Two crucial decisions that went against Alfreton Town in their televised home game against Grimsby Town on Good Friday ultimately cost the Reds their last lingering hope of a Skrill Premier play-off place.
The cameras proved that the second goal of Ross Hannah’s hat-trick should have been ruled offside, just nine minutes after Alfreton had levelled the game at 1-1, then right at the end Aswad Thomas handled Job Ayo Akinde’s shot on the goalline without a penalty being awarded.
The Mariners poached a seventh minute lead when former Matlock striker Hannah ran through to catch skipper for the day Jon Worsnop in two minds, his shot trickling into the net from an acute angle after the Reds’ keeper had failed to stop the ball with his outstretched foot.
Worsnop went a long way towards making amends though seven minutes later with a Gordon Banks type save low to his left after a powerful header by Lenell John-Lewis had bounced just in front of him.
Chaos reigned from the ensuing corner though with Akinde attempting to head Kerr’s flag-kick back out of play, only for the ball to rebound off Josh Law beyond the back post before nestling in Worsnop’s arms.
Grimsby keeper James McKeown had to stretch to flap clear an awkward Daniel Meadows cross, but Alfreton were level by the 24th minute from the slickest move of the game initiated by the scorer Law in his own half.
Akinde’s quick return pass allowed Law to spray the ball out wide to Meadows, and his cross saw Grimsby defender Sam Hatton inadvertently tee it up under pressure from Paul Clayton for Law to finish the move from 12 yards.
The Reds were rocked in the 33rd minute when Hannah ran on to John-Lewis’ pass from an offside position to turn the ball in from close range.
Alfreton had restored parity once again by the 51st minute though when Grimsby skipper Shaun Pearson upended Akinde as he ran into the area from Dan Bradley’s through-ball, the striker dusting himself down to take the penalty himself and score with a confident shot.
It was Akinde’s 18th League and Cup goal of the season and his fifth in the last five games, and he almost set up a third goal for the Reds eight minutes later by picking out Clayton on the edge of the area, but his lay-off was swept wide by Law.
On 70 minutes, Grimsby led for the third time after Darran Kempson was judged to have tugged back Pearson just inside the area and Hannah duly completed his treble from the spot.
Alfreton were rewarded with a third equaliser in the 80th minute when Clayton pounced on a wayward defensive header from Thomas to stroke the ball past McKeown from six yards.
With the fourth official about to indicate added time Akinde took a return pass from Bradley to hammer the ball towards goal from eight yards, with Thomas stretching out an arm to divert it and deprive the Reds of an opportunity for a late winner.