A second-half penalty from Lucas Akins was the difference between the two sides as Town signed off 2015 with a 1-0 defeat at Burton Albion.
Town had chances of their own but it was the Brewers who were able to find the net and claim all three points at the Pirelli Stadium.
Martin Ling was forced into making one change to his starting XI. With Rapha Branco serving a suspension, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill was restored to the line-up with Jordan Turnbull shuffling across from left-back to make way and to partner Adam El-Abd at the heart of the defence. Jeremy Balmy and Lee Marshall took their place among the substitutes.
Both teams came flying out of the blocks and contributed to an entertaining first forty-five. Lawrence Vigouroux was called into action twice early on. Firstly, he stood up brilliantly to keep out a one-on-one opportunity before throwing himself to his left to push away a snapshot from the edge of the area.
Town were also creating chances – Nicky Ajose took a touch to steady himself before seeing his shot well saved by Brewers ‘keeper, Jon McLaughlin. The home side’s stopper would have a busy period over the next twenty minutes. He reacted superbly to tip over Fabien Robert’s curling, goal-bound effort then got down well to hold Ormonde-Ottewill’s shot. The ‘keeper kept out Robert once again shortly after producing a magnificent stop to keep the scores level. Ormonde-Ottewill’s cross was touched goalwards by a red shirt at the far post and McLaughlin reacted magnificently to reach behind him and claw the ball over the crossbar.
Louis Thompson also fired wide before the half was over.
Early in the second half, Robert’s neat lofted pass was brought under control by Nicky Ajose in the box but before he could shoot, the Brewers’ defence saw out the danger.
Burton then went close when a header flashed across the face of goal. With fifteen minutes to play a tussle in box between Jordan Turnbull and Stuart Beavon ended with the former tripping the latter and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Substitute, Lucas Akins stepped up to the spot-kick and sent Vigouroux the wrong way.
The hosts could have doubled their lead shortly afterwards but Vigouroux was perfectly placed to make a tremendous stop from close range.
Town rallied as time ticked away but found McLaughlin in fine form. With minutes left, James Brophy’s low cross picked out Obika in the box but the striker’s first-time hook goalwards was blocked by a Burton defender.