Point and clean sheet for Reds

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Alfreton Town returned from their long trip to Kent on Saturday with a point and a clean sheet, but they were left to reflect on numerous missed opportunities against Ebbsfleet.

Chances went begging as the Reds dominated the first half against the Blue Square Bet Premier strugglers but the home side came closest to breaking the deadlock 20 minutes from time.

There was just one change from the midweek defeat against Grimsby Town, with Paul Clayton replacing Ben Tomlinson up front as Alfreton stretched their unbeaten away run to four games.

Although the Reds forced an early corner amidst pressure from the start, it was the hosts that recorded the first shot on target, with keeper Jon Stewart holding Nathan Elder’s low drive in the eighth minute after being put through by Liam Enver-Marum.

Three minutes later though, it was home keeper Preston Edwards who needed to turn behind Paul Clayton’s sharp volley from eight yards in receipt of a Dan Meadows cross, with Josh Law firing inches over the bar after the ensuing corner had been worked back to him.

Edwards then held a deep Ross Killock free-kick under pressure from both Clayton and Anthony Wilson, before Dan Bradley fired high and wide from 22 yards after being teed up by Clayton.

A palpable miss by Wilson in the 21st minute saw the Reds’ striker squander a free header from six yards after Nathan Arnold had cut in from the left, then at the other end Patrick Ada’s shot was blocked in a crowded box following a right wing corner.

There was a moment of danger for Alfreton on 27 minutes when Enver-Marum raced clear, but Killock did just enough to steer him off course and his weakened shot was held by Stewart.

Wilson then headed wide from 12 yards from a Bradley pass as the Reds picked up momentum and looked certain to take a 33rd minute lead, but after Arnold had waltzed past two mesmerised Ebbsfleet defenders as he cut in from the right he finally shot straight at Edwards having reached the edge of the six-yard box.

Six minutes after the break, it was Meadows’s turn to miss from six yards, after Bradley’s mazy run had taken him to the byline, then Stewart had to hold an angled drive from Louie Soares.

Bradley fired over from distance after being sent on a central run by Theo Streete, then Streete had to be alert at the other end by diverting Enver-Marum’s shot behind for a corner.

Streete then tested Edwards with a thunderous drive from 22 yards in the 67th minute, before a stretching header by Phil Walsh flashed wide for Ebbsfleet from an Ashley Carew cross.

A dipping, curling effort by Joe Howe from all of 30 yards rebounded off the angle of crossbar and upright as United almost snatched the lead in the 70th minute, then Wilson could not quite control the ball as Bradley played him through.

A looping header from Enver-Marum five minutes from time was held under the bar by Stewart, then Bradley saw his low drive held by Edwards as the latter stages fluctuated from end to end.