LATICS 0 BURTON 0Latics found Burton Albion too tough a nut to crack in the end in a game that may have been low on goals, but was packed full of incident.
Gary Caldwell’s men were undoubtedly under the cosh for large parts of the first half, Dan Burn in particular shining in defence to keep out the visitors, but the second half definitely belonged to Latics, with Jon McLaughlin the star for Burton.
The closest Latics came to a goal came through Nick Powell diving header that flew an inch wide. Frustration in the end for Latics, although they do extend their unbeaten run now to three games.
Caldwell made three changes from the side who drew at Brentford before the international break with Le Fondre, Nick Powell and Yanic Wildschut in for Will Grigg, Jordi Gomez and David Perkins.
The teams went in level at the break in a first half full of incident.
Latics were twice grateful for the long limbs of Burn who twice made brilliant clearances to deny the visitors early on. Firstly, he was in the right place to block Lucas Aikins’ goal-bound drive, but even better came when Adam Bogdan made a headed clearance outside the box, which landed at the feet of Chris O’Grady, some 50 yards out. The audacious lob looked to be going in until Burn scrambled back to make an acrobatic overhead goal-line clearance.
Albion looked the more dangerous early on, Shaun MacDonald and Nick Powell having to be brave to block efforts from O’Grady and Ben Turner, while Aikins and Tom Naylor shot over.
Latics threatened after ten minutes when Yanic Wildschut forced Jon McLaughlin into a fingertip save at full stretch, Michael Jacobs saw his effort on goal deflected after Wildschut’s powerful run down the left side and the best effort of the half fell to Adam Le Fondre on 33 minutes, when he chipped over McLaughlin but the ball went just over the bar.
Latics began the second half in a far more positive manner than they had the first, Powell heading narrowly over from a Nathan Byrne cross on 52 minutes, the same combination then forcing Kyle McFazdean to clear at the near post a minute later. John Brayford brought down Wildschut 40 yards out as Latics broke clear on 59 minutes, yellow the colour rather than the red the DW Stadium demanded.
Powell and Le Fondre combined to open up Burton a minute later, but McLaughlin saved well, before Burton broke through substitute Jamie Ward, he set up Aikens and Bogdan was forced into a smart save.
Wildschut was again brought down when threatening to go clear just outside the box, on 63 minutes, McFazdean seeing yellow this time. Powell forced McLaughlin into a punched save from the resultant free-kick, before Byrne’s scissor-kick volley flew a yard over.
Caldwell made a tactical switch after 66 minutes, bringing back Craig Morgan for his first taste of action since August, and it almost resulted in a goal. Stephen Warnock crossed low from the left and Powell met the ball with a diving header near the penalty spot which brushed the outside of the post. So close.
Jacobs then tried to weave a path to goal, finally getting a shot on target after twisting and turning in the box, but McLaughlin was on hand to parry for a corner.
Caldwell’s final throw of the dice came with just under a quarter of an hour left, Craig Davies and Will Grigg replacing Le Fondre and Wildschut – could they provide the magic ingredient?
The answer, unfortunately, proved to be no. There was plenty of endeavour in the closing stages but with the visitors content to sit back and soak up pressure, Latics couldn’t find a way through the dogged Brewers’ back line.