Blue Square Bet Premier
Alfreton Town 1
ALFRETON Town bounced back from their horrendous home defeat to Forest Green Rovers by claiming their first away point in the Blue Square Bet Premier at the impressive 28,000 seater Northern Echo Arena at Darlington on Tuesday night.
The travelling fans numbering 97 with the stadium occupied by just 7 per cent of its capacity.
The Reds also put behind them the nightmare of missing two penalties in the opening game at Hayes & Yeading, with Nathan Jarman successful this time from the spot in the 82nd minute after Theo Streete had been impeded by Ben Purkiss.
Darlington had led from the 47th minute when James Walshaw fired low past Alfreton keeper Dan Lowson from six yards following a raking through-ball from Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, but the game never really became fluent until the 80th minute.
That was when Alfreton suddenly stepped up a gear as their growing confidence kicked in, with Anton Brown being put through by Paul Clayton only for home keeper Sam Russell to concede a corner.
Josh Law delivered and Clayton’s sharp drive was cleared to Brown six \yards out before the ball was scrambled behind again, with the subsequent corner leading to the penalty award.
Darlington surged forward in a desperate bid to clinch victory, with Lowson pulling off a good save to thwart John McReady, then as Matt Wilson slipped in the 86th minute Greg Taylor cut in and a goal looked imminent.
Lowson though had other ideas and despite his stretching parry falling to John Campbell the visiting keeper recovered his position in time to save the follow-up.
Connor Franklin blocked another Campbell effort as Alfreton were forced to endure five minutes of added time, which saw them happily play the ball into touch several times just to give themselves breathing space. However the most blatant miss of the game came at the end of the third minute of that torturous period when Ryan Bowman blazed wide from six yards when it looked easier to score, with Campbell’s cross from the right having carved the opening.
Darlington had been frustrated in the early stages by repeatedly being caught off-side, while Russell was the busier keeper for a time having to hold Nathan Arnold’s by-line cross and Clayton’s poke from 22 yards.
A good move by the Quakers on 11 minutes saw Law intercept as Bridge-Wilkinson found Kris Taylor in space, then Levi Mackin charged down a lively shot from Greg Taylor on the edge of the area.
Clayton was hopelessly wide with an attempted curler from Arnold’s 22nd minute by-line cross, then Chris Senior fired over from a Clayton pass.
Senior was lining up against his former club and received a magnificent ovation from the home supporters both before the kick-off and as he was being substituted.
Arnold had a clear chance on the half-hour from a right-wing Senior cross but completely miskicked ten yards out, then at the other end Walshaw dragged the ball across the face of goal when well positioned. In first half added time Darlington had another good chance when Brown’s slip allowed Greg Taylor a sight of goal, but as the drizzle intensified Taylor also slipped and Lowson was able to gather.
Between the goals Liam Hatch headed over in the 50th minute for the hosts and the Reds responded with Theo Streete firing wide from Arnold’s ingenious back-heel.
There was an ugly moment midway through the second half when Jarman’s tackle on Walshaw led to a brawl right in front of the Alfreton dug-out, with the Reds’ sub subsequently being cautioned.
Alfreton Town: Dan Lowson, Josh Law, Connor Franklin, Theo Streete, Matt Wilson, Anton Brown, Leigh Franks, Levi Mackin, Nathan Arnold (Jordan Hall 58), Chris Senior (Nathan Jarman, 53), Paul Clayton.
Subs not used: Jamie Mullan, Adie Hawes, Jake Moult.
Next in action
Saturday, August 27 - Alfreton Town v Wrexham, 3pm.
Monday, August 29 - York City v Alfreton Town, 3pm.