BURTON ALBION 0 - 0 BARNSLEYA share of the spoils from a goalless draw with Barnsley was not the expected outcome from a game between two sides who have been involved in a high number of goals at both ends of the pitch this season.
Both the Brewers and the Tykes have seen goals going in at both ends but ended up cancelling each other out in a game that despite the lack of goals was an entertaining and fast flowing encounter. Barnsley had the better of the first half with loan starlets Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent wasting the best chances for the visitors but after the break it was Albion who came out strongly and created the better chances with Barnsley keeper Adam Davies enjoying one of those afternoons that keepers dream about with a string of good saves and a slice of good fortune too in the dying stages.
Despite falling to a 2-0 defeat at Leeds in their last outing it was an unchanged side that took to the field for the Brewers as they looked to build on their last home victory over Birmingham City.
Barnsley quickly had an opportunity to douse Albion's enthusiasm as Newcastle loanee Adam Armstrong powered his way into the penalty area before curling a shot just over. You would have put your money on him to score but Albion survived the early scare.
Former Tykes striker Chris O'Grady had a good chance to break his league duck for the Brewers as Clough's men took a quick throw in and exploited space down the left. Jamie Ward scampered forwards and pulled the ball back into the path of his strike partner but having to dig it out from under his feet the popular striker fired over.
Barnsley were quick to counter and when Marley Watkins saw his long range effort pushed out by Jon McLaughlin, Armstrong was there sniffing out another chance only for a superb block by John Brayford and Ben Turner combined to deny him.
Ward, who had been an injury doubt before the game, lasted just eleven minutes before what looked like a hand or wrist injury forced him off. A quick switch around saw Lucas Akins pressed into a more forward role alongside O'Grady and Tom Flanagan asked to reprise the wing back role he started the season in.
Barnsley's youthful exuberance was stretching the Burton defence with a raking crossfield ball from right to left picking out the run of Liverpool loanee Ryan Kent, the winger picking out a deep cross that found ex-Brewer Sam Winnall only for the striker to see his shot blocked by Turner at close range.
With space to run at the Barnsley defence, Akins burst forward and tried to find O'Grady. The pass was not quite spot on and a Barnsley defender was able to get in a crucial challenge to prevent O'Grady getting a shot away.
Former Chesterfield midfielder Sam Morsy, on loan from Championship rivals Wigan, let fly with an effort from outside the box on the half hour mark as Barnsley probed for an opening but his effort, although not far over the bar, was not troubling McLaughlin who watched it safely out.
After some rather robust challenges, some of which Winnall took exception to and getting in the ear of the officials, it was Barnsley's Angus MacDonald who was first to see yellow from referee Peter Bankes. The big centre back was turned all too easily by Akins out on the left and after bringing him down he found himself in the book.
O'Grady was denied by an excellent save from Davies on 39 minutes as Albion raided forwards. Matt Palmer was flattened on half way but referee Bankes played a good advantage as Albion had momentum going forwards. Akins fed O'Grady through and after turning back inside fired on target with the keeper palming out before kicking clear as Lloyd Dyer looked to capitalise on the rebound. The Albion winger though had strayed offside so it would not have counted even if he had poked the ball home.
Brayford had to stretch every sinew to head away a dangerous cross from Watkins and when Albion left Kent unmarked on the edge of the box the winger tried a curling shot that just dipped wide of the post. Another let off for the men in yellow.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Barnsley
Barnsley defender Adam Jackson produced an excellent challenge inside the box to deny Akins the opener moments after the restart. The striker was just moving on to Lee Williamson pass when the big defender did just enough to deflect the ball safely into the arms of his keeper.
Davies was also smartly on his towes to deny O'Grady again with an even better save. The striker let fly with a volley, teed up by Palmer's pass with Davies getting down well to push the ball away from goal.
Flanagan spurned the best chance of the game on 51 minutes. A long throw from the left found O'Grady in the box and when he slid the ball across the six yard box the Irishman had the goal at his mercy but failed to hit the target.
A long throw from Ben Turner caused problems again for the Barnsley defence and both Flanagan and O'Grady were denied by Davies in a superb double save to keep Albion at bay on the hour mark.
Albion were relieved to see the back of Armstrong when he was substituted just after the hour mark in favour of Josh Scowen who was sent on to bolster the midfield with the Brewers beginning to dominate things in the middle of the park. Lloyd Dyer found a good opportunity to make ground on the left shortly afterwards and his low cross picked out the late run of Lee Williamson whose drive was straight at the keeper. It was the last action for the experienced midfielder as he made way for the fresh legs of Tom Naylor.
Ben Turner picked up a yellow card although Scowen went rather easily to ground as the pair came together. It was howevewr enough to persuade referee Bankes to produce his card for the second time in the the game.
Barnsley sent on Adam Hammill in place of Kent to try and unlock the Brewers defence but he was almost found himself having to perform a rescue mission. Before having time to touch the ball Albion won a corner through Dyer's persistence and from the set piece Turner thumped in a header that the Barnsley keeper clung onto on the goal line.
The visitors were having to play mainly on the break in what remained of the game as Albion continued to probe and push for the goal that would break their duck against the Tykes.
Set pieces were looking a likely route to goal for the Brewers and another corner almost proved to be Barnsley's undoing as Naylor flashed a header over the bar as the game ticked down.
Barnsley defended their penalty box manfully and in the closing moments Clough turned to Stuart Beavon to give O'Grady a well deserved breather. The popular Brewers striker almost grabbed the winner too in stoppage time. As the ball flew into the six yard box Beavon got his head to the ball to turn it goalwards only for Davies to be there again. The keeper knew little about it when the ball hit him on the head and looped over the bar to safety but it summed up Albion's day that yet again the goalkeeper came up with an inspired block to deny another solid Albion performance.