Hereford Bull-dozer awful Albion

•January 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Brewers 0-2 Bulls

Scorers:

Evans ’23 0-1

Arquin ’78 0-2

Burton Albion’s promotion aspirations were jolted with an unwelcome dose of reality by perennial League Two strugglers Hereford United at the Pirelli Stadium.

After being made to look anything but play-off candidates by lowly Dagenham and Redbridge with a draw in their previous home outing, the relegation-haunted Bulls went one better by beating their lofty League Two rivals.

Despite Albion’s league position, performances haven’t always been vintage and just their second home defeat of the season exposed various chinks in their armour which have often been masked by results.

The Brewers enjoyed no shortage of possession but could muster little in the way of end product to show for their lacklustre efforts which failed miserably to live up to the new-found expectations that accompanies high-flying teams.

And once Will Evans had caught the hosts cold with a sweet strike in the 23rd minute, Albion rarely threatened to meaningfully test a distinctly ordinary Hereford side.

Andy Corbett’s 64th minute dismissal hardly made matters smoother but Ross Atkins’ brilliant save from the resultant Bulls spot kick brought brief hope of an unlikely comeback similar to the 3-2 triumph at Edgar Street in November.

But that half-hearted optimism was soon dashed in convincing fashion when Yoann Arquin lashed home an unstoppable drive late on.

Even Albion’s normally lethal strike force could find no way past a resolute Bulls backline who notched a well-earned clean sheet, supplemented by several pacy counter attacks that exploited Burton’s defensive naivety all too easily.

In the end, the Brewers were left ruing their failure to defeat a Morecambe side that were there for the taking on Saturday and could count themselves fortunate to have not been disposed of by a more decisive margin by the Bulls.

Calvin Zola was one of few Brewers players to emerge with any real credit as he battled away in vain attempting to revive Albion’s slide to defeat.

Another was Chris Palmer who again showed energy and ingenuity in the central midfield department.

Albion took to home turf in their white away strip after a bizarre mix-up at the Hereford end in which the wrong kit was packed.

And the Brewers might have been wishing they could reproduce their away form that has bought more festive cheer than their usually reliable Pirelli fortunes.

Boss Paul Peschisolido’s defensive worries were eased as former Hereford man Tony James made a surprise return to the back four in their only change from New Year’s Eve.

Hereford LEGEND Jamo made a shock return to action - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_James_(footballer_born_1978)

Albion saw the lion’s share of the ball during a scrappy opening, but it was the Bulls’ quick breaks that posed the greater threat.

With Burton’s attacks floundering, Joe Colbeck twice darted forward at an alarming pace. It was a warning sign that Albion regrettably didn’t heed.

The Brewers were playing with patience but without penetration and goal machine Billy Kee’s shot was unusually weak after Zola’s knock down on 20 minutes.

The visitors then shocked the languid Albion by striding ahead three minutes later.

Dangerman Tom Barkhuizen collected a half-clearance and fed Evans who drifted into the area before cutting inside McGrath and rifling superbly low past Atkins.

Albion were lucky not to fall further behind on the half hour when Barkhuizen sent a close-range header over with the goal at his mercy.

Zola tried his utmost to drag Albion level single-handedly and worked himself a shooting opportunity with a run along the byline, but opted to shoot into the side netting from an acute angle when squaring the ball would have been a better option.

Skipper John McGrath then flashed a half-volley too high from the edge of the area after Aaron Webster’s long throw was only partially cleared.

Albion were improving at a steady rate and Cleveland Taylor sidefooted wastefully wide from 15-yards after a clever quick free-kick.

Minutes before the break the dangerous Cobeck’s snap shot was straight at Atkins.

It took until the final minute of the half for Albion to string a notable attacking move together when Taylor’s cross fell to Kee whose six-yard shot was deflected narrowly over.

Peschisolido reacted to the below-par opening 45 by throwing on hitman Justin Richards for the out-of-sorts Kee.

Any half-time hair-dryer treatment from the manager didn’t have the desired effect. A long-range Taylor effort comfortably held by Bartlett aside, Hereford came out the more purposeful side.

