BARNSLEY 1-0 BURTON ALBIONBarnsley taught Albion a lesson about life in League One with a fortuitous 1-0 victory at Oakwell courtesy of Conor Hourihane's 65th minute penalty. Josh Scowen was fouled in the box as Albion failed to clear and the former Plymouth skipper ruthlessly buried the chance from the spot after the Brewers had spurned several good opportunities to be well clear in the game.
Numerous chances went begging in the first half leading to concerns that Albion had not made the most of their good spells in the game and that it could prove costly in the end. It certainly proved that when chances come your way in League One you have to take them.
After two wins in a week in both League One and the Capital One Cup utilising most of his first team squad manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had some selection dilemmas ahead of the trip to Oakwell. In the end he opted for just the one change to the side that earned the Brewers their first League One victory. Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, having served his one match suspension against Scunthorpe United, returned in place of Remi Matthews who was perhaps unfortunate to find himself only on the bench after two solid appearances against both the Iron and Bolton Wanderers.
The early stages were somewhat cagey with precious little in the way of goalmouth action and defences most certainly on top. Barnsley, perhaps unsurprisingly, had more of the early possession and a driving run from former Albion loanee Sam Winnall had to be halted just outside the box by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff who got his challenge just right to prevent the striker from giving McLaughlin an early test.
Damien McCrory was adjudged to have fouled James Bree down near the corner flag and when the free kick was whipped in McCrory was there at the near post to get the faintest of touches to steer the ball away from onrushing Barnsley attacker and just wide of the far post.
There was a quarter of an hour on the clock when Albion got their first real effort in on goal. A bursting run from Mark Duffy down the middle found Stuart Beavon who managed to work room for a low left foot shot that was provided Adam Davies with a relatively comfortable save low to his left.
Josh Scowen was proving to be something of a livewire in the Barnsley midfield and the former Wycombe man decided to try his luck with a long range effort on 18 minutes that dipped over the crossbar without seriously troubling McLaughlin.
Nasser El Khayati suddenly sprung to life on 20 minutes to cause the Tykes some problems. Having won a free kick inside his own half for a clumsy foul by Ben Pearson the forward dusted himself down and was soon tormenting right back Bree finishing with a teasing cross that allowed Duffy to steer a header towards the bottom corner that Davies was able to push away to safety.
The Dutchman was even closer to a goal for himself on 27 minutes. Picking the ball up on the edge of the area he shaped to shoot but feinted to pull the ball back on his left forcing Davies to just get his fingertips to the ball and push it around the post for a corner.
Tom Naylor picked up a yellow card, his second in successive matches for an untidy challenge on Joe Rothwell although the card may well have been for persistent infringements after a few earlier challenges had been penalised with free kicks.
Duffy was alert to intercept a poor throw in from Barnsley and send Beavon scampering away down the left. The striker's ball back into the middle evaded Duffy and looked perfectly set for Akins to have a shot when Pearson got back to clear the danger away.
Barnsley were making most of their inroads down their right hand side through young right back Bree and he sent in a beautiful cross on 38 minutes that was just too high for Marley Watkins in the middle.
El Khayati was close again moments later as another Barnsley attack broke down and this time he had Davies diving full length to his right only for the ball to end up just the wrong side of the post. Albion probably should have had the lead within a minute when Marc Roberts could only head Phil Edwards' cross to the feet of Duffy. The Albion man jinked to the bye line and pulled the ball back but it was just behind Naylor who just failed to turn the ball goalwards.
Albion were enjoying a purple patch and Akins was next to rue his luck as El Khayati found Beavon in acres of space inside the box who in turn picked out last season's top scorer but his first time shot on the turn drifted harmlessly wide.
Burton would surely have felt that they deserved to be in front at the break but they had to settle for a third scoreless half time in a row. Would they rue those missed chances come the end of the game?
Half time: Barnsley 0-0 Burton Albion
The Tykes made a change at the break with defender George Smith sacrificed to make way for Arsenal loanee Dan Crowley.
Scowen picked up an early yellow card for leaving his foot in on skipper John Mousinho as he cleared the ball down near the corner flag although the Barnsley vehemently pleaded his innocence.
Albion continued where they had left off in the first half with both Naylor and Mousinho close to testing Davies from Duffy's promptings.
Nine minutes into the second half and Barnsley had made their second change. This time Joe Rothwell made way as former Plymouth midfielder Conor Hourihane entered the fray.
It was still Albion carving out the better chances and Phil Edwards was the next to go close heading over another Duffy corner from close range before McLaughlin was forced into a rare save when Hourihane let fly from outside the box.
Albion's first change came on 64 minutes with Jerome Binnom-Williams introduced in the slightly unfamiliar right sided midfield role.
Out of the blue Barnsley were handed a penalty on 66 minutes. The persistence of Winnall kept the ball in as Albion tried to let it run out for a goal kick and Scowen was brought down just inside the box by McCrory to allow HOURIHANE to drill the ball past McLaughlin from the spot. It was harsh on Albion who had made all the running up to that point.
Binnom-Williams quickly went on a surging run into the penalty area from the restart but finding Duffy, the Birmingham man's low shot was tame and easy for Davies to gather in.
Yet another chance went begging for the Brewers on 74 minutes. Superb work from Binnom-Williams on the edge of the Barnsley box found Duffy in space on the left but he somehow spooned his effort wide of the target when it looked easier to score.
Albion's last throw of the dice came with eleven minutes remaining with a double change seeing Robbie Weir and Stuart Beavon replaced with Matty Palmer and Timmy Thiele. The German almost made an immediate impact with a rising 25 yard screamer smashing against the crossbar with Davies comprehensively beaten.
As Albion pressed they almost fell prey to the sucker punch as Winnall got to the ball ahead of McLaughlin who did well to hold up the Barnsley man with Scowen getting the final shot in, safely dealt with by the Brewers keeper.
Palmer went for control over a first time shot from a superb Edwards cross and was unfortunate to see the ball run away from him from the penalty spot.
Edwards had a late chance to grab a point latching onto a neat through ball from Duffy but he was quickly closed down at the expense of a corner that Albion were unable to profit from.
In the end those first half misses proved costly as Albion learned the hard way that chances have to be taken to ensure getting a result and with it the Brewers thirteen game unbeaten League run stretching back to the end of February was ended.