IN a game of few chances and fine margins Albion slipped to a 1-0 defeat to Ipswich Town courtesy of Mark McGuinness' header seventeen minutes from time
In a game where clear chances were few and far between it was no surprise that one goal was enough to settle the destination of the points and the on loan Arsenal defender got up highest to head a set piece routine into the back of the net and break Albion's defensive resilience where a goalless draw and a point had looked to be the best that both sides could aim for as they both seemed to cancel each other out for long periods.
For the first home game of his second spell in charge of the Brewers boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made two changes to the side that grabbed a morale boosting win at Gillingham. Both Kieran Wallace and Colin Daniel were absent from the matchday squad and that meant starts for Ciaran Gilligan and Charles Vernam in centre and left midfield respectively. Midweek signings Sean Clare and Josh Parker were eased into their Burton Albion careers on the bench.
There was an early blow for Albion on the injury front as John-Joe O'Toole only lasted until the seventh minute. After receiving treatment and returning to the field it was quickly apparent that he was not going to be able to continue and Michael Bostwick was sent on.
It was a first half where defences were certainly on top as both sides struggled to carve out chances. Vernam, in particular, was able to stretch the game and the Town defence when he got balls that he could latch onto whilst Ipswich tried to use width to find holes that they could exploit but a more compact Albion back line more often than not snuffed out any real threat from Ipswich's primary attacking threat, James Norwood.
The telling statistic that neither side could muster an attenpt on target in the first forty minutes told the story of a tight encounter, the nearest either side coming being a corner for Town that was flicked wide by big defender Aristote Nsiala although it was never troubling Ben Garratt in goal.
Albion upped the ante just before the break and were only denied the lead by an excellent piece of defending. Joe Powell's chip over the defence allowed Ryan Edwards to run in behind and when his spewculative cross came back off the face of the crossbar the ball fell kindly for Vernam who fired on goal only for Ipswich skipper Luke Chamber to throw himself in the path of it to block away for a corner.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Ipswich Town
Albion started the second half as they finished the first, on the front foot and a flurry of corners and free kicks gave the Town defence a stern test but one which they survived.
Ipswich responded as they sought to be the ones to break the deadlock and when Alan Judge was afforded room to curl a cross in from the right it took an excellent and decisive intervention from Hayden Carter to clear the danger.
The Brewers were quickly up the other end as the game ticked towards the hour mark, Lucas Akins latching onto a ball into the box that had drawn Tomas Holy from his line but having rounded the keeper and having been forced wide the striker was unable to beat the keeper as he regained his ground.
The next chance also fell to Albion as Vernam jinked his way to the bye line and his cut back went all the way through to Brayford making a late run but the skipper could not keep his effort down and on target from just outside the box.
Ipswich rattled the woodwork on 67 minutes, substitute Aaron Drinan doing well to steer a looping header on target from Luke Chambers deflected cross but seeing it bounce away off the top of the bar.
The pressure was building and Town edged in front on 73 minutes from a set piece. A short free kick routine allowed Judge to swing in a dangerous delivery towards the back post and McGUINNESS rose highest to head beyond Garratt.
Drinan almost doubled Ipswich's advantage shortly afterwards heading goalwards from close range to be denied by an excellent save from Garratt as Albion made a double change introducing both Clare and Parker for Powell and Vernam.
Owen Gallacher limped off towards the end forcing a change which saw Indiana Vassilev thrust into action but Albion ultimately ran out of time to grab an equaliser.