Burton Albion’s alternative use of sports science to deny Portsmouth late winner

Burton keeper Dimitar Evtimov deals with a Pompey high ball into the box
Burton keeper Dimitar Evtimov deals with a Pompey high ball into the box
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Burton Albion took an unusual step to thwart Pompey at Fratton Park on Tuesday night.

Conscious of the Blues’ potential to snatch a late winner in the League One encounter that finished 2-2, Brewers boss Nigel Clough threw on one of his own coaching staff as a 93rd-minute substitute to help deal with any last-gasp pressure.

Thirty-four-year-old Chris Breadsley joined Burton as a fitness coach and sports scientist in July 2016.

The one-time striker played for the likes of Mansfield, Stevenage and Preston North End during a career spanning 14 years.

But his last game came in a League Two 2-1 defeat for the Stags against Hartlepool during the 2015-16 season – two-and-a-half years ago.

He’s been on Clough’s coaching staff since then, but was registered as a player back in August when Burton were struggling to name a full bench.

And with the Brewers facing a late, late corner at the Fratton End on Tuesday, his six-foot frame was deemed the perfect foil to deny Kenny Jackett’s side a third goal from a cross into the box.

Explaining his decision to bring on Beardsley for Jamie Allen, Clough told Derbyshire Live: ‘It was just to head it, that was it.

‘Because we'd already conceded from one and a cross as well, and that's their main threat.

‘We'd been through all the goals they'd scored, and it's a huge threat from set plays.

‘So he was the only one left on the staff that's over six foot.

‘We couldn't see Marcus Harness, Elliot Hodge or Joe Sbarra coming on, unless they go on each other's shoulders, we couldn't see them making a real difference in our penalty area.

‘So just putting another man on there, that was the thinking.’

Oli Hawkins scored from a Ben Thompson cross into the box to give the Blues a half-time lead against Burton.

Two quick-fire goals at the start of the second half handed the visitors an unlikely lead, before Matt Clarke headed home from a Gareth Evans corner just before the hour mark to ensure Pompey a share of the spoils.