22 October 2016
Alfreton Town needed a late, late winner to overcome Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday, despite establishing a comfortable two-goal advantage at Bower Fold by half-time.
Both sides had early chances before Craig Westcarr's sublime finish after home keeper Tony McMillan had dropped Tom Allan's 19th minute through-ball at his feet on the edge of the area, although a difficult angle still needed to be negotiated by the Reds' leading scorer.
The much travelled keeper was having a nightmare, offering Sam Smith a similar opportunity in the 38th minute when he failed to deal with a Ryan Wilson pass down the left flank, the striker desperately unlucky as his shot was repelled by the near post.
Lessons had clearly not been learned by the Tameside strugglers though and when McMillan raced well out of goal to try to hack clear a through-ball from Terry Kennedy on the stroke of half-time the keeper was beaten in the race by Smith, whose lob this time bounced into the net from nigh on 30 yards out.
There had been a let-off for the Reds on 32 minutes when Brian Summerskill found the back of net, only to be denied by a raised flag, but generally Alfreton had dominated the opening 45 minutes.
That certainly was not the case after the break, although Westcarr was denied a 49th minute goal by the underside of the crossbar after running on to an Andy Monkhouse pass, Stalybridge belying their lowly position by pushing forward relentlessly.
They were rewarded in the 53rd minute when Aidan Chippendale's shot was diverted past Fabian Spiess by Scott Spencer's outstretched leg, then 12 minutes later Chippendale fired home an angled drive after an unchecked run to draw the teams level at 2-2.
Spiess needed to be at his best as Celtic continued to press, pulling off top-drawer saves from Chippendale in the 71st minute and Liam Dickinson with five minutes remaining, but crucial late changes for Alfreton added more fire-power up front in the closing stages.
On many occasions this season Alfreton have suffered from a late goal, but this time around they benefited from one, Adam Priestley thumping Monkhouse's tee-up past McMillan from 12 yards after George Edmundson's ferocious drive had been parried by the keeper and Liam Hearn's follow-up had swerved towards Monkhouse.
Alfreton Town Team:
Spiess; Mantack, McGowan, Edmundson, Kennedy, Wilson, Nyoni, Monkhouse, Allan [Priestley 75], Westcarr [Clayton 80], S.Smith [Hearn 75].
other subs: Heaton, Marshall.
Stalybridge Celtic Team:
McMillan; Morton, Mather, Ryan, Wisdom, McKnight [Chalmers 86], Summerskill, Gee, Dickinson, Spencer [Wilkins 60], Chippendale [Oyibo 89].
other subs: Toner, Owens.
Referee: Anthony Tankard [Sheffield]