IPSWICH TOWN 2 - 0 BURTON ALBIONGoals in each half from skipper Luke Chambers and Freddie Sears condemned Albion to a 2-0 defeat at Portman Road against an Ipswich Town side who had been struggling to find the net in the run up to the game.
After a bright start from the Brewers the Tractor Boys captain stooped to head home Sears cross on 15 minutes to settle plenty of home nerves, the Town fans arriving at Portman Road having witnessed five games without a goal for their side heading into the game. How Albion went in behind at the break is baffling as chance after chance was carved out but, as on Saturday at Wigan, the finishing touch eluded those in a yellow shirt as an open and flowing game favoured a Burton side once again bristling with effort and endeavour. Lucas Akins and Lloyd Dyer squandered good chances and it was left to Sears, darting into the box with two minutes of normal time remaining to show the predatory instincts the Brewers had missed to put the result beyond doubt with a neat finish from ten yards.
Suffolk. With a full squad to choose from all options were available for the Brewers boss and he opted to switch to a 3-4-1-2 with skipper John Mousinho brought back into the defence, John Brayford switching to a more advanced right sided position. Ben Turner moved to left back allowing Lloyd Dyer to be deployed as an out and out winger with Matt Palmer and Jackson Irvine in the middle. Jamie Ward was in the hole behind a front two of Lucas Akins and Chris O'Grady.
Albion were keen to press the home side from the outset, looking to prey on any nerves and lack of confidence in a Town side who went into the game without a goal in any of their previous five outings. Lloyd Dyer sent a teasing cross close to the target, almost embarrassing home keeper Bartosz Bialkowski and Akins sent a curling left foot shot well wide of the target after more promising build up play from the Brewers.
Just as the home fans were becoming somewhat restless with their team for playing plenty of long balls that were food and drink to the Brewers backline there was palpable relief inside Portman Road when skipper Luke CHAMBERS headed them ahead. A sharp turn by Kevin Bru in midfield opened up a pass to Freddie Sears on the left and his excellent cross was met by a stooping header from the Town captain that beat Jon McLaughlin at his near post.
Irvine went into the notebook of referee Oliver Langford on 20 minutes. It seemed more like a tangle of feet when Leon Best turned in midfield and set off for goal but to be fair the referee was well placed and there were no complaints from a Burton perspective.
Kyle McFadzean caused problems at the back for Town from consecutive corners midway through the first half. Prodding a shot that was deflected wide to earn a second corner before getting up well to head the next one over the bar.
Albion really should have been level moments later. A quick pass from O'Grady had Lucas Akins in the clear but chased down by Christophe Berra the popular frontman fired wide. The Brewers were almost made to pay instantly when a fairly aimless ball ricocheted into the path of Best who quickly lobbed the ball across the penalty area to Sears. It was fortunate for the men in yellow that the ball did loop across the area as it gave Brayford enough time to get across and clear the danger just as the former West Ham man was set to pull the trigger.
Another excellent chance came the Brewers way on 28 minutes. Slick interplay between Brayford and Jamie Ward allowed the Forest loanee to test Bialkowski from distance and when the Pole could only parry his shot to Dyer the chance was there to punish him but the winger dragged the rebound across the face of goal.
Bru almost got lucky with a deflection on the half hour mark. Sears switching wings to ping in another teasing cross and as McFadzean went to clear he missed his contact and the ball hit Bru before landing in the grateful arms of McLaughlin.
Cole Skuse was the second man to go in referee Langford's book for a none too subtle block on Dyer out on the left as the Burton man tried to launch a counter attack. The Ipswich man tried to protest his innocence but Mr Langford was having none of it.
Chances continued to come for the Brewers and it was Dyer again who squandered an excellent opportunity on 37 minutes. Ward led the break from midfield before finding O'Grady. A neat one two inside the box opened up a great chance for the former Watford winger but he lifted his shot over the bar. Another chance gone begging.
Bialkowski came to the rescue of his defence on 44 minutes with an excellent save to deny Brayford. More good work from Ward, finding space to work in, allowed Brayford to overlap inside the box and get a shot away. Only the outstretched leg of the big keeper denied Albion an equaliser which would have been more than deserved on the first half showing.
Half time: Ipswich Town 1-0 Burton Albion
The second half started with nervy defending from both sides as Burton again looked to come out of the traps quickly and applying pressure to the Ipswich back line but when Brayford misjudged a ball deep inside his own penalty area left back Jonas Knudsen had time to try and pick out a pass only for the remaining Brewers defenders to snuff out the danger.
When Ben Turner blocked Best's shot inside the box as the goal opened up it sent Albion on a three on three break, led by Jamie Ward. Finding O'Grady out to his right it looked good for Albion until the strikers shot was blocked at the near post.
Albion were almost made to pay again on 59 minutes when a long throw picked out Sears who was almost on the bye line and his cross to the back post was met with a meaty header from Tom Lawrence that was blocked on the line. The ball came loose to Teddy Bishop but his shot was lifted over the bar.
The Brewers pressed forwards again and it was all hands to the pumps for the home side deep inside their own penalty area as O'Grady was inches away from connecting with a sublime cross in from the left.
Leon Best was causing more and more problems for the Burton defence and one poked shot went straight at McLaughlin after intelligent build up play from Bishop and an angled run on the right allowed him to send in a curling shot that deflected out off the foot of Ben Turner.
Ipswich began to ring the changes with both Conor Grant and Grant Ward sent on as Skuse and Bishop were withdrawn from the action.
Albion had what they thought were strong penalty claims when Palmer sent a free kick to the back post and Turner appeared to be held down by Berra and despite vehement protests from the Burton centre back referee Langford was not inclined to give anything.
Ipswich had already used their third substitution bringing Paul Digby into the game when Albion made their first change on 84 minutes. Skipper Mousinho was the man to make way for the energy and pace of Marcus Harness further up the pitch.
It was becoming harder for Albion to break out of their own half at this stage as Ipswich began to pen the Brewers in but a rare breakaway prompted by Irvine's burst through the middle ended with a frustrating show high over the bar from Ward.
The game was finally up for Albion on 88 minutes when Ipswich doubled their lead. Lawrence did well to neatly turn his man inside the penalty area before teeing up SEARS with a low cross that the striker finished with some aplomb.
Lee Williamson and Tom Flanagan were quickly brought on for the closing minutes in place of Brayford and Irvine. Williamson almost netted a screamer with his first touch as a Palmer free kick was knocked back in his direction and a first time volley flicked the roof of the net on its way over.
Albion had failed to score in successive games for the first time since joining the Championship and this was another harsh lesson that failure to take chances when on top in games comes back to haunt you, especially at a higher level when chances are at a premium.