Alfreton Town emerged from their televised F.A.Cup Round Two defeat with immense credit on Sunday, after taking an early lead and hitting the woodwork FOUR times.
The home side were boosted by the return of defender Ross Killock after his horrific injury at Hyde FC 12 days earlier, the Leeds United loanee sporting a specially made gumshield after receiving permission from Elland Road to play.
Leyton Orient were clearly rattled by the Reds’ early barrage, in which Paul Clayton opened the scoring after three and a half minutes, drilling the ball under keeper Ryan Allsop from Nathan Arnold’s tee-up after Josh Law had fed Ben Tomlinson down the right.
Allsop had to dive bravely at Clayton’s feet in the 12th minute, then three minutes later Tomlinson struck the foot of the post from an Arnold cross as Leyton became increasingly disorientated.
With 17 minutes elapsed Law’s free-kick looped up off the defensive wall and thudded against the crossbar, then a great tackle back by Theo Streete thwarted Kevin Lisbie in Orient’s first attack of note.
Suddenly though the game swung in the Londoners’ favour with three goals in a lethal 11 minute spell, Dean Cox levelling in the 25th minute with a curling shot from the edge of the area after being played through by David Mooney.
Reds’ keeper Jon Stewart pulled off a good save to deny Lloyd James in the 29th minute, but 60 seconds later Orient led 2-1 when Ben Tomlinson’s defensive header from a retaken corner found Mooney unmarked six yards out.
Alfreton found themselves further adrift on 36 minutes when Lee Cook’s deep cross from the left was headed firmly past Stewart by Mooney for his second goal of the tie.
Mooney would have claimed a hat-trick on 43 minutes but for a superb tip over by Stewart, but the Reds came out for the second half in determined fashion to once again take the game to the O’s.
Ross Killock’s 49th minute header from Law’s corner lacked pace, then Arnold’s attempted back heel from Clayton’s by-line cross won another flag-kick.
When Law delivered this one it was forced into the crowded six-yard box by Darran Kempson for Tomlinson to swivel and plant past Allsop with 52 minutes on the clock.
Two minutes later Tomlinson turned and hooked the ball against the underside of the bar from Law’s cross, then as the visitors at last caught their breath Mooney went close with an adventurous chip from distance.
Kempson had his header from another Alfreton corner scrambled off the line by Moses Odubajo in the 61st minute, then at the other end four minutes later Lisbie’s volley was blocked by the chest of Killock.
Dan Bradley’s central foray ten minutes from time ended with his low drive being held by Allsop, then after Ben Chorley had been booked for a cynical foul on Clayton Law again smashed the ball against the crossbar from the free-kick.
The tie was finally settled on 86 minutes when Cox took a return pass from Mooney to curl the ball around Stewart from a tight angle, but there was still time for three more decent efforts from the hosts as they refused to lay down.
Clayton and sub Tom Denton each glanced a header wide from further Law corners, whilst sandwiched in between was a shot from Streete that deflected behind off an Orient defender.
ALFRETON: Stewart; Law, Kempson, Killock, Franklin, Meadows [Emerton 90+2], Streete, Bradley, Arnold, Clayton [Worsfold 90+2], Tomlinson [Denton 82]. Subs not used: Russell, Barnes, Quinn, Brown.
Att: 1104 [inc. 281 visitors]