A free-flowing move was perfect bar the finish as Simon Clist’s 20-yard curler clipped the outside of the relieved Atkins’ post on 50 minutes.

Argentinian Andres Gurrieri was originally subbed on in place of McGrath in the 58th minute to add some much needed offensive impetus – but the tactics behind it were only briefly evident following Corbett’s red card.

The attack-minded Gurrieri had to drop to an unfamiliar right-back role in a team reshuffle.

Colbeck played Barkhuizen one-one-one with Atkins in an incisive counter attack and the long-serving right back was uncharacteristically cynical in hacking down the midfielder as he was about to pull the trigger, giving the referee no option but to show Corbett red and point to the penalty spot.

Barkhuizen stepped up himself but Atkins produced a brilliant save low to his left.

Delroy Facey nearly made amends for his team mate’s missed penalty with a header from the ensuing flag kick which Zola cleared off the goal-line.

The same player squandered a golden chance to pull the Bulls clear after 67 minutes when he fired straight at Atkins after being put through on goal.

After escaping a catalogue of scares, it looked for all the world as if Albion had turned a corner when Gurrieri’s defence-splitting pass put Zola in the clear on 76 minutes.

The lanky striker steadied himself before sliding in a shot which was nudged marginally past the post by the faintest of touches from Bartlett.

That miss proved costly as just two minutes after the Bulls all but wrapped up the victory.

French striker Yoann Arquin wrapped his left boot around a loose ball 25-yards out and sent a rasping shot arrowing into Atkins’ bottom corner.

It was only after that blow that Albion started to show more urgency and step up a gear.

But there wasn’t even to be the scant consolation of a late strike to restore some pride.

Zola twice nodded wide from Chris Palmer corners and saw a shot well blocked.

The Congolese front man kept plugging away, but yet another flag kick routine’s header was repelled by a great point-blank Bartlett stop and Gurrieri’s 20-yard hit was deflected inches off target.

Big Calv Zola - not his day, but still man-of-the-match - http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Calvin+Zola

Why Clough should live up to his nickname

•December 22, 2011 • 1 Comment

“Non-League Nigel” is the uncompromising nickname Nigel Clough has inherited among Nottingham F*rest supporters and the single-brain-celled proportion of Rams ‘fans’. Now, I’m not saying I agree with the name-tag and will use it myself, but I can certainly muster a case for it being acceptable.

It’s not too harsh. In fact, I see it as a Forest fan’s rather feeble attempt of wit. And I doubt it has a substantial affect on Sir Nigel either. Let’s face it, we’ve called Billy Davies every name under the sun and you’d be hard pushed to find one as soft as pointing out the level at which he used to manage. Perhaps, the Rams faithful should have unlawfully labelled the former Motherwell boss “SPL Billy”. Or even attempted to ridicule Steve McLaren by seeing if “Eredivisie Steve” would catch on (Of course, in relation to his FC Twente days in Holland).

Anyway, more to the point, it seems quite clear to me that if Cloughie tries to emulate what his supposedly derogatory nickname is suggesting, there’ll be a larger chance of the success returning to Pride Park. And that’s what we all want, don’t we?

Basically, I reckon all clubs should be vying to dip into the lower leagues in search for promising talent (unless you’re Man City) and believe we’d be better off for it if we took such gambles more regularly.

Wind back the clock to last season and, arguably, three of the most consistent performers were John Brayford, James Bailey and Dean Moxey (until he left in January). Brayf originally rose through the ranks at Burton in the Conference, before joining Crewe and plying his trade at League One and Two level. Bailey, similarly, broke through to the first team at Crewe, whilst Moxey was part of the Exeter side that sensationally achieved back-to-back promotions from Non-League to League One. The biggest success story, as we all recall, was Brayf who won the Jack Stamps trophy by a country mile at the end of the previous term. How much did those cost us combined? A million quid? Just over? A small price to pay for three top class Championship players.

The thing to remember is, not all of them will work out. A local Sunday league striker may not be the answer to our attacking issues. You often hear the phrase “it’s an inexpensive gamble”, which is probably partially correct. But, it has to be a calculated gamble. You can’t just fork out for each and every guy who puts in a couple of decent displays in the Zamaretto Premier League.

