2018/19 Season Review: August-October

2018/19 Season Review: August-October

Thursday May 16, 2019

Liam Henton takes us through the 2018/19 campaign...

Alfreton Town's 2018/19 campaign started with one of expectation and positivity with the arrival of new boss Billy Heath in the summer, a host of new signings followed and the Reds were dark horses for the play off spots prior to the new season back in August. Reds volunteer Liam Henton takes us through what proved to be a topsy turvy season for the Reds which ended in a 15th placed finish in the National League North...

The 2018/19 season started in earnest for the Reds with the visit of Kidderminster Harriers to the Impact Arena on a red hot Saturday afternoon back in August. The summer had seen a flurry of activity at the Impact through the months of May and June as new Reds manager Billy Heath shaped his squad for the new campaign.

This was further demonstrated with no less than nine of the starting XI against Kidderminster making their Reds debut with only Luke Shiels and Tom Platt surviving from the previous season. The spoils where shared as a late Bobby Johnson penalty secured a point for the Reds after a thrilling 3-3 draw after new signing Tom Denton had earlier opened his Reds account.

Alfreton were soon back in action once more a few days later but it ended in disappointment with a 3-1 reverse at Brackley Town. Reds keeper Sam Ramsbottom produced a man of the match display as Richard Peniket's second half goal proved to only be a consolation in a below par defeat.

Alfreton rounded off the opening week of the season by recording a fine 2-1 win at York City which saw the Reds maintain their unbeaten record in three previous visits to Bootham Crescent. Goals from Tom Denton and Curtis Bateson, just a minute later; followed by some resolute defending sealed the first three points of the campaign.

The season continued at a pace with an unfortunate midweek home defeat to Curzon Ashton which was the first of what proved to be far too many home defeats with the Reds dominating the contest only to concede in stoppage time. Alfreton would register their first home success with a hard fought 3-1 win over Blyth Spartans, top marksman Tom Denton was on hand with a brace with Tom Platt adding a third, as Alfreton recorded a third straight win over the visitors.

Next up, Reds talisman Tom Denton struck with his fifth goal of the season as his trademark header saw the Reds record a historic first ever win at Edgeley Park – home of Stockport County. Once again just as they had done seven days prior at York, the Reds defended superbly under intense pressure to record a thoroughly deserved win at what would later be the home of the Champions, Alfreton handing Stockport one of only eight league defeats.

Billy Heath's charges sealed a third straight league win which saw them climb to fourth in the table as struggling Southport were dispatched 3-1 at the Impact Arena on August Bank Holiday Monday. Tom Platt gave us the lead before Tom Denton was once again on the scoresheet with his sixth and what would prove to be his final goal for the Reds. Bobby Johnson added a late third from the penalty spot.

September was welcomed in style by Alfreton as a magnificent trio of away wins at York, Stockport and Darlington were completed by Bobby Johnson's clever finish just 70 seconds in to the contest at Blackwell Meadows. This saw Alfreton record four successive league wins for the first time since 2015 and in the process move in to third place in the National League North table.

A few days later it was announced that leading scorer Tom Denton had completed his move to National League new boys and neighbours Chesterfield. It was a blow to the Reds who had started the season strongly and were right in the play off mix, the whole style of play had to change for Billy Heath and this proved a challenge throughout the rest of the season.

Matchday nine saw Guiseley visit the Impact Arena for the first time since they were dispatched 6-0 in 2011 as the Reds marched to the National League North title. It was to be a different story on this occasion however as the Lions managed by Alfreton legends Russ O'Neil and Paul Clayton; alongside Marcus Bignot, grabbed a slender 1-0 win with Liburd's finish after just 11 minutes the difference in a tight contest at the Impact Arena.

The busy schedule continued as Alfreton travelled to runaway league leaders Chorley a week later. Bobby Johnson's stunning volley which was a definite goal of the season contender proved not enough as we went down to a 3-1 defeat which saw Chorley extend their lead at the top of the table.

Attention turned to the Emirates FA Cup next, we began the campaign in the Second Qualifying Round with a trip to Coles Lane to face Sutton Coldfield Town side who plied their trade two steps below the Reds in the Southern League Division One Central. Alfreton were stunned in to action as a game Sutton Coldfield side stormed in to a shock 2-0 lead within the opening six minutes. However we forced our way back in to the contest in the second half as goals from Richard Peniket and Declan Bacon's first of the season forced a midweek replay at the Impact Arena following an 2-2 draw.

The Reds made no mistake from the replay a few days later though as a trio of outstanding strikes sealed safe passage in to the next round against a brave Sutton Coldfield side. Declan Bacon, who was the man who had the forced the replay with the Reds equaliser in the original tie; hit a brace before new signing Jordan Sinnott opened his Reds account with a wonder strike from 25 yards to complete a comfortable 3-0 victory.

September concluded with a disappointing 1-0 home loss to Bradford Park Avenue which stretched our winless run against the Avenue to seven matches. It was our third straight defeat in the league after Branson headed home a corner on 71 minutes to hand the Reds yet another 1-0 defeat at home.

The season continued as we once again took to FA Cup duty at the start of October, we were drawn away in the Third Qualifying Round to local rivals Mickleover Sports. It was a cracking atmosphere and first half goals from Jordan Sinnott and Richard Peniket sealed a 2-1 win and progress to the Fourth Qualifying Round which added some more fantastic funds into the Impact Arena.

Seven days later it was back to the bread and butter of the National League North and a trip to Moss Lane to face Altrincham. A below par first half showing saw the Reds face a three goal deficit at half time. An improved second half performance saw Richard Peniket pull one back on the hour mark with a great solo run and finish, but it wasn’t enough as we fell to a fourth straight league defeat.

Once again though the FA Cup proved the tonic for the Reds as we powered past St Neots Town of the Southern League Premier Central 4-0 at the Impact Arena. We booked a ninth appearance in the FA Cup First Round Proper thanks to a first half brace a piece from Curtis Bateson and James Clifton.

October came to an end in explosive fashion as we lost 3-2 at the Swansway Stadium against Chester in what proved to be a hugely controversial game. Two debatable penalties were awarded against the Reds, the first within the first two minutes of the game after James Clifton appeared to have fouled Mahon. Roberts scored from the spot before Reece Styche would equalise, Bobby Johnson would stun the home faithful with a stunning free kick to give us the lead before Clifton was given his marching orders after winning the ball with a tackle. The contest soon fell away from us with Roberts grabbing a brace to complete his hat-trick but the telling point was the penalty awarded against the Reds in stoppage time with Josh Gowling clearly winning the ball in the box but the penalty was given and with the winning goal went the three points.  

We then headed to FC United three days later, FC would endure a difficult campaign which ended in relegation to the Evo-Stik league, James Clifton salvaged a point for us three minutes from time after the hosts looked to have gained a huge three points. But never the less the point stretched the winless run in the league to six matches.

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Fixtures Match Reports  
23/07/2019 19:30:00 Scunthorpe United H
26/07/2019 19:30:00 Notts County H
03/08/2019 15:00:00 Brackley Town A
06/08/2019 19:45:00 Boston United H
10/08/2019 15:00:00 Blyth Spartans H
13/08/2019 19:45:00 Altrincham A
17/08/2019 15:00:00 Bradford Park Avenue H
24/08/2019 15:00:00 Guiseley A
26/08/2019 15:00:00 Southport H
31/08/2019 15:00:00 Kidderminster Harriers A
View all Fixtures