BURTON ALBION 0 - 0 OLDHAM ATHLETICA goalless stalemate against relegation threatened Oldham Athletic was hardly the Bank Holiday cracker that the Brewers were looking for in front of the Sky cameras.
In damp and windy conditions Albion struggled to overcome John Sheridan's side who were shorn of their most creative influence in recent weeks, Albion's on loan midfielder Matty Palmer, and in the end had to be grateful for a clean sheet and another point in the bag keeping them four points ahead of second placed Wigan and a tricky looking trip to Millwall on Easter Monday.
Clear chances were few and far between. Tom Flanagan heading against the Oldham crossbar from a corner whilst Lucas Akins, having rounded keeper Joel Coleman seeing a last ditch block from Brian Wilson deny him another goal which would have seen Albion go in at the break ahead and Mark Duffy was thwarted by a good save from a free kick as the visitors blocked everything in their path, determined to secure something towards League One survival come the final whistle.
After the thumping 4-0 victory at Port Vale last weekend, manager Nigel Clough saw no need to make any changes to his squad with deadline day signing Tyler Walker unavailable due to being away on international duty with England's under 20s side.
Oldham started brightly with Curtis Main busying himself on the right hand side and floating a cross onto the roof of Jon McLaughlin's net as early as the second minute. The Latics almost made Albion pay for a lethargic start with just five minutes on the clock, on loan striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway winning a battle with Flanagan, despite initially appearing to foul the Burton defender, referee Geoff Eltringham allowing play to continue to the edge of the Burton penalty area before penalising the Albion man for bringing his man to the ground. Delving for his pocket, some Burton hearts with in mouths but ultimately relieved as only a yellow card was produced. Perhaps symptomatic of the 85 minutes to follow, Mike Jones ' free kick was poor to say the least and failed to remotely threaten the Burton goal.
Albion began to grow into the game but were struggling to thread together meaningful attacks, Mark Duffy forcing Coleman into a smart stop at his near post with a driven cross that turned into more of a shot on ten minutes.
In a swirling wing flowing football was proving difficult with both sides finding it hard to make clear chances. When Akins did get better of Coleman as a looping ball bounced kindly in the box, Wilson got a fortuitous block in to spare his keeper's blushes and prevent the Albion finding the net for the second game in a row.
Main continued to look the most threatening and creative force for the visitors and when his cross was cleared behind for a corner on 28 minutes Oldham sensed an opportunity to grab the lead. James Wilson and left back Tareiq Holmes-Dennis were both closed quickly, seeing shots blocked inside the box as Albion flung bodies in the way.
Hamza Choudhury followed Flanagan into referee Eltringham's book for bringing down Carl Winchester. It was not a particularly cynical foul and was only his second of the half but the picky official put the Leicester youngster on a disciplinary tightrope with the yellow card.
Whilst Oldham were seeing a lot of the ball it was Albion fashioning the better chances as the first half wore on. Akins and Stuart Beavon linked up well on the right on 34 minutes feeding the ball in to Calum Butcher who shot on the turn and saw his effort deflect out for a corner. Duffy's delivery from the set piece was right onto the head of Flanagan who was inches away from a first goal in Burton colours as his header came back off the crossbar.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Oldham Athletic.
The same combination almost gave Burton the advantage six minutes after the restart, Duffy sending in a free kick for the former MK Dons defender to find space at the back post to head over the angle of crossbar and post. A difficult but decent chance.
A typically energetic run from Butcher just before the hour mark won Burton a corner but typical of the game somme resolute defending from the visitors kept the Brewers at bay.
Main almost stole in at the back post on 62 minutes as Charlton defender Holmes-Dennis sent in a searching cross to the back post that had McLaughlin extended and pawing the ball away at the back post under pressure from the former Middlesbrough youngster.
Albion's best chance came just two minutes later as Beavon was wrestled to the ground 25 yards out by Brian Wilson providing Duffy with a good chance from the resulting free kick, Coleman moving smartly to his right to push a goalbound effort around the post.
Duffy then saw a shot blocked, the ball coming out to Tom Naylor who hooked the ball back into the danger area where Beavon stooped to head over the bar under pressure.
Naylor then made way for Robbie Weir as Clough looked to fresh legs to try and swing the game in Burton's favour and Oldham made an attacking change with the busy Amadi-Holloway replaced by Jake Cassidy.
Damien McCrory managed to advance forwards to shoot wide from the edge of the box before Choudhury made way for Mason Bennett for the remaining twelve minutes.
Main was perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch when his elbow connected with McCrory in a tussle for the ball. Referee Eltringham had no hesitation in producing a yellow card, fortunately for the Oldham man.
By now there was almost a feeling of inevitability that the game was headed for a goalless draw with neither keeper tested and both defences most definitely on top for the what remained of a largely forgettable encounter.