BURTON ALBION 0-0 CREWE ALEXANDRAA frustrating night at the Pirelli Stadium as the Brewers toiled away in vain to grab a victory over struggling Crewe Alexandra but ultiimately having to settle for a point from a goalless draw. Mark Duffy's last minute free kick that thumped down off the underside of the crossbar was the nearest Albion came after spending large portions of the game camped around the Crewe penalty area.
When things arent going for you the frustration is magnified and Burton will be wondering how they didn't win the game although in truth for all their possession and dominance the Crewe keeper was rarely troubled particularly in the second half when the Railwaymen made sure that Albion's attacks hit the buffers.
A late change to the starting line-up was not the ideal start that the Brewers wanted particularly when they are in need of goals, Stuart Beavon picked up an injury in the warm-up giving Timmy Thiele a chance to impress from the start. That made it four changes from the side that capitulated in the second half at Fleetwood. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff came in at the expense of Anthony O'Connor who paid the defensive price for Saturday's result. Tom Naylor returned in the centre of midfield to partner Robbie Weir as Calum Butcher dropped to the bench. Matty Palmer also dropped out giving Mark Duffy the chance to return to the side. Although not originally named in the squad, Palmer benefitted by coming on to the bench when Beavon dropped out.
Burton started brightly and began peppering the Crewe goal. Mark Duffy caused panic in the Crewe penalty area running on to a through ball but just losing out to keeper Ben Garratt as he rushed off his line and a lovely cross from Damien McCrory on the left just evaded Lucas Akins, Robbie Weir testing Garratt from fully 25 yards and Phil Edwards bursting in to the box only to fire over.
Another superb run and cross from McCrory picked out Duffy running from deep on the quarter hour mark but the Birmingham loanee could not keep his first time shot down. Thiele was denied by a challenge from Oliver Turton and when a chance on the right opened up he chose to tee up Duffy who was denied by a last ditch challenge to prevent him getting a clean shot away.
Tom Naylor left two Crewe players on the seat of their pants and burst forwards with players in support. Duffy took over when perhaps letting the ball run for Nasser El Khayati would have been better. Duffy picked a pass for Lucas Akins but the winger had disappointingly just strayed a yard offside.
The game lost something of its flow as passes began to go astray a little bit and a touch of frustration from the terraces as Crewe began to start passing the ball around with a degree of confidence although it took until the 38th minute for them to put any meaningful pressure with a corner that was hastily cleared and hacked clear to half way.
Albion got back on the front foot and went close when Akins turned his man on the edge of the box but he was slipping as he turned and his shot curled wide of the upright.
The popular Burton winger went closer still on 43 minutes. Thiele put the ball deep to the back post and El Khayati was able to recover it and put the ball into the path of Akins who stabbed a shot on target that Garratt just about stopped as it threatened to squirm under his body. El Khayati also failed to hit the target as the first half drew to a close, Burton still searching in vain for that opening goal to settle them down.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Crewe Alexandra
Albion began the second half where they left the first - on the attack. The most danger was coming down Burton's right with crosses from both Thiele and Edwards causing the Crewe defence problems. El Khayati broke away on a pass from Weir and with options in the middle he saw a gap inside Garratt's near post and almost found it - the Crewe keeper getting down well to foil the Dutchman's effort.
Crewe weathered the Burton storm and won themselves a corner on 59 minutes but as with so many of their brief threats they failed to create anything meaningful from it.
Duffy led a rapid break out on 62 minutes playing in Thiele to his left. The German had a chance of a first time shhot on his left but brought it back on to his more favoured right foot just over playing the ball and skewing a shot across the penalty area.
Jerome Binnom -Wiliams added some fresh legs straight away as Akins made way, El Khayati moving out to the right as Binnom-Williams slotted into the left hand side of the attacking trio behind Thiele.
For all their attacking intent Burton were having to make sure they kept the back door shut and skipper John Mousinho almost put a chance on a plate for Brad Inman but McLaughlin was smartly off his line to spare his captain's blushes.
McCrory was shown the first yellow card of the evening for an untidy trip on Crewe substitute Ryan Colclough and Burton spirits were raised when Zeli Ismail made his long awaited Pirelli Stadium return replacing El Khayati.
Albion's final change was a straight swap at the head of the attack. Aurelien Joachim was given the last eight minutes to try and conjure a winner as Thiele took a well earned rest after a hard working display.
A rare stray pass into midfield from Cansdell-Sherriff almost cost Burton dear when the ball was worked back forwards to Adam King and the Swansea loanee fizzed a shot over the bar.
Burton came agonisngly close to a winner as the close ticked towards 90 minutes. Joachim was bundled over on the very edge of the box by George Ray and Duffy's free kick came thundering down off the underside of the bar but symptomatic of Burton's current fortunes did not cross the line.the midfielder was as frustrated as anyone and when a similar opportunity came knocking on the opposite side of the box he smashed his effort straight into the defensive wall ensuring that Crewe left with a hard earned point taking their unbeaten away run to four games.