a straight swap as Adam Drury came on to replace Alex MacDonald on the right side of midfield.
The home side threw on their final substitute with fifteen minutes of the game left and it was highly rated ex-Kidderminster striker Jamille Matt that the Cod Army turned to as midfielder Barry Nicholson was sacrificed.
A minute later and Albion had a two goal cushion was a stunning finish. It owed much to the industry of Damien McCrory who tussled valiantly on the edge of the box to win possession. The ball squirted out to KEE who took a touch and smashed the ball beyond Lucas into the roof of the net.
Fleetwood were desperate for anything that might give them a route back into the game and Barry's shot from long range had Tomlinson scrambling across his goal but the ball flew wide of the post.
Albion too off the hard working Michael Symes on 83 minutes and it gave a chance to Zola following his recovery from injury.
The icing was on the Albion cake on 87 minutes. Zola won the ball on the half way and sent MAGHOMA scampering away through the middle. He skipped past the last defender before calmly poking the ball beyond Lucas into the far corner.
There was still time for another goal in stoppage time as the unstoppable Maghoma surged into the area before unselfishly passing up the chance of a hat-trick to tee up ZOLA who sidefooted into the open goal.
FLEETWOOD: Davies, Howell, Fontaine, Nicholson, Goodall, McLaughlin, McGuire, Charnock, Atkinson, Ball, McKenna. Substitutes: Barry, Milligan, Matt, Gillespie, Kinsella, Lucas, Gyorio.
BURTON: Tomlinson; O'Connor, Holness, Sharps, McCrory; MacDonald, Bell, Weir, Maghoma; Symes, Kee. Substitutes: Lyness, Corbett, Zola, Phillips, Paterson, Dyer, Drury.
Referee: Mr. G.Sutton (Lincolnshire)
GOALS: Burton - Maghoma (58 pen, 87), Kee (76), Zola (90+1)