For example, when I was watching Brayford week-in, week-out at Burton, I KNEW he had the potential to play at a much higher level. I even said years before Derby finally made the move for him that the Rams should snap him up. Yes, this is 100% true! I know, I’m wasted writing this blog, why aren’t I out scouting for the Rams? Anyway, you could see he had every attribute needed to make several steps up the football pyramid.

The same goes for Steve Morison at Norwich. When I had to sit through the torture of him banging goals galore past the Brewers in the Conference for Stevenage, I couldn’t help but think: “This just isn’t fair, he shouldn’t be playing at this level!”. I was right, again. Unbelievable. To see him ripping up the Prem hasn’t overly surprised me and it has only increased my sympathy for Albion’s defenders who tried in vain to stop him.

Just to chuck a few more names into the ring, what about long-time Clough target Jamie Mackie? Once of Exeter, scored in the Prem yesterday (Wednesday, 21st December). Adam Le Fondre who’s joined Reading from Rotherham has made a seamless transition to life in England’s second tier and the goals are flowing. Oh, and how about the pair who combined to net Bristol City’s strike against the Rams the other week. Albert Adomah, who supplied the assist, for Martyn Woolford can boast Harrow Borough and Glasshoughton Welfare (who?) among their former clubs, respectively.

The park where Championship winger Woolford started out for the mighty Glasshoughton - http://www.vanityprojectfanzine.com/football/Glasshoughton002a.jpg

Problem is, too many clubs seem adamant that they need a full squad of ‘proven’ quality at their level to succeed at all. With this attitude, however, comes a few stumbling blocks. Firstly, in these tough financial times, clubs just can’t cough up a significant enough sum to acquire such high calibre players. Also, if the player in question is a so-called ‘proven’ asset in that particular league, they will presumably already have a club at that level and will most likely only consider a move to a higher division – which is another variable in itself.

So all-in-all, it’s a tough job chairman and managers alike have to contend with in this day in age. The Rams managed to bring in a few faces you could call ‘proven’ in the summer. Jason Shackell more so than anyone, who arrived for £1 million from Barnsley – daylight robbery if I ever saw it! Fact is, though, goal scorers, or any players with real attacking quality are almost always far dearer than defenders or goalkeepers. It’s not remotely feasible that the Rams could prize Southampton’s Rickie Lambert away from the Saints for a couple of hundred grand, is it? How I wish it was!

With January looming, I am fully hoping Nige lives right up to his comical nickname and delves deep into the lower leagues in a bid to discover a football genius from the Blue Square North, or something along those lines. If it comes at a consequence of ironic jeers and chants of “Non-League Nigel” from Forest faithful to uncover the next Steve Morison, I’ll happily welcome it with open arms.

Evans’ Crawl£y take on pub team!

•December 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Albion getting the better of a Steve Evans side has always provided the Brewers faithful with a double dose of delight, ever since he labelled us as a “pub team” during his Boston United days.

Saturday marks a reunion of the notorious motor-mouth manager and the Brewers.

Admittedly, Evans isn’t the most popular figure in football and it hasn’t taken long for the Scot to plummet down in the estimation of League Two fans. But the fact is, Albion are one of a sparse few teams whose clashes with the now Crawley boss stem from deep into the depths of non-league.

When Evans opens his mouth, it is invariably with the intent to spout some ill-informed nonsense. His irrational words also have a canny tendency to backfire and leave him with egg on his face.

When Albion were Dr Martins League promotion hopefuls in the early Clough years, they drew Conference high-flyers Boston in the FA Cup. Boston manager at the time, Evans must’ve been expecting a landslide of goals and a cricket score victory for his side. After the Pilgrims stuttered to a one-apiece draw on home turf, he barked “It was like playing a pub team at times”.

Typical Evans. What an outrageous remark. In true poetical justice, it backfired massively. Clough’s braves toppled Evans’ flops 3-2 in the Eton Park replay. Sweet revenge. It was before my football obsession took off, but apparently the Burton Mail’s match report headline was “Pub Team 3 Boston 2”. Classic!

