BURTON ALBION 1-1 WIGAN ATHLETICTom Naylor's 38th minute equaliser earned the Brewers a much deserved share of the spoils against League leaders Wigan Athletic on an evening of excellent League One action at the Pirelli Stadium.
The majority of the crowd had their head in their hands when Michael Jacobs low cross from the right crept past everybody inside the six yard box and ended up inside the post to gift the visitors the lead but a stirring comeback from the Brewers who were desperate to get back to winning way was rewarded as Naylor met Matty Palmer's free kick to head home from close range seven minutes before the break.
It may not have been the win and an end to a five game run without victory but the desire and guts of the Burton team was unquestionable and if that level of performance is replicated in the remaining three games they will not be far away at the final reckoning.
Nigel Clough opted to make two changes to his midfield for the visit of the League One leaders. Calum Butcher and Robbie Weir were replaced with Tom Naylor and Hamza Choudhury to add fresh legs after Saturday's outing against Barnsley.
Any thoughts of it being a tight and cagey affair were quickly dispelled as the visitors grabbed the lead in just the seventh minute. Michael JACOBS probed down the right and looked to be shepherded away from danger but on his left foot he sent in a low cross that evaded its intended target, Will Grigg in the middle but to Albion's dismay the cross nestled straight in the bottom corner. Just the start the Brewers did not want.
Phil Edwards quickly found himself in referee Simon Hooper's book for a late challenge on Latics midfielder Sam Morsy. The Albion full back could have no complaints in all honesty. In contrast Lucas Akins had every reason to feel aggrieved when he was booked for a supposed dive on 16 minutes. Stumbling as he tried to reach a loose ball he got straight up to go for the ball again but referee Hooper was quick to put his whistle to his lips and produce a yellow card.
Burton were very much on the attack and pushing for an equaliser but it was Everton loanee who went close to finding the net on 24 minutes. Fleet footwork inside the box enabled him to stab a shot away towards the far post that got the faintest of deflections off an Albion player, sufficient to persuade Mr Hooper to award a corner.
When Mark Duffy went to ground on 27 minutes trying to get to the ball there were shouts for a penalty but the referee adjudged that the Wigan defender had nicked the ball away for a corner instead.
Neither side were finding it easy to fashion clear cut chances and it was left to a long distance effort from Duffy to give Albion another chance but from all of 25 yards his effort was always rising.
Tom Flanagan had to be very alert to deny McAleny a goal for the Latics on 34 minutes. Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was unable to clear properly and the ball fell for the Everton youngster only to find Flanagan there to poke the ball off his toe end.
Albion's equaliser finally arrived on 38 minutes and it came from a set piece at last. Lucas Akins was fouled on the left and the boot of Matty Palmer delivered to the far post right onto the head of Tom NAYLOR who powered the ball back across Jussi Jaaskelainen and into the far corner.
Palmer had one more chance to deliver a telling set piece with the game deep into first half stoppage time but this time his effort failed to trouble the experienced Jaaskelainen and it was all square at the break.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-1 Wigan Athletic
A frantic start to the second period had Wigan on the front foot in the early stages and Cansdell-Sherriff was perhaps a little fortunate to avoid a yellow card as Max Power got the better of him and turned to head towards the Burton penalty area.
Naylor did end up in the book as he went in for what looked like a fifty fifty challenge with the hugely experienced Stephen Warnock. The ex-Derby man stayed down and Naylor saw yellow from Mr Hooper.
Burton got up a head of steam with a couple of corners just before the hour mark, the second of which picked out the head of Cansdell-Sherriff who skewed his effort wide of the far post where Naylor couldn't quite make anything of the loose ball.
Wigan blinked first in terms of subsitutions with the pacy and dangerous Yanic Wildschut sent on to take over from McAleny . Albion were not far behind although change was somewhat enforced as Flanagan required treatment before coming off to be replaced by Callum Reilly.
The game lost a little of its flow and rhythm as a series of free kicks disrupted any chance of either side getting their game going.
As Albion looked to be getting themselves into their flow Wigan made a second attacking change with striker Haris Vuckic let off the leash in place of Jacobs.
It was still the Brewers doing all of the pressing and both Palmer and Choudhury saw speculative efforts blocked inside the Wigan box as the game entered its crucial final fifteen minutes.
Wigan chances were few and far between as the leaders seemed more content to leave with a point and Will Grigg's speculative shot on the turn that went well wide was a rare moment of alarm for the Burton defence which afforded McLaughlin maximum protection.
Robbie Weir offered more fresh legs in place of Choudhury as the game wore on, the Leicester loanee producing another mature and composed performance sitting in front of the back four.
The two sides traded late chances, Duffy heading too high from Akins' cross and Wigan midfielder Chris McCann wildly high and wide from inside the box as a rare opportunity presented itself.
In the end the League table is as you were with results elsewhere seeing Albion maintain their three point cushion to third placed Walsall ahead of another crucial round of fixtures at the weekend.