BURTON ALBION 0-0 AFC WIMBLEDONBurton Albion extended their unbeaten run to eleven games, a club record in the Football League, but they could not find a winning goal against ten-man AFC Wimbledon on a night when the ball just would not go in. The Brewers were dominant for large period of the game and when defender Mark Phillips was sent off for an altercation with Stuart Beavon the Londoners battened down the hatches and frustrated Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's men as a seventh straight home league win somehow eluded them. Adam McGurk had probably Albion's best chance with a second half chance that he snatched out when Ivan Calero picked him out but visiting keeper James Shea was not tested enough with Burton having to settle for a point.
Hasselbaink was forced into two changes for the visit of the Wombles. With Jacob Blyth failing to finish Saturday's encounter with a thigh injury Burton fans got the chance to see Derby County loanee Calero in an attacking role. Fellow Derby loan man Tom Naylor was also handed a full debut as Darragh Lenihan missed out with an injury picked up since the weekend.
Burton quickly had a free kick on the left which McGurk swung in dangerously with George Taft not far away from making contact in the six yard box.
Albion almost had the lead on eight minutes as they continued to start the brighter. Lucas Akins hooked in a deep cross and McGurk was there to head against the post and when the ball came back out Calero was unable to get a shot in but McGurk retrieved the ball and fired in a shot that was blocked away to the relief of the Wombles defence.
Wimbledon broke out of defence on 12 minutes and should probably have snatched the lead. Adebayo Akinfenwa was allowed to turn and feed the ball through to Dannie Bulman and his low centre was perfect for Alfie Potter but his sidefoot effort was kicked away to safety by a very alert Jon McLaughlin.
Albion's attacking instincts soon returned and Akins was on the end of an excellent cross from Damien McCrory that forced James Shea to tip the ball around the post.
Calero was inches away from crowning a bright start with a goal. Stuart Beavon's overhead kick was into the path of Akins and his first time cross was at an awkward height but still there to be volleyed home with the Derby man just unable to make meaningful contact.
A free kick for the visitors caused problems in the Burton box as Adedeji Oshilaja headed the ball back across the penalty area for Craig Tucker to loop a header onto the roof of the net.
Beavon picked up a loose ball as Weir won a thundering challenge with Oshilaja and his raking low drive was safely fielded by Shea.
Oshilaja was in the right place at the right time to make a timely block when Calero picked the ball up on the left hand side of the area and cut back inside to take a shot just before the half hour mark.
McCrory was a relieved man when his backwards header fell into the path of Bulman but Taft got back to make life difficult for the Wimbledon midfielder who was unable to profit from the rare chance.
A short corner routine opened up a chance for Naylor when Wimbledon only half cleared the ball but the midfielder's rising shot continued on its upwards trajectory and over the bar.
Whilst Burton had enjoyed the lion's share of the play and chances in the first period they went off at the break still looking for that vital breakthrough.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 AFC Wimbledon
Albion were caught napping barely 90 seconds after the restart but after a long ball was played over the top Craig Tanner lacked the composure to finish the chance screwing his shot across the face of goal and not even forcing McLaughlin into a save.
Naylor was then pressed into defensive duty as a wayward header from Phil Edwards again allowed the visitors a sight of goal but the Derby loanee scrambled the ball away from the line to avert the danger. A less than convincing punch from McLaughlin almost put Albion in trouble again.
A long range shot from McGurk was not far over the bar as Shea watched it go fly to safety. If anything he caught the shot too sweetly. A simpler chance came his way on the hour mark as Calero teased his way into the box and made room for a cross to the far post but this time the Irishman's touch deserted him at the vital moment as he tamely poked the ball into the waiting arms of Shea.
Albion introduced Nasser El Khayati on 64 minutes and just over a minute later Wimbledon were reduced to ten men as defender Mark Phillips was shown a straight red card for violent conduct when he clashed with Beavon just outside the box. The Wombles man appeared to lash out as he attempted to stop Beavon getting back to his feet and right under the nose of referee Seb Stockbridge the match official instantly produced the card.
Burton began to lay siege to the Wimbledon goal as scores elsewhere suddenly started to go in their favour but they were still struggling to make the breakthrough. Akins fired over as the ball just ran away from him on the edge of the box.
El Khayati saw space open up for him on 73 minutes and his low drive had Shea scrambling across his line but the shot went just the wrong side of the upright.
Wimbledon quickly made their substitutions, the last of which saw Akinfenwa replaced by Adebayo Azeez. The Wimbledon man took so long to take his leave that referee Stockbridge showed him the yellow card in an effort to hasten his exit.
Azeez quickly managed to steal in behind the Burton defence on two occasions but firstly McLaughlin and secondly Mousinho did enough to stop him making the perfect entrance to the game.
It looked like it was going to open up for the Brewers when McGurk floated in a free kick and when the ball was only headed out to Beavon the ball sat up perfectly for him sixteen yards out but he failed to hit the target.
Wimbledon were getting everyone back and frustrating Albion as the game moved towards its closing stages. the build up play from the Brewers was precise but lacking in penetration as they went in search of a valuable winner.
Robbie Weir's rising shot summed up Albion's frustration as the game ticked into five additional minutes. There was still time for the Irish midfielder to have another go as Beavon carved out a chance for him on the edge of the box. This time he kept his shot down but fired it just wide of the post.
Skipper John Mousinho took a yellow card in the dying second as Azeez threatened to break through and add insult to injury but there was to be no breakthrough at either end at the finish as a disappointing night for Albion saw them deposed from top spot by two late goals for Shrewsbury at Carlisle.