Brewers pre-season off to a winning startAn eleven minute hat-trick from Dominic Knowles and a brace for new striker Timmy Thiele got Burton Albion's pre-season off to a winning start at the Moat Ground. Both strikers were on as second half substitutes and turned around a half time deficit for the Brewers after Alex Steadman had given Gresley the lead just before the half hour mark.
The first pre-season game of the campaign ended up as a forty five minutes each way affair as opposed to the three thirty minute thirds as previously announced.
Albion lined up with a mixture of new and familiar faces along with a selection of the best young players coming through the Burton Academy.Jack O'Brien and Ben Fox stepped up to join the senior players with Callum Reilly the only one of the summer signings to start the game, at left back.
A bright start from the Brewers saw Phil Edwards send Marcus Harness away down the right and his teasing centre was poked away by Kallum Keane at the expense of a corner.
Stuart Beavon rose well on the quarter of an hour mark to knock down a long ball from Reilly and the ball was nicely into the path of Matty Palmer but his low shot went wide of the post. Phil Edwards also speared a curling shot wide before Harness picked out Nasser El Khayati at the back post, his shot after a touch inside, blocked by Matt Roome inside the penalty area.
Steadman made a timely burst into the Burton area on 21 minutes but on the stretch he was unable to find the bottom corner of the net having got to the ball before the onrushing McLaughlin.
The Gresley frontman was a lot more assured on 28 minutes when substitute Ryan King played him through this time, from a more central position he found the bottom corner of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Sam Wood attempted to catch McLaughlin off guard on 36 minutes with a shot from long distance but the Brewers number one was behind it all the way to snuff out the danger.
Edwards rose well to meet a Palmer corner on 39 minutes but the ever reliable right back could not quite get over the ball with his header going over the bar.
Although Albion finished the half as they started, on the attack, but unable to get the goal to get them back on level terms.
Half time: Gresley FC 1-0 Burton Albion
With the exception of O'Brien the entire Burton team changed at half time, youth teamer Michael Pearson featured at right back and Burton fans got their first glimpses of latest signing Thiele but it was Knowles who grabbed the limelight with an equaliser within 85 seconds of the restart. Tom Naylor won a battle inside the centre circle and threaded the ball through for the young striker to slot home from the edge of the box.
Liam Slade miscued a decent chance across the face of goal before George Taft, raiding forwards from left back rattled the base of the post with a long range effort, Thiele just unable to bury the rebound courtesy of a save from the Gresley keeper.
Knowles doubled his tally on 56 minutes when Sam Austin jinked his way into the area and pulled the ball back for the striker. It looked like the chance may have gone when he took a touch but his placed shot took as deflection and ended up inside the bottom corner.
Two minutes later it was a hat-trick for the former Burnley striker as he latched onto a squared ball from Thiele who had burst into the area.
Slade lofted a delightful pass into the path of Thiele on the hour but keeper Ryan Swift was equal to it at the expense of a corner.
Lucas Akins skied a decent chance after Knowles had taken advantage of a keeping error on the bye line, Thiele setting up a chance for last season's top scorer as the ball took a bobble as he was shooting.
Thiele grabbed his first goal in Burton colours when Austin's industry on the edge of the box robbed a Gresley defender of possession and put the ball into the path of the big German striker for a simple finish.
Albion's greater fitness levels were more than apparent now and Thiele added a second tapping home a cross from Akins on 80 minutes.
First half: McLaughlin, Edwards, Mousinho, O'Brien, Reilly; Fox, Shelton; Harness, Palmer, El Khayati; Beavon.
Second half: Lyness, Slade, Taft (Dinanga), O'Brien, Austin, Weir, Akins, Naylor (Sedjic), Knowles, Pearson, Thiele.
GOALS: Gresley - Steadman (28); Albion - Knowles (47, 56, 58), Thiele (73, 80)