League clubs think they’ve had it tough with the Red Devils’ chief, but in reality, he’s barely scratched the surface in the professional game. Yes, we all recall the infamous Boston United “brown envelope” fraud debacle, but apart from the odd ridiculous sentence or ten, Evans has been moderately kind to those lucky enough to have lived a long-term Football League existence.

You’d think he’d learn from his countless mistakes, but he doesn’t. We all remember the feeble attempt of mind games with Paolo di Canio, where he described Swindon as “the di Canio circus”. Then there was Paolo’s hilarious, supposedly accidental insult. “Who?” asked a confused di Canio. “Steve Evans” said the reporter. “Who?” repeated di Canio. “STEVE EVANS” grunted the reporter. “I have not heard that name,” claimed the Swindon boss! He went on to say, in a nutshell, that Evans was simply one of millions of fans from around the world, only mentioning him for media attention. That was brilliant. I listened back to that a few hundred times!

Of course, as the whole football community can recollect vividly, Swindon destroyed Crawley 3-0 in their own back yard. Evans made to look the prize fool. He must surely be used to this demeaning emotion by now? Maybe his face will one day remain red after it reaches the limit of self-imposed embarrassment?!

Up until THE interview, di Canio had divided opinions within League Two. However, the minute his Evans outburst made its way onto the web, he soared to cult-hero status. Says a lot.

It’s a somewhat unfortunate situation for Crawley. They aren’t a bad club. But they’ve tried to buy success and, coupled with their controversial manager, they’re destined for total hatred from the footballing world.

It speaks volumes that most neutrals were keen to see a Manchester United hand out a truly convincing pasting to Crawley when the sides met in the FA Cup last campaign. After all, Man U are probably the most hated team in England. Well, they were up until the emergence of Crawley!

Surprisingly, incredibly, unthinkably, Evans has actually said a few nice things about Burton this week. “Albion are a team of excellent players with a top class manager in Paul Peschisolido.

“I am giving a warning to our players and supporters that we must respect fully our opposition on Saturday. Albion are in a great run of form and this will be a real test for all of us.

“Any team in League 2 that can beat the likes of Swindon, Rotherham, Bristol Rovers and Southend deserve to be challenging for promotion. They have some top quality players and the club is well run from top to bottom with an owner who backs his managers .

“We will need to be at our best to get the result we want. I need our top players to be at their best on the day for that to happen. I look at Albion and I see quality players in every position. This is another big match for us but we are in great form ourselves.” (courtesy of crawleytownfc.com)

Flattering indeed, Mr Evans!

Whether the above was spoken with 100% sincerity, I don’t know. Is it mind games? Not a bad assessment for a pub team, it must be said.

Our nice easy game at Crawley should be a decent encounter. It looks like we’ll have to do it without the goal machine Billy Kee. Blow. But I’d like to see the Lionel Messi-alternative Andres Gurrieri given a starting role to rip into the Red Devils’ backline with his South American flair.

A win would be fantastic, but I think we’d all be content with a point. So a draw, followed by the customary “They celebrated like they’d won the World Cup” observation from gob-almighty, would do nicely.

Non-League drama, Premieship chips!

•December 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

From what should have been a rare break from the thrills and spills of the football season, unfolded a typically action-packed Saturday afternoon which served up a non-league feast to sink my teeth into.

On the day reserved for the Brewers to hopefully throw their name in with the big boys for the FA Cup third round draw, I took up the rather less glamorous proposition of braving the bitter weather in a desperate bid for a game to watch.

Of course, Albion were dumped out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle and as it was the cup weekend, had some time off. Add to that the fact Derby’s game was moved (again) by Sky to the Friday night and I was left in an unwanted predicament. There were two options: 1) stay at home, twiddle my thumbs and maybe send the odd tweet bemoaning my boredom. Or 2) stand outside shivering for two hours in a football ground that looks as if it could crumble if the wind changed direction. Oh, this is all whilst two almost amateur sides battle it out in a competition so prestigious, its final attracts a colossal near-9,000 spectators. If I’ve lost you, it’s the FA Vase (google it).

