28 December 2015
Match picture album by kind courtesy of the Mansfield CHAD here
Alfreton Town can count themselves desperately unfortunate not to claim maximum points against Vanarama National League North leaders Solihull Moors yesterday, the visitors relying on last minute equalisers in each half.
Maintaining the same line-up that had won 48 hours earlier at Tamworth the Reds played some solid, confident football and would have won but for those two lapses of concentration at vital times.
Sam Smith gave Alfreton the lead for the second successive game, this time in the 23rd minute, finishing off a slick move from close range after Sam Jones' perseverance on the left had allowed Dan Bradley to fire from the edge of the area, the scorer on hand to steer the ball past visiting keeper Ben Siegrist.
Solihull's equaliser arrived in the 45th minute when Darryl Knights was able to stab the ball past Matt Duke from six yards after Gareth Dean had pushed forward on the left and provided the telling cross.
Alfreton were back in front by the 75th minute, thanks to a sublime pass from Niall Heaton that sent Tom Allan scampering down the left flank, where his bye-line run was ended with the clearest of trips by bemused Moors defender Michael Nottingham.
Reds' skipper Bradley remained cool, calm and collected to send Siegrist the wrong way from the penalty spot, and at that stage it was nothing more than Alfreton deserved.
It would be difficult to criticise the 90th minute equaliser, which was impossible to defend, apart from the initial header from Ryan Beswick that bounced down off the underside of the crossbar, his follow-up shot then cannoning back on to the bar before James Armson headed home from the closest of ranges.
The visitors had started the game on the front foot with both Akwasi Asanti and Nottingham going close, but an outstanding move in the 17th minute had the Alfreton contingent buzzing with anticipation.
Jones embarked on a determined central run before smashing the ball against the foot of the post, then Bradley followed up with a shot that Siegrist parried before his subsequent shot was blocked by Paul Bignot for a corner.
Three minutes before the opening goal a towering header from Brad McGowan from a Joe Leesley corner went agonisingly close, then in the 39th minute Lindon Meikle had his angled drive blocked from another good Jones cross.
Nine minutes after the break Meikle had another shot blocked, this time by Liam Daly, then shortly afterwards Smith's effort was repelled by Theo Streete, before Jones slipped at the vital moment when in receipt of a Meikle pass.
Siegrist had to beat away Bradley's angled drive at his near post with 66 minutes elapsed, then Heaton and Andi Thanoj both had attempts blocked in the minutes before Alfreton regained the lead.
Asanti went close for Solihull with a dipping shot from the edge of the area in the 82nd minute, but an immediate response from the Reds saw Allan's back post volley cleared off the line after Leesley had won a left-wing corner.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Matt Duke
02 Cliff Moyo
03 Niall Heaton
04 Brad McGowan
05 Niall Heaton
06 Tom Allan
07 Joe Leesley
08 Andi Thanoj
09 Sam Jones (Todd Jordan, 81 mins)
10 Dan Bradley
11 Sam Smith (Jamie Jackson, 75 mins)
Substitutes not used:
Fabian Spiess (GK)
Solihull Moors Team:
01 Ben Siegrist
02 Michael Nottingham [Andy Brown, 80 mins]
03 Paul Bignot [Steven Leslie, 64 mins]
04 Liam Daly
05 Theo Streete
06 Gareth Dean
07 Stefan Moore
08 Jack Byrne [James Armson, 80 mins]
09 Akwasi Asanti
10 Ryan Beswick
11 Darryl Knights
Substitutes not used:
Alfreton Town - Sam Smith (23), Dan Bradley (73, penalty)
Solihull Moors - Darryl Knights (45), James Armson (90)
Alfreton: Jones [59th] foul on Bignot
Solihull: Daly [88th] foul on Jackson
Man of the Match: Sam Jones
Referee: Anthony Tankard of Sheffield