BURTON Albion are fast becoming League Two’s travel specialists after they recorded a fifth away victory of the season.
The Brewers equalled last season’s total of away wins as Phil Edwards struck late at St James Park to beat Exeter City 1-0.
It was another terrific, disciplined away performance from Albion, who are now a side teams will dread a visit from.
They have the second best away record in the division behind leaders Oxford.
After last season’s travails away from the Pirelli Stadium, it is a remarkable turnaround from Gary Rowett’s men, who have now won three on the bounce.
They have a new-found solidity, especially against the top sides in the division, the win at Exeter following victories at Fleetwood and more recently at Chesterfield and Wycombe.
Admittedly, they rode their luck at times in Devon, with Jordan Pickford pulling off two outstanding saves, but away from home there will always be times when you need a break or two.
Albion also kept their third clean sheet on the bounce, an area Rowett has focused on improving after his side conceded too many last season.
Aside from a couple of slips which allowed Exeter in, the Grecians were restricted to half-chances and shots from distance as the visitors won a third game on the bounce.
The Brewers had more possession and put the hosts under pressure, especially in the first half when they had a remarkable 10 corners.
It had looked like being a 0-0 draw, though, before Edwards got his first goal for the club on 89 minutes to edge an encounter short on goalmouth action.
The win completes the October fixtures with four wins and one defeat, putting to bed a miserable and winless September.
Albion are back in the play-off places and were it not for three daft defeats when they had a man sent off they would surely be in the top three.
Now, after matching last season’s total of wins away from home, they need to keep improving on their own patch and rebuild the fortress they had last season.
Results like Saturday, though, will ensure teams are ready for Albion, who once again look like real contenders.
Rowett named an unchanged line-up from the 2-0 win over Torquay, with Lee Bell again left on the bench and Matty Palmer preferred in midfield.
There was still no place for striker Rene Howe or midfielder Adam Reed in the matchday squad, while Rory Delap (hamstring) is still out.
Adam McGurk fired just over the bar on six minutes as Burton controlled the early possession.
On nine minutes, though, Exeter should have taken the lead – and were left kicking themselves for missing.
Playmaker Alan Gow slipped a lovely ball between Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and Damien McCrory for John O’Flynn to chase.
As he burst through into the area, Pickford was off his line in a flash to save his low shot.
It was a cracking block from the 19-year-old, who was enjoying his best game yet for Albion.
Billy Kee turned and shot on the half-hour from 25 yards but ex-Burton keeper Artur Krysiak touched it away for a corner – one of 10 in the first half as the visitors exerted massive pressure on the hosts.
Albion reached half-time at 0-0 having bossed the game without really taking Exeter apart.
Gow hit a free kick just over for the hosts two minutes after the break before he floated a shot just too high.
Exeter, becalmed for the much of the first half, were back in business and starting to get into dangerous positions.
But with a little luck, Jimmy Phillips would have broken the deadlock just short of the hour as Albion put together their best move of the match.
Kee found McGurk and he cleverly nicked the ball out to Phillips, whose confidence is growing game by game.
The winger cut inside Scot Bennett and curled a smashing shot from 18 yards which was flying into the top corner until Krysiak impressively tipped it over the bar.
Seconds later, Exeter had a decent chance when Arron Davies played in O’Flynn but the striker’s low shot from 12 yards was weak and straight at Pickford.
With a quarter of an hour left, the Grecians had their best chance of a goal – but again they fluffed their lines.
Edwards miscontrolled a bouncing ball and presented it straight to Davies near halfway.
He immediately found the lively Gow, who got in behind Damien McCrory and Cansdell-Sherriff.
With just Pickford to beat, the midfielder tried to slot it past the keeper, only for the teenager to pull off another fine low save.
Substitute David Wheeler then got past Ian Sharps on 78 minutes but shot wildly at goal from an acute angle and got it all wrong.
With time running out and Burton having weathered the storm, Edwards nicked it.
It was Albion’s 14th corner of the afternoon, and it was needlessly given away by Danny Coles after a mix-up with Krysiak.
Hussey, who will have been a touch disappointed with some of his deliveries, floated an absolute peach across the area for Edwards to rise and thump into the net from close range.
He may not be the biggest player on the pitch, but Edwards more than makes up for it with a fearsome leap.
Coles compounded matters by letting Edwards in practically unmarked to score.
It was a deserved first goal for the defender – and he became the 11th different scorer this season, another area where the Brewers continue to excel as they climb the League Two table.