CHARLIE Kirk grabbed a dramatic last-ditch winner on his Brewers debut as Albion completed a 3-2 win over Fleetwood Town at Highbury Stadium.
The Charlton Athletic loanee only joined the fray on 82 minutes but made an immediate impact in a high octane finish to the game that saw Albion come from behind when Deji Oshilaja cancelled out Jayden Stockley’s opener and when Tom Hamer netted with ten minutes left there was no indication of the drama to come. Fleetwood skipper Josh Vela was sent off for a challenge on Zac Ashworth before Promise Omochere levelled deep into stoppage time. It was not deep enough though as Albion showed huge resolve to go again and grab the win to make it back to back wins for the new look Albion side after all of Dino Maamria's work in the transfer window.
Despite making four deadline day signings on a hectic day of business for the Brewers boss, Maamria opted to make just the one change from the 2-0 win over Oxford United. Josh Walker, got a debut in attack following his move from Dagenham & Redbridge with Kirk and free agent signing Chris McCann, announced on Saturday lunchtime, making it onto the bench.
Albion won an early corner that was cleared only as far as Ashworth, who saw a well struck volley blocked inside the box. Fleetwood quickly mounted their first attack and Craig MacGillivray had to get down smartly to save a close range effort from his former Charlton team mate, Stockley as the striker got on the end of Brendan Wiredu’s cross.
Terry Taylor lasted all of ten minutes in the game before an awkward landing saw him pick up what appeared to be a nasty ankle injury which saw him leave the field, clearly in pain, on a stretcher. His departure meant an early introduction for McCann,
Albion quickly regrouped and were close to the lead on the quarter of an hour mark, Walker steering a shot wide from the edge of the box after good work from Dale Taylor.
Chances were few and far between in what was becoming something of a midfield battle but Jack Marriott found space on 35 minutes when referee Martin Coy allowed play to continue after what looked to be a foul on Oshilaja but the former Peterborough hitman sliced his effort wide of the target from eighteen yards.
Sam Hughes required attention after a challenge from Stockley which looked to be as a result of a flailing arm but referee Martin Coy deemed a free kick sufficient punishment. Albion almost meted out the perfect response when the free kick was pumped into the box and Walker showed a deft first touch but could not quite get his shot away.
A clash of heads between Walker and Town defender Toto Nsiala resulted in more added time at the end of the five minutes that had already been signalled. Neither side could fashion a chance to really threaten breaking the deadlock as the sides headed into half time still level.
Half time: Fleetwood Town 0-0 Burton Albion
Fleetwood started strongly as the second half got underway and there was an early chance for Josh Vela as the the ball was quickly switched to the left for a low cross that came back out to the Town skipper to side foot a shot wide of the post.
Albion began to threaten and with Mark Helm buzzing around the edge of the Fleetwood box a chance eventually fell for him but his snap shot flew over.
Walker continued to look lively in the Fleetwood box and when Nsiala was indecisive in making a clearance the striker was in to hook a shot just wide.
But it was Fleetwood who would edge in front on 58 minutes when STOCKLEY bundled in from close range when Marriott squared the ball into the danger area from Carl Johnston’s astute chip into the box.
The Town lead lasted for all of two minutes, OSHILAJA in the right place at the back post to nod home when Hughes helped Tom Hamer’s deep cross goal wards.
As the game began to open up Stockley almost doubled his tally with a back post header that was superbly cleared off the line by Hughes with the Town striker volleying the loose ball over.
Taylor then produced a good save from Jay Lynch at his near post as Albion went in search of a second goal to turn the game completely around.
Walker showed a glimpse of his explosive pace on 72 minutes but coming in from a tight angle was unable to steer his shot beyond Lynch who saved well at close quarters.
Albion had something of a let-off on 79 minutes when Wired was able to find space on the right and drill a low cross through the six yard box but fortunately nobody in red and white had gambled to get on the end of it.
It proved to be a turning point as Albion were ahead within a minute. Probing for an opening down the right Walker found space to turn and slip the ball through to the underlapping HAMER who slid in to guide the ball beyond Lynch.
Tempers started to fray and Fleetwood were reduced to ten men with five minutes remaining when Vela lost his cool and was shown a straight red card for a wild swing at Ashworth near the touchline.
Helm almost added a third for Albion as they looked to secure the three points but with the an angle rapidly narrowing against him he could only fire into the side netting.
Three minutes into added on time and the ten men had an equaliser when substitute OMOCHERE nipped in behind the Brewers backline to find the bottom corner of the net.
Albion were not done and Taylor thought he had squandered the chance to win in when Lynch kept out his chipped effort but KIRK was on hand to fire into the empty net and grab a crucial three points at the death.
ALBION: MacGillivray; Brayford, Hughes, Moon; Hamer, T.Taylor (McCann, 14), Oshilaja, Ashworth; Helm; Walker (Kirk, 82), D.Taylor.
Substitutes: Amissah, Winnall, Smith, Shaughnessy, Carayol.
GOALS: FLEETWOOD - Stockley (58), Omochere (90+4) ; ALBION - Oshilaja (60), Hamer (80), Kirk (90+6)
Referee: Martin Coy