10 August 2013
Bill Wheatcroft's Dartford match picture album can be viewed here
Alfreton Town began the new Skrill Premier season with a solitary goal defeat in Kent, the third successive time they have lost their opening day away game since being promoted.
Six new players kicked off for the Reds, with two more introduced later in the game, so it was never expected that they would gel instantly, but an organised performance gave the travelling contingent hope for the new season.
Josh Law wasted an eighth minute free-kick after Matt Fry had impeded Dan Bradley, then Law almost atoned by running on to Bradley Wood's through-ball but Dartford keeper Alan Julian gathered at his near post despite fumbling.
Both sides looked nervous and Lee Noble squandered a free-kick after Nick Fenton had caught Max Cornhill on the edge of the area, then there was a similar outcome at the other end after Paul Clayton had been pushed in the back by Mat Mitchel-King.
A glancing header from Jason Prior on the half-hour mark was the prelude to the first shot by either side on target three minutes later when new Reds' keeper Atkins saved Noble's effort from 20 yards.
The goal on 42 minutes was an unfortunate one to concede as on-loan Gillingham striker Adam Birchall flicked the ball past Chris Westwood on the by-line before beating Atkins at his near post.
Alfreton thought they had fought back instantly, with Clayton squeezing Law's pass beyond Julian - however a fifth off-side decision of the first half against the Reds curtailed celebrations.
Two minutes after the break Atkins blocked as Birchall broke free, then on 57 minutes Atkins saved again from the same player.
Tom Shaw's near-post header on 63 minutes was turned behind from Daniel Meadows' astute cross, then when Bradley chipped the ball up from the edge of the area Clayton pulled his shot wide from six yards.
Prior missed the easiest chance for the hosts on 65 minutes from Birchall's cross, then Shaw fired wide from a Clayton tee-up.
Law then dragged his shot across the face of goal as Alfreton continued to press without directly testing Julian, then Bradley's cross from wide left at last forced the keeper to make a save.
A deep cross from latest signing, substitute Danny Wishart in the 80th minute saw Clayton head wide, then Julian saved low to his left from Wishart's angled drive as the clock ran down.
Two chances at either end in added time failed to alter the score-line with Birchall's shot blocked by Westwood before Clayton's pull-back led to a Law corner with Westwood heading wide.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Ross Atkins
02 Bradley Wood
03 Connor Franklin
04 Chris Westwood
07 Josh Law
10 Dan Bradley
16 Nick Fenton
08 Tom Shaw (Kristian Ramsey-Dickson, 82 mins)
12 Daniel Meadows (Daniel Wishart, 73 mins)
17 John McGrath
09 Paul Clayton
Substitutes not used:
05 Michael Wylde
06 Darran Kempson
14 Alastair Taylor
01 Alan Julian
05 Kenny Clark
14 Mat Mitchell-King
19 Matt Fry (James Rogers, 51 mins)
06 Max Cornhill
08 Lee Noble
10 Elliot Bradbrook
20 Lee Burns
07 Ryan Hayes (Alex Woodyard, 90 mins)
09 Jason Prior (Danny Harris, 75 mins)
16 Adam Birchall
Substitutes not used:
24 Tom Wellham
15 Nathan Collier
11 Danny Harris
Goal: Adam Birchall (Dartford) 42 mins
Bookings: Dartford - James Rogers (70, foul on Danny Meadows)
Man of the Match: Nick Fenton
Referee: Colin Lymer of Basingstoke