Burton Albion’s final 2017/18 pre-season friendly would be one to remember, as they rode out 2-1 winners in a clash with former Premier League champions Leicester City.
The brewers started with a formation that looked like a 4-5-1. Shortly before the team was announced, it was revealed that Liam Boyce, stretchered off during Burton’s 1-0 loss to Shrewsbury Town on Saturday, had ruptured his ACL, and would miss most of the season because of it. With Sordell also sent off in the same game, Akins started alone up front. Mousinhio filled in at right-back, and Lund covered for Akins on the right. Leicester also fielded a strong team, featuring the likes of Riyad Marhez and Ahmed Musa.
The brewers started the better, and on the sixth minute, Matty Lund had time to get a shot off, but it was easily saved by Jakupovic. Burton kept on pressing, and after some good build up by Matty Palmer and Lucas Akins, a cross was whipped into the box. Hope Akpan was poorly marked, but still did well to rise high and head the ball into the far corner. It was a deserved lead for the brewers against a Leicester team who had struggled during pre-season so far.
Ten minutes later, Ulloa had one of the best chances of the first half, as he was chipped through, but his point-blank range header was straight at Bywater. After another good passing move from Burton led to Luke Murphy receiving the ball. He drilled a shot towards goal. The shot was headed off target, but it fell to the feet of Lucas Akins, who raced towards Jakupovic’s goal, and curled the ball into the right-hand side netting.
There were few more chances for either side in the half. Marhez curled a free-kick over with 40 minutes played, and then the half time whistle blew. Burton had the better chances of the half, but were far from in control.
The brewers made two changes going into the second half, as Warnock and McFadzean replaced Dyer and Murphy. Leicester came out with a point to prove, and just 3 minutes into the second half, a ball was cut back to Andy King, but Mousinhio was quick to close him down and block the shot.
Bywater then pulled off two incredible saves in quick succession. A Gray free kick was headed by Iborra, but Bywater blocked it well. Just a minute later, Musa got a low header off, but Bywater tipped it round his near post.
The resulting corner was blocked and went out for another corner. It was whipped in and the original effort was deflected against Bywater’s knees by Naylor, the ball then fell to Maguire, who smashed the ball into the top left corner, 2-1.
Lund and Akins were substituted for Ben Fox and Joe Sbarra, as the game entered its final 20 minutes. Minutes after coming on, Sbarra tapped the ball home, but it was flagged offside.
Warnock received the ball near the dugouts, and tried to get past Benalouane, but the defender flew in with a high scissor kick on the former Liverpool defender. Unlike on Saturday, when the brewers had to play with ten men, Benalouane was sent from the field, and Leicester were permitted to bring a substitute on to replace him.
The ball fell to Warnock at the back post a minute later. Warnock fired a shot goalward, but it was well palmed away by Ben Hamer. Jack Hallahan then came on for his debut. Hope Akpan was the player coming off. Gray then cut inside, but his shot whistled past Bywater’s post.
Mousinhio was replaced by Jayden Cotterill just before Chilwell raced through, but his shot was well wide. The brewers then went straight up the other end with a free-kick, and McFadzean volleyed the rebound just over.
The action was not over for Bywater though. Ulloa powered a header toward the top corner, but Bywater was there yet again, as he tipped it round the post.
The brewers would be the happier with the full-time result, as they can now use the momentum from this win, to take into their home clash with Cardiff, as the Championship season begins.
Jack’s Man of the match: Steven Bywater