28 January 2012
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
A disputed penalty was all that separated Alfreton Town from Luton Town when the two teams met at Kenilworth Road, the hosts having been in top flight football just two decades ago.
The Reds were not overawed by the huge crowd and certainly tried their best to upset Luton's plans, but unfortunately the defeat, allied with wins for Kettering Town and Newport County, saw them drop back into the relegation zone.
Adam Quinn missed the game as he began a two-match suspension for accruing ten yellow cards so far but his replacement, debutant Darran Kempson showed he will be a good acquisition. Craig Clay was handed a first start in midfield.
Greg Young needed an early block as Danny Crow shaped to shoot in the second minute, but Alfreton responded with Jamie Mullan's driven cross being blocked by George Pilkington after a neat flick on by Nathan Arnold.
Anton Brown headed over from Leigh Franks' 13th minute free-kick, then at the other end Dan Lowson held a Robbie Wilmott cross under pressure from Crow and Jake Howells.
Lowson held a low drive from Alex Lawless on 17 minutes, then a jinking run by Arnold led to his shot being diverted by Pilkington for a corner.
An incredible double clearance by Franks on 25 minutes kept Luton frustrated after Lowson had failed to hold on to a Craig McAllister shot, Franks hacking subsequent shots from Greg Taylor and Howells off the line.
Both Brown and Mullan then fired over from distance as the Reds kept trying to break Luton's mean defence down, then Janos Kovacs headed wide from a Howells corner.
The game revolved around a decision by the referee in the 37th minute as Wilmott ran on to Howells' pass and Lowson was deemed to have brought the Luton striker down.
Up stepped skipper Pilkington to smash the contentious penalty high to Lowson's left, but Alfreton pushed forward again and Jake Moult's free-kick looped up off Crow to be held almost on the line by Hatters' keeper Mark Tyler.
A low drive by Taylor was held by Lowson, then Arnold sent a fizzing drive inches wide of Tyler's right-hand post, before play swung yet again and Craig McAllister missed a clear chance or Luton from 12 yards after a strong run.
In the 49th minute Mullan wasted a decent chance from a Moult cross, then Connor Franklin almost succeeded in playing Arnold through but Kovacs calmly intervened to guide the ball back to Tyler.
On the hour Moult's inswinging corner almost caught Tyler by surprise, but the keeper managed to paddle the ball over the bar, and Moult's second flag-kick drifted behind.
Nathan Jarman played a clever ball through to Moult but Tyler read the situation well and managed to gather the ball, then McAllister's run down the right led to Howells' volley being intercepted by Theo Streete at the expense of a corner.
Moult and Jarman each fired narrowly wide of the target with 20 minutes remaining, then McAllister headed over at the near post from Dan Gleeson's inviting cross.
Gleeson played Stuart Fleetwood down the right in the 84th minute, with Lowson having to stretch full-length to save, then the Reds' keeper held another Fleetwood effort in the last minute of normal time.
Into added time and Lowson stuck out a leg to deny McAllister, then Howells just could not quite make contact in front of goal from Fleetwood's driven cross.
Alfreton Town Team:
Dan Lowson, Theo Streete, Greg Young, Leigh Franks (Connor Franklin, h/t), Darran Kempson, Anton Brown, Jake Moult, Jamie Mullan (Josh Law 84), Craig Clay, Nathan Arnold (Paul Clayton 55), Nathan Jarman.
Substitutes not used: Anthony Wilson, Matt Wilson.
Luton Town Team:
Mark Tyler, Danny Gleeson, Greg Taylor, George Pilkington, Jake Howells, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Robbie Willmott (Aaron O'Connor 72), Adam Watkins (Godfrey Poku 64), Craig McAllister, Danny Crow (Stuart Fleetwood 65).
Substitutes not used: Kevin Pilkington (GK), John Kissock.
5,658 including 89 from Alfreton
Luton Town - George Pilkington (39 mins, penalty)
Luton Town - Godfrey Poku (73, foul on Jake Moult)
Alfreton Town - Anton Brown (20, foul on Howells)
Man of the Match: Theo Streete
Referee: Mr Tim Robinson of Bognor Regis