08 October 2011
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
Alfreton Town were once again left wondering just how they had failed to win Saturday's Blue Square Bet Premier encounter with Kettering Town at the Impact Arena, despite leading at half-time and seeing the visitors reduced to ten men in first half added time.
Manager Nicky Law made six changes from the Grimsby Town defeat with new loan signing Joe Day from Peterborough United given his first start in goal while Theo Streete, Josh Law, Levi Mackin and Matt Wilson all returned from injury.
There was also a cameo appearance by striker Anthony Wilson after breaking his metatarsal just seven weeks earlier, but on the debit side both Law and Matt Wilson received further worrying injuries during the course of the game.
A blistering start by the Reds saw Kettering keeper Laurie Walker block Jake Moult's drive from Nathan Jarman's pass in the first minute, then a low shot from Law was beaten away by Walker after the Reds' defender had run on to a pass from Paul Clayton.
Clayton then headed over from eight yards before the Poppies' first sortie in the sixth minute saw Marcus Kelly's strong run dealt with by Streete.
A long spell of inactivity was finally punctuated by Alfreton taking a 24th minute lead, when Anton Brown headed in from close range after Matt Wilson had stretched to turn Law's free-kick back across goal.
Clayton then headed over again from a Jake Moult cross before Moult won a corner off Jerel Ifil on the half hour mark, but blasted high and wide from the ensuing flag-kick.
Then at the other end in a rare Kettering attack Day saved well after Kelly's free-kick had taken an awkward deflection low off the defensive wall.
Another block by Walker two minutes before the break denied Clayton from Law's cross, then as the interval beckoned Ifil was sent off after a quite awful tackle on Law before lashing out at Jarman in the aftermath.
Mullan deliveries as Alfreton were once again left to rue a missed opportunity to pick up maximum points.
George Taft headed Law's 52nd minute cross into Jarman's path only for the latter to fire a weak volley into the ground before the ball sat up kindly for Walker, then Streete fired wide from eight yards before the keeper again saved from Moult.
Matt Wilson needed lengthy attention after landing badly following a defensive header in the 55th minute and had to be replaced by Leigh Franks, then Jamie Mullan cut in from Brown's crossfield pass only to see his low drive diverted behind by Walker.
With 62 minutes elapsed an off-balance Kelly shot wide for the Poppies then Steven Meechan fired well wide when a Sol Davis free-kick rebounded to him, but Kettering were thrown a lifeline 18 minutes from time when Streete pushed Adam Cunnington to concede a penalty.
Cunnington blasted what amounted to Kettering's second shot on target high into the roof of the net from the spot, then almost immediately Streete had an opportunity to atone but his header from Law's deep cross was held by Walker.
In the 76th minute the visitors almost snatched a winner when Leon McKenzie was sent through by Meechan only to drag his shot harmlessly across goal, then Brown fired wide after Connor Franklin had sent Mullan to the by-line.
Djouman Sangare headed over from a Kelly free-kick before another crunching tackle on Law by Meechan, which earned the Kettering player a caution, reduced him to a limping passenger for the last few minutes with all the Reds' substitutes used.
In stoppage time Anthony Wilson headed wide and Brown missed the target from a brace of quality
Alfreton Town Team:
Matt Wilson (Leigh Franks 57)
Jake Moult (Anthony Wilson 83)
Paul Clayton (Chris Senior 87)
Substitutes not used: Greg Young, Jordan Hall.
Kettering Town Team:
Sol Davis (c)
Aman Verma (George Taft h/t)
Substitutes not used: David Bridges, Nathan Koo-Booth, Kiernan Hughes-Mason, Aldi Haxia
Attendance: 851 (148 from Kettering)
Alfreton Town - Anton Brown (24). Kettering Town - Adam Cunnington (72, penalty).
Alfreton Town - Anton Brown, 48, foul on Leon Mckenzie. Kettering Town - Stephen O'Leary (38, dissent); Marcus Kelly (85, foul on Connor Franklin); Steve Meechan (88, foul on Josh Law).
Jerel Ifil (Kettering Town) 45+1, professional foul on Josh Law.
Man of the Match: Jamie Mullan
Referee: Stephen Smith of Darlington