Tamworth 2, Alfreton Town 2
Alfreton Town heralded in 2012 in much the same way they had 12 months earlier, yet in very different circumstances, when they drew 2-2 at Tamworth.
Last season it was a 2-2 New Year’s Day draw at home to Eastwood Town in the middle of a 14-game unbeaten run on their way to the Blue Square Bet North title.
This time around the Reds were happy to extend their run to four League games without defeat, something that seemed unattainable just a few short weeks ago, while edging ever closer to Conference Premier safety.
First keeper called into action was Joe Collister who had to punch out an awkward Josh Law corner under pressure in the fifth minute, then at the other end Greg Young had to tackle back as Nabil Shariff charged through.
Tamworth took a 17th minute lead as the rain poured down, with skipper Duane Courtney volleying home after Young could only clear a Scott Barrow free-kick to the edge of the area.
Young then popped up in to head over at the back post from another Law free-kick before the hosts responded with Shariff’s weak shot easily held by Reds’ keeper Joe Day.
Richard Tait sent Iyseden Christie down the right in the 24th minute before slipping past Day, but Shariff miscued in front of a gaping net, then Callum Wilson hoofed over from 16 yards.
Anthony Wilson’s angled drive from Jake Moult’s pass was held by Collister, then Nathan Arnold fired over after outwitting Francino Francis in the 30th minute.
For a split second Arnold carved a gilt-edged opening when he took the ball away from Collister after the keeper had badly fumbled a Connor Franklin throw, but his cross into the box found no-one in support.
A defensive lapse in the 40th minute allowed Anton Brown to pounce but Collister managed to hack clear, although two minutes later Alfreton had drawn level anyway.
Both Nathan Jarman and Anthony Wilson had headers blocked in the build-up before Theo Sreete hammered the loose ball low and hard into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.
In first half added time Courtney wasted two chances for the home team from left-wing crosses without putting any pressure at all on the Reds’ defence.
Three minutes after the break though Tamworth had regained the advantage through the softest of goals, Christie having an embarrassing amount of time to convert Connor Gudger’s cross from six yards in similar style to Moult’s goal in the corresponding fixture at the Impact Arena on Boxing Day.
A timely tackle by Tait prevented Moult from grabbing a quick equaliser then Arnold fired over before parity was restored once again in the 62nd minute.
Jamie Mullan had just come off the bench when he won a corner, which Law directed on to a stretching Brown’s head ten yards out for his eighth goal of the season.
Alfreton had a let-off two minutes later when Sam Habergham’s free-kick struck Christie and bounced up against the crossbar, then Matt Wilson headed over from another Law corner.
Day pulled off a slow-motion save from Samuel Oji with five minutes remaining, then in the 90th minute he was the Reds’ saviour again when he blocked at point-blank range to thwart Kyle Patterson.
Alfreton: Day; Streete, Quinn, Young, Franklin (M.Wilson 52), Law, Moult, Brown, Arnold (Clayton 77), A.Wilson, Jarman (Mullan 61). Subs not used: Hall, Church.
Attendance: 1,241 (249 from Alfreton).