29 March 2014
Dave Pursglove and Bill Wheatcroft's match picture album here
Alfreton Town were pegged back by a late equaliser at home to Nuneaton Town on Saturday, which ousted them from third spot in the Skrill Premier for the first time since beating Wrexham on New Year's Day.
The Reds are still very much in the play-off mix, but despite scoring against their Warwickshire rivals for the first time in five games they were unable to close out for three points.
Manager Nicky Law made three changes from the side defeated at Halifax the previous Monday, Elliott Whitehouse claiming his first start whilst fellow loanees Michael Hoganson and Andrai Jones were recalled at the expense of Godfrey Poku, Connor Franklin and the suspended Paul Clayton.
Alfreton knew that a positive start was needed and that was the case with Shaun Harrad smashing Whitehouse's pass against the crossbar from close range in the fourth minute.
A driven Jones cross that was held by Nuneaton keeper James Belshaw and a hurried clearance by Jordan Cranston from a Hoganson cross had already preceded Harrad's miss, but a lull in the action ensued before David Hibbert fired well wide for the visitors after dispossessing Job Ayo Akinde in the 18th minute.
Nine minutes further on Reds' keeper Jon Worsnop pulled off the first of a handful of crucial saves as Hibbert unleashed a thunderous drive from ten yards in receipt of an Andy Brown cross.
At least that seemed to jolt Alfreton back into attacking mode, Akinde sending Tom Shaw through in the 31st minute to induce a good save from Belshaw, and within 60 seconds the hosts had taken the lead when Akinde slotted the ball inside the keeper's near post from 16 yards after running on to a Bradley Wood pass.
Brown and Cranston wasted decent chances for Nuneaton either side of the interval, then on 56 minutes Worsnop needed to save Brown's header from former Alfreton defender Theo Streete's free-kick.
A minute later though Brown looked certain to score with a powerful downward header from Streete's deep cross, but once again Worsnop parried before smothering the loose ball as Brown followed up.
At this stage Nuneaton were turning the screw and it needed a deflection behind to prevent Streete succeeding with a 25 yard screamer, but a quick response saw Akinde put Harrad through only for Cranston to block.
It was Akinde's turn to have a strong header pushed behind by the keeper from Hoganson's 63rd minute corner, then six minutes later Worsnop had to beat out Daniel Sleath's long range effort.
Alfreton held on to their advantage until the 84th minute, but Streete's long raking throw was allowed to bobble around the area until James Armson smashed it low past Worsnop from ten yards to level the score.
The Reds tried to regain the lead without success, although substitute Daniel Meadows came mighty close in the fifth minute of added time when his close range header from a Hoganson corner was scrambled off the line amidst a forest of legs.
Alfreton Town Team:
15 Jon Worsnop
07 Josh Law
21 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
16 Nick Fenton (c) (06 Darran Kempson, 62 mins)
26 Michael Hoganson
02 Bradley Wood
08 Tom Shaw (12 Daniel Meadows, 87 mins)
25 Andrai Jones
27 Elliott Whitehouse
18 Job Ayo Akinde
24 Shaun Harrad (10 Dan Bradley, 74 mins)
Substitutes not used:
03 Connor Franklin
01 Joe Wildsmith (GK)
Nuneaton Town Team:
19 James Belshaw
05 Gareth Dean (c)
04 Gavin Cowan
21 Jordan Cranston
11 Theo Streete
13 Danny Sleath
20 Phil Trainer (08 Jon Adams, 72 mins)
07 James Armson
16 Wesley York (09 Louis Moult, 55 mins)
10 Andy Brown
26 David Hibbert
Substitutes not used:
06 Adam Walker
15 Delroy Gordon
17 Connor Taylor
Alfreton Town - Job Ayo Akinde (32). Nuneaton Town - James Armson (84).
Nuneaton Town -James Armson (52, foul on Elliott Whitehouse), Jordan Cranston (66, foul on Elliott Whitehouse)
Attendance breakdown: 789 including 137 from Nuneaton
Man of the Match: Jon Worsnop
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth of Doncaster