Reds ‘live to fight another day’ in FA Cup qualifying tie with Gateshead

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Paul Clayton celebrates his goal

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Paul Clayton celebrates his goal

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Alfreton Town were held by National League side Gateshead at the Impact Arena in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup.

Saturday’s tie ended 2-2 and will be replayed on Wednesday night, meaning the Reds will be in the hat for Monday’s draw.

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Paul Clayton

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Paul Clayton

Assistant manager Russ O’Neill said: “We fight another day. We’re still in the hat. We go there and will give a good account of ourselves with no reason not to win again. We’re ever so frustrated, we should be in the next round to be honest.”

Paul Clayton and Craig Westcarr had built up a 2-0 lead for the Reds with just 14 minutes of the tie remaining, but two goals from Alfreton’s top scorer last season Sam Jones had the visitors level by the 81st minute.

“It was a disappointing end to the game,” said O’Neill. “We should have gone on and seen it out. The first goal is naive, we’ve just gone two up and we’ve squeezed up when we didn’t need to and that’s lifted them.

“In all honesty you can dissect the second goal all you want - we know what Jones is about - good strikers do that to you. One touch and he’s put it in the top corner.”

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Adam Smith

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Adam Smith

The team-sheet saw the return of Cecil Nyoni, Andy Monkhouse, Ryan Wilson and Adam Priestley to the Reds’ starting line-up, a promising start seeing Adam Smith’s angled drive held by keeper Dan Hanford before 30 seconds had elapsed.

Clayton then saw his third minute header held by Hanford after Brad McGowan had nodded Smith’s free-kick back across the six-yard box, but Reds’ custodian Fabian Spiess was soon having to field good efforts from Wes York and Nyal Bell.

Priestley almost latched on to a wayward back header from Jamal Fyfield on 19 minutes, but Liam Hogan was able to intervene, Alfreton though able to take advantage of another defensive blunder five minutes later to open the scoring.

Monkhouse delivered a cross from the left that Hanford fumbled as he collided with one of his own defenders, Priestley hammered the loose ball that was partially cleared off the line by Manny Smith and Clayton pounced from close range to score.

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Nicky Law makes a point to the fourth official

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Nicky Law makes a point to the fourth official

Four minutes before half-time the Alfreton contingent were incensed when Clayton went down under a strong challenge from Smith, but referee Stephen Ross waved aside their penalty pleas.

Spiess did well to recover after initially dropping a Reece Styche header from Mitch Brundle’s 51st minute free-kick, then 11 minutes later the home keeper pulled off a tremendous save from a Paddy McLaughlin piledriver.

Alfreton’s second goal in the 76th minute was an absolute gift, Hogan’s wayward pass nowhere near any Gateshead player to leave Craig Westcarr with the simplest of tap-ins shortly after taking the field in place of Priestley.

Ultimately though, going two goals down probably provided Gateshead with the catalyst they needed, Jones going on a trademark run before unleashing a shot from the edge of the area that may have been deflected past Spiess in the 78th minute.

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Cecil Nyoni

Alfreton Town v Gateshead, Cecil Nyoni

Then three minutes later a spectacular left-foot volley from 16 yards by Jones gave Spiess no chance and forced a difficult replay from such a promising position for the hosts.

O’Neill added: “All round I thought we were excellent and they swapped formations three or four times. They’ve changed personnel and they’ve chucked everything at yo. All we have to do is defend and try to keep our shape.”

ALFRETON: Spiess; Mantack, McGowan, Kennedy, Wilson, Monkhouse, Nyoni, Marshall, A.Smith, Clayton (Allan 73), Priestley (Westcarr 73). Subs not used: Heaton, S.Smith.

GATESHEAD: Hanford; M.Smith, Hogan, Fyfield (Hannant 85), York, Brundle, S.Jones, Bell (Styche 40), D.Jones (Wrightson 60), Mafuta, McLaughlin. Sub not used: Johnson.

Referee: Stephen Ross.

Att: 457.