Burton 3-3 Rovers: Match Report
In one of the most entertaining games I’ve witnessed in quite a long time, Rovers came away from league leaders Burton Albion with a point on Saturday. A game which swung like a pendulum from the first minute to the last, the boys in red (or rather blue, on this occasion) battled hard and matched the League One pacesetters every step of the way. This was a story of big moments at crucial times, and many came away proclaiming this match as a great advert for the division.
It was a moment of class that brought the game to life out in the 4th minute, Mitchell Lund putting a first time cross in from the sideline after a quick throw-in routine with James Coppinger, and Andy Williams demonstrated his ability by bringing the ball under control with one shift of his weight and finishing expertly into the corner on the turn. Another great example of what he can do in the 18-yard box, but unfortunately the day went downhill from there for Mr. Williams. It was his misplaced pass into midfield that allowed Burton to draw level, a ball played through to cut open the defence and put Calum Butcher in for his first goal in the Brewers shirt.
From there, Burton dominated the first half and Rovers did well to keep the scoreline at 1-1 into half time, but were presented with a golden opportunity early in the second period as Lund played in Nathan Tyson on the edge of the area, and Tyson went down after running into John Mousinho. The referee awarded a spot kick in front of the Rovers fans, but in all honesty it looked a soft one. Mousinho would have had to use powers usually only seen in the X-Men to avoid a collision with the onrushing Tyson, who didn’t have the space to control the ball when it was fed to him. Williams stepped up to take, perhaps keen to atone for his earlier error, but his tame spot kick was saved by Jon McLaughlin and soon after the home side made us pay for passing up that chance. Again it was Butcher, who ghosted past substitute Luke McCullough and finished in similar fashion to his first.
Personally I thought that would be it, as Burton had been the better side in the hour of play up to that point and Rovers were struggling to cope with their wing play. But, when a free kick was awarded on the edge of the area, the unthinkable happened. With Paul Keegan and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair standing over it, it didn’t look too likely that an equaliser was on the cards. Keegan stepped up and put an inch-perfect free kick into the top corner, in off the inside of the post with the goalkeeper stranded. I’m not sure anyone would’ve stopped it such was the precision behind it, and I was delighted to see one fan live up to the “We’re on the pitch if Keegan scores” chant that has long been a favourite at away games.
If their was a question about the first penalty award, then the second that gave Rovers hope of victory was a dead cert. Williams crossed from the byline and Andy Butler was pushed to the ground with a clear header on goal in his sights. Phil Edwards, the assailant, had his hands on his head before he’d even picked himself off the floor and replacement penalty taker Nathan Tyson made no mistake from 12 yards, putting the ball to the right of the keeper who remained in the centre of his goal. This comeback, embodied by Tyson and his stirring celebration in front of the travelling faithful, epitomised the never-say-die mentality that Darren Ferguson has clearly instilled in the squad already.
On the balance of play, Burton must have felt aggrieved to be behind but defensive errors had cost them, and it took a moment of class from their threatening wingers to claw themselves back into the game. In the 89th minute, El Khayati got the ball inside the box and squared to Mark Duffy, who had lost his marker Coppinger and finished with aplomb to snatch victory away from his former club. No surprise to see him celebrate the goal passionately in front of the home fans after Rovers supporters had given him a torrid reception all afternoon. Even then, Rovers could have craved out another opportunity to win the game, but it as not to be and in the end, a point was probably a fair reflection of the day for both teams.
Albion remain top of the table and go down as the best side I’ve seen Rovers up against so far this season, and Rovers stay in 15th place but unbeaten in four league games and also moved ahead of local rivals Scunthorpe going into the showdown between the clubs at the Keepmoat on Boxing Day.