Matt McClure’s late strike wasn’t enough as 10-man Wanderers slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Adams Park.Burton striker Billy Kee opened the scoring in the 26th minute, before Charles Dunne was sent-off two minutes into the second half after picking up a second caution.
The visitors took full advantage of their numerical supremacy and Kee added a second from the spot five minutes later.
McClure set up a grandstand finish when he fired low past Jordan Pickford as the game entered injury-time, but the visitors held on for the three points.
Paris Cowan-Hall returned to the Wanderers side for the first time since injuring the medial ligament in his left knee against Mansfield on 17th August, but top scorer Dean Morgan missed out with a nerve problem in his thigh.
Cowan-Hall came in for Max Kretzschmar, who was named on the bench, while Gareth Ainsworth made one further change with Charles Dunne in for the injured Leon Johnson (thigh).
Jon-Paul Pittman was unavailable after tweaking his hamstring, while Steven Craig continued to be sidelined with a viral infection. Josh Scowen featured on the bench after recovering from an ankle injury.
Burton started brightly and saw a lot of the ball early on, but it was the Blues who had the first real chance of the game. The visitors failed to deal with a couple of inviting Wood crosses and the ball fell to Dunne who saw a shot well saved by Jordan Pickford at his near post.
The Brewers called Matt Ingram into action soon after, but Adam McGurk’s curling effort was comfortable for Blues’ No.1 and Damien McCrory then fired inches wide from fully 25 yards.
Matt McClure drilled a low shot wide after an initial strike rebounded kindly to the striker, but both sides were struggling to create any clear-cut chances.
However, the first real opportunity of note was duly taken in the 26th minute. Chris Hussey and Lee Bell combined to find Kee, who turned sharply on the edge of the area and fired into the left-hand corner, giving Ingram no chance.
Wanderers’ best move of the first half came five minutes before the break. The ball was worked to Dunne on the left and his low cross found a sliding-in McClure, however, his goalbound shot was superbly blocked by Shane Cansdell-Sherriff and looped on to the roof of the net.
Ainsworth’s men lacked a real goalscoring threat in the opening period with the Burton centre-back pairing of Cansdell-Sherriff and Ian Sharps winning their battle with McClure and Jo Kuffour.
Blues’ task became even harder two minutes after the restart when Dunne, already on a booking, brought down Phil Edwards to receive a second caution and his marching orders.
And five minutes later that mountain became even steeper. Doherty looked to have dispossessed Kee in the area, but the ball bounced back to the striker, who was then tripped by the centre-back. Kee took the spot-kick and sent Ingram the wrong way to double the away side’s advantage.
Kuffour had a chance to immediately halve the deficit after being picked out by Knott’s pin-point pass, but the forward lobbed over the bar from close-range.
Ingram saved from McGurk when the midfielder should have done better with a free header from Edwards’ cross in the 65th minute.
The keeper came to Blues’ rescue four minutes later when a prolonged spell of Burton passing saw Kee receive the ball in the area and his low shot was superbly tipped wide by Ingram. Edwards then hit the bar from the resulting corner before McGurk blasted the rebound off target.
Ainsworth made three changes in the space of seven minutes, bringing on Scowen, Junior Morias and Kretzschmar in place of Kuffour, Cowan-Hall and Knott.
However, it was the visitors who came closest next when McGurk’s free-kick cleared the wall, but also the bar.
Chairboys were handed a lifeline as the game entered injury-time when Morias’ shot found its way to McClure, who expertly turned in the area and fired low past Pickford, but the visitors held on for the points.
Wanderers: Ingram, McCoy, Dunne, Doherty, Hause, Cowan-Hall (Morias 76), Lewis (c), Knott (Kretzschmar 78), Wood, McClure, Kuffour (Scowen 71).
Subs: Horlock, Stewart, Arnold, Bloomfield.
Burton: Pickford, Edwards, Hussey, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, MacDonald (Palmer 79), Bell (c), Weir, McCrory, McGurk, Kee (Knowles 86)..
Subs: Poole, Diamond, Phillips, Knowles, Symes, Dyer.
Attendance: 3,518 (178 Burton)