Alfreton Town launch superb fightback to draw

Sam Smith celebrates
Sam Smith celebrates
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Alfreton Town staged a remarkable recovery at Hednesford on Saturday to maintain their unbeaten away record in 2016.

The Reds did this despite trailing 3-1 at the interval and having been reduced to ten men after just 15 minutes.

Leading scorer Sam Jones allegedly stamped on an opponent in retaliation as he lined up for a Reds’ free-kick.

Alfreton had already conceded in the 13th minute through the first of two penalties awarded to the home side in the first half.

Tom Allan had brought down Shelton Payne, who took the spot-kick himself, although it had to be retaken because of encroachment, and with 24 minutes elapsed a second penalty was awarded when Todd Jordan impeded Modou Cham.

Payne found the net for the third time from the spot, although Reds’ keeper Matt Duke almost prevented the ball from crossing the line on this occasion, but the Vanarama National League North strugglers led 2-0.

Sam Smith went close for Alfreton with a shot from a Lindon Meikle bye-line cross, but the impetus was still with Hednesford as Tom Peers headed wide from a Jack Fitzwater cross and the Pitmen appealed vigorously for a third penalty when Niall Heaton tackled Peers.

The deficit was reduced in the 32nd minute when Heaton towered above everybody to head home his first goal for the club from a Joe Leesley corner, but just four minutes later Fitzwater restored Hednesford’s two-goal advantage with a simple header from a free-kick after Heaton had tripped Payne.

Both Nicky Law and Frank Sinclair were spoken to at length by the referee as the respective managers became heated after Phil Trainer had ploughed into Joe Doyle right in front of their dug-outs three minutes before half-time.

The opening 45 minutes concluding with Jordan going desperately close from a Dan Bradley free-kick.

Alfreton emerged for the second half in dominant mood, Jordan glancing a header wide from a long throw by Heaton, Bradley having a shot blocked by home keeper Dan Crane and Heaton looping a header wide from a Doyle through-ball before a penalty was awarded when Fitzwater held Smith back as he tried to reach a Bradley cross.

Bradley confidently planted the spot-kick past Crane in the 64th minute. and Alfreton stepped up a gear as they sensed that they could retrieve this game despite their depleted numbers.

Leesley’s chip from wide left scuffed the back post on 67 minutes, but the Reds were rewarded four minutes later when Smith’s header nestled in the back of the net from another Leesley corner, all six goals having stemmed from dead-ball situations.

Two blistering runs and shots from Bradley saw the furmer almost succeed from 25 yards, whilst the latter from much closer range drew a magnificent save from Crane to give Alfreton their umpteenth corner of the second half.

However they still almost lost in the closing stages, with Peers prodding Kennedy Digie’s through-ball wide and the same player then forcing a defiant save from Duke.

Alfreton Duke; Doyle, Jordan, Heaton, Allan (Thanoj 50), Nyoni, Bradley, Leesley, Meikle (Jackson 70), Jones, Smith (Robertson 88).

Sub not used: Wilson.

Attendance: 421.