It wasn’t the most convincing performances of the season, but it was enough to take a point from a good Burton side.
It was, to resort to a cliché, ‘a game of two halves’. We struggled to find our feet in the first half, Joel Grant and Danny Blanchett in particular looking like the weak links. In fact, I would say the game was crying out for Calvin Zola at times, he was left on the bench though as Dario went for pace over strength. The attack was easily dealt with by Albion though, through balls weren’t getting through and Miller and Donaldson ran into dead ends.
Being unable to get the ball up front left us under pressure at the other end of the pitch. Fortunately the defence held to together for the most part; David Artell proving to be every bit the defender we’ve been missing for some four years. Burton’s chances, despite their possession, were few and far between.
In the end, it should have been us who got the opener before half time. When Adam Legzdins made a mess of an attempt to punch out Westwood’s free kick, Joel Grant was left at the far post to nod home what should have been the equaliser. The linesman had other ideas. Flagging for offside despite the fact Grant didn’t really appear offside either at the point the free kick was taken or Legzdins’ punch, assume the linesman thought a Crewe player got a flick on.
As seems to be the worrying trend on our travels, however, we got done just before half time. The Alex midfield failed to track the run of Burton’s Jacques Maghoma half way inside the Alex’s half and he took advantage of a split Alex defence to take the ball forward and fire high into the top right corner, it left Rhys Taylor absolutely no chance. It was probably what Burton deserved for their possession and build up play.
The 714 strong Alex following were fearing the worst at half time having seen our only chance of the game chalked off. Thankfully whatever Dario said to the team during the break had an impact. We immediately looked more in control up front with Grant, Donaldson and Miller all getting in behind the Brewers defence.
The equaliser was almost inevitable and it arrived via Luke Murphy. Murph, eventually picking up a Donaldson cross at the far post, took a nifty turn and with the help of a deflection squeezed the ball in the bottom left corner off the post.
There were half-chances to win it, and considering the amount of possession we had in the final third we should probably have taken three points, though Burton will no doubt be feeling the same after their first half. On balance you have to say it’s a fair result.
It is though our third 1-1 draw on the bounce away from home. It’s not something I’m personally that worried about, everything I’ve seen so far suggests to me we’re still a work in progress. I think, or at least hope, we’ll turn those draws into wins as we improve through the season.
Right now we’re ninth in the league and a couple of points off the play-off places. Despite Dario saying ‘we won’t know where we stand till Christmas’, I think over the next three or four games we’ll have a good idea how the table is shaping up for the rest of the season. Six points over the next week with home games against Oxford and Macclesfield will see us sitting nicely going in to October.
I feel if we can dip our toes into the top seven over the next couple of weeks then it could really spur us on to have a good season. So…
COME ON THE ALEX!