13 April 2013
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
Alfreton Town lost their final away game of the Blue Square Bet Premier season in farcical conditions on Saturday, after securing a third campaign at this exalted level with two wins in midweek.
Newport County's rain-soaked Rodney Parade, which also plays host to the local rugby union side, was virtually unplayable and the game was in serious doubt up until 30 minutes before the scheduled kick-off.
Torrential rain in South Wales had affected the pitch and there can be no doubt that this game would have been postponed had it been any earlier in the season, but thankfully for the travelling contingent common sense prevailed and a return journey on Thursday evening was avoided.
However, the kick-off had to be delayed by ten minutes when it was discovered that one set of goalposts were higher than the other, and adjustments were made more difficult for groundstaff by the soggy surrounds.
Newport adapted better to the awful conditions, yet first blood seemed to have been drawn by the Reds when Ben Tomlinson ran on to Nathan Arnold's third minute lofted pass only to see his "goal" ruled out for a contentious off-side decision.
Andy Sandell fired high over from ten yards for Newport as he failed to find a firm footing when Conor Washington's cross left him with the goal at his mercy, then in similar circumstances Ismail Yakubu shot tamely at Jordan Pickford after Jordan Rose had been unable to clear Robbie Willmott's eighth minute cross.
Pickford turned a rasping drive from Washington over four minutes later, then the Reds' keeper raced out of goal to block as Washington played Michael Flynn through.
Rose headed just wide from six yards from Josh Law's 26th minute free-kick, then Arnold played Tomlinson to the by-line before Tony James headed behind for a corner.
Tomlinson returned the compliment in the 30th minute, sending Arnold through before Newport keeper Lenny Pidgeley blocked with his legs, then back at the other end Alex Gilby's cross was scooped over from six yards by Washington.
Willmott's 40th minute cross led to Washington's shot being blocked by Theo Streete, but Alfreton fell behind as the first half entered stoppage time when Christian Jolley squeezed the ball past Pickford from an angle after being put through by Washington following a swift break down the right.
Daniel Meadows fired over from 22 yards on the hour for the Reds, then Dan Bradley latched on to a poor Pidgeley clearance only for the keeper to recover as he nodded Clayton through.
A nervous Pidgeley then needed two attempts to hold Arnold's low drive, but with a quarter of the game remaining the hosts doubled their advantage after Pickford had punched behind a venomous Willmott free-kick.
Sandell swung the corner in from the right and Byron Anthony headed home at the back post, with the goal allowed to stand despite Bradley appearing to be pushed out of the way by the scorer.
Connor Franklin's 71st minute effort was held by Pidgeley, the keeper also collecting a low drive by Louie Soares from Arnold's pass, then Aaron O'Connor splashed through the mud to brush aside Streete before seeing his shot cannon off Pickford's outstretched leg.
A deep free-kick from Rose needed to be turned behind by Pidgeley, then Soares flashed a header wide in added time from a Law free-kick as the game petered out and County began to prepare for the play-offs while Alfreton can be proud to have survived a second season in the Conference Premier.
Alfreton Town Team:
22 Jordan Pickford
02 Josh Law
06 Darran Kempson
10 Dan Bradley
16 Jordan Rose
17 Theo Streete
14 Daniel Meadows
18 Steven Hewitt (03 Connor Franklin, 69 mins)
09 Paul Clayton (08 Louie Soares, 62 mins)
11 Nathan Arnold
21 Ben Tomlinson (04 Alastair Taylor, 62 mins)
Substitute not used:
01 Phil Barnes
Newport County AFC Team:
40 Lenny Pidgeley
02 David Pipe
03 Andrew Hughes
05 Tony James
06 Ismail Yakubu (21 Byron Anthony, 54 mins)
13 Andy Sandell
23 Christian Jolley (07 Aaron O'Connor, 69 mins)
17 Michael Flynn
30 Alex Gilbey (26 Scott Donnelly, 77 mins)
24 Robbie Willmott
25 Conor Washington
Substitutes not used:
1 Alan Julian
27 Rhys Griffiths
Newport County - Christian Jolley 45, Byron Anthony 67
Man of the Match: Jordan Pickford
Referee: Kevin Johnson of Weston super Mare