Late leveller earns cup replay

Alfreton Town manager, John McDermott.
Alfreton Town manager, John McDermott.

Alfreton Town were given a massive scare by AFC Rushden and Diamonds in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup before fighting back to earn a replay with a late equaliser.

Manager John McDermott was relieved as his side survived against a side that plays two divisions below the Reds.

“We were fortunate. I can’t knock the lads’ effort and determination. At least they kept going,” he said.

“It was a typical cup. l have been in teams where l have taken big scalps — we said don’t let thisd be a banana skin.

“The first goal was poor defending and we were fortunate they didn’t score one earlier.

“The second was just down to poor individual defending.

“They didn’t work that well to get their chances, but they took the.

“You’ve got to give them credit. They are a good side.”

 The Reds started the tie at the Impact Arena on the front foot, but Joel Gayasi latched on to a loose ball in the 23rd minute to cut in from the right and lash home from 12 yards.

Worse was to come nine minutes later when Diamonds doubled their advantage.

Top-scorer Nabil Shariff pounced from close range after a Claudiu Hoban free-kick caused confusion at the heart of the home defence.

Alfreton pulled one back through Brody Robertson, who scored his first goal for the club in the 36th minute, side-footing home a deep Brendon Daniels free-kick, but the equaliser only came with seven minutes remaining.

Billy Priestley spared the Reds’ blushes, ramming home from close range after a Daniels cross from the left.

The defender had remained up front with a ligament problem sustained after all the substitutes had been used.

McDermott added that he expected a battle because it was the FA Cup.

“l thought Brody [Robertson] up front looked decent,” he said.

“He was tidy in the first half, got his goal and got us back in the game.

“I did think we would go on and win it, but if you don’t work hard enough — there were a few off the pace —you are going to struggle in any game.

“l can’t fault the lads in the last 20 minutes.”

Shiels and Adam Smith were close with decent efforts before the first goal, but Alfreton struggled from that point.

Priestley made two good tackles to thwart Hoban and Shariff respectively during a desperate second half.

A brilliant flying save by Chris Elliott prevented Shariff from scoring late on.

ALFRETON: Elliott; Topliss, Shiels, Priestley, Keane, Wood, A.Smith [Jennings 60], Disley, Daniels, Sharp [Westcarr 57], Robertson [German 67]. Subs not used: Allan, Marshall, Johnson.

RUSHDEN: Heath, Farrel, Ford, Punter, Dolman, Bunting [Bell-Toxte 83], Gyasi [Lorraine 78], Curtis, Shariff [Dillon 90], Hoban, Fairlamb.

Subs not used: Finlay, Boateng, D. Smith.

Referee: Lewis Smith.

Attendance: 403.