BURTON ALBION 1-1 ASTON VILLALloyd Dyer rescued a valuable point against Aston Villa as Burton Albion inched another point towards Championship safety at the Pirelli Stadium.
The former Villa trainee smashed home an emphatic finish against a notoriously miserly Villa defence just after the hour mark to cancel out Jonathan Kodjia's third minute strike for the visitors. Kodjia seized on a poor pass from Ben Turner to sprint forwards and give Steve Bruce's side an early lead before either side had really settled into the game.
Albion went close with a Michael Kightly effort that bounced back into play off the post and Burton looked the more likely side to grab three points once the influential Kodjia had departed through injury just over half an hour into the game.
After a hectic week on the road against promotion chasing Huddersfield Town and Newcastle United which had yielded three points towards the survival mission manager Nigel Clough freshened his side up for the visit of Aston Villa. Kyle McFadzean stepped back into a more orthodox back four as skipper John Mousinho dropped to the bench and there were also returns for Dyer, Kightly and Cauley Woodrow as Lasse Vigen Christensen, Lucas Akins and Luke Varney were rested although Akins and Varney were only rested to the bench.
A bright start to the game from Albion was quickly forgotten when Villa capitalised on a defensive error to grab the lead inside three minutes. Turner's pass inside was easily cut out by KODJIA and the Ivory Coast striker continued his rich vein of scoring form to run on and easily slide the ball beyond McLaughlin. Against a side who had only conceded once in eight games it was a blow and left the Brewers with a mountain to climb.
Despite the early goal the game continued in free flowing fashion. With Jordan Amavi looking a pacy threat down the Villa left there was plenty of threat from the visitors whilst Marvin Sordell and Lloyd Dyer were also getting into good positions in wide areas for the Brewers the final ball just lacking in sufficient quality to seriously threaten the organised Villa back line.
Burton were certainly not feeling sorry for themselves and continued to press forwards. With Kightly operating more centrally and able to pull the strings alongside Irvine and Murphy there was plenty of creativity. Murphy caused a nervous moment for Villa keeper Sam Johnstone with a cross that almost deceived the on loan Manchester United keeper before Albion won a corner that Kightly delivered into the middle and Irvine was a matter of inches away from connecting with for what would have been atrademark header.
Sordell was also looking dangerous with some quzlity crosses, skipper JAmes Chester having to provide a vital interception on 25 minutes as Woodrow looked set to bag another goal on home soil.
Kodjia's game was over on 35 minutes. Having looked a threat all over the pitch he suddenly went down and needed treatment inside the centre circle before finally admitting defeat to his injury problem and limping gingerly off the pitch. Villa, though, were able to replace one multi million pound striker with another as Scott Hogan, Albion's destroyer-in-chief away at Brentford, came on to replace him up top.
The Brewers continued to look lively on the counter and Dyer was left screaming for a decision when he knocked the ball past Chester and was blocked off as he tried to go past him. Another case of Albion perhaps not quite getting the rub of the green when they needed it most.
An outstanding chance for Albion went begging on 43 minutes. Dyer was played in by an inch perfect pass from Irvine and when he pulled it back into the middle Kightly was there only to guide his shot against the far post. Woodrow at full stretch was unable to meet the rebound and a fortunate Villa defence were able to keep their clean sheet in tact.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-1 Aston Villa
The second half was also started at a brisk pace and it was only three minutes old when referee Lee Probert reached into his pocket for a card for the first time in the game. Irvine was the recipient, a mistimed challenge on Amavi bringing the Villa wideman to the ground as he raced towards the penalty area. The free kick looked to be in a dangerous position but Henri Lansbury got too much elevation on his effort sending it comfortably over the crossbar.
Burton continued to press for an equaliser but Villa's pace on the break was a worry. Leandro Bacuna made a purposeful run into the box before setting up Amavi, racing up in support but his effort was blocked by two covering Burton defenders and when the loose ball came out to Albert Adomah out on the right his finish was wastefully into the side netting.
Kightly, moving out the right to exploit some space from a corner showed excellent skills to drive to the byeline and deliver a teasing cross in but Sordell with a near post header could not quite hit the target. It was better from Albion and a promising sign as the game headed towards the final half hour.
Promising wasnt the word for it when Albion grabbed a deserved equaliser just two minutes later. McFadzean's dinked ball over the top deceived Alan Hutton and was perfect for DYER to race forwards and bury a rising drive into the far corner of the net.
Villa responded my making a double change. Jack Grealish and Conor Hourihane were the men that Steve Bruce turned to as Lansbury and Adomah took their seats on the bench.
Still Albion pressed on in search of a winner and it almost came through substitute Lucas Akins on 81 minutes. The popular front man, on for Woodrow, showed good strength to hold up a tricky ball into him on the six yard line but on the turn he could not quite find the net, the ball flying past Johnstone's post.
As tired legs began to set in after a momentous week in Albion's Championship adventure Villa almost grabbed a late winner. Turner though made up for his early error with two late interventions to preserve a precious point heading a cross away from almost on the line and sliding in with a vital block to keep out a low shot late on.
It would have been incredibly harsh on Albion to concede late on and the point that takes Albion five points clear of the bottom three could yet prove pivotal as the games run out for their relegation rivals to catch them.