15 August 2015
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Despite an improved performance, Alfreton Town are still looking for their first victory of the 2015/16 Vanarama National League North season after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by Brackley Town.
With Ryan Wilson and Andi Thanoj prominent in midfield, the Reds dominated the first half and could easily have gone into the break leading by more than one goal but the visitors had more possession in the second period and hit back to grab a point.
Alfreton were handed the lead on 38 minutes when visiting captain Ryan Austin turned a low Niall Heaton cross into his own net from close range.
But, despite defending fairly comfortably, an equaliser came on 69 minutes when Sam Smith was allowed to get away with a blatant two-handed push on Sam Berry deep in the area which created the space for a header from a free kick and it was 1-1.
Manager Nicky Law handed a debut to veteran goalkeeper Matt Duke but skipper Dan Bradley was left out after tweaking a hamstring in midweek . John Johnston was still recovering from a similar injury.
A foul by former Derby County defender Pablo Mills on Niall Heaton on six minutes on the angle of the penalty area brought a free kick and from Andi Thanoj’s curling effort over the wall, Brackley keeper Dan Crane pulled off a fine save on his front post for the game’s first corner.
In reply Todd Jordan threw himself in front of a Tom Winters eight yard angled drive to bring Brackley’s first flag kick.
As Alfreton settled the better, Thanoj showed great persistence to break from inside his own half and drove at the visiting defence before unleashing a low 25 yard shot which went a yard past the left-hand post.
A great ball from Thanoj over the top then picked out Cliff Moyo beyond the Brackley defence but keeper Crane was out of his goal quickly to block the danger at close quarters.
Alfreton went close on 20 minutes when a great through ball from Thanoj sent Jamie Jackson racing away in the inside left channel and from his low cross Curtis McDonald deflected the ball onto his own keeper.
The ball was cleared and from a long Alfreton throw in, Tom Allan headed the ball on into the path of Ryan Wilson whose close range header struck the top of the bar before Thanoj fired narrowly wide from 35 yards.
Sam Smith created a yard of space for a shot from 25 yards out for the visitors on 31 minutes but his low left-footed effort lacked power to trouble Matt Duke in the home goal.
Brackley won a corner on the left but Richard Batchelor’s attempt to connect failed as he kicked air.
The Reds took the lead on 38 minutes when a lovely ball from Ryan Wilson sent Niall Heaton clear down the left and from his low cross, Brackley’s Ryan Austin stabbed the ball past his own keeper from a couple of yards out to gift the hosts the lead.
Shortly after Pablo Mills was booked for dissent for the visitors.
Debutant keeper Duke showed his class when he came and confidently claimed a deep free kick from Stephan Morley but the half ended with more Alfreton pressure and Joe Ironside set up Sam Jones but he couldn’t keep his 25 yarder down.
Brackley opened the second half in positive mood and fashioned a chance for Glenn Walker on 47 minutes but Duke assuredly and nonchalantly plucked the ball out of the air.
Ryan Wilson could count himself very unfortunate to be booked on 51 minutes for what was nothing more than a straight 50/50 challenge on Richard Batchelor.
Brackley’s next raid brought a corner and after the ball was headed down, Tom Winters couldn’t keep his shot down from the edge of the area.
The Reds hadn’t created as much in the second period but there were still two good chances.
Thanoj won possession in the centre of midfield and advanced to get past the last defender but he was forced wide and Mills got back to block his shot.
Austin then saved Brackley on 62 minutes when he cleared off the line from Ryan Wilson’s stabbed effort under keeper Crane.
Brackley Town were visibly lifted by a double substitution of former Derby striker Deon Burton Kaziboni just after the hour and the visitors equalised on 69 minutes with a close range header from Sam Smith which beat the diving Duke and crept into the far corner.
Whether the goal should have been allowed following a blatant push remains a bone of contention.
The visitors had Glenn Walker booked on 71 minutes for a rash challenge on Cliff Moyo, and more contention here was that the card could easily have been a different colour.
Brackley broke and good hold up play by Deon Burton enabled him to set up Sam Smith but he snatched at his shot and put it wastefully wide.
Alfreton replaced Jamie Jackson with Sam Smith on 73 minutes before a swinging cross-shot from Ryan Wilson was turned behind for a corner as the Reds began to show as an attacking force again.
In reply, Burton cut in from the left before firing well over then the visitors won successive corners and from the second one, Alfreton broke but Sam Smith couldn’t quite get on the end of a raking Wilson cross.
Substitute Deon Burton had sparked Brackley and he cut in from the left before firing well over.
The visitors won successive corners and from the second one Alfreton broke but Sam Smith couldn’t quite get on the end of a raking Ryan Wilson cross.
Brackley replaced Sam Smith with David Moyo on 85 minutes.
From a foul throw by Cliff Moyo on 88 minutes, Brackley broke and created a chance for David Moyo (no relation) but he shot straight at Duke.
For their efforts in the first half alone, Alfreton should have been out of sight by the interval and they are going to have to learn quickly to take their chances when on top as most teams in this tight division are capable of producing results.
Alfreton Town Team:
1 Matt Duke
2 Cliff Moyo
3 Niall Heaton
4 Todd Jordan ©
5 Sam Berry
6 Tom Allan
7 Ryan Wilson
8 Andi Thanoj
9 Sam Jones
10 Jamie Jackson (Sam Smith, 73 mins)
11 Joe Ironside (Joe Leesley, 63 mins)
Substitutes not used:
15 Jason Paling
16 Nick Draper (GK)
17 Stefan Galinski
Brackley Town Team:
1 Dan Crane
2 Luke Graham
3 Stephan Morley
4 Curtis McDonald
5 Pablo Mills (Deon Burton, 63 mins)
6 Ryan Austin ©
7 Owen Story
8 Glenn Walker
9 Sam Smith (David Moyo, 85 mins)
10 Tom Winters (Greg Kaziboni, 63 mins)
Substitutes not used:
12 Sam Whittall
15 Steve Diggin
Alfreton Town - Ryan Austin (38 mins, own goal)
Brackley Town - Sam Smith (69)
Alfreton Town - Ryan Wilson (51 mins, foul on Richard Batchelor)
Brackley Town - (Pablo Mills, 40 mins, dissent; Glenn Walker, 71 mins, foul on Cliff Moyo)
Prize £143.50, won by ticket no. 250
Man of the Match: Andi Thanoj
Referee: Anthony Tankard