Burton 0-0 Norwich: Albion drop into bottom three
By Press Association
Last Updated: 30/12/17 7:26pm
Burton Albion will start 2018 in the Championship's bottom three after a goalless draw with Norwich City was not enough to prevent Nigel Clough's side dropping into it.
Chances were few and far between with Tom Naylor twice unable to beat Angus Gunn and Alex Pritchard going closest for the Canaries. Albion dominated long periods of the first half but without seriously troubling Gunn in the Norwich goal.
Burton came flying out of the traps and headed chances from both Kyle McFadzean and Naylor, looking for his third goal in as many games, went begging.
Naylor's was the closest Albion would come in the opening 45 minutes. An angled ball into the box was helped back into the middle by Ben Turner and Naylor was unable to steer his effort, on the stretch, wide enough of Gunn who reacted superbly to push the ball away.
Norwich looked vulnerable at the back and Albion almost exploited that when midfielder Harrison Reed became something of a passenger after picking up a knock. Burton raided forward with Naylor only finding the side netting from the edge of the penalty area.
When Norwich did manage to get themselves forward they had shouts for a penalty when left-back James Husband went to ground in the box but referee Robert Jones pulled out a yellow card, instead ruling that there had been no contact from Lucas Akins' challenge.
Stephen Bywater twice had to punch clear of his goal to deny Mario Vrancic in rare moments of danger on the Burton goal in the opening half.
Second-half chances were few and far between as the game descended into a scrappy affair in the increasingly windy conditions. Lucas Akins scooped a good chance over the bar for Albion in the opening exchanges with Wes Hoolahan also failing to make an early breakthrough having been played in behind the Burton defence.
Both sides were cancelling each other out and it was only when Daniel Farke introduced substitutes Pritchard and James Maddison that they looked more of a threat.
Pritchard saw a free-kick deflected over the bar after his fellow replacement had been brought down 30 yards out and the former Tottenham youngster forced a save from Bywater, drifting in from the left and trying to curl a precise right-footer into the far corner.
Albion substitute Joe Sbarra forced Gunn into a save from a rising effort as time began to run out for both sides and Tom Flanagan was not quite able to force home the rebound.
Nigel Clough: "[The run] should have been over on Boxing Day and in a few games before that but the longer it goes the harder it gets. To get a first clean sheet here in nine months in the league is good but it was, in no way, a negative performance today.
"The game should have been over in the first 20 minutes for us. We had two good chances in the first five minutes with Tom Naylor and Sean Scannell and it summed it up when we had one cleared off the line by our own player."
Daniel Farke: "It was a risk and a bit of a gamble today. We did not have that many options, though. Several players made their first appearances in a while against Birmingham and it is not possible for them all to play two games in three days, otherwise we would be risking injuries.
"In this situation you have to gamble a bit and the only question was whether to make many changes in this game or perhaps in the next home game against Millwall."