11 August 2012
Dave Pursglove's Stockport County match picture album here
Alfreton Town may have fallen to an opening day defeat in their Blue Square Bet Premier encounter at Edgeley Park on Saturday, but it was a positive performance from the Reds with several chances created, albeit none taken.
Manager Nicky Law introduced six new players during the course of the 90 minutes as keeper Phil Barnes produced a string of brilliant saves, Simon Russell and Dan Bradley added strength to the midfield and Ben Tomlinson linked well with Iyesden Christie up front.
Christie was withdrawn at half-time, but there was a late cameo role for remaining debutant Tom Denton to show his aerial skills after replacing Tomlinson with 14 minutes of the game left.
Just 50 seconds had elapsed when journeyman Christie curled a shot around the back post after Nathan Arnold had kept the ball in play close to the right-hand corner flag.
Then next minute Christie popped up again only to scoop the ball over from close range after Tomlinson had pulled back a deep cross from Bradley.
Stockport's first foray needed a timely header from Leigh Franks as James Tunnicliffe almost succeeded in playing Craig Hobson through, but the hosts were almost caught out by Alfreton's swift break upfield that saw Arnold fire narrowly over from a diminishing angle.
Tomlinson then had a shot blocked from a 12th minute Russell corner, then three minutes later an amazing double save by Barnes prevented the deadlock from being broken.
A goal looked a certainty as Sam Sheridan unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of the area but Barnes not only managed to parry the stinging drive but changed direction to turn behind Hobson's follow-up.
Then from Sheridan's corner Barnes punched clear twice to set up another break, that ended with Tomlinson's extraordinary lob from almost the half-way line dipping just over the crossbar with Stockport keeper Ian Ormson a helpless spectator.
Russell's 18th minute free-kick had to be headed behind by Tunnicliffe in the 18th minute, then three minutes later a rare mistake by Barnes needed Darran Kempson's intervention after his clearance had gone straight to Hobson, with Alex Kenyon grazing the outside of the post at the conclusion of the move.
Arnold cut in from the right before ghosting past three defenders only to find the side-netting on 23 minutes, then ten minutes further on the Reds' best chance of the game should have produced some reward.
A superb pass from Christie sent Arnold scampering clear down the left, then after the keeper had been calmly circumnavigated defender Tunnicliffe somehow managed to clear Arnold's delivery off the line.
And Stockport took full advantage of their reprieve by scoring the only goal in the 35th minute in the most simple fashion, with Danny Hattersley heading Sean Newton's cross in from four yards.
Barnes was active again three minutes later turning behind Jon Nolan's angled volley, then on 43 minutes Christie's hooked shot was blocked from a long Franks' throw.
Theo Streete replaced Christie at the interval, dropping into the right-back slot with Josh Law moving into midfield and Arnold spearheading the attack alongside Tomlinson.
A weak Russell shot was comfortably held by Ormson four minutes after the break, then Streete fired wide after turning just inside the area from a Connor Franklin cross.
Barnes won a race to the ball with Hobson before hacking clear in the 65th minute, then seconds later the keeper had to divert a strong header by Hattersley from Danny Whitehead's cross.
Russell fired wide after Law's cross had been teed up by Arnold, then Paul Clayton headed over from a 76th minute Russell corner as Alfreton continued to press.
Barnes stuck out a leg to thwart Hattersley yet again with seven minutes remaining, then a stooping header by Arnold just evaded the bar from a Denton lay-off.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Phil Barnes
02 Josh Law
03 Connor Franklin
06 Darran Kempson
10 Dan Bradley
12 Leigh Franks
07 Anton Brown (Paul Clayton, 56)
19 Simon Russell
11 Nathan Arnold
20 Iyseden Christie (Theo Streete, 46)
21 Ben Tomlinson (Tom Denton, 75)
Substitutes not used:
05 Adam Quinn
14 Daniel Meadows
Stockport County Team:
08 Alex Kenyon (Rowe, 78)
14 Sheridan (Whitehead, 45 [Fagbola, 82])
11 Craig Hobson
Substitutes not used;
Man of the Match: Phil Barnes
Referee: Ross Joyce of Middlesbrough