BURTON ALBION 0-0 BARNSLEYA goalless draw with play-off chasing Barnsley did little to settle the promotion nerves for Nigel Clough's Burton Albion side as both sides were left frustrated in their search for an elusive win to enhance their league position.
Mark Duffy was twice denied by Tykes keeper Adam Davies in the second half and Calum Butcher fizzed a shot inches wide of the post as the Brewers upped their game in the second half whilst former Albion loan striker Sam Winnall was unable to break the deadlock for the visitors with his best chance coming in the final moments hooking a shot just over the crossbar after a scramble inside the Burton penalty area from a corner.
Clough opted to change his side in an attempt to freshen things up and get back to winning ways with just five games to go and everything still to play for. With Damien McCrory failing to recover from the injury that kept him out of last weekend's defeat at Scunthorpe, Tom Flanagan shifted across from centre back to left back in place of Callum Reilly with Shane Cansdell-Sherriff returning to the side to renew his partnership with skipper John Mousinho at the back. Matty Palmer was straight back into the team following his recall from Oldham Athletic and he took over from Tom Naylor in the middle of the park alongside Calum Butcher. There was good news on the injury front for the Brewers with Stuart Beavon reporting fit to replace Tyler Walker and spearhead the Burton attack.
The first chance for Albion fell, surprisingly, to Cansdell-Sherriff after just five minutes. Palmer, taking over set piece duties, sent over a free kick that found its way to Duffy deep beyond the back post. Linking with Beavon on the left the ball was cut back to the Australian centre back but his shot was scuffed under pressure.
Barnsley had plenty of threat themselves up front with Newcastle loan striker Ivan Toney, a target of former Albion boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, using his pace to cause problems and drawing a foul from Robbie Weir that allowed winger Adam Hammill to curl a 23 yard free kick just over the bar.
The game was being played at a hectic pace and almost felt like a cup game such was the intensity and determination from both sides to attack and grab a goal. Toney fired in a snapshot that was never troubling Jon McLaughlin and then had a half chance as Mousinho missed his clearance giving the striker a chance to launch an overhead shot over the bar from six yards.
Former Liverpool winger Hammill was often at the heart of most of Barnsley's best attacking moments and as Albion's defence gave him a little too much room to work his magic on the left he picked out a cross towards Winnall that the striker turned over the bar. A difficult chance it may have been but it Albion were relieved to see it miss the target.
Winnall would have wanted to find his way into the referee's book for scoring a goal but he was lucky to escape having his name taken for a clumsy challenge from behind on Palmer on the half hour mark. It came at a stage of the game when there were plenty of full blooded challenges going in, such was the desire from both sides to gain the upper hand.
Despite the visitors arguably having the better of the first period Albion continued to threaten at times and the persistence of Lucas Akins on the right set up a chance for Butcher. there were suspicions that the ball may have run out of play before Akins brought it in off the touchline and laid it back into the path of the Burton midfielder but the Barnsley defence did well to crowd him and force him to fire wide.
Hammill was content to drift inside when the chance arose and he found that McLaughlin was equal to his best effort as the first half drew to a close.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Barnsley
The pace of the game did not let up in the second period with both sides knowing what three points would do for their chances of promotion. Butcher tried to return the favour for Akins in the early stages sending the winger on a marauding run into the box but again the Barnsley defence were able to avoid conceding with just a corner the outcome.
Akins was then just inches away from heading home a teasing cross from Duffy, on the left as the Barnsley back line began to look vulnerable and Albion began to look more of an attacking threat.
There was danger at the other end when Flanagan was yellow carded for a challenge on Toney. There appeared to be minimal, if any, contact on the striker as he chased the ball across the pitch into Flanagan's territory but the striker picked himself up and hit a rather woeful free kick that was easily dealt with by the Burton defence.
Chances were coming with more regularity now and Hammill again cut inside to try his luck but was off target before Albion responded with Butcher drilling a low effort inches wide of the upright with Davies rooted to the spot. It owed much to the industry of Beavon driving towards the box and then picking out his team mate hanging back on the eighteen yard line.
Toney saw a shot deflected safely over the bar before taking his leave of the game. Chasing a long ball over the top he was always second favourite as McLaughlin rushed from his goal but the collision between the two looked nasty with both requiring treatment, McLaughlin the more seriously hurt before getting up and continuing. Toney meanwhile was replaced by another loan striker in Ashley Fletcher from Manchester United.
Heading into the final quarter of an hour it was Albion whose attacking spark remained well alight as Duffy was denied at almost point blank range by Davies after Akins shot deflected into his path and it was Duffy again denied from a curling effort that Davies clawed away under his crossbar.
Neither side wanted to lose the game but both were equally keen to grab a winner that would have enhanced their promotion chances. Winnall had the final chance to win in hooking a difficult chance over the bar but there was a frustrated feeling around the Pirelli as referee Andy Davies brought proceedings to a close.
Winnall hooked over the bar