Exeter City 0-1 Burton Albion
Phil Edwards' 89th minute header was the difference between the two sides as Burton Albion grabbed all three points from a closely fought encounter with Exeter City at St James Park.
The game looked to be heading for a 0-0 stalemate until Chris Hussey swung in a late corner and Edwards timed his run to perfection to thunder a header past ex-Albion keeper Artur Krysiak. Exeter had had the better of the clear cut chances but were denied by Jordan Pickford who was in inspired form in the Burton goal but Burton had long periods of dominating possession without creating too much in attack.
After successive wins in Skybet League 2 Gary Rowett's men went to Exeter City in search of more points to hopefully push them up into the play-off positions. The Grecians started the day five places ahead of the Brewers but more importantly just three points ahead of them in the incredibly congested table.
The Brewers boss opted for an unchanged side after Tuesday's victory over Exeter's Devon rivals Torquay United meaning that Lee Bell once again found himself on the bench as the blossoming talents of Matty Palmer were given another opportunity in central midfield alongside Robbie Weir.
Burton made a very confident start and had the home side under pressure in the opening stages. Jimmy Phillips won an early corner which was cleared but Burton kept the pressure on as Exeter struggled to get out of their own half.
Adam McGurk hit a raking shot from 22 yards over the crossbar but Burton were almost hit on the counter with the Grecians first real attack. Alan Gow's pass from just inside his own half had John O'Flynn haring into the box but Jordan Pickford stood tall and made an excellent save to deny the Exeter striker.
Exeter continued to impose themselves on the game but Burton were frustrating them in the middle of the park. Alan Gow improvised a dipping volley from the right hand side on 20 minutes and with Jordan Pickford at full stretch the ball landed just beyond the far post.
Albion's response was to make a good chance for themselves when Jimmy Phillips got away down the left and found room to cross for McGurk to head straight into the arms of former Albion keeper Artur Krysiak.
McGurk then turned provider as a burst of pace created the space for him to cross into the danger area where Chris Hussey was only denied a headed chance by an excellent interception from Craig Woodman.
Albion went closest yet on the half hour mark when Billy Kee made room for a trademark shot on the turn from 25 yards and he was denied seeing the ball nestle in the bottom corner of the net by the fingertips of Krysiak.
Burton continued to keep the home side penned in and a succession of corners kept the hosts on the back foot but the Brewers were unable to get the breakthrough as the Exeter defence stood firm under pressure as Albion amassed no less than ten corners during the first period.
Half time: Exeter City 0-0 Burton Albion
Exeter made a substitution at the start of the second half with experienced striker Sam Parkin failing to reappear and winger David Wheeler taking his place.
The Grecians quickly won a corner when Gow's stinging shot was tipped over the crossbar by Pickford with an athletic save. Although Exeter won a series of corner they were having as much trouble as Albion were in making them count. A quick attack by Albion and some neat interplay around the penalty area created a chance for McGurk who curled his shot comfortably over the crossbar.
Jimmy Phillips was agonisingly close with an angled curling shot from just inside the area that Krysiak acrobatically tipped away at the expense of a corner.
Exeter were starting to fashion some chances and the best fell to John O'Flynn who fired low into the body of Pickford having been played through by Arron Davies before Tommy Doherty flashed an angled drive wide of the post.
Albion's first change came on 63 minutes as Billy Kee came off to be replaced by Alex MacDonald.
Robbie Weir found himself in the book to incur the ire of the home supporters as he went in for a robust challenge on Docherty.
MacDonald then picked up a yellow card for an enthusiastic challenge on Krysiak before Albion's keeper enhanced his own reputation with another excellent save. Arron Davies picked the pocket of Phil Edwards before driving forward and feeding Alan Gow. The striker set himself and looked all set to slip the ball beyond Pickford before the on-loan stopper spread himself to make a tremendous block.
Chris Hussey did well down the right and when he fed McGurk the ball was quickly worked to the back post where MacDonald could not quite get high enough to divert his header on target.
Just as the game looked to be heading for a tame goalless stalemate Albion came up with a goal from a set piece. A lack of communication from Krysiak and his centre half Danny Coles resulted in the latter spooning the ball out for a corner. Hussey swung in Albion's 14th corner of the afternoon and this time Phil EDWARDS was on hand to steam in and head home a powerful header and grab all three points for Albion.
There was little time for Exeter to respond and it was a fifth away win of the season for ever improving Albion.
As the game became somewhat scrappy