FLEETWOOD TOWN 4-0 BURTON ALBIONA thoroughly frustrating afternoon for the Brewers saw them return from Fleetwood on the end of a 4-0 beating, the heaviest defeat of manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's reign and one which after half an hour looked the least likely outcome. Albion were completely dominant for the first half an hour but once Jamie Proctor prodded home at the back post the home side were transformed. It came just seconds after Matty Palmer had rattled the Fleetwood crossbar with a rasping 25 yard effort.
As Albion pushed for an equaliser early in the second half they conceded a second as Bobby Grant found the bottom corner and then added a second to put the Cod Army three up. To rub salt into the Brewers wounds a former youth product, Ash Hunter added a fourth poking over the line from fellow substitute Jamille Matt's effort.
As the Brewers renewed rivalries with their Play-Off Final conquerors of two seasons ago Hasselbaink made just one change to the side that surrendered top spot in League One to Walsall last weekend. Fit again after a knee injury ruled him out of the trip to the Banks's Stadium, Nasser El Khayati returned to the side to try and unlock the Fleetwood defence with Mark Duffy perhaps surprisingly the man to drop to the bench. Matty Palmer keeping his place in the side also ensured that the 20 year old clocked up his 100th appearance in Burton colours. After his stint on international duty with Luxembourg, striker Aurelien Joachim rejoined the matchday squad on the bench, Zeli Ismail dropping out of the squad after his first appearance of the season as a substitute last weekend and a midweek run out for the reserves.
Wembley goalscorer Antoni Sarcevic sent a searching angled ball forwards for Bobby Grant to dart on to in the early minutes but Anthony O'Connor was covering inside the box to snuff out the early threat.
Albion missed a good chance to grab the lead on six minutes from a training ground set piece. El Khayati worked a corner kick short to Palmer and his low delivery into the six yard box was met by Calum Butcher who just failed to get sufficient contact on it to turn it past Chris Maxwell.
Stuart Beavon rippled the side netting shortly after following a superb turn on the edge of the box and home skipper Jimmy Ryan tried to test Brewers keeper Jon McLaughlin with a long range volley on nine minutes but the Albion stopper was right behind it.
Palmer sent in a wickedly curling free kick on thirteen minutes and Phil Edwards was only denied his first goal of the season by a superb intervention from Conor McLaughlin who threw himself at the ball to concede a corner.
A momentary lack of communication at the back almost cost Albion dearly as Anthony O'Connor tried to pass the ball back to McLaughlin who had come out conceding a corner in the process and Nick Haughton's delivery was almost turned in by Grant in the middle, McLaughlin dropping smartly to his left to grab the ball as it went towards the bottom corner.
Fleetwood's McLaughlin picked up a yellow card after nineteen minutes, the Northern Irish international outsmarted by El Khayati who drew the foul flicking the ball around him as the challenge came in.
Sarcevic followed McLaughlin into referee Darren Bond's notebook for a blatant elbow on Brewers skipper John Mousinho. He was lucky it was not red as the Brewers skipper changed his shirt after staunching the blood flow from his nose.
Dionatan Teixeira somehow avoided a yellow card for a crude challenge on Butcher who was rampaging forward to cross in from the right and from the resulting free kick Mousinho mistimed a shot that skewed wide.
Palmer almost crowned his century of Brewers appearances with a stunner on 41 minutes. As the Fleetwood defence backed off the young midfielder assessed his options and sent a rising drive flush against the face of the crossbar with Chris Maxwell beaten all ends up.
A minute later and Albion found themselves a goal behind. A run from Grant down the right ended with a low cross that crept through all the way to the back post where Jamie PROCTOR was on hand for a simple finish. After all their good work and pressure it was hard to believe that the Brewers were behind.
Half time: Fleetwood Town 1-0 Burton Albion
The second half was barely ninety seconds old when Eggert Jonsson was shown yellow for tugging back El Khayati on halfway. It wasnt even subtle and Mr Bond produced his cards for the third time.
Butcher tried to get the Brewers going on 49 minutes with a dipping shot that Maxwell did well to claim cleanly as it bounced in front of him.
Maxwell then did just enough by rushing out to deny Beavon who was trying to latch onto a through ball. Albion ended up with a corner for their efforts.
As Albion went in search of an equaliser the game became somewhat stretched and they paid dearly for that on 58 minutes as Fleetwood doubled their lead. the industrious Proctor did well down the right and pulled the ball back for Grant on the edge of the box. Switching the ball to his left foot he curled the ball unerringly inside McLaughlin's right hand upright.
Albion were briefly at sixes and sevens and El Khayati picked up a yellow card for a tug back in the middle and the Brewers then made a double change. Butcher and El Khayati made was for the attacking pair of Joachim and Duffy.
Both put themselves about and were busy early on and with little change by the time the second half reached its half way stage Palmer was also replaced, Jerome Binnom-Williams coming on and slotting in on the left as Duffy moved more central.
Fleetwood's first change saw the introduction on former Burton youth Ashley Hunter who came on to replace Haughton in the centre of midfield.
Within seconds Fleetwood had their third of the afternoon although Hunter had nothing to do with the goal. Overrun at the back Albion were undone when Proctor again spread the ball to Grant and despite O'Connor's desperate attempts, earning him a yellow card, GRANT had all the time and space to look up and curl the ball unerringly beyond McLaughlin.
Defensively Albion were all at sea and a better ball from Ryan to Grant would have surely seen the former Blackpool man tap in his hat-trick. Hunter also went close with an overhead effort that went just wide of the post.
Grant was not to get another sniff at his hat-trick as he was replaced with thirteen minutes remaining in favour of Jamille Matt.
Hunter did not miss with the next chance that he had. Matt latched on to a long pass from McLaughlin and drove at the Burton box. Getting the better of O'Connor's challenge on the edge of the box he drilled the ball low and although a Burton body stopped it on the line HUNTER was there to prod it over the line.
The end of the game could not come soon enough for Albion who could not muster so much as a consolation goal for the away supporters to cheer on a hugely disappointing afternoon on the Lancashire coast.
Albion now have two home games in a row to find their form once more.