22 February 2014
Dave Pursglove and Bill Wheatcroft's match picture album here
Alfreton Town finally managed to stage a home game after seven and a half weeks of inactivity at the Impact Arena, but they were held to only their second home draw of the season by ten-man Gateshead in an absorbing encounter.
An above average crowd witnessed an encounter that seemed to liven up after Phil Turnbull had been sent off for the visitors in the 38th minute, when a crunching tackle on Bradley Wood warranted a second yellow card in twelve minutes.
Andrai Jones, on loan from Barnsley, made a promising debut at right back in place of the injured Chris Westwood, whilst bizarrely midfielder Godfrey Poku was making his first start in front of home fans since playing the first of five away games back on January 4th at Barnet.
It was also striker Shaun Harrad's first opportunity to play on home soil, having been at the club already for four weeks since making his debut at Welling.
Harrad appeared to be bundled over by Gateshead skipper Ben Clark on the edge of the area in Alfreton's first foray in the fourth minute, but no free-kick was forthcoming, then immediately at the other end a Gateshead corner resulted in successive goalmouth clearances by Poku.
Job Ayo Akinde's ninth minute effort was charged down before Josh Law fired inches wide of the back post, then when Akinde's legal challenge left visiting keeper Adam Bartlett flattened, Harrad snatched at the loose ball without realising that he had time and an open goal at his mercy.
A lull in proceedings was punctuated by Dan Bradley's 25th minute pass that sent Akinde racing into the area, but his cross was wasted by Law, then Bradley fired over from 20 yards after Poku had laid back a Law corner.
Bradley played a neat one-two with Jones before seeing his shot diverted off a defender for a corner, then two minutes after Turnbull's dismissal Gateshead were presented with a clear chance when Nick Fenton's error let in James Marwood. However, after a moment of deliberation by the surprised Marwood, keeper Jon Worsnop was able to pounce and palm the ball away from danger, although a fraction either way could have resulted in a red card and an outfield player facing a penalty.
In response Akinde dispossessed James Curtis 25 yards from goal, only to fire just wide, then as play swung back in Gateshead's favour Michael Wylde had to tackle back accurately to halt Marcus Maddison's progress into the area.
In first half stoppage time Harrad was sent through by Wood, with Bartlett pulling off a fine save, but six minutes after the break the Tynesiders nudged ahead after a corner had not been cleared.
Moments earlier Fenton had to turn the ball behind after John Oster's raking cross had posed a threat, but following the set-piece Curtis crossed from the right for Maddison to arrow a strong downward header into the corner of the net to give Gateshead a 51st minute advantage.
Two minutes later huge penalty appeals were waived aside when Connor Franklin's header from a deep Bradley cross appeared to be handled on the line by Craig Baxter, but it was Worsnop who caught the eye again on 56 minutes with a flying save to keep out another goalbound effort from Maddison.
Bartlett needed to be alert to turn aside Harrad's back-heel from Bradley's 59th minute cross, then five minutes later Harrad's shot from Akinde's cross was blocked.
Law blazed high and wide from another useful Bradley delivery, following an astute crossfield pass by Wood, then Wood looped a header just over from 16 yards after Gateshead had failed to deal with a Jones cross.
Franklin sent Akinde to the by-line as Alfreton relentlessly sought an equaliser, with Bartlett smothering the shot at his near post, but a goal was on the horizon and stemmed from Worsnop's clearance in the 71st minute.
The ball reached Akinde on the half-way line and he quickly played substitute Tom Shaw through for his seventh goal of the season, his shot from the edge of the area taking a nick off the flailing Bartlett en route into the net.
Despite manager Nicky Law then throwing Paul Clayton into the mix, as Alfreton went three up front, a winner was not forthcoming as Gateshead shut up shop to nullify every attempt, apart from a thumping curler from the edge of the area by Akinde on 77 minutes that just evaded the angle of crossbar and upright.
Alfreton Town Team:
15 Jon Worsnop
16 Nick Fenton (c)
10 Dan Bradley
07 Josh Law (08 Tom Shaw, 68 mins)
02 Wood (09 Paul Clayton, 72 mins)
05 Michael Wylde
03 Connor Franklin
25 Andrai Jones
23 Godfrey Poku
18 Job Ayo Akinde
24 Shaun Harrad (12 Daniel Meadows, 88 mins)
Substitutes not used:
06 Darran Kempson
20 Jay McFadzean
01 Adam Bartlett
02 Carl Magnay
05 James Curtis
16 Craig Baxter
06 Ben Clark (c)
25 Marcus Maddison (09 Liam Hatch, 81 mins)
11 Micky Cummins
29 John Oster
08 Phil Turnbull
18 James Marwood
14 James Brown (04 Jamie Chandler, 46 mins)
Substitutes not used:
19 Jack Lester
17 Josh Walker
22 Lewis Sirrell
Alfreton Town - Tom Shaw (71)
Gateshead - Marcus Maddison (51)
Alfreton Town - Godfrey Poku (29 mins, foul on James Marwood); Andrai Jones (90, foul on Micky Cummins)
Gateshead - Phil Turnbull (26 mins, foul on Godfrey Poku, and 38 mins, foul on Bradley Wood); Marcus Maddison (32 mins, foul on Jon Worsnop); Carl Magnay (45+3, foul on Dan Bradley); John Oster (55, foul on Bradley Wood).
Gateshead - Phil Turnbull (38 mins,for second cautionable offence)
Man of the Match: Andrei Jones
Referee: Robert Whitton of Braintree