BURTON ALBION 2 - 1 LEEDS UNITEDTwo goals in as many minutes inside the last quarter of an hour from Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly inspired Burton Albion to a famous 2-1 victory over promotion chasing Leeds United and propelled them to within a point of securing a second season in the Championship.
A tight encounter between two sides with all to play for in the final three games of the season sprang to life inside the final quarter of an hour as Sordell bagged his fourth of the campaign with an unerring finish from just inside the box. With the pandemonium inside the Pirelli still reverberating around the stands Kightly also bagged his fourth goal in yellow taking Sordell's pass and firing beyond Rob Green to have Albion two up with a little over ten minutes remaining.
Albion had little time to settle on their lead though as Leeds skipper Kyle Bartley found himself unmarked at the back post to convert Chris Wood's headed effort and set up a grandstand finale with ten minutes to go. Whilst Leeds threw everything they had at Burton to try and keep their play-off hopes alive Albion's defence heroically threw themselves in front of anything that the men from Elland Road could muster to seal what could yet prove to be their most significant victory in the second tier of English football. If there was ever a good time for Albion to produce back to back wins for the first time this season it was now. Nigel Clough's men are now up to the heady heights of 18th in the table having dragged QPR into the battle at the bottom as well.
With Jon McLaughlin ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with the shoulder injury that forced him off at Birmingham on Monday Stephen Bywater came on for his full League debut for the club having previously started in the EFL Cup and made two substitute appearances. With on loan midfielder Luke Murphy unable to feature against his parent club there was a return in a midfield role for skipper John Mousinho and Marvin Sordell was welcomed back into the attack after being forced off at half time in the last home game against Ipswich with a hip problem.
With Sordell ploughing the lone furrow up front Albion quickly got the ball forward for their striker and he was keen to quickly test out former England stopper Rob Green although a quickly taken shot as the Leeds defence backed off went wide of the target.
Leeds, looking for a win to push themselves back into the tox six also began purposefully with Pablo Hernandez thumping a rising drive just wide. Of more immediate concern was a problem for Kyle McFadzean who was in pain after clearing the ball and who needed lengthy treatment before continuing. The visitors continued to press and had the ball in the Burton net on ten minutes. A corner was sent into a packed six yard box and after Bywater had been impeded in trying to claim the ball referee Darren Bond had long since blown his whistle for the foul before Chris Wood headed home from almost on the line.
Albion saw off the pressure from Garry Monk's side and a superb ball from Jackson Irvine had Dyer scampering down the left. A teasing delivery drew Green off his line to punch. Convincing it wasnt as he only found the edge of the box but his team mates did enough to prevent a further strike coming in on his goal.
A sustained spell of pressure allowed Albion to put pressure on the Leeds defence that had not kept an away cleanm sheet since October and set pieces were looking a promising avenue for the Brewers. Irvine took control of one from a position that would have normally suited either Cauley Woodrow or Michael Kightly but with neither involved the Aussie went looking for another goal to add to his tally only to hit the ball straight into the defensive wall. A corner also gave Albion a good chance and when the ball came out to Mousinho on the edge of the box his shot looked to be heading for the top corner until a crucial deflection off a white shirt took it wide of the mark.
Leeds were sitting deep and almost hit Burton on the counter on the half hour mark. A rapid break inspired by Pablo Hernandez and Souleymane Doukara allowed Charlie Taylor to cross fro the left earning a corner. The giant presence of skipper Kyle Bartley headed towards goal but was thwarted by Brayford stationed in just the right place to head clear. Bartley and Wood then combined inside the box to provide a chance for right back Luke Ayling at the back post but at full stretch his header was straight into the side netting.
Irvine had another presentable chance fall his way on 38 minutes. More good work on the Burton right gave Christensen the chance to pull back an intelligent pass to the Albion top scorer 15 yards out but he didnt qite connect well enough with his shot and Green was able to comfortably drop on the ball.
Christensen had a good chance himself to perhaps notch his first Burton goal but having run at the Leeds defence and have them back off him he resisted the temptation to let fly allowing Leeds to eventually clear.
Leeds finished the half on top as stoppage time approached but the nearest they came was a rasping drive from Kalvin Phillips that was over the top of the bar and rising as Burton could only half clear a corner kick late on.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Leeds United
Leedsd began to dominate possession after the break but were struggling to break down a resilient Burton back line. Too many times the final ball into the box was lacking in sufficient quality to trouble Bywater in goal. The introduction of pacy winger Hadi Sacko on the our mark almost had an immediate effect as his fresh legs managed to catch up with what looked like a hopeless cause on the right. Fortunately for Albion Tom Flanagan had tracked the run and avoided any serious danger.
Hernandez missed a good chance heading wide from a Charlie Taylor cross before Albion looked to have good shouts for a penalty. Sordell did excellently on the right finding Christensen and when the Dane tricked his way into the box and what looked a good shooting position he appeared to have his legs taken from under him at the vital moment although the lack of vociferous appeals from the men in yellow and black suggested a well timed challenge may just have kept Leeds on level terms.
Leeds continued to press and look for openings with Wood the main target inside the box as the big striker looked to add to his 25 goal haul that has made him the leading striker in the Championship this term. The New Zealander did meet one angled cross with a firm header but Bywater was straight behind it and the flag of an assistant also ruled that the main Leeds threat was offside.
The aerial threat was not just coming from Wood though and a teasing corner from the Leeds left was met by defender Pontus Jansson with an angled header, unchallenged that really should have been on target but flew wide.
It proved a costly miss for Leeds as they found themselves behind quickly afterwards as the game sparked into life with three goals in five minutes. With Kightly now on to provide fresh legs for Dyer the Burnley loanee was on the spot to seize on a mistake from the Leeds backline and get the ball forward to Sordell as quickly as he could. Turning his man on the edge of the box SORDELL produced an erring finish that Green was powerless to prevent from rippling the back of the net to give Albion the edge.
Albion seized the momentum and within two minutes they had Leeds where they wanted them as the combination of Sordell and Kightly worked their magic again. This time the roles were reversed as the January signing from Coventry teed up the Burnley winger for an angled finish that Green got something on but couldnt keep out.
2-0 and Leeds did not know what had happened to them. However they are challenging for the play-offs for a reason and before the raucous roars of Albion supporters had died down the visitors were back in it. Ronaldo Vieira sent in a ball from the left, Wood angled a header across goal and the giant frame of Bartley was there at the back post to finish and set up a tense and nervy finish.
Leeds threw everything they could at Albion as the clock continued to tick against them and a late scramble saw Kemar Roofe denied by a goalline clearance by Flanagan with Bywater, for once beaten.
Albion introduced ex-Leeds striker Luke Varney and the industry of the experienced frontman almost carved out a third goal for Albion, Green making a smart save to deny him and the Leeds defence recovering to snuff out the rebound.
Five minutes of added time felt like torture for those in yellow and black but once referee Bond had blown his final whistle as Leeds looked to launch one final assault on the Burton goal all eyes turned to look at Blackburn's result. It wasnt quite what Albion wanted to see but the Brewers are now within a point of Championship safety, with two games to spare. On to Barnsley when Clough and his men will hope to complete their mission.