Burton Albion 1-0 Mansfield TownBilly Kee did something he has not done during his time as a Burton Albion player to secure back to back home 1-0 wins for Gary Rowett's side. Coming on as a substitute with eighteen minutes remaining the striker headed home Adam McGurk's cross at the back post to net for his first goal as a replacement. It was a reward for Albion who had plugged away carving out the better chances, particularly in the first half but the introduction of Kee and fellow substitute Rene Howe gave Albion the added impetus to go on and turn one point into three. Although Mansfield gave Albion's defence a stern test, Dean Lyness enjoyed a good night in the Burton goal to secure another valuable clean sheet to keep Albion in the play-off mix.
The Burton line up showed just one change to the one that ground out the 1-0 victory over Bristol Rovers on Saturday afternoon. Former Stags midfielder and current Albion skipper returned in place of the suspended Jimmy Phillips with Matty Palmer asked to play in a wider position than normal.
Albion had an early opportunity to get on the scoresheet from a set piece. Chris Hussey was given the chance to swing in a free kick and although it looked overhit with no Burton player attacking it the ball bounced awkwardly for visiting keeper Alan Marriott and the experienced stopper had to touch the ball around the post to prevent a freak goal.
Adam McGurk struck a long range shot a little too close to Marriott to really test him before Mansfield were forced into an early substitution. Ritchie Sutton went down on the edge of the area before trudging off with the aid of the physio to eventually be replaced by Lindon Meikle. Colin Daniel dropped into the left back slot in a bit of a reshuffle.
Dominic Knowles was not far away from notching his first goal in the Football League when he capitalised on a loose piece of defending to drill a low shot from just inside the area but again it was too close to Marriott who saved low to his left.
Chris Clements was then yellow carded for a late challenge on Robbie Weir. Referee Rob Lewis let play go on as Albion attacked but good refereeing saw him come back to the incident next time the play stopped to action the booking.
Whilst Burton were doing most of the attacking there was little in the way of clear cut chances, the nearest Burton coming as the half wore on from Dominic Knowles who hit a dipping volley over the bar on 33 minutes.
Albion really should have been one up on 35 minutes when Hussey drove beyond a defender to hang a tempting cross to the back post where McGurk decided to head back across goal in search of a team mate rather than going for goal himself. A good chance squandered.
The game sprung to life as half time approached with a rare mistake by Ian Sharps allowing Mansfield to raid forwards and when the ball fell for Lee Stevenson down the left side of the penalty area but Dean Lyness stood up tall to beat the shot away. Within an instant Albion broke upfield and Dominic Knowles evaded a couple of challenges before getting a shot away that Marriott saved.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Mansfield Town
Lyness was forced into another smart stop within a minute of the restart. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff sold him a little short with a backpass and as Ollie Palmer bore down on him, the young keeper came out and swept away the danger.
Burton had a chance to test out Marriott once again when Dominic Knowles was pushed and pulled to the ground by Martin Riley but with Damien McCrory on free taking duty this time his effort took a deflection off a defender to make it easy for the keeper.
Albion quickly countered again and when McCrory played a superb ball in behind Lee Beevers who had ventured too far out of position it allowed Hussey to drive towards goal. His first touch was a little heavy and his eventual shot was smothered at the near post with Dominic Knowles seeing his shot from the rebound suffer the same fate.
As the game quickened in tempo Mansfield went close again with Sam Clucas aiming for the back post where substitute Meikle saw his header booted away from Lyness.
Meikle was presented with another good opportunity just before the hour mark when the ball span kindly in his direction and when he reacted quickest the chance was there to seriously test Lyness but he lacked the composure to get his shot on target and Albion had a let off.
Mansfield threw burly striker Matt Rhead into the action on 65 minutes but it was Sam Clucas who rose highest immediately after to head a free kick straight into the waiting arms of Lyness.
When the call came on 72 minutes it was Billy Kee and Rene Howe that answered it as they replaced Matty Palmer and Dominic Knowles. Albion had some defending to do as Meikle again had a sight of goal but Lyness was able to grab it at the second attempt low to his right.
The double substitution for Albion paid dividends for Albion on 78 minutes. Adam McGurk had wasted one chance to cross moments earlier blazing a shot over but this time he got to the bye line and as it looked like the angle had been closed down he dug out a great cross to the back post where Billy KEE was able to nod home a close range header for his fifth of the season.
Albion suddenly looked more potent and their third substitute, Alex MacDonald was almost on the scoresheet as a sliderule pass from Howe played him in but he could not quite steer the ball wide of Marriott from the left hand side of the area.
Burton had to survive a late barrage of pressure as Mansfield pumped long balls into the box but the defensive line stood firm to extend Mansfield's winless League run to eight games as Albion consolidated their place in the play off places once more.