EXETER CITY 1-1 BURTON ALBIONBurton Albion were denied all three points away at Exeter City by Christian Ribeiro's 86th minute header. Two evenly match sides, both pushing for promotion were cancelling each other out until Jacob Blyth netted his fifth goal of the season with a tidy finish from Alex MacDonald's cross on the hour mark and it looked as if Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's men were going to hold on for the points until the former Scunthorpe defender converted an 86th minute corner.
The Brewers side showed four changes to the team that narrowly lost at Shrewsbury a week ago. Kelvin Maynard replaced the suspended Phil Edwards, scorer of the only goal in last season's corresponding fixture. There were two changes in midfield as Darragh Lenihan returned from injury to reclaim his place at the expense of Matty Palmer whilst Bryn Morris came in for his full Football League debut in place of George Taft. The other change was in attack where Jacob Blyth partnered Stuart Beavon.
Good play down the right from Maynard and Blyth ended with the first corner of the game for the Brewers but Exeter were swiftly on the counterattack through Liam Sercombe with some excellent tracking back by John Mousinho preventing the Grecians from advancing into the Burton penalty area.
A second corner quickly followed after a free kick just outside the area but while Albion were enjoying plenty of possession in the early stages goalkeeper James Hamon remained relatively untroubled.
Exeter took a while to get into the game but when they did they showed that they like to get the ball down and move it at pace. Liam Sercombe was proving a threat down the right but it was former Brewers loanee Alex Nicholls who had the first real chance for the hosts on 18 minutes with a volley that flew well wide after some intricate build up play down the Exeter left.
Burton's response was an excellent move that deserved a goal but after MacDonald, Blyth and Beavon had worked the ball forwards well the latter's into the middle was only cut out by a well timed interception from Danny Butterfield deep inside his own box.
Both sides looked good in midfield but were lacking that cutting edge on attack. Robbie Weir lashed a volley wide with the aid of a hefty deflection off Blyth after Exeter had tried to play too much football in the middle, conceding possession all too easily and putting Burton on the attack. Darragh Lenihan also pulled a left foot shot wide as Albion began to get back on top again.
Maynard, from his right back berth was looking very composed and his through ball fed Alex MacDonald haring through the middle but his shot was wide of the target as Albion showed their attacking threat once more.
An entertaining, if unproductive half, in terms of goals was actually brought to a slightly premature end as referee Patrick Miller appeared to blow his whistle for the break a few seconds early with no added time at all. An indication of the fact that the game had flowed well with no stoppages.
Half time: Exeter City 0-0 Burton Albion
Kicking towards their own fans for the second period Exeter started brightly upon the restart and had their best chance so far five minutes into the half when Nicholls delivered an inviting cross into the middle. Albion were grateful that skipper John Mousinho tracked the run of Graham Cummins and forced the striker to head over from close range.
Both Morris and Lenihan tested Hamon in the Exeter goal with efforts low to the keeper's left and the stopper was perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty as ex-Albion triallist Christian Ribeiro tried to find his keeper with a back pass that Blyth anticipated and as he tried to capitalise appeared to have his heels clipped by the touchline.
Burton blinked first in terms of substitutions just before the hour. Morris, who had had a fairly quiet game, was replaced by Matty Palmer.
Two minutes later and Albion grabbed the lead that their pressure had been threatening. Lenihan swept a superb ball out to the left wing for MacDonald and giving himself a yard of space his low cross was dummied at the near post by Beavon giving BLYTH the chance to steer the ball back across Hamon, who was going the wrong way, and into the corner.
Whilst both Blyth and Maynard received treatment, seemingly for cramp, Exeter made a triple change that saw Scot Bennett, David Wheeler and Clinton Morrison add to the attacking armoury of the Grecians with Cummins, Alex Nicholls and Tom Nicholls making way.
Maynard eventually had to give way to his cramp and was replaced by Liam Slade. Blyth lasted a little longer but he was substituted in favour of Adam McGurk with fifteen minutes to go. The Irishman had barely been on the pitch when he had a chance to double Albion's lead. A free kick from deep was played into him and his first touch was excellent as he fed the overlapping MacDonald. Again, the winger got a yard of space and pulled the ball back for McGurk whose shot was somehow deflected out for a corner.
Exeter began to throw everything forwards at Albion with experienced frontman Morrison leading the charge but Albion were making a good fist of taking the heat out of the game.
A poor pass out from Mousinho had Albion in trouble and it took a headed clearance from McCrory to concede a corner. Albion's defensive resistance was breached finally when Matt Grimes delivered the set piece in from the left and RIBEIRO was able to bury his header.
McCrory picked up a late yellow card as substitute Wheeler tried to scamper down the right wing and it gave Exeter a late chance to pump the ball into the box. The ball was eventually worked back to Sercombe and he won a corner off Weir to keep Albion deep inside their own box.
Six minutes of added time failed to provide a winner and whilst Exeter were relieved to grab a point Albion most definitely felt that it was two points dropped leaving them still in fourth place in the Sky Bet League 2 table.