Alfreton Town held to third successive draw as O’Neill waits for first win

Russ O'Neill is still searching for a first win as Alfreton Town boss.
Russ O'Neill is still searching for a first win as Alfreton Town boss.

It was a third successive home draw for Alfreton Town in the Vanarama National League North after they drew 0-0 with Brackley Town on Tuesday night.

The comparison with Saturday’s bustling 1-1 draw with Stockport County was somewhat lack-lustre on a heavy pitch, the Reds hardly creating any worthwhile chances whilst the visitors struck the crossbar twice and were really only denied victory by a stubborn and dogged defensive display.

The only change made by Russ O’Neill was Paul Clayton’s inclusion in place of Paul Marshall, which gave Alfreton the opportunity to attack, although the outcome was disappointing with the only real plus being a clean sheet allied to what may yet prove to be a vital point.

An early flurry of two corners apiece in the opening minutes soon petered out with both sides struggling to adapt to the conditions, although Lee Ndlovu did smash the ball against Alfreton’s crossbar in the eighth minute with a hopeful shot from 20 yards.

Fabian Spiess then had to beat away a good effort from James Armson, before controversy raged when Gareth Dean followed through in a challenge with Craig Westcarr that left the latter in a heap as penalty appeals were waved aside.

The Reds’ best move in a desperately poor first half came on 32 minutes when Jordan Richards raced down the right flank before Westcarr laid off his cross and Mark Shelton fired past the back post.

Armson’s shot was diverted behind for a 47th minute corner after taking a slick return pass from Glenn Walker, then the latter’s deflected drive rebounded off the bar four minutes later.

Cecil Nyoni’s wayward pass set up Armson, whose shot was saved by Spiess after a forward thrust by Adam Walker, then with 53 minutes showing on the clock Shelton saw his low drive parried as the Reds responded.

A much livelier second half seemed to be edging in Brackley’s favour, with Spiess saving from Ellis Myles before Brad McGowan tackled back superbly to halt a promising run by David Moyo.

More defensive heroics in the closing stages saw Steve Diggin thwarted by Terry Kennedy on 77 minutes and again by Richards in the penultimate minute of the contest.

ALFRETON: Spiess; Richards, McGowan, Kennedy, Heaton, Nyoni (Jordan 65), Monkhouse, Shelton, Westcarr (Priestley 49), Allan, Clayton (Hearn 73).

SUBS NOT USED: S.Smith, Gascoigne.

BRACKLEY: L.Walker; Myles; Gudger, Byrne, Graham, Dean, G.Walker, Armson (Lowe 73), Ndlovu (Bowen 80), Moyo (Diggin 69), A.Walker.

SUBS NOT USED: Gough, Clifton.

REFEREE: Ricky Wootton