Report: Burton Albion 1 Exeter City 1
Exeter City and Burton Albion shared the points with a 1-1 draw at the Pirelli Stadium, in an entertaining game on a difficult surface.
Both goals came within a three-minute period in the second half – and the opener came in familiar fashion for both teams. Burton, who had two own-goals turned in their favour the previous weekend, returned the favour as Ian Sharps put the ball into his own net after stopper Dean Lyness failed to hold a rocketed effort by John O’Flynn. It was the third time in four games that City had gone ahead courtesy of an opponent turning the ball into their own net.
The lead was cut back quickly though – Adam McGurk arrived onto a Zeli Ismail cross and swept in for the equaliser. And no better chance came for a match-winner than in stoppage time when Arron Davies had a downward header turned away by the sprawling figure of Lyness – ultimately ended all-square.
There were two changes to the starting XI for the Grecians after the midweek draw at home against Oxford United. Matt Gill, suffering with a swollen ankle after taking a kick, was replaced by Matt Grimes and John O’Flynn started in attack with Tom Nichols on the bench.
It was a return to the Pirelli Stadium for goalkeeper Artur Krysiak, who was injured for the defeat last season, while Gary Alexander – who was a Grecian in the 1999/2000 season – was on the Brewers’ bench after signing from Crawley Town on transfer deadline day.
The Grecians started much the livelier and instantly had the Brewers’ rearguard working hard to defend their area. After Danny Butterfield had twice delivered problematic crosses in the opening minutes, it was the right-back that set off an attack with a great tackle on the flank. He linked up with Liam Sercombe to feed Grimes, who hammered just wide of the post.
Jimmy Keohane soon had a corner turned in by a City player, but the referee spotted and infringement from a City player which kept the game goalless.
The Brewers fans finally had something to get excited about when a direct ball forward was allowed to bounce to release Adam McGurk, whose drilled effort needed turning around the near post. Soon after a similar situation arose and caught Artur Krysiak in two minds, but Pat Baldwin was alert to clear a poked effort off the line.
Burton’s wingers began to threaten and the first clear-cut chance for the home side came as Jimmy Phillips hung up a ball for Matty Palmer – but the midfielder’s header was powered into the ground and bounced over the bar.
Once again the Grecians had the ball in the net, but this time it was the linesman’s flag that brought the celebrations to an early halt on the half-hour mark. Sercombe was the man to dink in a fine cross for O’Flynn and the striker nodded in, only for the goal to be chalked off.
Sercombe and O’Flynn, two of the livelier performers in the first period, set each other up for chances to open the score before the break. Sercombe flashed a shot past the near post, and O’Flynn hit the target from a tight angle with plenty of power, but Dean Lyness watched it into his arms.
And the Grecians were denied a good shout for a penalty just on the stroke of the interval as Shane Cansdell-Sherriff wrestled down O’Flynn in the area, but the appeals fell on deaf ears.
Half-time: Burton Albion 0 Exeter City 0
On an increasingly choppy surface, which only just passed to play against Fleetwood the previous weekend, City had the first shot of the second period but Sercombe, who had collected in his own half, shot over left-footed.
But City were soon in the lead – and again it was an own-goal that got the Grecians ahead. Some sublime interplay between Sercombe and O’Flynn allowed the latter some space to lash a shot from a tight angle inside the area – and despite a fine acrobatic stop from Lyness, skipper Sharps inadvertently turned into his own net.
However the lead barely lasted two minutes, before McGurk found the net for Albion. It was a low cross by Zeli Ismail from the right that found the striker, who planted firmly past Krysiak.
Phillips, who had been one of the hosts’ key threats, almost completed a turnaround when he broke from his own half down the left wing and made a beeline for goal – however Krysiak caught the effort well.
Scot Bennett squandered a chance to get City ahead again as Sercombe played a neat disguised pass to Davies to fizz a low ball in – but the midfielder got under the ball and blazed over from six yards. Minutes earlier, Davies himself had a chance when Sercombe was provider but an extra touch in the area saw a defender arrive to make a block.
And as the game got stickier and slowed down, both sides seemed fairly content with a draw – but the Grecians might have snuck a winner in the dying embers, but Davies’ header from an O’Flynn cross was saved superbly by Lyness to keep it at 1-1.
Full-time: Burton Albion 1 Exeter City 1
Burton Albion: Lyness, Edwards, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, McCrory; Ismail, Weir, Palmer, Phillips (Hussey 73); McGurk (Knowles 67), Kee (Alexander 59).
Subs: Siegrist, Diamond, Bell, MacDonald.
Goal: McGurk (58).
Exeter City: Krysiak; Butterfield, Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Sercombe, Grimes, Bennett, Davies; Keohane; O’Flynn.
Subs: Pym, Oakley, Gow, Moore-Taylor, Nichols, Parkin, Wheeler.
Goal: Sharps o.g. (56).
Referee: K. Hill