Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Burton Albion - Pirelli Stadium

Burton Albion FC
Pirelli Stadium
DE13 0AR

01283 565938

Matchday Number: 150
Sunday 8th November 2009
Burton Albion 3-2 Oxford City
FA Cup 1st Round

I had initially planned to visit the Pirelli Stadium in 2005. Wycombe had been knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle at home to Northampton Town. It would prove typical that this was the season I had picked to see if I could do a game in every round of the FA Cup from the Extra Preliminary to the Final. I got quite far, reaching the quarter final but was put off by the £400 price for the FA Cup Semi Final games, that was being offered by a ticket tout website. The rest of that journey will be chronicled elsewhere on this site. Back to the day in question, all was fine until I got up to the Birmingham area, then on the radio it was announced that my intended game - Burton v Burscough, had been called off due to a frozen pitch at the Pirelli Stadium. So other plans were made. It was a toss up between an all non league clash at Nuneaton and Walsall v Yeovil. I am sad to say I chose Walsall, despite having been there, and I never did see a game at Nuneaton's old ground, Manor Park. But my way of thinking must have been different then, and to be fair, the game at Walsall was not bad, in fact it was one of the better ties I saw that season.

So fast forward a few years to season 2009/10. Wycombe were in League One and I still wanted to visit Burton. They had a Sunday game against Oxford City, again in the FA Cup. As I finished work at 12 I decided to go. The journey up was easy enough and as per usual I visited a few grounds on the way up. I was with my mate Paul again and we eventually got to the ground just before 2. As there were no pubs that I could see, we went straight in and were immediately impressed. There was a bar under the terrace, and best of all, a fantastic tea bar. This is the best tea bar that I have seen at any football ground, and I filled by boots as they say. Sausage, Curry Sauce and Chips were followed by Faggots and Mushy Peas, with a couple of pints of Magners to wash it down. Good value and very nice too. The sight of a giantkilling on the TV as Northwich Victoria beat Charlton Athletic got me in the mood for the game.

The game itself was excellent. Plucky Oxford City's FA Cup dream ended in tears as Ryan Austin spared Burton's blushes with a last-gasp goal to snatch a dramatic 3-2 triumph. In the fifth minute of added time, the Southern League side had defender Andy Ballard sent off for a second bookable offence and, from Michael Simpson's free kick, full-back Austin stole in to head the winner off a post. Oxford's part-timers made a dream start by taking the lead after only six minutes when goalkeeper Artur Krysiak allowed an 18-yard shot from former Burton midfielder Michael Alexis to slip through his hands. But the League Two side were back on level terms inside eight minutes courtesy of a Shaun Harrad penalty after the striker had been flattened by City full-back David Perpetuini. Burton's improving play was rewarded by a second goal on the stroke of half-time when Michael Simpson's pass split the Oxford defence for Jacques Maghoma to slip a close-range shot past Richard Knight. But Oxford refused to lie down and fought back to equalise in the 55th minute when midfielder Jamie Brooks powered home a 12-yard header from a Mark Janes cross. But Austin had the final say deep into injury time. The Oxford City fans were delighted that we had come from Wycombe to support them as we went in their end and sang songs about our rivals Oxford United. All in all it was a great day out and an easy journey home too.

I later visited the following season, this time to see my team Wycombe as we had eventually been relegated and found ourselves back in League 2 for season 2010/11. I had had a good day at Burton and was looking forward to going again. This time, the away side came up trumps with Wycombe winning 2-1. The highlight of the game was Gareth Ainsworth's spectacular volley, an excellent way to celebrate his 100th career goal.

THE PIRELLI STADIUM is an unspectacular but very good new ground built around 2005. The stands are all covered and the same height, 3 sides terracing and 1 side seating. A good view will be had from wherever you choose to sit or stand. The biggest let down is the club shop, very small and not much choice. But the previously mentioned excellent tea bar, more than makes up for this.

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