06 September 2014
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
Alfreton Town can count themselves extremely unfortunate not to have returned from the northern suburbs of London on Saturday with at least a point, having given league leaders Barnet a real run for their money, only conceding the winner in added time.
As it is, the Reds remain without a point from their seven Vanarama Conference games to date, but there was more to enthuse about from this showing than in all of the previous six put together.
It cannot be a coincidence that Alfreton performed confidently and competently with manager Nicky Law back in charge after serving his six-match stadium ban, striker Massiah McDonald relishing his opportunity of a first start as he teamed up with Joe Ironside.
Law also offered appearances off the bench for young defender Lawrence Gorman and striker Bennie Igiehon, who was at last able to take the field after his protracted wait for international clearance.
Dan Gray was given only his third start, filling in at left back with Lathaniel Rowe-Turner switching to the centre of defence, and the former Lincoln City defender caught the eye with a solid performance.
Undoubtedly the highlight of a first half, largely dominated by Alfreton, was Dan Bradley's determination to prove a point against the club that he briefly joined during the summer, bothering Barnet repeatedly with speedy runs down the right.
However, an injury to the midfielder forced a change at half-time, with Jake Sheridan replacing him, and it was only after an hour's play that the hosts were able to take a hold when Rowe-Turner was sent off after conceding a penalty.
A Lee Cook free-kick fizzed through the goalmouth after seven minutes as Barnet began threateningly, but Alfreton were soon on the front foot with McDonald unfortunately slipping at the vital moment as Jordan Keane played him through.
A lengthy run by Bradley on 16 minutes also saw his cross beat outstretched legs in the box, then five minutes later McDonald forced home keeper Graham Stack to save at close range from Ironside's flick through.
Another Bradley sortie ended with Stack clutching the ball at the near post, then Gray aborted a similar move by Charlie MacDonald with a timely tackle as former Reds' striker Job Ayo Akinde homed in.
Andy Yiadom's sharp cross was dealt with by Reds' keeper Cameron Dawson after 34 minutes, then Bondz N'Gala needed to head behind another Bradley cross moments later at the other end, but Gray's corner was wasted.
Barnet's clearest chance of the first half ultimately fell to Akinde, who headed wide from close range after Cook had created the opening on 39 minutes, then Alfreton picked up the pace again with McDonald sending Bradley down the right with Ironside only able to steer the cross wide.
Ironside was then crowded out as McDonald played him through and the half ended with David Stephens retaliating against McDonald after a foul had been awarded and picking up a yellow card.
Just two minutes into the second half the Alfreton faithful were celebrating an away goal at last, with McDonald stretching to head Gray's cross past Stack from eight yards for his first Reds' goal since his junior days in 2008.
Hearts pounded as Cook's 51st minute corner whistled through the goalmouth, then an exuberant McDonald fired into the side-netting after breaking free before Ironside went close as Alfreton continued to press.
A brave save by Dawson from MacDonald preceded the 60th minute incident that undid all of Alfreton's good work, Rowe-Turner sent off after being adjudged to have impeded Akinde and deemed to be the last line of defence.
MacDonald sent Dawson the wrong way from the spot, but Alfreton refused to lie down and Ironside again went close before Dawson held comfortably from Cook and then superbly tipped over a Sam Togwell rasper with ten minutes remaining.
Igiehon's strong run ended with a shot across goal, but despite looking as if the ten men were going to hold out for a well deserved share of the spoils substitute Luisma Villa unleashed an unstoppable free-kick that flew into the roof of the net from 20 yards with two minutes of added time elapsed.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Cameron Dawson
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
02 Bradley Wood
05 Luke Graham
10 Dan Bradley (14 Jake Sheridan, h/t)
15 Jordan Keane
12 Tom Shaw
16 Dan Gray
21 Andi Thanoj
17 Massiah McDonald (22 Lawrence Gorman, 65 mins)
18 Joe Ironside (19 Benny Igiehon, 76 mins)
Substitutes not used:
07 Nathan Hicks
08 Lee Stevenson
01 Graham Stack
05 Bondz N'Gala
06 David Stephens
04 Jack Saville (17 Sam Muggleton, 52 mins)
08 Curtis Weston
11 Lee Cook
14 Sam Togwell (29 Matt Stevens, 82 mins)
18 Luke Gambin (15 Luisma Villa Lopez, 62 mins)
02 Andy Yiadom
09 Job Ayo Akinde
10 Charlie MacDonald
Substitutes not used:
20 Jon Nurse
23 Adam Mekki
Barnet - Charlie MacDonald (62, penalty), Luisma Villa Lopez (90+2)
Alfreton Town - Massiah McDonald (47 mins)
Barnet - David Stephens, Curtis Weston, Luke Gambin
AlfretonTown -Cameron Dawson, Benny Igiehon
Alfreton Town - Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (60)
Attendance breakdown: 1815 including 48 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Massiah McDonald
Referee: Paul Rees of Portishead