BLACKBURN ROVERS 2 - 2 BURTON ALBIONTom Naylor was Burton Albion's last ditch hero as his 88th header from a Matt Palmer corner secured a first away point of the season against struggling Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.
The Brewers twice had to come from behind against bottom of the table Rovers, Jackson Irvine's 43rd minute diving header cancelling out a fine strike from Craig Conway and Naylor's towering header levelling things up after on loan Southampton striker Sam Gallagher had headed home from Conway's corner on 62 minutes.
It showed once again Albion's battling qualities and abilities to fight to the end for something from a game where they perhaps did not hit the heights of previous performances so far this season but merited a point with Naylor, in particular, only denied a second goal in the game by a fingertip save from Luke Steele in the Rovers goal in the first half and the woodwork coming to the rescue of the home side when the former Derby man let fly from 25 yards after the break.
Despite Friday's signing of former Brewers favourite John Brayford on loan from Sheffield United it was an unchanged side for the Brewers as they went in search of their first away win in the Championship. There were however changes on the substitutes bench with neither Marcus Harness or Tom Flanagan travelling. Ryan Delaney and Ben Fox both making their first appearances in a Championship matchday squad.
Sam Gallagher had home fans out of their seats early on latching on to a through ball for a run on goal but the young Southampton striker had strayed offside in his eagerness to break through and Rovers first chance had gone.
Similarly at the other end Dyer threaded a ball through the Blackburn ranks for Tom Naylor to race on to but he too had made his initial move too early making the assistant raise his flag.
Burton had the first real chance on nine minutes and as in recent games it was the delivery from wide of Matt Palmer that caused problems in the Rovers defence. On this occasion debutant Scott Wharton did just enough to deflect skipper John Mousinho's header away for a corner, the Burton captain having gone forward for a free kick after a somewhat over zealous challenge by Hope Akpan on Naylor.
Gallagher again looked the biggest threat to the Brewers backlie on 14 minutes stealing in behind the Burton defence onto an angled cross. Fortunately Kyle McFadzean had read the situation as the young striker turned and nicked the ball off his toe to clear.
Danny Graham found himself in referee Peter Bankes's notebook for disputing a decision to award a free kick against him on the quarter of an hour mark and the experienced front man tried to make amends immediately with a run into the box finished with an angled shot that was comfortable for McLaughlin at his near post. Gallagher racing into the middle of the box may have been a better option but Graham was determined to go himself.
In an eventful spell of the first half Graham then found himself requiring treatment after stumbling and landing awkwardly reaching for a shot on the edge of the box. His next contribution however was to play a part in Blackburn taking the lead. A long ball forward hit the striker on the back allowing him to collect possession and feed Craig CONWAY on the left. Cutting inside and with nobody really closing him down the winger he let fly with a 25 yard effort that beat McLoughlin and settled in the net off the underside of the crossbar.
Albion pushed forwards in search of a quick equaliser but the nearest they came was on 36 minutes when a searching ball out to the left picked out Lloyd Dyer and his low cross was swept over the top by Jackson Irvine.
That was quickly followed up by a deflected effort from Palmer. Irvine again was instrumental getting forward when Blackburn carelessly surrendered possession and along with Mousinho finding Palmer who had time and space to go for goal from distance only for a heavy deflection to take his shot well wide. Albion had the Rovers defence under pressure for a spell and a header from Akins at the back post went over the bar as he just failed to get himself over the ball.
The goal Albion had been looking for came on 43 minutes as Rovers switched off. Mousinho was allowed to push forwards anmd he spotted IRVINE in the box, the Aussie diving low to head home from ten yards out for his second in as many games.
The Brewers spurned an excellent chance to even go in at the break in front. Palmer again causing mayhem in the Rovers backline with his delivery from corners and both O'Grady and Akins went for the same ball inside the six yard box to force the ball wide of the post.
It was Jason Steele keeping Rovers level in first half stoppage time as another well worked Burton move cut the home defence open. The ball was worked quickly to O'Grady on the right and he was given plenty of time to pick out the run of Naylor from deep, the midfielder sending a rising drive towards the goal with the Rovers keeper making an excellent save to deny him a third goal of the campaign. Albion definitely finished the half on top despite suffering the blow of going behind.
Half time: Blackburn Rovers 1-1 Burton Albion
Albion began briskly after the break with the Rovers defence again under pressure but it was the home side with the first real chance. Gallagher's youthful pace almost got himself in behind Mousinho with the skipper bringing his man to the ground to pick up a booking. Conway's free kick into the box was sufficient to prevent McLaughlin coming to claim it and Akpan only rteally needed a glancing header to score but he got far too much on it to send the ball well over. Mousinho picked up a knock as the ball was piled into the box and left the field rather gingerly to allow former Rovers midfielder Lee Williamson to get involved against his former club. The defensive reshuffle saw Naylor slot in alongside McFadzean and Turner at the heart of the Burton defence.
Rovers were looking much sharper and Graham managed to work space on the left hand side of the box for a shot from an acute angle, McLaughlin's right leg ensuring that the ball was cleared at the expense of a corner.
Despite having been moved back into the centre of defence Naylor went closest yet to putting Albion in front on 58 minutes. His first touch took him away from an advancing midfielder as the home side looked to clear their lines and his second was a raking drive that smashed against the crossbar from 25 yards.
62 minutes had gone when Rovers got the second goal they had been threatening. Conway this time turned provider from a corner sending a ball into the six yard box for Gallagher to rise and power home a header beyond McLaughlin.
Albion quickly made their second change with Calum Butcher pushed into attacking duty in place of Beavon for the remainder of the game.
The Brewers were inches away from an equaliser on 70 minutes although Lucas Akins was adamant he should have had a penalty. Dyer found space down the left to send a teasing ball through the box and Akins having failed to connect inside the six yard box was insistent that he had been pulled back as he went for the ball.
McFadzean also thought he should have had a penalty when he was crudely dumped to the ground amidst a scramble for the ball in the Blackburn box. It appeared as if he was blocked with an arm across the throat but referee Peter Bankes was unmoved.
Blackburn were pressing hard for a third goal to kill the game but it would not come for them despite plenty of pressure on the Burton goal as the game wore on. Both Anthony Stokes and Liam Feeney were sent on by the home side to try and secure the victory.
Both Feeney and Stokes tried to combine together on a breakaway with five minutes remaining but after carelessly running offside when through on the Burton box it was a chance wasted to put the game to bed. A side with more confidence would probably have taken advantage but symptomatic of their poor form it was careless and a let off for the Brewers.
Rovers were made to pay for their wastefulness as NAYLOR headed home the Burton equaliser on 88 minutes. Blackburn were showing a few signs of anxiety as they tried to hold on to their precious lead and with a first win of the season within their grasp. A corner gave Palmer another chance to throw a telling delivery into the box and Albion's go to man got up above debutant centre back Scott Wharton to head home past Steele from inside the six yard box.
After scoring late to equalise at home to Bristol City before surrendering a hard earned point there was to be giving this point away and despite five minutes of added time they never looked in danger of giving this one away. Another milestone for Clough's side with a first Championship point on the road and another display to suggest to the rest of the Championship that the Brewers are not going to be a pushover for anyone this season.