Perseverance was the key to Alfreton Town salvaging a point against high-flying Stockport County at the lmpact Arena on Saturday.
Their never-say-die attitude was rewarded by Liam Hearn’s added-time leveller as they claimed a 1-1 draw.
Stockport had established the lead five minutes before half-time, and looked to be holding on to that advantage when Paul Marshall’s corner in the second minute of stoppage time triggered a hectic goalmouth scramble.
Niall Heaton was first to see his header blocked, Paul Clayton attempted an overhead kick that met the same resistance and Tom Allan’s shot had a similar outcome before Hearn stabbed the ball over the line amidst the ruck.
The Hatters’ goal had stemmed from a searing central run by Sam Minihan before Danny Lloyd’s cross was swept home from six yards by Josh Amis for a clinical finish.
A lively encounter had seen both sides going forward frequently, although Alfreton could not properly test visiting keeper Ben Hinchliffe in the opening half, a second minute move typifying their plight when Mark Shelton dispossessed Chris Smalley on the half-way line only to have the ball taken off him by Michael Clarke within sight of the target.
Meanwhile Fabian Spiess had to save from Lloyd and Elliot Osborne in the opening stages, whilst there was a let-off for the Reds when Brad McGowan’s uncharacteristically poor clearance in the 27th minute went straight to Osborne, who failed to capitalise.
Debutant on-loan right-back Jordan Richards forced the pace on occasions with some promising overlapping runs, one of which led to Cecil Nyoni heading on to the roof of the net from a Marshall cross, while Tom Allan’s shot deflected behind for a corner after a lengthy, direct run at goal.
Three minutes after the break Hinchliffe almost gifted Alfreton a goal by flapping at Heaton’s cross, the keeper recovering quickly to turn Allan’s back post shot behind for a corner, then McGowan glanced a header wide from a Richards’ cross.
Lloyd squandered a reasonably easy chance for Stockport after the referee had played advantage following McGowan’s challenge on Amis in the 70th minute, Craig Westcarr’s corner was only cleared as far as Marshall who shot wide and Shelton’s effort was diverted into the safe custody of Hinchliffe’s arms as time looked to be running out for the Reds.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Richards, McGowan, Kennedy, Heaton, Nyoni (Clayton 75), Monkhouse, Marshall, Allan, Shelton, Westcarr (Hearn 80).
SUBS NOT USED: Priestley, Jordan, Gascoigne.
STOCKPORT: Hinchliffe; Ross, Duxbury, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan,Osborne (Brazel 86), Amis (Odejayi 73), Ball, Lloyd (Felix 82).
SUBS NOT USED: Ormson, Marsden.
REFEREE: Kelvin Sarsfield.ATT: 993.