The luxorious hospitality of the Moat. PS: Note how the roof is terraced to keep alignment with the slope http://www.footballgroundmap.com/photo/1430/the-moat-ground/gresley-rovers

Now, the untrained eye may suspect I’d plump for choice number one. But no. My football orientated brain told me otherwise. The destination was the Moat Ground, for Gresley FC v Gornal Athletic in the FA Vase third round.

Basically, I can’t go a Saturday without a footie match!

This is what it’s all about. The real football, the game at its roots. The away contingent that counted about six! It is everything the hardcore non-league fan describes. As I witnessed 22 courageous men fight tooth and nail on a mountainous ‘pitch’, many compare to Everest, I couldn’t help but grin when I heard a squeaky voice from behind me bellow “Come on Gresley!”. But, there was no one anywhere near me?! OH. Wait. Nestled above me on top of a fence was the head of a young lad! Just casually peaking over his from his garden to catch a glimpse of the action! Perfect vantage-point.

I was in true non-league spirit, which was further enhanced with Gresley’s marvellous chips and curry. WOW. Heaven on Earth, on a tray. Christmas came early. Use any clichés you like. They’ll be fully-justified, I assure you. The prospect of Gresley’s grub offerings just about outweighed the indulgence of Mickleover Sports’ bacon butties – and I didn’t regret my decision.

Gornal – who are a league below their opponents – saw any hopes of an unlikely upset swept away in a tide of goals that flowed freely from the outset. The Moatmen romped to a 4-1 lead in less than half an hour which all but sealed their passage to the next round. To their credit, Gornal hit back and went down fighting, but it finished 4-2. Fantastic game! I couldn’t ask for any more in terms of entertainment.

In fact, seeing such an end-to-end encounter reminded me of a Burton Albion goal fest!

I must confess, I did appreciate the Gresley supporters’ humour. Their selection of anti-Burton songs was staggering. Let’s just say, with Albion battling for promotion to League One, and meanwhile, the Moatmen fight for Midland Alliance league success… I think we had the last laugh!

Underneath the bib, Super Mario is a genius

•November 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Love him or loath him, you can’t ignore Mario Balotelli.

Very seldom does a week (or day, it feels like) pass without the colourful Italian hitting the headlines. Often, for the wrong reasons.

Balotelli’s widely spread off-field antics have provoked split views from many, but in my opinion, the bloke is a genius.

Blending into the background...

Yes admittedly, he fails miserably at putting on a bib and was clearly unaware that fireworks are generally used outdoors, but in the words of the great man himself: “I’m not crazy”. Alright, he’s being kind on himself in that statement, he is a little bit crazy. Just a bit.

However, “Super Mario” as he’s quite aptly nicknamed, is regularly finding his magnificent form for Man City overlooked by silly pranks, such as training ground dart throwing. In actual fact, when you go behind all the showmanship, naiveness and rare hints of stupidity, there is a supremely talented player.

Supeeeeeerrrrrrrr Marioooooooooooooo!

My Dad, a full-blooded Italian, to his credit predicted big things from his fellow countryman this campaign. Now I thought my old man’s footballing knowledge was fairly limited, but kudos to him on this occasion, his judgement is so far proving spot on!

Balotelli hasn’t buckled under the huge weight of my expectation and is duly producing the goods. With seven goals already this term, including five in the prem, he seems the real deal. Laid back on and off the pitch, nothing appears to faze the former Inter man and unless he’s putting it on, the pressure doesn’t tend to affect him as much as others either.

I’ll use City’s 6-1 demolition of United as an example. Just imagine, the ball breaks to you on edge of the box in front of 75,000 supporters packed into the library that is Old Trafford. Millions of viewers are eagerly watching at every corner of the globe. It’s the Manchester Derby, a top of the table clash, the biggest game of the season. Many players would have snatched at the chance, but not Mario. As if it were a training ground exercise, he merely passed the ball into the corner with incisive precision. Oh, he then went on to reveal his infamous “Why always me?” shirt.

