ALBION fought their way to a hard-earned three points at Roots Hall seeing off a late fightback from Southend United to run out 3-2 winners thanks to goals from Lucas Akins, Ryan Edwards and Jamie Murphy
Ona difficult afternoon in Essex Albion once again struck early with Akins calmly firing home after just five minutes. This time the Brewere held the lead for a longer period until Sam Mantom's bizarre equaliser, an effort that keeper Kieran O'Hara somehow misjudged as it dropped behind him.
Albion were quickly back in charge in the second half as Edwards bundled in his seventh of the campaign before Murphy fired home after a mistake at the back from the hosts.
A long throw into the box in added on time from the hosts seemed to take a final glancing touch off John-Joe O'Toole to beat O'Hara and give the home side hope of a point but the Brewers held out to return home with all the points.
Nigel Clough made two changes to his team for the trip to take on the struggling Shrimpers. The manager was able to call upon both Colin Daniel and O'Toole to bolster the defence. Daniel came in at left back to replace Reece Hutchinson who dropped to the bench whilst the injury that forced Richard Nartey from the pitch at Portman Road last weekend also kept him out against Southend facilitating O'Toole's timely return from injury. Kieran O'Hara was also included after missing the second half of the game at Ipswich with an ankle problem.
The changes also resulted in a surprise change of formation as the Brewers looked to get back to winning ways. O'Toole was part of a three-man defence flanked by John Brayford and Conor Shaughnessy and Daniel operating at left wing-back. And it was a tactical switch that paid almost immediate dividends as Daniel got well forward on the left to supply a deep cross for AKINS to sidefoot home via the inside of the post on five minutes.
Albion's tendency to concede quick equalisers almost haunted them again as full back Elvis Bwomono ran into space down the right and crossed for Sam Mantom to steer a header just wide.
A good chance to double the lead came the way of Oliver Sarkic on twelve minutes after excellent work from Akins but the Montenegrin was denied by a good save from debutant United keeper Patrik Gunnarsson.
Southend should really have been back on level terms on 26 minutes when Stephen McLaughlin lobbed a ball over the Burton defence and Mantom ran on only to beat O'Hara and see his effort crash back off the post, O'Toole doing very well to prevent Charlie Kelman from applying the finishing touch to the loose ball.
But just before the half hour mark the home side were level when MANTOM's challenge for the ball looped the ball high into the air and with the wing playing tricks O'Hara misjudged the flight as it dropped behind him and into the net.
The conditions were making attractive football difficult and the goal gave the home side renewed belief after a run of three games without a goal but neither keeper was troubled in what remained of the opening half.
Half time: Southend United 1-1 Burton Albion
Albion were grateful to find themselves back in front four minutes into the second half. Powell's cross caused problems for the Southend back line and EDWARDS was adjudged to have got the final touch as the ball was bundled in from close range.
Powell almost grabbed a goal for himself moments later with a neat turn in midfield and a dipping shot that deflected wide of the target and O'Toole was not far away from his first goal in a Brewers shirt heading narrowly wide from a corner on 53 minutes.
McLaughlin got his angles right with a promising free kick for the home side on 55 minutes but O'Hara was agile and alert enough to get across his line and push the the ball around the post.
Brayford almost made it three for Albion when Shaughnessy flicked a Sarkic corner to the back post but Albion's skipper could not quite adjust as the ball hit him and skewed over the bar.
Albion swapped Sarkic for Nathan Broadhead just after the hour and the young Welshman quickly sent Murphy scampering away down the left although his final cross to Akins failed to amount to anything as Southend flooded back to defend.
Daniel almost managed to grab his first goal as well with a chipped ball to the back post that just bounced wide of the post with Murphy closing in.
Southend showed plenty of spirit to try and get themselves back level and Bwomono flashed a dipping shot over O'Hara's crossbar with the keeper at full stretch.
Albion had their third goal on 74 minutes as the hosts gift wrapped the Brewers a goal. Defender Miles Mitchell-Nelson made a hash of a pass out of defence and Broadhead was on it in a flash to set up MURPHY for an emphatic finish for his fifth goal in seven games.
Albion brought Sbarra on as Edwards got a break with about twelve minutes left.
Southend refused to give the game up and O'Hara came to Albion's rescue with five minutes to play with an excellent save to deny former Australia captain Mark Milligan.
And Sbarra was denied a second goal of the season by the foot of Joe Shaughnessy, brother of Albion's Conor, with two minutes to go after more excellent play from Powell down the left hand side.
The nerves were on edge in stoppage time as a long throw from substitute Sam Barratt caused pandemonium in the Brewers box and O'Toole was adjudged to have got a faint touch to send it past O'Hara.
There was one last scare for the Brewers when Akins was adjudged to have brought down Charlie Kelman within shooting range and McLaughlin curled the resulting free kick just wide of the far post.
A nervier ending than it should have been for Albion but the wait for three points was over at the end of a game full of strange goals.