Battling Reds held by play-off chasing Luton

Blue Square Bet Premier

Alfreton Town 0

Luton Town 0

ALFRETON Town manager Nicky Law made no less than five changes from Easter Monday’s game against York City, when Luton Town visited the Impact Arena.

His experimental line-up allowed Nottingham Forest loanee Daniel Meadows to show his paces in central midfield when given his first start for the Reds, while Nicky Deverdics replaced Jake Moult in midfield.

Other changes saw Leigh Franks and Nathan Jarman return to the line-up while Nathan Arnold had recovered from injury, but despite half of the outfield players being swapped, the Reds still managed to pull off a reputable result against a side that not so long ago had rubbed shoulders with the elite of English football.

Both sides had chances to open the scoring with the Hatters’ opportunities coming in a lively first half, with Alfreton looking much the better of the two after the break, and while Luton enjoyed a strong start it was the Reds that went close in the eighth minute when Meadows’ header was fumbled by keeper Mark Tyler.

Moments later Curtis Osano’s timely header thwarted Alfreton as skipper Darran Kempson played Arnold through on a central run, then in response Stuart Fleetwood curled a 25 yarder beyond the back post from a crossfield pass by Janos Kovacs. Connor Franklin’s 12th minute free-kick resulted in Adam Cunnington’s angled drive being held by Tyler from Kempson’s lay off, then the Luton keeper had to punch clear an awkward by-line cross from Josh Law.

Jon Stewart comfortably smothered a stifled shot by Stuart Fleetwood in the 18th minute, but the Reds’ keeper had to be alert to keep out Andre Gray’s rasping drive eight minutes later.

Luton defender Keith Keane set up Gray in the 28th minute but he dragged his shot across goal from the edge of the six-yard box, then a minute later Gray looked certain to score but was denied by the upright from eight yards following a miskick by Law.

Alfreton’s defence was carved open by Gray’s by-line cross in the 32nd minute, but Fleetwood failed to make contact unmarked in front of goal.

Five minutes before the interval Anton Brown saw his effort blocked from a Nicky Deverdics free-kick, then at the other end Robbie Willmott swerved his shot from 25 yards away from goal.

Two quick Luton corners heralded the start of the second half with Godfrey Poku wasting a clear opportunity when he fired high and wide from the second of them.

The impressive Meadows embarked on a run down the left but fired innocuously across the face of goal instead of passing to either Arnold or Jarman who were in support, then from a neat Jarman pass in the 56th minute Meadows went close from 20 yards.

On 68 minutes Jarman’s stooping header from a Law free-kick rebounded off the post with Tyler beaten, then Jarman won a corner from a Deverdics’ free-kick before firing wide from 15 yards in receipt of a long throw from Leigh Franks.

In the third minute of added time Luton looked to have snatched the winner when a Kovacs cross from the right byline picked out Andre Boucaud six yards out at the far post, but Law somehow managed to hack the ball off the line.

Match details

Alfreton Town: Jon Stewart, Josh Law, Connor Franklin, Darran Kempson, Leigh Franks, Nicky Deverdics (Theo Streete 84), Daniel Meadows, Anton Brown, Nathan Arnold (Paul Clayton 63), Adam Cunnington (Anthony Wilson 63), Nathan Jarman.

Substitutes not used: Jamie Mullan, Seamus Conneely.

Luton Town: Mark Tyler, Curtis Osano (Dan Gleeson 60), Jake Howells, George Pilkington, Janos Kovacs, Alex Lawless, Keith Keane, Godfrey Poku (Andre Boucaud 60), Robbie Willmott (Aaron O’Connor 60), Andre Gray, Stuart Fleetwood.

Substitutes not used: Craig McAllister, Shane Blackett

Referee: Mr Ross Joyce of Middlesbrough

Attendance: 1,654 with 889 from Luton Town.

Yellow cards:

Alfreton Town - Leigh Franks (88, unsporting conduct), Daniel Meadows (90+2, foul on Keith Keane).

Luton Town - Andre Gray (39, foul on Connor Franklin), Janos Kovacs (79, foul on Anthony Wilson), Alex Lawless (84, foul on Daniel Meadows).

Man of the Match: Connor Franklin

Next in action

Saturday, April 21 - Blue Square Bet Premier Division - Newport County v Alfreton Town, 3pm.

Saturday, April 28 - Blue Square Bet Premier Division - Alfreton Town v Bath City, 3pm.