BURTON ALBION 3-1 NORTHAMPTON TOWNBurton Albion signed off their Pirelli Stadium campaign with an ultimately comfortable 3-1 victory over play-off chasing Northampton Town but Shrewsbury Town's 1-0 victory at Cheltenham Town meant that any hopes of clinching the League 2 winners trophy remain on ice for another week when hopefully the champagne corks will pop at Cambridge United as Albion bring the curtain down on the most successful season in their 65 year history. Ironically it was an own goal from former Albion defender Zander Diamond that set Albion on their way after just four minutes, turning Stuart Beavon's cross into his own net before Phil Edwards and Lucas Akins, from the penalty spot, had Albion 3-0 by half time.
A quality finish from the Cobblers Lawson D'Ath early in the second half briefly gave Northampton hope but Albion's game management was spot on as they moved past the 90 point mark before promotion celebrations engulfed the Pirelli faithful.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink went with an unchanged side after the 21 victory at Morecambe that sealed promotion to the third tier of English Football for the first time in their history. Adam McGurk, recovered from the nasty cut above his eye picked up in the draw against Carlisle last time out at the Pirelli returned to the bench.
Albion got off to the dream start that they would have wanted. Stuart Beavon charged down an errant clearance from goalkeepert Shwan Jalal and had time and space to collect the ball and pick an option. He drilled a low cross into the centre where both Kevin Stewart and Lucas Akins were both descending on it before Diamond got their first and compounded Jalal's misery by turning it, almost apologetically, into the net.
The Brewers were keen to add more goals and a quick throw in from Ton Naylor had Beavon in behind a napping Lee Collins but Jalal was equal to the Burton man's effort to keep Albion just one ahead.
Beavon was inches away from a goal that he richly deserved with a deft flick of his head to divert a curling cross from El Khayati just inches over onto the roof of the net.
Northampton threatened for the first time on 25 minutes. Naylor brought down the dangerous Ricky Holmes 25 yards out but Evan Horwood's attempt from the free kick was comfortably caught by Jon McLaughlin underneath his crossbar.
Albion doubled their lead on 31 minutes after more good work from Naylor forced a corner on the right. El Khayati thought about his options and swung in a low corner that Phil EDWARDS met with a flick of his boot on the edge of the area to send it through a crowded penalty area and in off the far post with Jalal completely unsighted.
39 minutes were on the clock when Albion were awarded a penalty. Naylor again caused panic on the edge of the Northampton area and when Akins took control of things a burst into the area was unceremoniously halted by Horwood inviting referee Richard Clark to point to the spot. Having successfully converted from the spot at Morecambe last week, AKINS stepped up and comprehensively sent Jalal the wrong way to put Albion three to the good.
It was a fitting end to a comprehensively one sided first half.
Half time: Burton Albion 3-0 Northampton Town
Northampton, perhaps unsurprising, made a double change at the break after what, for them, was a disastrous first period. The experience of Ryan Cresswell and Marc Richards was sent on as Lee Collins and Diego De Girolamo failed to reappear after the break.
Despite Burton continuing to press it was Northampton who stunned the Brewers with a goal out of nothing on 53 minutes. A hopeful ball into the box picked out Lawson D'ATH and the midfielder showed a fair amount of skill to take it on his chest and turn to hit a lovely volley that beat McLaughlin before nestling inside the far corner.
Richards nouse and ability suddenly game the Cobblers a foothold in the game up front and he linked up well with young home grown product Ivan Toney whose thunderous angled shot was well kept out by McLaughlin.
With a quarter of the game to go Albion made their first change, Adam McGurk returning to the action after his nastly looking eye injury sustained against Carlisle in place of Liverpool loanee Kevin Stewart. The forward almost instantly had a good chance to mark his appearance with a goal. El Khayati swept in a free kick to the edge of the area and the substitutes glancing header was not far wide of the post.
Richards hardly covered himself in glory with a free kick routine that hardly looked like it was from the training ground. Horwood and another Northampton player feigned to make runs and take it eventually leaving it to the League's leading scorer who only succeeded in finding the car park.
Midfielder Jason Taylor incurred the wrath of referee Clark once too often on 77 minutes picking up a yellow card for persistent fouling.
Akins went on another barnstorming run through the centre two minutes later setting up El Khayati for a cross that was only just too far in front of McGurk bursting in the centre.
Akins scooped a good chance over on his left foot as the ball bounced up from a cross in by McGurk that caught the Cobblers defence napping.
A limping Robbie Weir, after a couple of crunching challenges, came off with Matty Palmer sent on for the closing stages and before the end Denny Johnstone also took to the field in place of El Khayati.
Albion had to survive some late pressure as Northampton ppiled bodies into the box in search of a second, Cresswell just inches away from connecting with a header as the ball flashed across the face of goal.
McGurk spurned a great chance in stoppage time to add further gloss to Albion's victory when good work by Edwards set up a chance for the Irishman but his shot was just too high as it fizzed inches over the bar.
The Brewers move on to Cambridge for the final game of the season and the equation is simple - victory at the Abbey would put the icing on the Brewers cake and take them into League One as champions.