FC United of Manchester 4
Alfreton Town 3
Alfreton Town made a remarkable recovery to draw level after conceding three goals at Broadhurst Park on Saturday, but could not prevent FC United of Manchester from snatching a disputed late winner.
Reds’ manager Nicky Law felt his side had given “three poor goals away where we were concerned, but we came out for the second half and set about them, got back to 3-3 and should have had the game sewn up - their keeper’s made a good save, Clayts (Paul Clayton) has put one wide and they’re turning points of the game.”
It had taken the hosts barely two minutes to open the scoring following a George Thomson corner, Kallam Mantack’s goal-line clearance from Luke Ashworth’s header falling to Kieran Glynn, who rammed the ball home from six yards.
Worse was to follow after 11 minutes when Matthew Wolfenden’s shot from the edge of the area deceived Fabian Spiess as it spun off Brad McGowan, the move stemming from a Thomson cross.
It was 3-0 to the home side on 37 minutes when Thomson was allowed too much space 18 yards out to score with ease after Glynn and Wolfenden had combined on the left.
Alfreton had scarcely been in contention to this point, but a goal four minutes before the break lifted their spirits, new signing Adam Smith beating his marker to run on to Craig Westcarr’s headed through-ball before steering low past home keeper Dave Carnell from ten yards.
The boot was firmly on the other foot for the opening minutes of the second half with the Reds in total command, Clayton winning a 49th minute corner from a good save by Carnell, Westcarr’s delivery inadvertently headed towards goal by United’s Nathan Lowe and McGowan leaping high to head in off the crossbar - his first goal for the club.
Five minutes later Westcarr’s free-kick was headed back into the mix by Clayton at the back post, McGowan was able to turn the ball towards Smith, and he took great delight in smashing the ball through a ruck of players from just inside the area.
Clayton twice found himself in great positions, forcing Carnell into a vital save but firing inches wide from Smith’s inviting cross in the 74th minute.
Four minutes later Spiess blocked a full-blooded drive from Lowe, but the keeper was unable to prevent the fourth FC goal eight minutes from time.
Law said: “We should have prevented the corner - just dealt with it - but unfortunately the modern day defender thinks they have to do a bit more than just put their foot through it or get a head on it and that’s what’s cost us.”
The corner fell to Thomson, whose follow-through in feeding scorer Ashworth left Terry Kennedy crumpled on the edge of the area, Spiess beaten by a firmly struck shot from 12 yards.
“You look at the table, we’ve scored 35 goals, only top side Fylde have scored more. But look at the goals against (39) - horrendous - just too many individual mistakes and it seems to be one person for one and another for another. Whether it’s a young man thing or not I don’t know, maybe it is.
“But we’re certainly a threat, but you get to the point where you’re scoring three away from home and not getting anything - it’s disappointing,” said Law.
Unavailability, injuries and International duties had meant Law needed to make several changes for this fixture, but he was pleased with his two new signings Smith and Paul Marshall.
And added: “I think you can see they’re both short of games. Marshall’s been in at Chesterfield trialling, he’s had very little game time, I think he’s shown some good stuff there for us.
“I think he’s what we want. We need someone who can get us on the ball, set us off and start us, and I think he’s done that today.
“Smith showed why we brought him in, again I think he tired, but he kept going and was a real threat. He came in off the line and joined in well. He took his goals really well and I was pleased with him.”
FC UNITED: Carnell; Williams, Tonge (Wright 80), Lowe, Eckersley (Corbett 57), Ashworth, Wolfenden, Glynn, Greaves (Johnson 90), Thomson, Winter. Subs not used: Gilchrist, Brown.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Mantack, Kennedy, McGowan, Heaton, Edmundson, Allan, Marshall, A.Smith, Westcarr (Wilson 86), Clayton. Subs not used: S.Smith, Ottley.
Referee: Garreth Rhodes.