A late equaliser from James Clifton brought Alfreton Town their first National League North point since the beginning of September when they drew 1-1 at Broadhurst Park last night.
It was the first time a game against FC United of Manchester had ever finished level, but for long periods it seemed only a matter of how many for the hosts after Josh Wallen had given them a 20th minute lead, Reds’ keeper Sam Ramsbottom making at least four crucial saves in a one-sided first half.
Relieved manager Billy Heath said: “The first half was poor - we let them dictate the game and the tempo and I was disappointed. Sam’s made two or three good saves.
“But the second half was much more like where we need to be. I thought we were well in the game second half and created a couple of decent enough chances before we got the goal.
“But the first half performance just wasn’t good enough.”
Asked if some harsh words had been said at half-time, Heath grinned: “I can’t repeat what was said - we had some words but l think we responded.
“It’s a big, big point tonight which has stopped the run of defeats. Coming away from home a point is always a good outcome.
“But tonight was massively important because it gives us the first brick to build on.
“The substitutions had a real impact. Jordan Sinnott was excellent when he came on, big Hobbo (Craig Hobson) did well, as did Josh Clackstone when we moved James Clifton forward. They’re the three most pleasing things - the added impact.
“We’ve been on an horrendous run and no matter how experienced the players are it takes it’s toll.
“I don’t think it helped having to play so soon after the Chester game when we had to play 65 minutes with 10 men - obviously some of them looked a little fatigued, but I’m pleased with a point.”
There was little that Ramsbottom could do to prevent Wallen’s close range header from a left flank corner from finding the back of the net, Alfreton’s best chance of the opening session falling to Reece Styche, whose shot flew over the bar from debutant midfielder David Lynch’s through-ball after just 45 seconds had elapsed.
A more concerted effort after the break saw Bobby Johnson head wide from a Lynch cross and keeper Lloyd Allinson claw away a stinging drive by Styche, while Sam Hird’s header from a Jordan Sinnott corner midway through the second half looked to be over the line before being hacked clear.
Ramsbottom continued to shine with saves from Lewis Mansell and Kurt Willoughby before the latter’s strong run was curtailed by Clifton’s timely interception.
Craig Hobson had been brought on in the 64th minute and his presence livened up the Reds’ attack, the sub striker teeing up Curtis Bateson for a blocked shot before setting up Clifton to head wide moments before the 88th minute leveller, Hobson’s shot blocked before Clifton followed up from just inside the area.
FC UNITED: Allinson; Senior, Thompson, O’Halloran, C.Lynch, Potts, Simoes (Crawford 84), Wallen, Mansell, Willoughby, Donohue (Brierley 82). Subs not used: Banister, Baird, Lonsdale.
ALFRETON: Ramsbottom; Clifton, Wilde, Hird, Lynch, Shiels, Bateson, Hotte (Sinnott 60), Styche (Hobson 64), Peniket, Johnson (Clackstone 69). Subs not used: Gowling, Nicholson.
REFEREE: David McNamara.