BURTON ALBION 0 - 1 HUDDERSFIELD TOWNA case of home heartbreak for Albion as a goal from Nahki Wells five minutes from time robbed Nigel Clough's side of a more than deserved point as Huddersfield Town left the Pirelli with all three points.
Albion had bounced back from the disappointment of their performance at Brentford on Saturday and looked more than a match for David Wagner's promotion chasing Terriers. In a game of few clear chances Albion had the better opportunities to break the stalemate but it was Albion's League 2 play-off nemesis, Wells, who popped up after a relatively quiet game to head home at the back post from Christopher Schindler's header back across the six yard box.
Jamie Ward had been the Brewers biggest goal threat but it was a frustrating night for the striker who was denied on more than one occasion by Huddersfield name sake Danny, on loan from Liverpool in the Terriers goal.
With Ben Turner starting his two match suspension there was one guaranteed change for the game against high flying Huddersfield. The slight surprise was that skipper John Mousinho also dropped out of the starting line-up. Kyle McFadzean returned after serving his four match ban and although the Brewers reverted to their accustomed three man defence at home Damien McCrory was kept in the side to add some left footed balance at the back. Hamza Choudhury was the man to come in for Mousinho joining the midfield three alongside Jackson Irvine, handed the skipper's armband, and Matt Palmer.
Neither side were really able to impose themselves on the game in the opening ten minutes and the only real chance to test either keeper came in the tenth minute with Jamie Ward shaping to try and curl a shot in from just inside the box but only finding the arms of Liverpool loanee Danny Ward.
Similarly at the other end Philip Billing rifled a low shot straight at Jon McLaughlin giving him his first real test of the evening. The energetic Billing had avoided a yellow card moments before for what was a clumsy and late challenge on McFadzean with referee Jeremy Simpson erring on the side of leniency.
Albion were starting to settle into their rhythm but the final ball was lacking as a Huddersfield defence that had leaked twelve goals in the last four away games held firm as most of the Brewers promising moves came down the left involving Lloyd Dyer.
O'Grady was unlucky not to have a run in on the Huddersfield goal on 29 minutes when Brayford sent a delicious ball down the right channel but the merest flick off the head of Christopher Schindler was enough to just take it out of reach of the Burton man.
The Terriers had plenty of pace throughout their side but were struggling to pose any real serious threat on McLaughlin's goal. They were handed a free kick from 30 odd yards out just after the half hour mark but striker Nahki Wells was unable to even test his former Bradford team mate between the Albion posts.
The Brewers began to pick up their attacking tempo again with Lucas Akins, against his former club, doing superbly to work room for a cross from the bye line that was helped into the feet of Jamie Ward by O'Grady but the Forest loanee saw his first time shot from the edge of the box blocked.
Ward had another chance to set his sights on goal as Burton had another concerted spell of pressure but having weaved his way into the box and hurriedly being closed down by red shirts he lifted his shot well off target.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Huddersfield Town
Albion had a chance to test Ward in the early moments of the second period when O'Grady was fouled as he turned big defender Michael Hefele. This time Matt Palmer stayed away from the set piece allowing Ward to have a crack but his curler flew over.
Huddersfield almost capitalised when Choudhury failed to cut out a ball down the line for Harry Bunn and his deep cross beyond the back post was smashed back towards goals by Elias Kachunga with Damien McCrory making an excellent block in front of his keeper.
The game was opening out again into a fast flowing encounter and when Irvine picked out the run of Dyer on 55 minutes the winger looked to be in but an excellent sliding challenge from Martin Cranie averted the danger as Dyer pulled the trigger.
Huddersfield summoned Rajiv Van La Parra and Kasey Palmer from their bench ten minutes into the second half as Bunn and Billing took their seats in the dugout. Palmer wasted little time in making an impression, on Albion's Matt Palmer, the Chelsea loanee going in referee Simpson's book for a late challenge in the centre circle.
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis produced a rare shot on the Burton goal that was, once again comfortable, for McLaughlin.
Ward had the best chance of the game so far midway through the half but with more time that he realised fluffed his lines, Irvine sent the ball in from wide on the left and stealing in at the back post unmarked, Ward had time to take a touch but tried to take it first time and hit a scuffed effort into the ground making it easy for his name sake in the Huddersfield goal.
Albion's Ward picked up a yellow card on 75 minutes for a cynical barge on Hefele. The Burton man felt aggrieved at getting a whack inside the penalty area moments earlier and got his own back at the first possible opportunity. His substitution quickly followed with Will Miller providing the fresh legs in attack.
Lee Williamson was also added at the expense of Choudhury as Albion pressed to make the most of their opportunities.
Having spent the majority of the match looking anything but promotion chasers the visitors struck with devastating effect with just less than five minutes on the clock. Normally so good from set pieces, Albion allowed Christopher Schindler to peel away at the back post and head back across the danger area for Wells to get up well and plant his header on target with former Bradford team mate McLaughlin unable to push it out from goal.
A hammer blow to the Brewers who were left with precious little time to grab an equaliser and it could have got worse as the full time whistle loomed when Kachunga muscled his way into the box only to find McFadzean showing plenty of strength to get in an excellent challenge and deny the German a clear shot on goal.
It was another lesson in the harsh realities of the Championship where sides can look ordinary for long periods but capitalise on that one moment that presents itself.