Carlisle United suffered late heartbreak on Wednesday evening as they took everything which was thrown at them until a volley from Johnstone, 8 minutes into time added on, left them with just the one point to show for their efforts.
United were handed the first chance of the evening when a shove in the back on Asamoah brought a free kick which Danny Grainger moved across to take. He struck it well and McLaughlin had no chance as it flew over the wall and into the top corner.
Burton went straight on to the front foot and a free kick delivery from the right flank spun off O'Hanlon and behind for a corner. A half clearance from that set piece was sent back into the danger area but Johnstone couldn't get any power on his header and Gillespie was able to gather.
Both sides were reduced to ten men when O'Hanlon and Johnstone left the pitch for stitches to head wounds, following a clash inside the box, and a further collision between Brough and McGurk left them with just eight outfield players each as more treatment was needed.
Burton struggled to get their game going and their frustration was summed up when Beavon took matters into his own hands when he drilled a poor shot wide from distance. The hosts were close on 24 minutes, though, when a Palmer inswinger was cleared to Weir. He went for a first time volley and was unlucky to see it whisk just over the bar.
The home pressure mounted and Gillespie had to spread himself to make a close range block when Edwards arrived late at the back stick. His header had power and the United stopper had to move smartly to make the block.
El Khayati was next to go close when he swiped an instinctive shot over the target, and the same player wound his way through three challenges only to shank his shot when his big moment came.
The Brewers thought they'd equalised on 34 minutes when Naylor jumped high to meet a lobbed cross. Gillespie was beaten but Grainger had retreated and he was able to make a timely clearance off the line. A scramble followed as Kennedy and O'Hanlon blocked from Beavon, but McCrory was there to keep the pressure on when he skipped in from the left. A curler from the outside of his boot smashed into the base of the upright and Naylor was wayward as he stabbed the rebound wide.
United brought some relief when Dempsey and Atkinson passed their way out from the back, and Asamoah took over with some calm play which allowed Beck to get up in support. The cross needed a touch but the big striker was muscled out of the way and it bobbled harmlessly wide.
Palmer and Weir had half chances which went right at the keeper, and Naylor twice went close in time added on, first with a header that flew over the bar and then with a glancing effort which sped across the face of the empty target.
United almost struck a second blow immediately after the restart when a Grainger corner bent wickedly. McLaughlin had to dive back towards his own line as he stretched to make the clearing punch.
Burton picked up the attacking momentum again but Naylor and Beavon failed to find a way through despite the patient approach to the build up.
Carlisle survived appeals for a penalty when Beavon tumbled in possession, but a foul on Naylor moments later brought a free kick right on the edge of the box. Palmer drilled that at the top corner and Gillespie received pats on the back all round as he somehow leaped across to make a fantastic one-handed save.
El Kahayati spun and volleyed to find the side netting as Burton camped forward, and Stewart wasted another opening when he smashed a high shot into the stands. Beavon jinked and twisted as he tried to make things happen, but he lost his balance as he shot and Gillespie dropped low to gather.
A man of the match performance from Gillespie brought another superb save late in the day when he tipped a swirling El Khayati shot behind for a corner. Edwards popped an unmarked header over the bar from the corner which followed, and Carlisle regrouped to deal with every ball to enter their box.
Gillespie confirmed his hero status when he saved a McCrory penalty following a Kennedy trip deep into time added on, but it was late heartbreak when another cross wasn't properly cleared and Johnstone pounced to sweep it home.
Burton - Johnstone (98)
United - Grainger (2)
United - Buddle (69), Young (90)
Burton Albion - McLaughlin, Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Mousinho, Weir, McRory, Naylor (Stewart 64), McGurk (Beavon 18), El Khayati, Palmer (Maynard 80), Johnstone. Subs - Shearer, Taft, Akins, Slade.
Carlisle United - Gillespie, Young, O'Hanlon (Buddle 37), Atkinson, Grainger, Brough, Dicker (Potts 67), Kennedy, Dempsey, Asamoah, Beck (Rigg 46). Subs - Hanford, Paynter, Griffith, Corry.
Referee - Mr Mark Haywood
Attendance - 3,892 (tbc away fans)