Improving Alfreton Town start new decade with home draw to AFC Telford United

Alfreton manager, Billy Heath.
Alfreton manager, Billy Heath.

Alfreton Town began the new decade with a 1-1 draw at home to AFC Telford United, having been pummelled 3-0 by the same side just six days earlier.

Allied with the improved performance against leaders King's Lynn Town at the weekend there is at last some optimism around the Reds' camp, but the way the game started it looked as if Telford might repeat the rout.
Barely three and a half minutes had elapsed when James McQuilkin lashed home an unstoppable drive from outside the area, but marking in the build-up had left question marks after a Ryan Barnett shot had only been partially cleared.
lt could have been worse when Barnett's cross five minutes later left McQuilkin clear again, but this time keeper Jordan Wright responded with a good save.
Visiting keeper Matt Yates somehow kept out Amari Morgan-Smith's low drive as Alfreton reacted, and after gradually imposing themselves on the game were rewarded with an equaliser on 26 minutes.
The hard-working Morgan-Smith was at the heart of it with a burst of speed and an angled drive that Ben Tomlinson nudged over the line at the back post and by that time, having settled, the Reds were good value for half-time parity.
Not a great deal occurred after the break as two tired teams slogged it out, but Morgan-Smith had both a header saved from a Michael Freiter free-kick and a goal ruled out for off-side, then right at the end Bobby Johnson was thwarted by Yates from a Jude Oyibo pull-back.
Manager Billy Heath reflected: “Definite improvement, but conceding so early again didn't help - we switched off - after that, for the next 30/35 minutes, l thought it was all us - there was only one team knocking on the door - we got the goal, but unfortunately we didn't get a second in that period.

“Second half we never reached the heights of that period - it became scrappy - more a war of attrition really and in the end l think a draw was probably fair - l'm pleased because we're improving, although we were never going to reach the heights of the King's Lynn game as there was too quick a turnaround - that was never going to happen, but we're pleased that we got something from the game.
“l think a couple of weeks ago, the way we were, we would probably have lost that game - small steps, tried to improve and a deserved point.

“The goal we conceded was disappointing - it's a routine ball into the box - it drops to the boy 35 yards out, where he can get a touch, set himself up and fire - it's a great finish but no-one closed him down or marked him - but the reaction after conceding so early was commendable - we've said all along that the first goal in any game is huge and it's important that you deal with that.”

ALFRETON:  Wright; Clackstone, Branson, Qualter, Thacker, Preston, Johnson, Freiter [East 71], Clarke, Tomlinson [Oyibo 81], Morgan-Smith. Other subs: Blake, Hinchley, Andrew.
Referee: Kristian Silcock. Attendance: 511.