ALBION suffered their first League defeat of 2020 in a 3-2 thriller with the Millers of Rotherham United at the New York Stadium
The leaders of League One can count themselves fortunate to have taken the points as Albion gave them a real run for their money and argusably missed the better of the chances to seal what would have been a notable victory with Stephen Quinn and Murphy both denied by home keeper Daniel Iversen early on and Lucas Akins missing a gilt edged chance with the score at 2-2.
In a frantic start Jamie Murphy fired Albion ahead after just seven minutes only for Michael Smith to score the first of two goals just two minutes later. The start of the second half was even more frenetic with Smith doubling his tally less than a minute after the restart only for Oli Sarkic to fire home a stunning equaliser before the cheers of the home crowd had barely died down.
It was left to substitute Freddie Ladapo to have the final say with a well taken finish with just under twenty minutes remaining.
Albion were boosted by the return of Jake Buxton and Sarkic both of whom have struggled with slight niggles over the last couple of games. Buxton returned to the heart of the defence alongside John-Joe O'Toole with Richard Nartey dropping to the bench whilst Sarkic's return meant a tweak to the formation, Albion reverting to their more normal 4-3-3 line-up with Sarkic wide on the right, Murphy wide on the left, both supporting Akins.
Rotherham signalled their intentions with a first attempt on goal after just over 90 seconds. A slide ball through for Kyle Vassell allowed the in-form striker to stretch his legs but with Buxton for company inside the box he dragged a left foot effort wide of the target.
But it was Albion who struck after just seven minutes with that man MURPHY showing his finishing skills once again. A slip in the Rotherham midfield allowed Sarkic to nick possession and whip a super ball across the United box. Murphy was alive to it, cut inside before lashing in a shot that was in from the moment it left his boot.
Rotherham though are not top of the league without good reason and two minutes later they were level. Matt Crooks found space on the edge of the box and he pulled the ball back for SMITH who despite two defenders advancing out to him, fired unerringly beyond Kieran O'Hara.
In a breathless start Albion twice could have regained the lead. Quinn found himself one on one with keeper Iversen but on his right foot could not beat the man in green and moments later he picked out Murphy who fired a shot between the legs of the Leicester City loanee only for it to deflect out off the keeper's leg and the post.
As Albion continued to press Colin Daniel made space for a cross that only just eluded the runs into the box of Sarkic and Ryan Edwards on the edge of the six-yard box.
Rotherham started to turn to the pace and creativity out wide of Chiedozie Ogbene and his cross on seventeen minutes was almost inch perfect, O'Hara unable to come for it but the ball just out of the reach of Vassell lunging inside the six yard box to try and turn it home.
Quinn looked desperate to grab his first League goal of the campaign and his volleyed effort on 21 minutes had Iversen contorting himself to push it over his bar and from the corner Akins' flick at the near post almost crept in as the League leaders defence looked far from assured.
Ogbene went close himself with a thunderous shot that O'Hara had to beat away on 29 minutes and when the ball was kept alive Crooks was able to rise highest in the box to head over the bar with a chance that should probably have hit the target.
Brayford blazed wide from the edge of the box before things started to get a little heated with referee James Adcock the target for most of the ire from the home crowd. The biggest call they found fault with was when O'Hara caught a ball back to him from O'Toole with the match official awarding a corner deeming the ball to have gone out of play.
Half time: Rotherham United 1-1 Burton Albion
Less than a minute after the restart and the Brewers found themselves behind. Buxton's sliced clearance conceded a corner and it was a routine header at the back post from SMITH that put the home side in front.
This time it was Rotherham's turn to only have the lead for barely a minute. Akins and Quinn played a neat one-two before Akins slid the ball into SARKIC who ran on into the box before smashing a rising drive beyond Iversen into the top corner of the net.
It was a breathless start to the half and it nearly got better just after the hour mark. Sarkic found Brayford on the right and his low cross seemed like a certain goal for Akins who somehow, skewed it wide off his left foot from six yards.
And there was almost a first goal for Conor Shaughnessy on 70 minutes, the midfielder homing in on a free kick from Quinn before Iversen did well to turn the ball away at the foot of the post.
Scroll forward a minute and Albion were made to pay for those missed chances. Ogbene wriggled free to scamper away down the right. His deep cross was controlled just inside the box before being laid off to LADAPO who coolly found the bottom corner.
Rotherham almost added a fourth from a corner on 75 but a header at the back post just crept wide before Albion summonsed Fraser from the bench in place of Sarkic.
Fraser scooped one effort over the bar on his right foot not long after coming on as he tried to prompt an equaliser before Powell was sent on for the last eight minutes to see if he could unlock the door.
Reece Hutchinson for Daniel was the final change chosen by Nigel Clough but the changes could not quite squeeze out an equaliser as the home side held on for possibly their hardest earned three points so far.