I write this blog shortly after witnessing a Balotelli-inspired Italy see off Poland 2-0 in an international friendly. Even the Italian commentators lauded him as “Super Mario”, as the forward turned in a man-of-the-match display, and to my delight, curled the Azzurri ahead with a 30-yard screamer. The recent world champions were brilliantly led to success by the mercurial 21 year old, who later laid on a second goal for Giampaolo Pazzini. His 30th minute strike was the first for his country – there will be many more to follow, I can assure you!

Being half Italian myself, I confess, the nation conjures up some extravagant personalities. Swindon manager Paolo di Canio is a prime case of this. His outbursts have rocked League Two, in particular Crawley boss Steve Evans (who? WHO? I have not heard that name! As Paolo claims). Strictly Come Dancing fans, Robbie Savage and dare I say some Rams fans, will also vouch that judge Bruno Tonioli is quite a character. Just to confirm, I am not a fan of Strictly and do not give up my Saturday nights to sit through Sav prancing around on a dance floor!

So perhaps all Italians are like Mario? Well no, I promise you they aren’t! City boss Roberto Mancini, for instance, is a quieter, more unassuming kind of guy. Burton’s very own Paolo Peschisolido (although born in Canada), is similar.

How about you take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of a not long turned 21 Premiership footballer, with a weekly wage of £100k plus to bulge your wallet. Surely you could be forgiven for wanting to live it up the best you can? And could understandably commit a couple of schoolboy errors along the way? Yes, he could handle the fame and riches better, but is he all that bad?

At first, you’d be hard pushed to find an ounce of publicity aimed at Balotelli’s footballing exploits. However, slowly but surely, I think people are starting to come round to the fact that the kid is world class. A future star in the making. More and more frequently he’s grabbing the headlines for the right reasons. As he hits the net on a regular basis (whilst remaining virtually emotionless, of course), he is also becoming a prominent figure of Man City’s Prem destruction course.

He’s a good lad at heart. After all, for all the bad press Super Mario gets, I heard he’s recently been appointed as Manchester’s firework safety ambassador…

Setting an example...

Unfortunate Silkmen unlocked by Albion’s Kee asset

•November 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Burton Albion hatched a perilous daylight robbery operation to swindle the luckless 10-men of Macclesfield Town out of all three points at the Pirelli Stadium.

In a season where Paul Peschisolido’s troops have become accustomed to winning ugly, those previous triumphs were made to look flatteringly handsome by comparison to their latest smash and grab.

On the balance of play, a draw may have been seen as a travesty of justice, but it was Albion who somehow escaped from the scene of the crime with the biggest steal.

And Silkmen boss Gary Simpson could have been forgiven for offering a hefty reward for any spectator who could fathom his side’s shortcomings.

Billy Kee’s hot scoring streak continued and again paid rich dividends as his typically potent instinct proved enough for the Brewers to edge grimly past the ill-fated Silkmen.

Even the incredible dismissal of the visitors’ newly-introduced half time substitute Vinny Mukendi just 12 seconds into the second period was not to deter his team’s dominance, who made it hard to tell which side were a man light.

Ultimately though, the game boiled down to Kee’s opportunism in the 11th minute and secretly, Silkmen manager Simpson must be wishing he had an equally ruthless hitman at his disposal whilst he watched his men squander a succession of gilt-edged chances.

Macclesfield, who have mounted a promotion charge of their own, pushed Albion to such a degree that the overriding emotion upon the full time whistle was one of sheer relief instead of victorious joy.

Centre-half Nathan Stanton was rushed back into starting lineup for his first appearance in over three months to fill the boots of the suspended Tony James and striker Greg Pearson was included on the Albion bench after a lengthy lay-off with a toe injury.

There was also a happy return to the fray for midfielder Jacques Maghoma on the left wing, who played a key role in the decisive goal.

The Silkmen were the busier and brighter side in the opening exchanges and Albion had goalkeeper Ross Atkins to thank for keeping them on level pegging.

Chesterfield loanee Scott Boden latched onto Shaun Brisley’s knock-down following a corner, but his eight yard shot on the turn was instinctively blocked by the legs of Atkins.

Boden and Macclesfield payed a heavy price for failing to punish Albion’s slugglish start when Kee smashed the Brewers ahead.

