BURTON ALBION 2-1 ROTHERHAM UNITEDA sensational strike from Matt Palmer, adding to Jackson Irvine's seventh goal of the season secured a precious home victory for the Brewers against Championship strugglers Rotherham United at the Pirelli Stadium.
Irvine pounced to steer home another clinical finish after a quarter of an hour following a sluggish start from Nigel Clough's side but it was Palmer whose name was on everybodys lips as he smashed home an unstoppable drive from outside the penalty area midway through the second half to finally give Albion a just reward on the scoreboard for their efforts in nullifying a spirited United side under the guidance of caretaker manager Paul Warne following the surprise departure of Kenny Jackett earlier in the week. It was certainly some way to make a first goal in the second tier of English football.
The only disappointment for Clough's men was their failure to keep a fourth consecutive clean sheet after Tom Adeyemi coolly finished deep into added time but there was insufficient time for the Millers to threaten a late recovery or prevent Albion racking up a fifth Championship victory of the season.
Jamie Ward returned to action, albeit with his wrist strapped after breaking it in the last home game against Barnsley. His recall was at the expense of Damien McCrory who dropped to the bench as the Brewers switched back to their more accustomed 3-5-2 formation for the visit of the struggling Millers.
Rotherham were out of the blocks quickly and only a timely block from Ben Turner prevented Jon Taylor from putting a right foot shot on target within the first two minutes.
A clumsy foul by Millers skipper Richard Wood on Ward gave Palmer an early chance to swing in a dangerous free kick that was flicked on by Turner, rising highest, only for the ball to just evade the head of John Brayford steaming in at the back post.
Rotherham continued to look lively and defy their position at the bottom of the Championship and another chance went begging on eleven minutes, former Peterborough and Shrewsbury winger Taylor rifling a low shot just beyond the post after exposing room down the Burton left again.
Burton had looked slightly second best in the opening quarter of an hour but despite that they were in front as the clock ticked into the fifteenth minute. Palmer's sliderule pass superbly picked out the run of O'Grady and it looked like he was in for his first of the season. The striker who had a season with the Millers back in the 2007-08 campaign found himself having to turn before shooting and seeing his shot blocked. Fortunately for Albion IRVINE timed his supporting run to perfection to bury the rebound beyond Lewis Price.
Five minutes later and it could easily have been two. Everyone stopped as a ball was lobbed over the top of the Rotherham defence. O'Grady was on it in a flash and sent in a rising angled drive that Price got the merest touch to helping it over the crossbar although the touch was that feint that both referee Chris Kavanagh and his assistant missed it.
A slip from Tom Naylor allowed Rotherham to break at pace again on 22 minutes. Danny Ward drifted out wide to pick up possession curling in an excellent ball that Brown got up well to meet, steering his header just wide of the far post.
When Brown was bundled over 25 yards from goal shortly after it gave the Millers another chance to put pressure on the Albion goal but ex-Walsall man Anthony Forde failed to hit the target as Jon McLaughlin watched the free kick curl wide of his goal.
An increasingly open game could have seen Ward double Albion's advantage shortly afterwards but a horrible bobble meant he skied his effort. The Brewers were starting to dominate proceedings more now with Rotherham having to be content with trying to hit with pace on the counter. Brown was proving a useful outlet and his probing passes for Ward were posing a threat although the Rotherham front man was unable to profit.
A succession of corner helped Albion to keep their visitors penned in for a period of time with an increasingly stretched Rotherham defence keeping them at bay as best they could. Burton would have loved a second to make therir half time break more comfortable but Rotherham ensured they had a fighting chance in the second period.
Half Time: Burton Albion 1-0 Rotherham United
The South Yorkshire side made a brisk start to the second period, just as they had done the first although Taylor's effort, finding space on the left was far more wayward than his first half shot.
O'Grady was getting pushed and pulled all over the place by the Rotherham defence and when Dominic Ball was punished for holding him back Palmer was able to send in another searching free kick that the visitors struggled to clear convincingly.
Irvine had two great chances to hand Albion the comfort of a two nil lead by squandered both of them. The first came to him quickly and his shot from the edge of the box was blocked twice by Darnell Fisher, the second was a result of great chasing down by O'Grady who robbed skipper Richard Wood of possession all too cheaply before sending the ball all the way along the eighteen yard line where Irvine scooped his shot wide of the target. A really good chance gone begging.
Tom Naylor's booking for a challenge on Brown gave Rotherham the chance to put the Brewers defence to the test but they stood up to it well restricting them to a loing range effort from left back Joe Mattock that was a comfortable save in the end.
When it came, on 62 minutes, the second Albion goal was something to behold. A corner, sent in by Palmer was initially headed off the line by a Rotherham defender and it was all hands to the pump from there. O'Grady sent the ball back into the danger where it was half headed clear by a Rotherham head to the feet of Palmer. It looked like he had been quickly closed down but he had just enough time to send an effort from just outside the box arrowing into Lewis Price's top left hand corner. A magnificent finish and quite probably the best goal at the Pirelli so far this season.
Will Vaulks also picked up a yellow card, O'Grady his victim as the Scot tried to exchange shirts with the Albion striker well before the final whistle and seemingly forgetting that the rugby was being played at Twickenham rather than in Burton as he grappled his man to the ground.
Rotherham briefly broke away from their defensive duties with around a quarter of an hour left, Tom Adeyemi showing good movement to get in a shooting position before letting himself down with an effort that was always rising well over the bar.
Albion summoned both Hamza Choudhury and Will Miller from the bench as the second half ticked down, Tom Naylor and Jamie Ward making way for the young Premier League loanees.
Tom Flanagan was also pushed into action inside the final five minutes as O'Grady made his way to the bench after another hard working shift spearheading the Burton attack.
The game was long since over as a contest when Rotherham got themselves a consolation goal deep into added time. Having barely threatened in the second half Albion cleared a cross in from the left but allowed a second ball to come back in and ADEYEMI was at the back post to guide the ball back past McLaughlin for a rare goal on the Millers travels. It was a minor blot on Albion's copybook, denying them another cleamn sheet but it was the three points that mattered ultimately and Albion had those safelky in their grasp. There was barely time for the game to restart and Rotherham even contemplate searching for an equaliser before referee Kavanagh brought proceedings to a close.