27 September 2014
Dave Pursglove's Match Picture Album here
Alfreton Town manager Nicky Law described their performance at Dover on Saturday as "woeful - we were the worst of two poor teams."
That synopsis cannot be opposed, but the Reds had keeper Cameron Dawson to thank for keeping them in contention whilst missing two gilt-edged chances in the first half themselves.
The long trek to the furthest outpost of Kent, within sight of the French coast, was the longest trip ever undertaken by the club for a league game, overshadowing previous hikes to Gretna and Workington, although not quite matching their FATrophy trek to Weymouth three seasons ago nor their friendly at Newtongrange Star on the Edinburgh borders in 1990.
All that added to a miserable return journey for the Reds, who at least managed to stay above the relegation zone despite being overtaken by Dover on goal difference in the process, although their successful run had ground to a halt.
Joe lronside's incomprehensible miss on 19 minutes was the talking point of the game, the Reds' leading scorer left one-on-one with Andrew Rafferty by Luke Graham's header through but opting to fire straight at the keeper, with Connor Essam preventing Karl Hawley from taking advantage of the loose ball.
Three minutes later Jordan Keane, who had been the only change to the side that had edged through against Nuneaton Town the previous week at the expense of Andi Thanoj, headed over David Mellor's cross from five yards after Tom Shaw had played a short free-kick to Hawley.
Ironside had created the first opening of the game before firing just wide from the edge of the area, then Hawley strode on to Keane's pass to miss by a similar margin from virtually the same spot.
Dover's first attack in the tenth minute ended with the ball in the back of the net, but Stefan Payne had strayed off-side, a further ten minutes elapsing before Dawson needed to parry from Chris Nanetti with Ricky Miller hammering the rebound wide.
Graham slipped at the vital time to let Payne have another sight of goal but Dawson was again equal to the situation to thwart him, the keeper pulling off the best save of the game to prevent Solomon Tiawo's 29th minute free-kick from entering the net.
Matt Lock's attempted lob in the 34th minute could not be allowed to pass without making some reference to his name, Dawson clutching the ball despite its high peak [well try putting Derbyshire Dales into a sentence].
The decisive goal arrived in the 38th minute when Miller was allowed to encroach from the right on a solo run and find the far corner of the net with an unstoppable angled drive.
The second half was largely devoid of reportable action, although Chris Smith made a fantastic goal-line clearance right at the end to deny former Reds' midfielder Nicky Deverdics.
Anthony Howell and Benny Igiehon squandered half-chances, the first on 57 minutes when Hawley's pull-back was chested down by Howell before firing wide from 18 yards, then seven minutes from time Igiehon missed the target from eight yards after Shaw had found the substitute striker through a crowded goalmouth.
Law put a third striker on for the final 18 minutes with Howell making way, but there was no cutting edge to Alfreton's play and Dover fared little better whilst managing to comfortably hang on to their slender advantage.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Cameron Dawson
15 Jordan Keane
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
06 Chris Smith
05 Luke Graham
02 Bradley Wood
12 Tom Shaw
11 Anthony Howell (09 Paul Clayton, 72 mins)
24 David Mellor (21 Andi Thanoj, 57 mins)
18 Joe Ironside (19 Benny Igiehon, 53 mins)
23 Karl Hawley
Substitutes not used:
04 Duane Courtney
17 Massiah McDonald
Dover Athletic Team:
30 Andy Rafferty
06 Richard Orlu
12 Matthew Lock
29 Connor Essam
16 Tyrone Sterling
26 Tom Bonner
02 Craig Stone
20 Christian Nanetti (17 Nicky Deverdics, 84 mins)
28 Solomon Taiwo
27 Ricky Miller (10 Tom Murphy, 78 mins)
14 Stefan Payne (19 Jake Reid, 69 mins)
Substitutes not used:
05 Sean Raggett
04 Chris Kinnear
Dover Athletic - Ricky Miller (38 mins)
Alfreton Town - Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (28, foul on Christian Nanetti), Chris Smith (45+1, foul on Ricky Miller)
Man of the Match: Cameron Dawson
Referee: Stephen Ross of Boston