Burton Albion v Torquay UnitedWhat looked like becoming a frustrating night for the Brewers ultimately resulted in a 2-0 victory for a resurgent Burton side who had to wait until the 69th minute for the vital breakthrough against gritty opponents Torquay United. When it came, the goal was something that had the statisticians reaching for their record books as winger Jimmy Phillips scored his first goal for four years crashing home the rebound when Billy Kee's shot rebounded off the post.
Phillips had not scored since Albion's opening season in the Football League but Albion's second came from a man bang in form as Adam McGurk latched onto Kee's defence splitting pass to confidently fire home from the edge of the box ten minutes later for his third goal in two games and kill off any hopes that Torquay had of getting something for their efforts.
Whilst there was surely a temptation to stick with an unchanged side following the victory at Chesterfield the chance to bring Billy Kee straight back into the team was too strong to resist for Brewers boss Gary Rowett. The former Torquay striker was reinstated to the attack alongside Adam McGurk with midfielder Lee Bell the man to drop to the bench as Matty Palmer started his second league game in a row. Alex MacDonald returned to the bench after a rib injury.
Burton looked very lively in the early stages and twice threatened to open the scoring with quick breaks. Matty Palmer and Kee created a chance for McGurk after just six minutes but his shot lacked the crispness of his strike on Saturday and the ball slipped disappointingly wide of the post. Albion were quickly on the attack again as Chris Hussey cut inside from the right and given encouragement to burst forward he shot at goal but too close to Martin Rice who dropped onto the ball to his left.
Karl Hawley flashed a low shot wide of Jordan Pickford's right hand post as Albion sloppily conceded possession and invited Torquay to press forward.
Burton were soon on the attack again and when Kee worked the ball to Hussey on 19 minutes his curling shot was blocked by Kevin Nicholson as it flew towards the bottom corner and the lively wide man was not far away again when a corner kick eventually found its way back across the area allowing him to fire a shot to the near post this time that Rice was able to save.
As the rain began to lash down McGurk's run into the penalty was halted right on the edge and as Torquay broke forward once Adebayo Azeez scuffed a tame shot straight at Jordan Pickford.
Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was the first player to go into referee Simon Hooper's notebook when he slid in on Billy Bodin inside the centre circle in a challenge that left the striker needing attention. The Gulls failed to make the most of the resulting free kick and when Albion broke forward at pace a great challenge by Jimmy Phillips saw the ball spin into the path of Kee who turned and fired a low shot towards the bottom corner that Rice had to dive to his left to push around the post.
As the four minutes added on at the end of the first half came to an end, mainly incurred for a second injury to Bodin that resulted in his substitution, Adam McGurk won a free kick in a tempting central position twenty five yards from goal and as everyone expected Kee to strike the ball it was Hussey that stepped up and whipped the ball over the wall and against the base of the post. It would have been a great way for Albion to end a half where they had been the better side but without finding that killer touch in front of goal.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Torquay United
Burton undoubtedly came out the more positive at the start of the second period but the frustrations continued as some plucky defending kept the Brewers at bay in the early stages and when a loose ball came nicely into the path of young Matty Palmer his low drive was not far wide of the post with Rice beaten.
Phil Edwards was the next to be foiled as the full back found himself in a very advanced position inside the penalty area and it took a very good save from Rice to beat away his volleyed thunderbolt.
A superb piece of link up play on 57 minutes saw Phillips play Damien McCrory in down the channel and his teasing cross had to be pawed away from the onrushing McGurk by an increasingly busy Rice.
Burton were getting ever closer and McGurk looked on as Anthony O'Connor deflected his header over the crossbar and as Albion pushed they were almost caught on the counter when McGurk failed to connect with an ambitious overhead effort and Azeez led the charge but was unable to find Nathan Craig bursting through the middle, thanks to Matty Palmer tracking back and cutting out the attempted through ball.
Another chance went begging on 66 minutes when Kee's header was blocked by O'Connor but the breakthrough eventually came on 69 minutes. Kee did exceptionally well to turn and smash a shot against the post and this time the rebound fell favourably and Jimmy PHILLIPS was able to drive home just his third goal in Burton colours and his first at the Pirelli.
Nathan Craig lashed a free kick from the right wildly over the crossbar and then he served up a chance for Leicester City loanee who lashed a low shot into the bottom corner of the side netting.
Billy Kee curled a free kick over the angle of post and bar before claiming an assist as Albion made it 2-0 on 79 minutes. Holding the ball up in midfield he picked out a peach of a through ball for Adam McGURK to race through to the edge of the area and confidently lift the ball beyond Rice into the bottom corner.
As Torquay went in search of something to get them back into the game skipper Lee Mansell slid into a challenge on Jordan Pickford that earned the Torquay man a yellow card and with Albion still in the mood for more goals McGurk fired a dipping volley just over Rice's crossbar.
Anthony O'Connor speared a miscued clearance just over his own bar as Burton continued to look for a third and a late lunge on Phillips by Dale Tonge earned the Torquay man a yellow card in stoppage time but there was no further punishment as substitute Alex MacDonald failed to trouble the goal from the free kick.
A second successive win and a second successive clean sheet was, in the end, a just reward for Gary Rowett's men who finish the night only outside the play-off places on goal difference ahead of a trip to Devon to take on Torquay's high flying rivals Exeter City on Saturday.