pre-season action from the Impact ArenaIn searing hot conditions at the Impact Arena the Brewers and Alfreton Town played out a 1-1 draw as both sides stepped up their pre-season campaigns.
Of the outfield players, Phil Edwards, Ian Sharps, Chris Hussey and Jimmy Phillips all got a full ninety minutes under their belt and keeper Dean Lyness also played the full game. Albion looked the sharper of the two sides but found themselves behind after just over twenty minutes when Josh Low's deflected free kick gave the hosts the lead but triallist Rory Delap squared things up with a headed finish with twenty minutes to go.
Gary Rowett named himself among the substitutes after Zander Diamond withdrew earlier in the day due to a family bereavement. His absence gave first year professional Liam Slade another opportunity to show what he can do alongside Ian Sharps. The side was again a mix of regular players and youth teamers with new signing Rene Howe not included in the squad although he was at the game to watch his new side in action.
Alex MacDonald had the Brewers first opening in the second minute as a loose pass out of the Alfreton defence presented him with the ball but from the edge of the area he curled a speculative effort well wide of the target.
Tom Shaw whistled a long range shot wide of the post shortly after but it was Albion looking the more threatening and when Matty Palmer was flattened as he played the ball through for Michael Symes, referee Nick Hopton played on and Symes was only denied at the near post by a good block from Alfreton's triallist goalkeeper Mats Morch. MacDonald was wayward with a free kick from a promising position moments later and Morch then produced a smart save to save the former Burnley man's low drive from just inside the area.
The hosts took the lead though on 21 minutes with a goal that owed a lot to some good fortune. Josh Law was felled twenty five yards from goal by Phil Edwards and the midfielder tried his luck with a huge deflection off the defensive wall proving enough to beat a wrong footed Dean Lyness.
Despite conceding the lead Albion continued to look the more compsed side and just after the half hour mark Jimmy Phillips almost grabbed a rare goal as he latched onto a pass from Symes before curling a teasing effort beyond the clutches of Morch before rattling the joint of post and crossbar.
Albion continued to probe at the Alfreton defence but prior to the half time whistle they were unable to make the breakthrough.
Half time: Alfreton Town 1 - 0 Burton Albion
Gary Rowett made four changes for the second half with Rory Delap replacing Liam Slade, Phil Edwards moving to centre half to allow the former Derby and Stoke man to slot in at right back. Lee Bell and Matty Palmer were replaced by Robbie Weir and Jack Dyer as the centre of midfield took on a completely new look and Dominic Knowles replaced Joe Doyle taking up a strikers role and Alex MacDonald moving back out to his more customary right wing position.
Former Albion defender Kristian Ramsey-Dixon, now deployed as a striker for Alfreton had an early chance to get on the scoresheet as he showed good control to pick up on a diagonal pass but his low shot was somewhat scuffed and easy for Lyness to collect.
Albion were only inches away from an equaliser on 54 minutes with Dominic Knowles seeking a lobbed effort hooked off the line by Chris Westwood.
On the hour mark Albion gave Delap the chance to hurl one of his trademark throws into the penalty area and when the ball fell for Robbie Weir he lashed a shot wide of the post. Albion tehn made another substitution with Alex MacDonald giving way to Marcus Harness on the right of midfield.
It was DELAP who put Albion back on level terms on 70 minutes with a simple goal. Albion's flowing football down the left won a corner and when Jimmy Phillips curled a perfect centre into the middle the experienced midfielder rose to glance home a simple finish.
Matty Palmer was then reintroduced for the final twenty minutes as Michael Symes took his leave.
Dominic Knowles continued to look lively in attack and was twice denied by blocks inside the area as he created chances for himself with some intelligent play inside the penalty area.
The ex-Burnley youngster then turned provider with a slide rule pass into the path of Jimmy Phillips who skipped beyond one challenge before seeing Morch superbly deny him with a sprawling save.
Albion's young guns combined well late on as Palmer and Marcus Harness showed good understanding to work an opportunity on the edge of the box that the latter drilled low across goal with Morch seeming to save it but referee Hopton awarding a goal kick.
Knowles again proved the sharpest of Albion's forwards with late chances that were unluckily not converted but at the end of the day it was another good workout for Gary Rowett's men with another game against Conference opposition to come against Nuneaton Town on Tuesday evening.
Brewers: Lyness; Edwards, Sharps, Slade (Delap, 46), Hussey; Doyle (Knowles, 46), Bell (Weir, 46), Palmer (Dyer, 46), Phillips; MacDonald (Harness, 60), Symes (Palmer, 70). Substitutes: Rowett, Horton, Harness, Currie.
GOALS: Alfreton - Law (21); Albion - Delap (70)