Alfreton robbed by two dubious penalties and a red card

Bobby Johnson, who was on the scoresheet for Alfreton Town at Chester.
Bobby Johnson, who was on the scoresheet for Alfreton Town at Chester.

Frustrated Alfreton Town were unlucky not to earn at least a point at Chester on Saturday after contentious penalties and a dubious red card went against them.

Instead the Reds fell 3-2 for their fifth straight defeat in the Vanarama National League North as Chester’s Gary Roberts capped a hat-trick with a last-gasp winner.

The first disputed decision came in the second minute when referee Benjamin Speedie pointed to the spot for an elleged foul by James Clifton. The kick was blasted home by Roberts.

Alfreton’s response was sharp and by the 20th minute, they were 2-1 up. First, debutant striker Reece Styche raced on to a Luke Shiels through-ball to sublimely steer a shot inside ‘keeper Grant Shenton’s post. And then, Bobby Johnson scored direct from a free-kick after Styche had been brought down just outside the area.

However, Alfreton suffered their next bodyblow only four minutes later when Clifton was deemed to have fouled Chester’s Gary Stopforth. It looked as if the defender had played the ball, but referee Speedie sent him off.

From that point on, it was a question of Billy Heath’s men defending their lead, and they did it successfully until the 67th minute when an audacious shot by Roberts, from all of 30 yards, flew into the top corner.

Even then, they looked set to take home a fine point, especially after surviving a missed sitter from substitute Mani Dieseruvwe and a shot against the bar from Jon Moran for Chester.

A draw looked even more likely when the hosts had Steve Howson dismissed for bringing down Craig Hobson. But after Curtis Bateson’s resulting free-kick had been tipped on to the bar, Alfreton’s hopes were destroyed in the fifth minute of added time when the referee awarded another spot-kick. Roberts’s initial shot was parried by Sam Ramsbottom, but he followed up to net.

ALFRETON LINE-UP -- Ramsbottom. Clifton, Shiels, Gowling, Wilde, Hird, Johnson (Clackstone 25), Bateson, Hotte, Peniket, Styche (Hobson 81). Subs not used: Sinnott, Platt, Nicholson.