REPORT | Wanderers 1 Burton Albion 0

Goal celebration Burton

Wanderers kicked off the New Year as they had finished the last one as a fourth successive victory sent them in 2024 sitting in the League One promotion places, writes Pete Oliver.

It took an own-goal from Burton defender Jasper Moon just after the break to maintain the winning run ahead of a break for FA Cup and EFL Trophy action.

But in a game Ian Evatt’s men dominated throughout, any other result would have been a travesty.

The Whites missed chances to make it a more comfortable afternoon as they remained just two points behind leaders Portsmouth with a game in hand.

But a third successive clean sheet meant a single goal was enough to make it nine home wins for the campaign – a total matched by only one more side in the division.

Burton own goal

For a fourth game in 10 days, Evatt made four changes to the Whites’ starting line-up in a bid to complete a 100 per cent record over the festive period.

Victor Adeboyejo was one of those returning to face his former club after a goalscoring appearance off the bench at Fleetwood on Friday night and the ex-Brewers’ striker had an early chance to add to his tally.

A perfectly-weighted ball over the top from Ricardo Almeida Santos got Adeboyejo in behind the Burton defence but after rounding Max Crocombe his finish from a receding angle couldn’t beat the recovering keeper who did well to save at full stretch.

Crocombe then made another excellent stop to keep out a deflected free-kick from Aaron Morley as Wanderers cranked up the pressure and camped in the visitors’ half.

With 10 men behind the ball there wasn’t an easy passage through, but Charles also had a shooting opportunity from Morley’s pass he delayed and allowed the defence to clear.

Bodvarsson chance Burton

And with Morley – fresh from signing a new contract – in the thick of the action, the midfielder forced key man Crocombe into another sharp stop from a dipping effort just before the break as the Whites strove for the breakthrough.

Bar a couple of dangerous early corners, Nathan Baxter had been a virtual spectator but the Wanderers keeper was forced into an excellent stop to claw the ball away following a Joe Powell free-kick three minutes into the second half.

And Wanderers reacted to that scare in the ideal fashion by going in front moments later.

Josh Dacres-Cogley had just flashed one low cross across the face of goal when he was released again by a perfect George Thomason pass – marking his 100th appearance for the club with a typically dominant display – and this time the ball did fly into the net via the knee of Brewers’ defender Jasper Moon.

Wanderers constantly stretched the Albion back line as they moved the ball from side to side and with almost an hour gone, Randell Williams almost doubled the lead from the opposite flank as he sent a low delivery just wide of the far post.

Adeboyejo chance Burton

A second goal looked almost inevitable at times as Wanderers swarmed around the Burton box with Morley skidding another couple of efforts just wide.

But until it came Burton - who had taken seven points from the last nine in their battle to beat the drop - weren’t completely out of the contest and with a quarter of an hour to go, the visitors sent on two different attacking options at the same time as Wanderers made a double change.

One of those Wanderers’ substitutes – Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – almost scored with his first touch following more good work from Dacres-Cogley before the striker just over-hit a cross with Charles sliding in at the far post.

Still all the chances came Wanderers’ way and when Bodvarsson teed up Cameron Jerome the substitute lifted his attempted finish over the top with another opportunity to kill the game.

It would have been painful had Burton made the most of their countless reprieves but in truth that never looked likely and another rock-solid defensive display ensured it was job done again for Wanderers as they march into the new year ideally placed at the start of the second half of their promotion push.

Wanderers: Baxter; Forrester, Almeida Santos, Toal; Morley; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 76), Thomason (Sheehan 87), Williams (Ashworth 90+2); Charles (Jerome 87), Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 76). Substitutes: Coleman, Matheson.

Booked: Morley

Burton Albion: Crocombe; Hughes, Brayford, Moon; Caprice, Oshilaja, Powell, Kamwa; Gilligan (Bennett 76); Baah (Stocktion 76), Luabala (Walker 82). Substitutes: Blackman, Harper, Carayol, Tamen.

Booked: Baah, Gilligan

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 20, 259 (196 Burton)

Read Time: 4 mins