ALFRETON Town’s last official pre-season friendly before the start of their Conference Premier Diivsion adventure saw them held to a 1-1 draw at Rainworth MW, with two former Reds’ goalkeepers playing their part.
Billy Millar is joint-manager of the Kirklington Road outfit and was a stalwart between the posts for Alfreton before taking over as manager from Evan Sutherland in 1981, while Gavin Saxby denied the Reds on numerous occasions on Saturday having last turned out for them in the 2002/03 season.
To be fair the Wrens could have been two up inside 12 minutes, after Adie Hawes’ weak back-pass was intercepted and squandered by Lovell White on four minutes, with defensive hesitancy letting in Craig Mitchell eight minutes later only for Hawes to atone by clearing off the line.
Gradually Alfreton stepped up the pace and Chris Senior’s 20th minute by-line cross into the box had to be hacked into touch by Joe Carter, then Paul Clayton’s full-blooded header from a Jamie Mullan corner was parried by Saxby.
Senior volleyed into the side-netting from Mullan’s 23rd minute cross, then Connor Franklin’s deep delivery from the left was pulled back by Senior only for Saxby to block Clayton’s close range header.
Saxby then pulled off a reflex save to deny Hawes’ header from another Mullan cross, then four minutes before the break Josh Law’s 18 yarder from a Clayton lay-off was again repelled by the Rainworth keeper.
Clayton had another header tipped over following a free-kick, and there was still time in the first half for Saxby to extend his repertoire by blocking Nathan Arnold’s sharp drive.
There was not too much Saxby could do to prevent Jordan Hall from blasting in the opening goal from 20 yards off the underside of the crossbar from a Levi Mackin pass, then an overhead kick by Jake Moult was held from a Law corner.
A timely tackle by Cameron Fearon prevented Arnold from advancing on goal in the 64th minute, then Saxby held Moult’s low drive when set up by Fabrice Kasiama.
It is testament to Rainworth that they remained focussed and forced an equaliser two minutes from the end, when White drilled home from close range following a left-wing throw.
Referee: Hristo Karivanov of Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Reds man of the match: Jake Moult.