30 January 2016
Dave Pursglove's Match Picture Album here
Alfreton Town twice came from behind to gain a point from a 2-2 home draw against sixth-placed Nuneaton Town and extend their unbeaten record to eight matches in all competitions.
It was a game full of talking points, most of which involved the match official whose performance left teams, officials and supporters of both clubs outraged, frustrated and bemused by a series of highly contentious decisions on several big occasions, some of which were so wrong they were embarrassing.
Alfreton were certainly the more aggrieved. On another day they could easily have been awarded three penalties and not had an incredulous ‘soft’ one awarded against them which led to the visitors taking the lead.
The Reds could also have had a ‘goal’ allowed when the ball appeared to cross the line before being pulled back by the hand of a visiting defender in an almighty second half melee.
And on another day, several players could have found themselves booked instead of just Boro’ captain Shane Byrne, his coming on 82 minutes as the official finally found her yellow card.
It all made for a bizarrely surreal game in which both sides fought hard to gain a foot-hold until the latter stages when Alfreton threatened to snatch all three points.
Reds boss Nicky Law opted to keep the same side which had beaten Chorley a week earlier and by the end of it, Cecil Nyoni was still waiting for his debut.
Nuneaton fashioned the first chance on seven minutes with a deep cross from the left by Cieron Keane being met at the far post by Tyrell Waite but he could only side-foot his shot into the side netting.
James Reid then required treatment after coming off worst in a 50-50 clash with Alfreton’s Sam Jones.
A neat move from the visitors down the right was ended by a great challenge from Tom Allan on James Clifton.
Alfreton had big shouts for a penalty turned down on thirteen minutes. Dan Bradley sped onto Tom Allan’s long through ball and got to it first, clipped it over the advancing Jordan Smith who appeared to make contact with both ball and home player but referee Elizabeth Simms was unmoved and awarded a goal kick when at the least it should have been a corner for the hosts!
Cliff Moyo’s long clearance down the right for Bradley was cut out by former Red Lathaniel Rowe-Turner then visiting keeper Smith had to kick clear with Sam Smith bearing down on him.
Marlon Harewood chested down a ball from Shane Byrne on the edge of the penalty area and got a strong low shot away but Matt Duke was equal to it with a comfortable save.
Alfreton broke to gain their first corner on 20 minutes when Dan Bradley outpaced left back Keane and crossed low, his delivery being turned behind by another former Alfreton player in Jordan Keane.
In reply, yet another former Red, Elliott Whitehouse scooped a shot miles over the top then from a Reid free kick, Rowe-Turner headed narrowly over the top.
Alfreton put together a decent raid down the left but Lindon Meikle couldn’t produce a telling cross before a lovely crossfield ball from Sam Jones sent Bradley away down the right but his cross went behind.
Andi Thanoj threw himself in front of a James Reid shot as the visitors enjoyed a flurry of attacking activity in an otherwise uninspiring first half.
Bradley sent Meikle away down the left and from his return pass Bradley’s shot was blocked at close quarters on the edge of the box.
Alfreton had a second shout for what looked a clear penalty turned down on 45 minutes when Rowe-Turner stuck an arm into the back of Sam Smith who found himself pushed over, then Bradley saw a low shot from the edge of the penalty area easily saved.
Alfreton had the first effort of the second half when Meikle cut in from the left past two defenders but couldn’t keep his 18 yard shot down.
Amazingly, the visitors were awarded a penalty on 47 minutes when Todd Jordan was penalised for a challenge on Shane Byrne. It was no more than a 50-50 block tackle which Byrne lost out in, but the visitors took the lead when Marlon Harewood netted the loose ball after Matt Duke had saved the former Nottingham Forest striker’s spot kick.
The visitors had the ball in the net again shortly afterwards but Harewood’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Alfreton began to piece some decent football together and equalised on 56 minutes when Sam Jones turned smartly in the area and rifled home an angled drive.
Minutes later Jones turned on the edge of the area but saw his curling shot go a yard over the far angle.
Alfreton continued to press and Nuneaton survived an almighty melee on their goal line on 64 minutes when the ball somehow stayed out of the net with a visiting player appearing to drag the ball back from over the line with his hand.
In reply, Cliff Moyo blocked a Reid shot then at the other end Thanoj had a shot charged down asa the game began to open out.
The visitors had another let off in the next home raid when Bradley’s cross from the left saw Rowe-Turner mis-kick and the incoming Meikle could not keep the ball down as he lifted it over the bar.
Nuneaton regained the lead on 75 minutes when Elliott Whitehouse steered home from ten yards after being the final man in a neat passing move.
Alfreton sparked again and equalised again on 79 minutes when Sam Jones did well to scoop home a Bradley cross from the right from close range.
Shane Byrne finally picked up the game’s first yellow card on 82 minutes for a foul on Jamie Jackson then Brad McGowan got across well to keep out a cross from Tyrell Waite who had outstripped Jordan down the right before Duke saved a Harewood shot for a corner
Alfreton put more pressure on in the last ten minutes and a Thanoj cross landed on the roof of the net after Smith had flapped at an Allen cross from the left.
Smith then needed two attempts to save a Joe Leesley 18 yarder as the Reds pressed hard for a winner before the final big moment of controversy came.
A Jones header sent Jamie Jackson clean away through the middle and as he prepared to take on keeper Smith, Jordan Keane clearly pulled the Reds striker back. Referee Simms could have awarded a penalty but chose to play advantage to Alfreton despite Jackson clearly being off balance after being man-handled. He did exceptionally well to manage to get a shot away past Smith but saw it roll agonisingly wide of the far post.
The Reds pressed to the end and Bradley flashed a volley narrowly wide from 18 yards before Jackson was again fouled by Jordan Keane. The foul was probably worthy of a yellow card, but in keeping with the rest of the game, it was unsurprising when one didn’t appear.
The Reds will be disappointed not to have made it a fourth successive league victory but they have the consolation of now being unbeaten in their last six for points.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Matt Duke
02 Cliff Moyo
03 Todd Jordan
06 Andi Thanoj
07 Joe Leesley
08 Lindon Meikle
09 Sam Jones
10 Sam Smith (Jamie Jackson, 71 mins)
11 Dan Bradley ©
Substitutes not used:
Nuneaton Town Team:
01 Jordan Smith
02 James Clifton
04 David Morgan
05 Jordan Keane
06 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
07 James Reid (Joe Maguire, 75 mins)
08 Shane Byrne ©
09 Marlon Harewood
10 Elliott Whitehouse
11 Tyrrell Waite
Substitutes not used:
Zeus De La Paz (GK)
Alfreton Town – Sam Jones (56 & 79) Nuneaton Town – Marlon Harewood (48), Elliott Whitehouse (75)
Alfreton Town – None
Nuneaton Town – Shane Byrne (82, foul on Jamie Jackson)
Man of the Match: Sam Jones
Referee: Elizabeth Simms of Halifax