WIGAN ATHLETIC 0 - 0 BURTON ALBIONA goalless draw was probably not what either Albion or Wigan Athletic had wished for at the start of the game but with clear cut chances at a premium both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils at the DW Stadium.
The Latics and the Brewers both went into the international break with four points from their two games preceding the break but a win proved elusive in the first game back. It was a match full of effort but lacking in real quality. Albion will probably go home the happier having kept a second successive clean sheet and they will count themselves slightly unfortunate that Chris O'Grady didnt grab his first League goal in Albion colours when his long range effort was cleared off the line by Dan Burn after keeper Adam Bogdan had raced from his goal unnecessarily.
Wigan could point to a chipped effort from Adam Le Fondre and a diving header from former Manchester United youngster Nick Powell that was millimetres wide of the target and whilst Albion were by far the better side in the first half, Wigan could probably claim to have held the upper hand after the interval. A draw was probably a fair result on the balance of play.
Will Miller rotated into the starting line-up as the Brewers returned to Sky Bet Championship action at the scene of one of their most significant victories last season on their way to promotion from League One. After facing San Marino and Germany in the week Jamie Ward had to be content with a place on the bench whilst Jackson Irvine, after the marathon trip back from Australia retained his place in the Burton midfield. John Brayford returned having been missing with a groin problem since the defeat at Norwich last month.
The game took a while to come to life and it was the Brewers who created the first meaningful attack. Switching the play from right to left Albion fashioned room for Matt Palmer to break in to the box. With nobody really tracking him he pulled the ball back across the box for Lucas Akins to swing a left foot shot in that was blocked. The ball came back out to Irvine outside the box but he couldnt keep his effort down.
After a swift break following a Wigan corner Albion had the home side penned deep inside their own half and O'Grady's shot soon won them another corner. Wigan's defence didnt look comfortable against the high balls in from wide positions. After again failing to clear their lines a flicked header from O'Grady went just wide of the far post.
Wigan finally found their attacking feet and the pace of Yanic Wildschut threatened to be Burton's undoing on ten minutes, a pacy burst into the box leading to a low shot towards the bottom corner that Jon McLaughlin did well to push away from danger.
Burton almost grabbed the lead in bizarre circumstances on 18 minutes. A long ball forward looked harmless enough but Latics keeper Adam Bogdan came racing out of his goal but could only head the ball straight to O'Grady out on the left. Still looking for his first Albion goal he sent the ball in from all of 40 yards and his effort was going in until giant defender Dan Burn recovered his ground to stick out a leg and prevent the ball crossing the line. It was a huge left off for Wigan's Hungarian keeper.
Albion continued to look calm and composed and when they got the benefit of the doubt from the referee when Palmer tangled with Powell the resulting free kick was not far from McFadzean closing in on it as it whipped through the box.
Michael Jacobs, the Wigan goalscorer at the Pirelli back in April, tried to inject some life into the home side with a lung bursting run into the box from a wide position with only an excellent block from Brayford making things easier for McLaughlin than they might have been.
The Brewers continued to look good going forwards and they probably should have been in front on 28 minutes. A raking ball across the pitch picked out Akins and he was able to pull the ball back for Miller. The young Spurs man saw his shot blocked but the ball fell kindly for Tom Naylor who hurried his effort and fired over.
Wigan's best effort came on 32 minutes. Referee Andy Davies inadvertently distracted Palmer's ball across the half way line towards Irvine and the ball was moved quickly forwards into the path of Adam Le Fondre who chose to chip McLaughlin from the edge of the box, Albion's blushes spared when the ball dipped just over the crossbar.
The home side finished the first half on top but in truth it would have been a travesty if Michael Jacobs header had found its way past McLaughlin with the last touch of the half, Albion looking by far the more comfortable side but without any goals to show for their efforts.
Half time: Wigan Athletic 0-0 Burton Albion
Wigan started much more purposefully after the break, Jacobs quickly winning a corner off Turner but Albion's defence held firm as the Wigan forwards were crowded out inside the six yard box. Burton's response was swift and when a cross from Akins was not cleared properly Miller lifted a first time effort over the bar from the edge of the area.
Albion's defensive guard slipped slightly on 52 minutes when a cross came in and Powell was allowed a free header that, perhaps symptomatic of the game, failed to threaten the target.
Lucas Akins picked up the first yellow card of the game on 54 minutes for a pull back on Wildschut that was spotted by referee Davies but not immediately punished with Wigan on the attack.
Brayford also picked up a card for fouling the former Middlesbrough man when he was in full flow countering on Albion after they had carelessly conceded possession on the edge of the Wigan box. A promising attack prompted by an excellent cross from Dyer broke down when Naylor's pass went astray. Naylor was also at fault when Powell picked his pocket on the half way line before linking with Le Fondre who saw an angled drive deflected into the waiting arms of McLaughlin.
Jamie Ward was introduced just before the hour mark and he quickly injected some added guile to the Burton attack in place of Miller. A slick link up with Akins opened up the chance for the latter to turn and shoot but Bogdan was able to make the save, diving on the ball before Ward could reach the rebound.
Skipper McFadzean became the third Brewers man to go into the book for a foul on Widschut when he halted him in his tracks just outside the box on 64 minutes. Powell's curling free kick was beaten away by McLaughlin but only to the edge of the box where Nathan Byrne sent a dipping volley just over.
Most inside the DW Stadium thought the deadlock had been broken on 68 minutes when the hosts went within a whisker of snatching the lead. Former Derby left back Stephen Warnock was given room to swing in a cross and Powell met it with a diving header that left McLaughlin rooted to the spot and watching on as it went agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.
With Wigan increasingly becoming the more dominant side as the half wore on Albion switched to a more solid looking 4-5-1 with Dyer dropping in at left back. The home side almost exploited that move with an angled ball that left Jacobs one on one with the experienced winger but having beaten his man the ex-Derby winger could not beat McLaughlin at his near post.
Wigan sent for their big guns as Le Fondre and, perhaps surprisingly, Wildschut were taken off. The home side looked for Will Grigg to try and find the attacking spark along with Craig Davies, a Burton born lad now plying his trade at the DW.
Little had been seen of the Brewers as an attacking force but an excellent chance came their way with five minutes remaining that they were unable to capitalise on. Ward was given plenty of room to swing in a cross from the left and Naylor rose superbly at the back post but was unable to keep his header down.
Naylor was replaced by Hamza Choudhury for the final three minutes plus added time. A typically robust challenge got him into the game quickly but by the time the added on time had been shown by the fourth official it was evident that Albion were happy with another point on their travels.