01 January 2017
Alfreton Town began 2017 with a win when they entertained AFC Telford United on New Year's Day, although they twice led by two goals before having to rely upon goalkeeper Ross Etheridge to keep them in the driving seat.
There is a bizarre symmetry about matches between the two sides. The Reds having recorded 3-2 victories twice in the last three seasons, with Telford reversing the same scoreline last year, yet at their Shropshire venue goals are at a premium with only five in total in the same period.
Red's manager Nicky Law made four changes from the Boxing Day clash between the two teams, which ended in a 1-1 draw, opting to play Craig Westcarr and Mark Shelton up front with three strikers on the bench, whilst there was an encouraging debut at right back for new signing Brad Gascoigne.
Much of Sunday's game revolved around penalty decisions, once Shelton had given Alfreton a 17th minute lead with a cool finish from just inside the area after running on to Paul Marshall's through ball.This was his third goal for the Reds following on from his brace at Belper Town in the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Matshall then forced his way into the area before being brought down by Telford's Josh Wilson for the first of the spot kicks in the 34th minute. Westcarr thumped the ball past keeper James Montgomery to put Alfreton 2-0 up.
Within 90 seconds of the re-start referee Anthony Tankard spotted a push on John-Paul Kissock, with Wilson atoning for his previous error by drilling the resultant penalty past Etheridge to make the score 2-1.
Maybe the official felt there had been a fair enough quota of penalty awards already, when he decided to ignore the clearest claim of all, four minutes before the interval, with Ben O'Hanlon overtly tripping Kallam Mantack inside the area.
However the Reds restored their two goal lead in the 44th minute when Marshall slotted home his first goal for the club from 14 yards in receipt of a superb cross from Westcarr.
Clearly the spot kicks had not been exhausted, although the referee had little choice but to award Telford a second penalty three minutes into the second half after Etheridge brought down Bradley Reid after initially making a save at the striker's feet.
Up stepped Wilson with an air of confidence, but this time he hit the left hand upright, leaving the Bucks no nearer reducing the arears.
Weak finishing by Shelton and Ryan Wilsaon failed to add to Alfreton's tally before Kissock set up an anxiety filled finale with a deflected shot that sailed past Etheridge from 25 yards in the final minute of normal time.
Four minutes into added-on time the Red's keeper pulled off a dramatic double save to prevent Reid and Danny Reynolds from snatching the equaliser and there was still time for Telford's Ben Bailey to receive his marching orders for a second yellow card.
Alfreton Town Team:
Alfreton Town : Etheridge, Mantack, Heaton,Jordan, McGowan, Gascoigne, Monkhouse, Shelton, Marshall, Ryan Wilson, Westcarr (Hearn 88)
Subs : Clayton, Nyoni, Priestley, Speiss
AFC Telford United Team:
AFC Telford United : Montgomery, Samuels, O'Hanlon ( McCone 64) , Bailey, Havern, Rea, Kissock, Josh Wilson, Reid, Hibbert ( McCarthy h/t), Hodge (Reynolds 74)
Subs : Broome, Cowan
Referee: Anthony Tankard