Date: 10th December 2011 at 8:10pm
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It has long been suspected that Burton Albion finding themselves in the lofty heights of fifth place in League 2 owed more to the attackers than it did to a back four that has proved itself to be relatively porous at times. Heck, if the opposition can`t score we`ve even got a left-back who`ll oblige with an own goal or two!

At the Broadfield Stadium this afternoon, with the Brewers starting with a single forward, that proved very much to be the point as they went down 3-0.

Despite the bright performance from the team the last time out there were three changes made by the manager; Jimmy Phillips coming in at the expense of Cleveland Taylor and Andres Gurrieri replacing the injured Billy Kee. Also, much as expected, Ryan Austin completed his two-match suspension and replaced Nathan Stanton at the back, once more picking up his partnership with Tony James.

Pre-match discussion on the terraces seemed to agree that overall this looked like a team designed to defend a point, rather than push forward for the win.

Predictably, Crawley pushed forward from the start, employing a direct approach to put the visitors under pressure from a number of airborne assaults into their penalty area, including a long kick forward by Scott Shearer, the Crawley Town goalkeeper.

Strangely enough it was Burton who had the ball in the net first of all, but thanks to some superb basketball control in the build-up from Bolder, the “goal” was rightly disallowed. Cue hands-in-the air frustration and despair from the scorer Andres Gurrieri.

This seemed to wake up Crawley and they again pressured the Burton back line with their number 9 going close with an acrobatic attempt at an overhead kick which, fortunately for Burton, was a little too high and caused Atkins no problems. Inevitably, however, Crawley took the lead midway through the half through ex-Derby defender Claude Davis who hit what appeared to be a shot on the turn beyond Atkins. From where we were stood it seemed the Brewers defence could be accused of standing still, watching the attempt, but in fairness to Davis he hit the ball well and gave the keeper little chance.

1-0 to Crawley and how were Burton going to respond? We didn`t have to wait too long to find out.

Pretty much straight from the kick-off, Crawley regained possession and their 23, Tyrone Barnett, hit the woodwork with a header. To be honest by this point Burton seemed to have little idea how to cause their hosts any kind of problem and the Crawley players were queueing up to have a crack at scoring against a poor Burton team devoid of any imagination.

As seems to have become a habit, Tony James conceded a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the area which, thankfully, came to nothing. At the other end of the pitch Chris Palmer was on the receiving end of a great tackle by a Crawley defender as it seemed likely he was going to have a crack at goal just inside their area.

So the whistle blew for half time and beleaguered Burton trooped off looking for inspiration from their manager.

The second half kicked off and moments into play Sergio Torres almost got on the scoresheet when a Ross Atkins clearance sat up perfectly for him and his long distance attempt was only just a little wide of the goal.

Still Burton could create very little with Crawley closing them down all over the pitch. Someone in front of me said the next goal would be decisive and he was proved right, but although a Burton player scored it was for the wrong team.

The ball was played in from the Crawley left and Aaron beat two home players to it, knocking the ball past his own goalkeeper to make the score 2-0 to Crawley and game over. With his (own) goals to matches-played ratio of late, Aaron is giving Billy a run for his money!

This second goal made the manager shuffle his players with Macca and Richards coming on in place of the anonymous Phillips and Gurrieri, who it is fair to say faded as the game wore on.

The change in personnel and formation did little to alter the balance of play, with Crawley dominating all across the pitch. Their defence could have spent a large part of the game sat in deckchairs, such was the work Burton caused them, whilst the home midfield won their battle across the park. As for Tubbs and Barnett up front, they gave the Burton back line as torrid an afternoon as they`ve had all season.

Therefore, it was no surprise when Crawley hit a third goal, this time through the impressive Matt Tubbs. A cross was cleared out to him, standing quite a distance outside the area, but he hit a shot goalbound that Atkins could only admire as it sped past him into the back of the net.

3-0 to Crawley and much as it pains me to say, the home side deserved both the three points and the opportunity to go top of the table due to their result and Southend being beaten by Chelmsford. The only bright spot was the return of Justin Richards; perfect timing given the injury to Billy Kee.

For the 200 or so Burton supporters it was a day to forget, with the prospect of the long haul home and the M1 roadworks to look forward to for most. Special mention has to go to one Brewers fan who drove up from Lyon for the game, where he is working for two weeks. He`ll be returning first thing tomorrow and is looking forward to the drive home next Friday, just in time for the game the following day.

Next Saturday sees a struggling Dagenham & Redbridge visit the Pirelli, who now find themselves bottom of the League 2 table. If ever a morale boosting win were needed for the Brewers, this game sees the best opportunity that has presented itself for many months.