Ian Hawkins continues his review with October and November
A Tuesday night in Southend was hardly an attractive fixture to kick off the month but Albion showed plenty of grit and determination to secure another away win. The Shrimpers played most of the game with ten men after John Spicer’s early red card but still proved difficult opponents. They were finally beaten when Jacques Maghoma’s stoppage time free kick flew in to the delight of Albion’s small travelling contingent.
Another doughty and resilient display away at Morecambe brought a point back from a goalless draw on the Lancashire coast and Albion hit fifth place in League 2 despite Bristol Rovers leaving the Pirelli with a point after Billy Kee had cancelled out David Clarkson’s strike for the Gas.
A trip to Gillingham gave an indication of what was required to be successful at the top end of League 2. When Zander Diamond got the score back to 2-1 there was a glimmer of hope for the Brewers but Myles Weston and Joe Martin completed a comprehensive victory for the eventual champions to end Albion’s eight game unbeaten run in the League.
The home game against Port Vale will be remembered for two things. Jordan Chapell, a loan signing from Sheffield United, arrived hours before the game and Albion fans hearing his name read out before the game probably didn’t even realise he had joined but the youngster immediately endeared himself to Burton fans scoring with his first touch, just three minutes into his debut, to give Albion the lead in the Staffordshire derby. Vale were not to be denied and their substitute Ben Williamson equalised but in doing so collided with keeper Stuart Tomlinson leaving him with a posterior cruciate ligament injury which would keep him out for three months.
The result left Albion in tenth but facing something of a keeper crisis. Hull City’s Mark Oxley was drafted in ahead of the final match of the month against Bradford City and he kept a clean sheet on debut as Calvin Zola’s late strike broke the deadlock after the Bantams had played over half the game with ten men after Ricky Ravenhill’s red card left his side a man light. It was a relief for Gary Rowett and his men who ended a four match winless run to push Albion back to the fringes of the play-offs as the clocks went back.
On face value a home FA Cup first round draw against Conference North side Altrincham looked like a relatively straightforward game. It proved to be anything but. From the moment Carl Rodgers put the Robins in front it was looking an awkward day for Albion and it got worse as Nathan Stanton put through his own net to double the visitors lead. Normality seemed to have been resumed when Zander Diamond and Jacques Maghoma got Albion back level with less that a quarter of an hour to play. Damien McCrory’s own goal looked to have given Altrincham another Football League scalp but Calvin Zola’s late, late equaliser kept Albion in the Cup.
Great powers of recovery were required with the Brewers making their longest away trip of the season, to Plymouth Argyle, the following Wednesday. The omens were not good when Paris Cowan-Hall shot the home side ahead but Nathan Stanton’s first goal for NINE years and Robbie Weir’s winner ensured that the long midweek trip back from Devon was well rewarded.
Albion travelled back down the M5 as far as Cheltenham at the end of a busy week and were so close to coming back with a point until Chris Zebroski pounced in a goalmouth scramble to give Albion’s promotion rivals a vital three points.
Live television coverage on ESPN saw Albion’s FA Cup replay with Altrincham broadcast to the nation and Chris Palmer’s second half free kick was worth the subscription fee alone before Calvin Zola secured a second round tie with his former club Crewe. A five goal thriller against Dagenham & Redbridge swung one way and then another with, almost inevitably, Damien McCrory opening his Burton account against his former employers before Matt Paterson and Billy Kee finally secured a welcome three points against the Daggers.
A disappointing end to the month saw Albion suffer successive defeats leaving them down in eleventh place place in League 2. Basement battlers Aldershot Town defied their lowly league position to snatch a fourth minute lead through loanee Dani Lopez and Albion were unable to break down a determined Shots defence that hung on for their lives.
Little did Brewers fans know what that result would spark in terms of home results. A forgettable game at Wycombe left Albion with ten men as Zander Diamond was harshly red carded and a 3-0 defeat to another struggling side had Burton fans scratching their heads in frustration.