Billy "the goal machine" Kee http://www.burtonalbionfc.co.uk/page/ProfilesDetail/0,,10950~48153,00.html

Adam Bolder’s hopeful punt was inconclusively dealt with by the away defence, Elliot Hewitt’s weak clearance only found Maghoma whose fierce drive was palmed away by Silkmen stopper Jose Veiga, but Kee was lurking to take a touch before burying the loose ball high into the net from 8 yards.

Albion had to escape another moment of anxiety just as they were looking to stamp some authority on the game. If Ross Draper had made more significant contact with Sam Wedgbury’s teasing cross, the hosts might have been in a spot of bother.

Striker Boden was gulity of spurning another golden opportunity when Lewis Chalmers’ delightful pass picked a way through a statuesque Brewers’ backline. Perhaps Boden had too much time to think, as the front man inexcusably failed to even hit the target.

The Silkmen remained the more urgent side and Brisley headed too high as Albion struggled towards the interval.

There was some brief respite, though, as Bolder’s low ball across the face of goal evaded everyone when all it needed was a touch.

Lanky defender Tony Diagne was replaced the yet taller Mukendi at the break, however, the 6-foot-7in attacker was remarkably shown the tunnel without touching the ball, after an aerial challenge left Ryan Austin in a heap.

Albion immediately attempted to seize the initiative with the extra man, but were unable to engineer anything clear cut – in stark contrast to the visitors.

Macclesfield’s mixed approach of neat passing football varied with direct play had caused the hosts problems all afternoon and a long throw paved an opening for Boden to finally get on the scoresheet. With luck evidently not on his side, he stretched to jab over a gaping goal from point-blank range.

There were strong Brewers penalty cries in the 63rd minute when Chalmers blatantly handled as Calvin Zola was about to pull the trigger on a brilliant Kee cross, only to see the shouts waved away by the referee, as a combination of defender and goalkeeper thwarted the Congolese former Crewe man.

Seconds later Albion really should have put the game to bed. John McGrath’s pass sent substitute Jimmy Phillips scampering through on goal, only for the winger to drag his shot past the post with only Veiga to beat.

Waide Fairhurst was the next to try his luck for the battling Silkmen, who found Ross Atkins on top of his game as the on-loan Derby keeper stuck out a hand to turn the ball to safety.

At times, the Brewers were forced to cling on for dear life against Macclesfield’s gallant 10 men, but did manage to muster a few efforts to wrap up the points, in spite of the bitterly disappointing showing.

First, Zola rose to nod Maghoma’s free kick over. Then, Greg Pearson delightfully exchanged passes with Kee, but his low shot from 15 yards parried by Veiga in stoppage time.

PIRATES ALL AT SEA AS KEE UNLOCKS TREASURED POINTS

•October 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Burton Albion kept within touching distance of League Two’s chasing pack as they recovered from a goal down to topple the much fancied Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Recently relegated Rovers looked to be picking up from where they left off in their 5-2 demolition of Rotherham last time out when Matt Harrold headed them into an early lead. However, Paul Peschisolido’s men refused to cave in and roared back with intent, securing victory with a duo of sumptuous first half goals from Cleveland Taylor and Billy Kee.

It was the perfect way for Albion to bounce back from the 2-0 reverse to Cheltenham at the Pirelli Stadium the previous week. Burton were made to cling on to the final seconds against Paul Buckle’s improving side. The Brewers weren’t at their sparkling best by any means but were clinical in front of goal and, once they went ahead, were determined not to let the Pirates back in.

Much of the away side’s frustration was owed to the resoluteness of Albion’s back four and goalkeeper, who answered everything Rovers opted to hurl at them.

Aaron Webster, in particular, risked life and limb to preserve the Brewers’ slender advantage, as the Pirates huffed and puffed but failed to engineer enough clear cut openings to return home a point or three better off. Significantly, it bought a welcome return to Albion’s home form – their first win in three at the Pirelli.

