A late Sam Clayton header denied Nigel Clough's side of a positive result as preparations on the pitch got underway for the Brewers with a 2-1 defeat at Mickleover Sports.
Joe Sbarra had earlier cancelled out Niall Doran's opener as both sides showed few signs of pre-season rustiness in rather unseasonal conditions at the Don Amott Arena as a first half downpour resulted in the floodlights being required much earlier than expected as the ground threatened to be engulfed in darkness.
For Albion's first run out of pre-season it was a mixture of youth and experience that got a run out. Harry Campbell, hoping for some first team football over the course of the coming season got an early chance to impress along with youth team graduate Ben Fox and triallist Tomas Egert, looking to earn himself a deal with the Brewers having joined the club towards the end of last season on the recommendation of Sports manager and ex-Brewers midfielder John McGrath. Albion fans got their first glimpses of nes signing Scott Fraser in a Burton shirt although those hoping to see fellow scot David Templeton would have to wait a little longer as he sat the game out alongside John Brayford and Will Miller, all three carrying slight niggles and not being risked at this stage of the preparations for the new campaign.
The game was in the seventh minute when Albion had their first real shot in anger. A long ball forward was knocked down by Liam Boyce allowing Jamie Allen to run on to the loose ball before firing well over the bar from 25 yards.
Fraser show some of his marauding midfield qualities on 20 minutes bursting through the centre of the pitch until he was upended by former Albion youngster Kev Grocott giving Marvin Sordell the chance to send in a 30 yard free kick that was never seriously troubling Lewis King in the Sports goal.
Two minutes later and the home side were ahead. Nathan Jarman exploited space on the Albion right to drive into the box and link up with left back Curtis Burrows. Campbell managed to parry his low cross awat from goal but only as far as Niall Doran who found the bottom corner. The Brewers quickly had a chance to draw level as Fox picked up a loose ball to set Jamie Allen up for a teasing centre that Fraser, making a late run into the box, could not keep down as the ball sailed over the bar again.
Signs of some promising link-up play for Albion carved open a decent chance on 27 minutes, Sordell slotting an excellent ball through for Boyce, an unfortunate bobble denying the striker a clean shot on goal.
Lucas Akins was next to get a sight of goal, again running onto a pass through the Sports defence but experienced former Derby man Pablo Mills made a timely intervention to preserve Sports' lead.
Boyce was involved in some interesting battles with the Sports defence and a couple of times the Albion man went down with more than a few anxious glances from the sidelines when he appeared to take longer than normal to get to his feet, given his bad luck with injury last season.
Half-time: Mickleover Sports 1-0 Burton Albion
When the teams re-emerged for the second half there was only goalkeeper Campbell and triallist Egert that continued. Joe Sbarra picked up the captain's armband. An early chance came the way of the young Brewers looking to impress. Former Nottingham Forest youngster Luke McCormick was quickly in the thick of things with a positive run down the right and a low ball angled in towards Matty Lund on the edge of the box, the former Rochdale man driving a first time effort wide of the upright.
Five minutes into the second period and the energy of the young Brewers had them back on level terms. With plenty of men over on the right hand side it was Reece Hutchinson that took matters into his own hands to drive a cross through the penalty area, a kindly deflection helping it into the path of Sbarra who calmly lifted the ball beyond the Sports keeper.
Another former Brewers youngster, Evan Garnett, broke clear from what looked suspiciously like an offside position on 56 minutes but he was foiled at the near post by Campbell who narrowed the angle down well to prevent him restoring the home side's lead.
Mills thought he had capitalised on a spell of Sports pressure on 59 minutes heading home at the back post but the referee adjudged that he had done so by fouling his man as he climbed
Albion supporters got their first look at young Scottish goalkeeper Jack Livesey for the final 24 minutes of the game as he replaced Campbell who had shown glimpses of why Nigel Clough rates him highly.
Grocott was forced to head off his own goalline with five minutes to go, Egert getting up well at the back post to head McCormick's corner kick back towards the corner of the net as Albion looked to finish with a flourish and marcus Dinanaga, otherwise well marshalled by the Sports defence found room for a shot was was deflected wide for another Burton corner.
Unfortunately for Albion it was a corner at the other end that ultimately decided the game, Clayton finding space inside the Burton box to steer a header beyond Livesey and seal a late victory for John McGrath's side.
Despite the result it was a lively first run out for the Brewers who will continue their build up to the new season with a trip to Aggbrough on Tuesday against Kidderminster Harriers.
Albion: Campbell, Buxton, McCrory, Turner, Egert, Fox, Fraser, Allen, Akins, Boyce, Sordell. Substitutes: Livesey, McFadzean, Sbarra, McCormick, Harness, Lund, Hodge, Hutchinson, Ganley, Dinanga.