Burton Albion 2 Crawley Town 1

The midfielder struck with an 81st minute header to deny spirited Crawley a point in their bid to drag themselves off the foot of the table.

Aaron Webster headed Burton in front in the 39th minute, but Dannie Bulman set up a tense finish with a 68th minute equaliser.

Albion lined up with the team that started at Rushden on Saturday, while the Reds were without injured strikers Ben Strevens and Jake Edwards and relied on Scott Rendell as their lone frontman.

Daryl Clare was quick to threaten his former team-mates, turning neatly on the edge of the area to force a low save from Ben Hamer after Shaun Harrad and Andy Corbett had linked to make the opening.

Crawley found themselves pegged back in the early stages, Webster joining the attack to have a shot blocked before an angled drive from Andy Ducros was deflected away for a corner by the head of Michael Bostwick.

Burton produced another incisive move in the 13th minute when Clare cleverly stepped over Corbett's pass, who continued his run into the box only to lose control of Harrad's lay-off.

Unusually, Clare blazed a 10-yard shot too high after the Reds had struggled to deal with Ducros' corner.

Jamie Lovegrove's determined break on the left helped to relieve the pressure but Crawley's first serious attempt on goal ended with Bulman firing wide from the edge of the area.

The Reds went much closer to stealing the lead in the 23rd minute when David Woozley rose to head a Lee Blackburn free-kick and forced a smart save from Burton's veteran keeper Kevin Poole.

Poole then dealt comfortably with Bulman's long-range volley as the visitors began to establish a more secure foothold.

The impressively hard-working Blackburn latched on to Rendell's lay-off in the 37th minute, but saw his powerful right-foot effort flash wide from the edge of the area.

However, it was the Brewers that broke the deadlock in the 38th minute after Ducros had been fouled on the left by Scott Hiley.

The midfielder took the free-kick himself and, in a repeat of the opening goal at Rushden on Saturday, Webster climbed the highest to plant a 10-yard header inside the far post.

Bulman was too high with an ambitious long-range volley at the start of the second half, before Poole twice stood in the way of a Crawley equaliser.

The 43-year-old keeper produced a full-length save to keep out Rendell's searing 20-yard shot in the 50th minute, and then showed age-defying reactions to fingertip the ball on to the crossbar after skipper Ben Judge had met Blackburn's corner with a firm header.

Webster led a Burton counter-attack, but Hamer was well-positioned to hold Harrad's shot from the edge of the area.

The Brewers had recovered from their shaky spell, but Gary Rowett spoiled a promising move by hammering Webster's pass out of the ground.

The Reds brought on Tony Scully to pep up their attack, but it was the hard-working Lovegrove who set up the equaliser. He drove a low cross from the left and Bulman slid in to bundle the ball inside the near post.

But Burton roared back to regain the lead with a superbly fashioned goal in the 81st minute.

Clare and Corbett linked superbly to allow Rowett to the make the overlap and the full-back's cross was perfectly measured for Stride to head emphatically past Hamer.