Last season’s visit to AFC Wimbledon was one to forget and this season’s was marginally better. Deadline day loan signings Michael Symes and Alex MacDonald took their bow in a Burton shirt but enjoyed differing fortunes.
While MacDonald picked up an injury that cut short his debut after just over twenty minutes, Symes proved to be a goalscoring hero netting a superb equaliser to impress his new supporters. The day was soured by skipper Zander Diamond seeing red for a dubious clash with Wombles defender Pim Balkestein. Albion’s chances of victory diminished and the skipper faced a harsh four match ban.
A lively atmosphere at the Pirelli saw Albion up against it with another unfamiliar looking back four taking to the field for a tough game against Steve Evans’ Rotherham United. Albion fans have long memories and prior encounters with the former Boston manager made this another very sweet victory, Billy Kee superbly turning Iceland international Kari Arnason twice in the first half to bag a brace and three points.
With confidence high the Brewers turned on the style on their first ever visit to Fleetwood Town to batter the Cod Army.
An inspired performance from Jacques Maghoma driving Albion to a 4-0 victory with two goals and an assist contributing to a best away win in four seasons in the Football League. Exeter City came to Burton with a better record on the road than on their own patch but another four goal salvo from a rampant Albion sent them back to Devon empty handed. Michael Symes, Marcus ‘Bob’ Holness and Jacques Maghoma had Burton three up at the break with a Lee Bell screamer sealing victory before Exeter netted two late consolation goals as Albion took their foot off the gas. The appetite for goals did not diminish when Morecambe came to town three days later. Maghoma scored a fourth goal in three games and another brace from Billy Kee, taking his tally to five goals in the month, were enough to see off a spirited late fightback from the Shrimps.
An exhilarating month was capped with the fitting reward of a second manager of the month award for Gary Rowett and a superb month on the pitch for Maghoma saw him named League 2 Player of The Month.
All good things come to an end and Albion’s four game winning run came to a shuddering halt at Bristol Rovers, scene of last season’s 7-1 humbling. This season was marginally better but under the new guidance of John Ward, the Pirates are a tough nut to crack on their own patch and they put a dent in Albion’s promotion push with a 3-0 victory at the Memorial Stadium.
Rather than suffering Brewers droop, Gary Rowett’s team came up with the perfect riposte – a morale boosting 3-1 victory over another of their promotion rivals Cheltenham Town. A first goal for Alex MacDonald set the ball rolling before a brace of goals from Robbie Weir, his first time on the scoresheet since November, enabled Albion to exact revenge for that late defeat at Whaddon Road earlier in the campaign.
The Brewers were remarkably within touching distance of the top two and a pivotal Tuesday evening in Hampshire enabled them to briefly topple Port Vale from second spot. It had all the hallmarks of a frustrating evening at the EBB Stadium when West Ham loanee Paul McCallum gave relegation haunted Aldershot a third minute lead but crucially Robbie Weir smashed in an equaliser on the stroke of half time and the second half was a different story. Bristling with confidence, Albion dominated the second period and deservedly took the points with a sublime volleyed goal from Michael Symes. With victory secure a look at the final results elsewhere showed that all of Burton’s promotion rivals had dropped points.
Dagenham & Redbridge has never been a particularly happy hunting ground for Albion and so it proved again as Albion quickly relinquished second place in the table. Lee Bell’s deflected piledriver had Burton ahead at the break and on course for a first win in East London since 2003 but Josh Scott lashed in a superb solo effort to deny Albion the victory they needed.
The unseasonal late March snow accounted for the scheduled home game against Wycombe allowing rivals Cheltenham and Northampton to close the gap to Albion in third.
When the Brewers returned to action on Easter Saturday for the clash with Chesterfield they were looking for a club record tenth successive home win but in a low key and uninspiring game one moment of real quality from Drew Talbot kept alive the Spireites fading hopes of making the play-offs and dented Albion’s own hopes of promotion.