A CONTROVERSIAL late equaliser denied Burton Albion what would have been a fantastic three points on the road at Shrewsbury Town.
After Kieran O'Hara blocked Daniel Udoh's late effort from a corner, which Albion were adamant should have been a goal-kick, the assistant referee on the far side flagged, adjudging the ball to have crossed the line.
It came after eight minutes of stoppage time and dealt a blow to the Brewers, who had defended magnificently throughout. Kane Hemmings had given the Brewers a deserved lead just shy of the hour with his fifth goal in six games.
Brewers boss Jake Buxton made four changes from the side that suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Blackpool last weekend, with captain John Brayford returning to the side after suffering a quad injury at Plymouth last month.
Neal Eardley was also restored to the starting line-up in the second defensive change, with Ryan Edwards returning in midfield and Charles Vernam making his first start in a month out wide.
And Vernam was soon in the thick of the action, causing Shrewsbury issues in the early minutes with his direct running and trickery.
He had the first real chance of note - Colin Daniel’s cross was taken down well on the corner of the six-yard box by Steven Lawless, his back to goal.
The Scotsman found Vernam well just shy of the byline to the left, and Vernam’s vicious low strike was deflected narrowly wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.
Minutes later the Shrews could have taken the lead as Jason Cummings got onto the end of a bouncing ball in the box but he could only fire into the side-netting as Kieran O’Hara closed the angle well.
Stephen Quinn tested Harry Burgoyne in goal from 25 yards with a low rasping effort on 25 minutes but it was held by the keeper.
Albion came close again on 39 minutes - Edwards burst down the right and cut inside before playing an excellent ball across the box which came to Vernam, 15 yards out - but the shot was blocked and ricocheted twice in the box before running wide for a goal kick.
Albion were then tested at the other end - the ball fell nicely for Dan Udoh in the box but a stunning last-ditch block from Brayford sent his effort over the bar, and from the resulting corners O’Hara did well to get two punches on the ball before making a fine save to deny Ollie Norburn’s powerful effort from close range.
HALF-TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 0-0 BURTON ALBION
O’Hara made another good save on 58 minutes as, after a lightning counter from Shrewsbury, the ball was laid back nearly to Jan Zamburek on the edge of the box. Zamburek didn’t get all of his power behind it but got the placement - and O’Hara made a good one-handed stop to palm the ball behind for a corner.
Albion shortly after won possession in the middle of the park through Vernam and the winger did brilliantly to slot a through ball to the onrushing Edwards, who sprang the offside trap.
The Australian midfielder found himself one-on-one with Burgoyne, forcing a good save from the keeper, but the ball looped up to HEMMINGS - who made no mistake from 18 yards, driving the ball low and hard past Burgoyne and a defender on the line.
Shrewsbury looked for a quick reply and were soon forcing O’Hara into more good saves - the Brewers’ stopper beating away shots from Cummings twice in quick succession.
The Shrews went for broke in the final 15, bombarding Albion’s box with crosses and looking for the target man, Albion holding strong, led by the central defensive pair of Brayford and Sam Hughes.
And there was time for late controversy as the ball ricocheted in the box and UDOH's shot was blocked by O’Hara on his goalline - only for the assistant on the far side to flag for a controversial goal.
FULL-TIME: SHREWSBURY TOWN 1-1 BURTON ALBION
GOALS: Udoh 90+9 (Shrewsbury). Hemmings 59 (Brewers).
SHREWS: Burgoyne, Pierre, Williams, Norburn, Zamburek (J Daniels 72), C Daniels, Fossey (Walker 52), Udoh, Ebanks-Landell, High (Pugh 78), Cummings. Subs not used: Barnett, Tracey, Gregory, Caton.
BREWERS: O’Hara, Brayford, Daniel, Edwards, Quinn, Hemmings, Akins, Lawless (Varney 90+2), Vernam, Eardley, Hughes. Subs not used: Sharman-Lowe, Powell, Fox, O’Toole, Gilligan, Ennis.
YELLOW CARDS: J Daniels 76, Ebanks-Landell 88 (Shrews). Edwards 24, O’Hara 86 (Brewers).
RED CARDS: None