Reds earn a point at Telford

Ben Tomlinson, Alfreton Town
Ben Tomlinson, Alfreton Town

Alfreton Town returned from freezing Shropshire on Saturday with a vital point, which doubled their tally from eight visits to the New Buck’s Head, a venue where the Reds have only ever scored one goal.

Fans of AFC Telford United had cleared 1,000 tons of snow from the pitch to ensure the match took place, but their endeavours only saw their team slip to a record 14th game without a win and could not prevent the Bucks from dropping into the bottom four of the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Manager Nicky Law was able to name an unchanged side from the previous week’s rather more interesting 3-3 draw at Hereford United, and there was a chance for Grimsby Town loanee Louie Soares to demonstrate his capabilities for the last 25 minutes of the game.

Paul Clayton pounced as Dan Preston slipped on the tricky surface in the third minute, but after forcing the ball wide to Nathan Arnold, the latter saw his off-target angled drive clutched low by home keeper Ryan Young.

A minute later, Ben Tomlinson’s shot was blocked by Young from a Josh Law cross, then in the hosts’ first attack Phil Barnes held the ball just under the bar after Preston’s 25-yarder had looped up off a Reds’ defender.

Moments later Steve Leslie fired over from ten yards, then at the other end Law missed the target from a similar distance after Matty Harriott had played Tomlinson through.

A quiet spell was only punctuated by numerous free-kicks that were mostly from mistakes made in the difficult conditions, but a neat move in the 35th minute was somehow conjured up which involved Connor Franklin and Daniel Meadows, before its instigator Arnold curled the ball beyond the back post.

The first half action ended with Preston heading over from a left-wing corner, then, two minutes after the break, Law fired over from 12 yards after Tomlinson had helped on a Leigh Franks’s delivery from the left.

Leslie’s by-line run was shadowed by Theo Streete, who did enough to ensure that his stifled shot was held by Barnes at the near post, then Alfreton managed to survive a 53rd minute move that should have seen Telford edge ahead.

A brilliant double save from Barnes first of all denied Jake Reid before the keeper blocked Steve Jones’s follow-up, then Nathan Rooney smashed the loose ball against the crossbar and finally Jordan Rose fired wide.

Two minutes later, Alfreton had their best chance of a goal when Streete’s deep free-kick picked out Franklin in unfamiliar territory, and his shot from ten yards was diverted by Young for a corner.

Reid’s 62nd minute cross only needed a touch from Jones in front of goal, then three minutes later Jones’s volley from a Leslie cross was superbly turned behind by Barnes.

A strong central run by Arnold ended with his low drive from the edge of the area being held by Young, then Streete’s rising drive from 25 yards maintained its trajectory.

Arnold’s 76th minute run to the by-line almost succeeded in leaving Soares with a tap-in but Young read the cross well and just about held the ball as it threatened to squirm out of his grasp.

Five minutes from time, Law’s left-wing corner had to be intercepted by the keeper as Darran Kempson homed in for a back post header, then in response two minutes later Barnes again excelled in tipping over an awkward cross-shot from Luke Hubbins.

From the ensuing corner, Law had to clear off the line from Phil Trainer, then in added time Rooney failed to emulate his namesake by putting a decent chance wildly wide.

ALFRETON: Barnes; Streete, Kempson, Franks, Franklin, Law, Harriott, Meadows [Bradley 70], Arnold, Clayton, Tomlinson [Soares 65].

other subs: Quinn, Brown, Worsfold.

Att: 1291