Peschisolido made two changes from the side that slumped tamely to defeat in their last outing. Danny Blanchett was dropped from the squad and replaced by Aaron Webster at left back, whilst goal poacher supreme Kee deputised in attack for top scorer Justin Richards who had a back strain. Dangerman Jacques Maghoma was the surprise inclusion among the Albion subs. His injury was originally expected to sideline him for up six weeks.

Congolese international Maghoma made an unexpected return to action... hopefully not too early again! http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12040_7235301,00.html

The Brewers were slow out of the blocks and found themselves under pressure from the whistle. Tony James picked up an early booking for a late challenge as Bristol attacked at will.

Some delightful one-touch football on the edge of the Burton penalty area carved an opening for Scott Rendell, whose shot was blocked by Webster.

Albion escaped that scare. However, they were made to pay for their sluggish start when the visitors drew first blood on 14 minutes.

Jimmy Phillips clumsily tripped Rendell at the right corner of the box. Pirates’ midfielder Craig Stanley whipped the ball in with interest and striker Matt Harrold duly met it with aplomb, planting a bullet header past the helpless Ross Atkins.

The Brewers were eager for a quick-fire reply and Calvin Zola just lacked the inches to connect with Taylor’s left foot cross. Flying winger Taylor also had his centre smothered by Pirates’ keeper Scott Bevan, with attacking options lurking in the box.

In spite of a few brief glimpses of Albion’s attacking ability, it was Rovers who continued to look the more composed team and they spurned a golden opportunity to double their lead on 22 minutes. Rendell neatly slipped veteran marksman Scott McGleish in on goal, but he scuffed his shot horribly wide with only Atkins to beat. A second goal would have been a killer blow for the hosts. McGleish’s miss was to prove costly.

With pressure mounting on Albion’s rearguard, Peschisolido decided to tinker with his line up in a bid to combat Rovers’ dynamic 4-3-1-2 formation. Winger Phillips was drafted into a more central role, with Taylor occupied as a lone wide man, momentarily switching to the left flank in the process.

The shake up paid dividends almost immediately when, out of the blue, the Brewers conjured up a leveller.

Taylor’s pace and trickery was too hot to handle down the left and he was hacked down. From the resultant free kick taken by the same player, Bristol had two chances to clear the ball, but twice only half finished the job. Following up on the edge of the box was Taylor who lashed home into the near bottom corner, leaving the hefty 6-ft 6 figure of Bevan with no chance.

Cleve - YOU BEAUTY!!! http://bit.ly/rgdIeq

That goal sparked Albion into life and, eight minutes later, they stunned the visitors by turning the encounter on its head.

Crafted with precision and carried out to devastating effect, it was a goal worthy of winning any game. Energetic as ever, Phillips picked up the ball inside his own half before driving forward and spreading the play to right back Kevin Amankwaah. The recent recruit burst along the byline at pace and showed the necessary calmness to send a delicate dink into the path of Kee, who buried it beyond Bevan from 10 yards. That was his fourth of the season.

He may look as hard as nails, but little Billy missed his mummy down south - he's now enjoying his football more than ever closer to home! http://bit.ly/qjfSfm

In first half injury time, Zola’s cross-cum-shot was palmed away by Bevan and Adam Bolder couldn’t latch on to the rebound as Albion searched for a third.

The Brewers were forced to withstand some heavy Pirates pressure shortly after the interval, though, they were not too far away themselves when Zola headed the wrong side of the post from a Taylor corner.

Both sides exchanged half chances that lacked the necessary power or placement to trouble either keeper, as the second period petered out.

Pirates’ sub Joe Anyinsah had the pick of the bunch, as he attempted to capitalize on a defensive miscommunication, but contrived to skew the ball wildly too high.

Burton had an injury scare with 15 minutes remaining when Tony James collided with Atkins. To a collective sigh of relief, the Welshman was able to continue. James and centre half partner Ryan Austin performed an imposing double act to repel Bristol until they eventually ran out of ideas.

In a late rally, Rovers’ might have equalised in the dying seconds. First, Cian Bolger’s fierce drive was deflected wide and then Webster was on hand to heroically throw himself in the path of Rendell’s goalbound shot.

Aaron Webster... if you cut him open, he'd bleed beer and bovril.

 
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