Ian Hawkins looks back on the 2012/13 campaign, beginning with the months of August and September.
The new season unusually kicked off with the Capital One Cup and a landmark victory for the Brewers.
Albion had not won a League Cup game in three seasons of trying but that was all put to rights as League 1 giants Sheffield United were dumped out in a thrilling penalty shoot-out. Gary Rowett’s side were twice pegged back after taking the lead through Adi Yussuf and Cleveland Taylor and despite Marcus Holness’ sending off Albion took it to penalties where Taylor lashed in the winning kick to create club history.
A return trip to South Yorkshire the following week to help Rotherham United christen their gleaming New York Stadium was less productive as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners and the Brewers again finished with ten men as Lee Bell was red-carded for two bookable offences.
Back on home soil at the Pirelli Stadium the Brewers took out their Rotherham frustrations on AFC Wimbledon who were sent packing back to London on the back of a 6-2 defeat, six different scorers for Albion, Cleveland Taylor, Billy Kee, Jacques Maghoma and Justin Richards all before half time and Robbie Weir and Zander Diamond scoring their first goals for the club after the break.
The first home Saturday of the season saw newly promoted Fleetwood Town at the Pirelli and they left with a first League goal and first League win thanks, ironically, to Burton born Dean Howell firing in a deflected free kick early in the second half. Against the odds Albion found themselves through to the third round of the Capital One Cup after a stunning night at the King Power Stadium.
Not many gave the Brewers much hope against npower Championship high flyers Leicester City but Chris Palmer’s free kick followed up by a smart finish from Cleveland Taylor had Albion 2-0 up early in the second half. Anthony Knockaert pulled one back but Robbie Weir’s penalty and a superb strike from Jacques Maghoma ensured that the Foxes had been well and truly hunted down. A late consolation from Marko Futacs could not deny Albion their evening in the spotlight. Little did we know then just how good this season would go on to be.............
Albion’s up and down start to the campaign continued as Gary’s new look team made their first of three trips to Devon. Albion looked more than capable of getting a result at Exeter City but two goals before half time had the visitors on the back foot and a third just before the end gave the scoreline a flattering look for the Grecians.
Another Cup and another penalty shoot-out came next. Coventry City in the Johnstones Paint Trophy was mostly forgettable after 90 minutes of a goalless draw but the subsequent penalty shoot out went right down to the keepers. Debutant keeper Dean Lyness missed Albion’s eleventh penalty and his counterpart Joe Murphy sent the Sky Blues through.
Away form improved as Albion continued to hold something of a jinx over Rochdale. Stuart Tomlinson on League debut for the Brewers kept a first clean sheet of the campaign but it was another debutant, Matt Paterson on his full League debut that sealed the three points with a stunning finish. Confidence restored, Oxford United felt the full force of Albion’s attacking threat as Calvin Zola and Jacques Maghoma both netted stunning braces to seal a memorable 4-0 win over the U’s. When York City were beaten 3-1 the following Wednesday after taking an early lead, Albion occupied a play-off spot.
Confidence buoyed the Brewers returned to Devon to take on Torquay United. A frustrating day at Plainmoor followed with the visitors the better side for long periods but trailing to Rene Howe’s first half strike. Calvin Zola’s fourth goal in three games right at the end secured a more than deserved point from one of the longest trips of the season.
The reward for beating Leicester in the League Cup was an anti-climactic draw against fellow League 2 side Bradford City. The game itself was anything but an anti-climax. Albion led at half time through Billy Kee and Aaron Webster but a second half fightback from the Bantams had almost been repelled until Nahki Wells struck twice in the last ten minutes to force extra time. Former Liverpool trainee Stephen Darby ultimately send Bradford through. The rest, as they say, is history.
An entertaining 3-3 draw with Northampton completed the month. Calvin Zola and a Kelvin Langmead own goal putting Albion two up before Langmead and Dave Artell levelled matters. Zander Diamond looked to have won the points for Albion but a former Brewers loanee, Alex Nicholls ensured the points were shared.