BURTON 0-0 WALSALLWalsall remain fourth in League One after playing out an uninspiring goalless draw against table-topping Burton.
Both sides cancelled each other out for long periods of a cagey, error-strewn encounter, with clear-cut chances at a premium.
The Saddlers created the clearer openings, with Romaine Sawyers, Paul Downing and Jason Demetriou each testing home keeper Jon McLaughlin.
Stuart Beavon and Mason Bennett had Burton’s best opportunities but the visitors defended stoutly to record a first league clean sheet of 2016.
A draw means Walsall remain in fourth place, six points behind league leaders Burton.
Sean O’Driscoll made one change to his side, with the fit-again James O’Connor replacing Matt Preston, who dropped to the bench.
This was only the second competitive meeting between the two teams.
After a scrappy start, Burton registered the game’s first attempt inside ten minutes when Damien McCrory fired a 25-yard effort harmlessly wide.
Walsall responded with Tom Bradshaw hooking an improvised volley into the arms of McLaughlin from Milan Lalkovic’s cross.
Nigel Clough’s Brewers threatened on 23 minutes, with Beavon turning James O’Connor before seeing a shot deflected behind off Paul Downing.
A cagey and uneventful game began to open up around the half-hour mark, with good chances coming at both ends.
First, Calum Butcher’s perfectly-weighted defence-splitting pass set Derby loanee Bennett racing in behind the Walsall defence.
But the midfielder took too long to pull the trigger, allowing a combination of Demetriou and visiting keeper Neil Etheridge to snuff out the danger.
And then, Anthony Forde's long ball was headed down by Bradshaw to Sawyers, whose effort was smothered by the onrushing McLaughlin.
Walsall went close again five minutes before half-time.
Forde’s corner found the unmarked Downing who fired an effort goalwards but McLaughlin did well to tip the ball over the bar from close range.
HALF-TIME: BURTON 0-0 WALSALL
The second half began in a similarly cagey and scrappy manner, with plenty of passes going astray.
Burton threatened on 57 minutes, as Beavon tricked his way past Downing and Demetriou before arrowing a low right-footed drive into the side-netting.
Butcher was next to try his luck with an angled strike from inside the penalty area which was well blocked by the sliding Downing.
At the other end, Mantom – the scorer of a sensational half-volley against Wigan last weekend – fired well over from around 30 yards.
In a match of precious few chances, Walsall had a big opportunity to take the lead on 70 minutes.
Sawyers spread the ball out to Demetriou, who burst into the area and poked goalwards but McLaughlin saved with his legs.
Neither team looked likely to find a winner in the closing stages.
Burton’s Akins headed straight at Etheridge from McCrory’s whipped set-piece, while Beavon saw penalty appeals waved away.
Substitute Kieron Morris sliced well wide for the Saddlers after good link-up play involving Sawyers and Sam Mantom, as the match finished scoreless.
FULL-TIME: BURTON 0-0 WALSALL
Team: Etheridge, Demetriou, Taylor, O’Connor, Downing, Chambers, Mantom, Bradshaw, Sawyers, Forde (Kieron Morris 77’), Lalkovic.
Subs not used: Roberts, Henry, Preston, Flanagan, Cook, Bryn Morris.