ALBION got their season up and running with a confidence boosting 2-1 victory over League One rivals Shrewsbury Town in the first round of this season's Carabao Cup. David Templeton capped his full debut with a well taken equaliser just before half time after Shaun Whalley had put the hosts in front before Lucas Akins' second half penalty sealed the Brewers passage into the second round.
In a game between two sides both searching for a first win of the season it was Albion who finally got off the mark showing plenty of grit and determination to comeback after the blow of conceding Whalley's 27th minute opener and there were plenty of positives for Nigel Clough as Templeton got vital minutes in the legs and youngsters Joe Sbarra and Ben Fox both enjoyed good games in midfield building their experience at this level.
Albion took to the pitch showing just two changes to the side defeated at Gillingham on Saturday. Damien McCrory's early exit at Priestfield with a hamstring injury opened the door for skipper Jake Buxton to return to the team whilst boss Nigel Clough opted not to risk Liam Boyce up front, instead giving summer signing Templeton a full debut on the left hand side of the attacking three with Akins providing the focal point of the attack and Marvin Sordell switching to the right.
Sordell it was who had the first shot in anger of the game with just over ninety seconds played. Albion switched the ball across the pitch through Akins and Sbarra into the path of the former Coventry man, his low angled shot dealt with comfortably by Joel Coleman in the Shrews goal.
Shaun Whalley, exploiting space down Town's right hand side following a deflected pass into his path, cut inside and won his side the first corner of the game via a deflected effort from inside the box.
It was an open game in the early stages with both sides keen to get on the attack. Joe Sbarra was prominent in most of Albion's more promising moments probing from his midfield berth getting forward with regularity alongside Scott Fraser.
Sordell blasted a long range effort over the bar after Templeton had seen his shot blocked and the Scot was quick to seize possession and drive goalwards on twenty minutes but he was unable to outpace Town skipper Luke Waterfall.
Despite all their good approach play Albion fell behind on 27 minutes. Right back James Bolton slid the ball down the channel for Shaun WHALLEY to run on to and the winger smashed the ball high into the roof of the net beyond Stephen Bywater's dive.
Shrewsbury wre quickly forced into a change on the half hour. Ollie Norburn, who had come off worst in a coming together with Templeton earlier in the half eventually limped off to be replaced by Chelsea loanee Charlie Colkett.
Albion were pressing for an equaliser as half time approached with Akins waiting for a cross that was cut out and leading to a swift counter from the home side. Greg Docherty was able to burst into the Burton box as Fox gave chase but the outstretched leg of Bywater proved crucial as the Brewers sprung back into attack and levelling a minute before the break. TEMPLETON was picked out on the left hand side and the Scot worked his way into the box before catching Coleman out at his near post with a low drive.
Albion survived a flurry of Shrewsbury corners in stoppage time to go in at the break level. In a half of few chances. Albion would settle for that.
Half time: Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Burton Albion
The home side were out of the traps quickly after the break and a free kick right on the edge of the box provided danger to the Brewers back line after Whalley was felled in a threatening area to the right of goal. Colkett laid the ball into Docherty loitering on the edge of the box but his low scuffed effort was blocked inside the six yard box and scrambled clear. The Shrews built again and Colkett fizzed a wickedly curling effort inches over the bar from the right hand side. Whalley also saw an angled effort deflected clear as the Burton defence came under the cosh.
Albion managed to break free of their defensive shackles and a thunderous effort from Fraser looked bound for the back of the bet until it struck Omar Beckles, much to the relief of Coleman.
Whalley was certainly looking the most likely goal threat for the home side and a fizzing cross shot just before the hour mark had Bywater scrambling and nervously checking to make sure it had gone wide of the target beyond his far post.
Bolton found himself in referee Salisbury's book for an awful challenge that sent Templeton flying out on the left hand side. The right back following his team mate Docherty and Albion's Kyle McFadzean for earlier misdemeanours.
63 minutes were on the clock when Albion were awarded a penalty. Templeton slipped a pass through for Fraser and he was held up inside the box by home skipper Luke Waterfall prompting Mr Salisbury to point to the spot. AKINS stepped up to confidently bag his first of the season.
Templeton's evening was done after 65 minutes. The winger, still building his match fitness up after a disrupted pre-season, could be pleased with his evening's work as he made way for Liam Boyce for the remaining 25 minutes of the game.
Boyce was quickly making himself busy in attack, some sharp work on the edge of the box linking with Sordell to create another chance for Fraser. The former Dundee United man turned sharply in the box only to see his rising drive beat not only Coleman's outstretched hands but also the crossbar.
Coleman was also relieved to see a looping Akins header drop over his crossbar when a Sbarra cross looped up into the six yard box inviting the Albion man to produce one of his prodigious leaps to get to the loose ball first.
Sloppy defending from the Shrews handed Albion a free kick out on the right with fifteen minutes remaining and Boyce almost made in three goals in as many games as he guided Sordell's set piece just wide of the near post. Fraser, who had been struggling pre-match with a knee problem was then taken off to keep him fresh for the weekend with Reece Hutchinson pressed into midfield duty from the bench.
Shrewsbury threw themselves forward in search of a late equaliser as six added minutes were indicated from the sidelines. Albion sent on Elliot Hodge for his debut as stoppage time started and Albion looked to see out the game. Substitute Fejiri Okenabirhie's aerial challenge with John Brayford ensured that the game would go on a little while longer and Town tried to fashion one last chance but substitute Lee Angol could only guide Whalley's cross wide of the target.
That first win of the season is now under Albion's belt and things look brighter ahead of Saturday's league encounter with Doncaster Rovers.