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Burton Albion scramble a draw at Newport County

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 25, 2014

ARMED COMBAT ... Burton Albion's Alex MacDonald tussles with Newport's Robbie Willmott.

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A TRIP to Newport County was always going to be a tricky test for Burton Albion.

The combination of a big, physically strong opponent and an unpleasant atmosphere makes the whole trip an unpleasant one.

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For 45 minutes it looked as though the Brewers would not only surrender their four-game winning streak, but also their unbeaten record at the start of 2014-15.

Ian Sharps' own goal – an unfortunate incident on your 500th Football League appearance – gave the Exiles the lead at the break.

Newport then continued to boss the game before John Mousinho's first goal for Albion drew them level just before the hour.

The Welsh side, who had lost their first four matches, then lost a touch of confidence and the Brewers had chances to grab a second.

Lucas Akins could have won it, only to hit the post when one-on-one with the keeper and Sharps also had a powerful header cleared off the line.

So ultimately Albion had to be content with a point from their trip over the border.

But after the way they started it looks a good point and extends their run without defeat to five matches.

It has been a solid start, and while the Brewers are yet to really click, apart from in spells, they look resolute.

Even when Newport were on top they failed to carve Albion open and did not create a stream of excellent chances.

A tricky test has been negotiated and Gary Rowett's men have survived.

The manager made two changes following the 1-0 win over Exeter last Tuesday, with Adam McGurk replacing Dominic Knowles up front and George Taft coming in for Alex MacDonald.

Taft went to left-back and Callum McFadzean moved forward to the left wing.

There was also a place on the bench for Lee Bell as he comes back from a knee injury.

For Newport, ex-Brewers striker Rene Howe missed the game – and, according to Exiles boss Justin Edinburgh, will miss the season with a torn thigh muscle.

Albion were very slow out of the blocks and came under pressure in the opening two minutes, with clearances not sticking and the ball repeatedly coming back until Andrew Hughes drove over from 25 yards.

On five minutes, the dangerous Chris Zebroski flashed a header a foot too high as the Brewers failed to deal with a Robbie Willmott cross from the left.

Aaron O'Connor, once of Gresley, almost got in onto a Adam Chapman pass on 11 minutes but Jon McLaughlin was quickly off his line to deal with it.

A minute later, a ball over the top of the Newport defence from Taft was met by McFadzean on the volley 18 yards out, but he hammered it over. It was one of those which either flies in the top corner – or the top corner of the stand.

On 37 minutes, the pressure finally told on Albion.

Ryan Jackson's long throw flicked off Zebroski as he challenged McLaughlin and the ball looped goalwards.

Sharps was there on the line to clear but could only head the ball into his own net off the bar. It was an unlucky moment.

With half-time looming, though, the Brewers got some luck.

Lee Minshull seized on Sharps' clearing header and smashed a volley from 20 yards which flew over a helpless McLaughlin and came back off the top of the bar.

Burton had to improve after the break but came under pressure in the early minutes of the second half.

They badly needed a goal as they struggled to get back into the game – and Mousinho provided it on 51 minutes, against the run of play.

Phil Edwards' searching cross from the right was half-cleared in a ruck of Newport defenders and Mousinsho volleyed low past Pidgeley from 12 yards on his less favoured left foot.

The Brewers were up and running – but remained edgy.

On 65 minutes, Jackson's fierce effort from outside the box deflected off McFadzean and just wide of McLaughlin's right upright as Newport tried to recover from the setback.

But four minutes later Albion almost went in front.

MacDonald's superb corner found Sharps, a latecomer to the box, unmarked 15 yards out and his thumping header was destined for the bottom corner until it hit Jackson on the line and was cleared.

On 76 minutes, McFadzean did well to steal the ball off Jackson and feed Stuart Beavon. But the striker's low shot could not beat Pidgeley at his near post.

A minute later Akins had the golden chance to win it as Albion broke. Beavon did superbly to nick the ball off Kevin Feely in his own half and had the awareness to play Akins in.

Hughes pursued the winger towards his own goal but Akins turned him before dinking the ball over the advancing Pidgeley, only for it to agonisingly clip the outside of the post.

It was a real chance for the Brewers.

With five minute left, Willmott found Zebroski in space in the box but his fierce effort flew across the face of goal.

The Brewers had four corners in stoppage time but could not force one in to equal the club record of five wins at the start of a season.

The record from 1956-57 will remain unbroken for another year at least – but most fans would surely have taken four wins and a draw from the opening five matches.

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