FA Carlsberg Trophy
Alfreton Town 3
Cambridge United 3
Alfreton Town came within a whisker of claiming a Conference National club scalp for the first time, with Cambridge United only equalising two minutes from time in an exciting FA Trophy second round tie at the Impact Arena.
And Monday’s draw gave the Reds a massive incentive with a trip for the winners to Field Mill to face Mansfield Town, but really the hosts should have settled the tie at the first attempt in front of a bumper crowd.
The action began with Simon Russell firing well off target for United with an eighth minute volley from Robbie Willmott’s cross, then a minute later Daniel Wright was well over with a shot from the edge of the area from Brian Saah’s pass.
Laurie Wilson sent a shot from the edge of the area close after taking a return pass from Nathan Arnold in the 15th minute, then four minutes later Wright’s shot in response needed diverting behind by Ian Ross and from the corner Aden Flint had to block from the lively Russell.
Paddy Gamble had to turn behind a Wright shot from Willmott’s pass in the 22nd minute, then following a quiet spell Cambridge took a 40th minute lead after Gamble had failed to hold Wright’s shot at the near post and Russell followed up to fire home into the roof of the net from eight yards.
Five minutes after the break Wayne Gray turned and delivered a low drive that Gamble had to turn behind, but three minutes further on and Alfreton were level through Jordan Hall.
Having played a one-two with Arnold, Hall side-stepped a defender before firing past keeper Danny Naisbitt from 12 yards, then just seven minutes later the Reds had turned the tie on its head and led 2-1.
This time it was Laurie Wilson with a stunning curling shot around Naisbitt from 16 yards after picking up a loose ball following good approach work by Ross, then two minutes later the visiting keeper had to save low down from Arnold.
A vital tackle back by Flint took the sting out of Willmott’s 64th minute shot, but two minutes later United were level when Saah rammed the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards following a short corner that was pulled back by substitute Conal Platt.
Flint had a header cleared off the line by Kevin Roberts from Laurie Wilson’s 70th minute corner, then two minutes later Arnold went close after running on to Wilson’s through-ball.
The Reds led 3-2 in the 73rd minute when another Wilson corner proved difficult to deal with and the towering Flint’s glancing back-header crossed the line amid a ruck of players at close range.
Then three minutes after that Connor Franklin’s low drive tested Naisbitt again on his near post.
The visiting keeper then had to parry from Arnold with ten minutes left, but substitute Adam Marriott had the last word with his 88th minute leveller from ten yards after being played through by fellow sub Daryl Clare following an error by Ross.
Alfreton Town: Paddy Gamble, Josh Law, Connor Franklin, Aden Flint, (c), Darren Stride, Laurie Wilson, Jordan Hall, Ian Ross, Paul Clayton (Matt Wilson 57), Nathan Arnold, Anthony Howell.
Substitutes not used: Jake Moult, Chris Hall, Dan Dillon, Anthony Wilson.
Cambridge United: Danny Naisbitt, Kevin Roberts, Josh Coulson, Brian Saah, David Partridge, Simon Russell (Adam Marriott 76), Daniel Wright (Daryl Clare 65), Robbie Willmott, Paul Carden, Wayne Gray (Conal Platt 65), Darryl Coakley.
Substitutes not used: 30 Simon Brown, 12 Rory Mcauley.
Referee: Dean Mohareb of Stockport. Attendance: 929
Goals: Alfreton Town - Jordan Hall 53, Laurie Wilson 60, Aden Flint 73. Cambridge United - Simon Russell 40, Brian Saah 66, Adam Marriott 88.
Bookings: Alfreton Town - Laurie Wilson (45+2 foul on David Partridge); Aden Flint (73, over celebrating). Cambridge United - None.
Reds man of match: Aden Flint.