BURTON ALBION 1 - 2 IPSWICH TOWNIt was not a Good Friday for the Brewers as they slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Ipswich Town.
Substitute Luke Varney's unfortunate own goal just seven minutes into the second half combined with Freddie Sears' strike eleven minutes from time gave the Brewers a mountain to climb and although Lucas Akins fired home just Albion's second penalty in 68 games with four minutes to go it was not enough to salvage anything from a game that had taken on extra significance given results elsewhere in the Championship earlier in the day.
With Kyle McFadzean struggling with a sore hamstring manager Nigel Clough took no risks and brought skipper John Mousinho back into the heart of the defence. That apart it was the same team that came from behind to grab a vital point in Albion's last outing at the Pirelli against Aston Villa.
It took ten minutes for the first real chance to present itself for either side and it was Woodrow who was alert inside the box to latch onto a hopeful ball from Brayford but his first time snap shot was blocked by a well placed BArtosz Bialkowski at his near post.
Ipswich wasted no time in responding with their first effort, David McGoldrick looking to capitalise on a fortunate ricochet into his path and hitting a long range effort that forced Jon McLaughlin to drop low to his right to push away his effort that zipped off the well watered surface.
Former West Ham starlet Freddie Sears was looking lively for Town down the right hand side and twice he was able to work room for teasing crosses into the middle that McLaughlin showed good hands and anticipation to hold onto at the first time of asking in the slippery conditions.
Town's resilience at the back was matched by a liking for getting the ball forward as quickly as they could and when Sears and McGoldrick sprung to life from a long clearance by Christophe Berra, McGoldrick was quick to try his luck against McLaughlin again, this time on his left foot with a drive that was over the bar, but not by that much.
Sears was almost in for a shot on goal himself on 25 minutes as the ball bounced deceptively on the wet pitch taking out two Burton defenders but fortunately Lloyd Dyer had tracked back to get in a vital block on the edge of the penalty area. Albion had now switched to a 3-5-2 in an attempt to seize back the initiative from the visitors. Tom Flanagan switched from left back to right wing back and Marvin Sordell joined Woodrow in attack.
Brighter in attack now Woodrow forced an error at the back from Ipswich and it was a final touch from a Town defender that looped over Bialkowski's crossbar. Sordell quickly had a chance himself and when his shot was blocked it came out nicely for Dyer whose shot flashed across the face of goal.
Ipwsich thought they had broken thew deadlock on the half hour mark when Grant Ward's speculative effort took a fortunate deflection off young left back Myles Kenlock and into the back of the net. The good fortune however went Albion's way as the assistant in line with play ruled that Kenlock's touch came from an offside position.
Sears had another chance from the right hand side of the box but blazed high over the bar. Albion response was to break upfield and yet again miss out on what looked like an excellent penalty shout. Dyer's persistence down the left eventually picked out Woodrow in the middle and his shot certainly appeared to hit Town skipper Luke Chambers on the arm as he went to block with referee Oliver Langford unmoved. That is one penalty in sixty eight games now for Clough's men.
McGoldrick, coming deep to get the ball looked to have got in behind the Burton defence with his pace until a vital challenge from Brayford stopped him in his tracks on the edge of the box
Dyer was starting to make more of an impression on the left now and another tempting cross looked perfect for Kightly to head home until Kenlock got there just a split second before him to clear the danger.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Ipswich Town
Sordell failed to reappear for the second half meaning a chance for former Ipswich striker Luke Varney to come on and make an impression against his former side.
After a good initial start to the second half from Albion it was Ipswich that capitalised on a spell of pressure to edge ahead on 62 minutes. A stretching clearance from Brayford conceded a corner and there was no respite as Tom Lawrence swung in the corner for CHAMBERS to gleefully thump home a header.
Kightly quickly had a chance to level things back up again but shot tamely into the body of Bialkowski from close range.
Albion switched back to their original 4-5-1 to try and stem the flow from Ipswich but the visitors were still finding space in wide areas and when Grant Ward fired in a low cross McGoldrick went down claiming he was being held by Mousinho but again Mr Langford was insufficiently impressed to award the penalty.
The Brewers were looking the more likely side to grab the next goal but having seen the Tractor Boys scramble the ball clear as it pinged about inside their own box, with Berra getting a vital clearance in keep the visitors in front.
Town though are expert at hitting sides on the break and a run from deep from Kenlock proved crucial as Albion were caught pushing a little too far forwards leaving them vulnerable to a pacy counter. The young left back had Albion back pedalling and a well timed pass to SEARS had him in on goal. Although McLaughlin advanced well to save his first effort the ball fell kindly for the Ipswich man who fired home at the second attempt.
Clough sent on both Akins and Lasse Vigen Christensen in a late bid to salvage something from the game and both were to have an impact on proceedings.
Akins found the net for the first time since October when he fired home from the spot with four minutes remaining. Penalties have been rare for Albion with just one in 67 games prior to this game and when Varney was bundled over inside the box by Kenlock referee Langford had little choice but to award the penalty. Although Bialkowski went the right way the penalty was lifted too high to give the Pole a chance to save and Albion's spot kick drought was over.
Ipswich had a late chance to put a two goal gap between the sides late on when Mousinho misjudged a long ball forward and substitute Brett Pitman was denied by McLaughlin and with almost the last attack of the game Christensen worked his way across the edge of the penalty area before sending a deflected effort onto the top of the crossbar.
It was a rousing finish from Albion but ultimately too little too late and Monday's trip to Birmingham suddenly takes on extra significance give the results earlier in the day.