BURTON ALBION 1-1 BLACKBURN ROVERSMarvin Sordell's first Burton Albion goal could not have been more timely, denying Blackburn Rovers victory in Tony Mowbray's first match in charge of the visitors.
Trailing to Matty Palmer's own goal just after the half hour mark, Albion were perhaps grateful to still be in the game when Sordell, ironically signed by Mowbray at Coventry City at the start of the season, buried a superb left foot shot beyond Jason Steele in the Blackburn goal.
Having run Manchester United so close in last weekend's FA Cup fifth round and given a boost by the change in manager, Blackburn looked anything but a side haunted by relegation, playing with pace and purpose in the first half with Albion grateful to be just one goal down at half time. Sordell's equaliser got Albion back into it and a strong rearguard action kept Blackburn away with Lasse Vigen Christensen agonisingly seeing a stoppage time effort that would have stolen victory hitting both posts and staying out.
Just as in Tuesday night's A38 derby match Nigel Clough made three changes to his starting line-up. Recalled from the bench were Luke Murphy and Marvin Sordell replacing Jackson Irvine and Luke Varney. Michael Kightly made a timely recovery from his thigh problem to replace Lloyd Dyer on the left hand side of midfield.
Keen to impress new boss Tony Mowbray, Blackburn made a rapid start zipping the ball about at pace and with a confidence perhaps not expected of a side languishing in the bototm three of the table. Danny Graham, swivelled quickly on th edge of the box looking to make a good start an excellent one but off balance he skied a shot well wide of goal.
After such a confident defensive display at Pride Park there were a few nerves at the back for Albion and one moment almost cost them dearly just before the quarter of an hour mark. Liam Feeney sent in a and sent in a low cross towards Marvin Emnes at the back post. Under pressure, skipper John Mousinho stretched out a foot to intercept but only diverted it back towards his own goalkeeper, Jon McLaughlin stretching to kick the ball off his own line unable to handle it from the backpass.
Albion were finding it hard to get hold of the ball and, more importantly, keep it when they had it. Every time a Burton player took a touch there were at least two Blackburn players swarming around them forcing mistakes and errant passes.
As the visitors continued to send in cross after cross, Albion had to be more and more watchful at the back and Mousinho made a superb clearance, stretching and volleying clear before Emnes could pounce again with a right wing cross just in that area where the keeper couldnt come and take it.
Albion briefly broke free of their defensive shackles just before the half hour mark. Lasse Christensen getting away from the attentions of Danny Guthrie, despite the Rovers man clearly pulling him back, and laying in Cauley Woodrow for a hurried shot that was off target.
Just after the half hour and it was Rovers grabbing the lead, one which they thoroughly deserved on the balance of play. A corner whipped in from the right by Charlie Mulgrew and a decisive deflection off Matt PALMER, jumping at the near post, took it into the far corner beyond of the net.
It almost got a whole lot worse on 40 minutes. The dangerous Emnes was played in down the left, his low cross picking out Craig Conway who wpun inside the box lifting his shot just over.
The sanctuary of the dressing room could not come quick enough for Albion who desperately needed to regroup during the half time interval in they were to have any chance of turning the game around in the second half.
Half-time: Burton Albion 0-1 Blackburn Rovers
Albion certainly regrouped and a change of formation to a more solid 4-5-1 began to stem the flow of Blackburn attacks. The signs were better for the Brewers when Palmer flashed a shot over the bar with the second half barely two minutes old.
The Brewers continued to look more solid until almost from out of nowhere they found the equaliser that they needed to settle themselves back into the game. Christensen fed Sordell on the right hand side and the Albion striker worked his way past a couple of challenges before arcing a left foot shot unerringly over Jason Steele for his first goal in Albion colours.
Luke Murphy almost added a second quickly afterwards with a low curling effort that the Blackburn keeper comfortably smothered.
For Blackburn, Emnes was continuing to pull the strings and a foul by Ben Turner on the mercurial Dutchman earned the Burton defender a yellow card and also left the Rovers man struggling.
A raft of substitutions saw both sides going for the win rather than settling for the draw. Albion moved first with Luke Varney sent on against one of his former sides to try and grab a winner in place of Cauley Woodrow. Kightly, struggling to impose himself on the game, almost popped up with a carbon copy of his Wolves goal moments later but this time put his effort over the bar.
With the game evenly poised Blackburn made a double change up top, Sam Gallagher and Lucas Joao replacing Graham and perhaps surprisingly Emnes. Whilst Albion were undoubtedly relieved to see the back of the former Middlesbrough man they were on edge again with Rovers final change - winger Connor Mahoney, a promising young prospect, replacing the more experienced Feeney on the right. The ex-Accrington startlet almost got off to a perfect start tricking his way into the penalty area past Tom Flanagan and drilling in a low shot that McLaughlin needed to shovel around the post uncomfortably.
With Lloyd Dyer also on for Kightly Albion were looking to get forwards in the latter stages themselves although the introduction of Kyle McFadzean after a toe injury in place of Palmer suggested that the Brewers also knew that they had to keep the back door shut late on having worked so hard to get themselves back into the game.
Whilst Blackburn probably looked the more likely to grab a late winner it was Albion who went closest to snatching an unlikely victory in stoppage time. Dyer picked out Christensen and the Dane watched on as his shot hit the left upright, bounced across the goal, hit the right upright and ended up in the arms of Steele.
A Burton victory would have been harsh in the extreme on Blackburn but in the situation both clubs find themselves it would have been more than welcome for the Brewers given some of the rotten luck that has befallen them during the campaign so far.