ALBION suffered late heartbreak as Carlisle United came from behind to grab a 2-1 win at Brunton Park.
Mark Helm had given the Brewers a first half lead but second half strikes from Jordan Gibson and Joe Garner turned the game on its head with the winner coming two minutes from the end of normal time.
It was a backs to the wall performance from Albion who had to resist strong pressure from the relegation threatened Cumbrians with defeat ending Albion’s eight game unbeaten run.
Despite victory for the Brewers last time out against Bristol Rovers, Dino Maamria opted to make one change for the trip to Brunton Park. On the notoriously wide pitch at Carlisle, the Brewers boss turned to Mustapha Carayol on the wing to try and cause the home side problems as Ciaran Gilligan dropped to the bench with Helm reverting to a slightly deeper midfield role. Skipper Deji Oshilaja brought up his one hundredth appearance for Albion in all competitions.
Carlisle won an early corner after a shot was deflected wide by Oshilaja but Dan Butterworth was well off target with his effort from Owen Moxon’s corner kick.
Albion soaked up some early pressure before Carayol had a first sight of goal for the Brewers cutting in from the left and testing Tomas Holy away to his right on thirteen minutes.
Carlisle responded with another spell of pressure with Sean Maguire almost sneaking in at the back post onto Fin Back’s searching cross, but his header rippled the side netting.
Moxon almost got lucky with a long-range effort that took a wicked deflection that made Crocombe claim the ball awkwardly at the second attempt right under his crossbar.
Despite all the home side’s pressure it was Albion that struck on a rare foray forward. Powell’s raid forwards gave Albion forward momentum which was initially repelled but when Oshilaja spotted an opportunity to feed HELM, the midfielder worked room for a shot on the edge of the box and drilled it right into the corner.
Carlisle almost found an immediate response with Garner denied by Tom Hamer, almost on his own line in the right place to block and avert the danger.
With the half in added on time Maguire let go a rasping effort but Crocombe made a comfortable save to frustrate the home side.
HALF TIME: CARLISLE UNITED 0-1 BURTON ALBION
When Albion returned for the second half, they showed two changes. Baah had been struggling at the end of the first period with a knock and failed to appear with Josh Walker sent on in his place and Helm, on a booking was replaced by Rekeem Harper.
Walker quickly showed his pace to escape away down the right-hand side and with Hamer having made a lung bursting run into the box only a deflection off a defender prevented a clear chance on goal.
Carlisle’s pressure eventually told on 53 minutes although there was an element of fortune about it. Dan Butterworth tired an audacious first-time effort but skewed it across goal where GIBSON raced to get on and just get there before an Albion defender could get back to fire in despite Crocombe’s best efforts to keep it out.
Just after the hour mark Albion changed things again Josh Gordon providing the fresh legs in place of Carayol on the left.
Carlisle thought they had gone in front on 67 minutes when Jack Armer’s cross looped off Moon and presented a tap in at the far post but the assistant had already signalled that the ball had arced out of play.
Walker rippled the side netting with an effort from the edge of the box when Lubala did well to win possession back high up and with the home side short of numbers at the back.
Steve Seddon took a nasty blow in a collision in the box and after treatment left the pitch very gingerly with Jake Caprice sent on for the final ten minutes or so of the game.
Former Albion loan defender Sam Lavelle spurned an excellent chance to put the Cumbrian side ahead late on but flying in to connect with a corner he could not keep his effort down.
GARNER finally broke Albion’s resistance with a couple of minutes to go heading in from almost on the line after substitute Terry Ablade had sent in a deep cross from the right.
Oshilaja was sacrificed for Cole Stockton for the closing minutes of the game to try and salvage an equaliser but the hosts held on for the win.
ALBION: Crocombe; Hamer, Moon, Sweeney, Seddon (Caprice, 81); Powell; Oshilaja (Stockton, 90), Helm (Harper, 46); Baah (Walker, 46), Lubala, Carayol (Gordon, 62).
Substitutes: Blackman, Stockton, Gilligan.
GOALS: CARLISLE – Gibson (53), Garner (88) ; ALBION – Helm (28)
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 6,390 (166 away)