Survival hopes alive as Alfreton fight back

New American owners of Alfreton Town FC.'Jonathan Collura, Michael Hitchcock.
New American owners of Alfreton Town FC.'Jonathan Collura, Michael Hitchcock.

Alfreton Town kept their survival hopes alive with a well-earned 2-2 draw at home to Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night - coming back twice to share the spoils.

Jordan Keane replaced injured Callum Howe (hamstring) in one change by Reds manager Nicky Law that saw Luke Graham revert to a more familiar central defensive role. A deep cross from John Johnston clipped the top of the Forest Green crossbar inside the first 30 seconds, but most of the first half saw Alfreton absorb pressure.

Jason Mooney made a handful of smart stops in the Reds’ goal early on from Jon Parkin twice, Elliott Frear and James Marwood as the visitors flooded forwarded.

The closest the home side came to a goal in the first half was Karl Hawley’s 30-yard strike before Sam Russell was was forced in to a save to deny John Johnston.

Graham’s vital tackle back on the hour thwarted Marwood and Tom Shaw went close in response, but Rovers edged ahead in the 64th minute following a controversial decision. Hawley seemed to have won a challenge with Marcus Kelly on the half-way line, only for the Forest Green skipper to handle the ball with the referee waving play on, and from Kelly’s pass Marwood was able to flick deftly past Mooney from ten yards.

Marwood then missed a back post header from a Rob Sinclair cross that looked easier to score, but Alfreton bounced back to draw level just three minutes after falling behind. Shaw sent Johnston to the by-line, from where the winger cut in to fire past Russell from six yards and claim his first goal for the club.

Further controversy led to Lee Stevenson’s 75th minute goal being ruled out, with Hawley adjudged to have impeded Russell from a Dan Bradley cross.

The Gloucestershire side struck again six minutes from time when Parkin was left with a clear header from close range in receipt of another Kelly free-kick, Johnston having rather unceremoniously halted Marwood’s progress and earned himself a caution in the process.

To their credit Alfreton never gave up, and deep into the fourth and final minute of added time attained the equaliser that their second half performance at least had deserved, Shaw rising to head Joe Leesley’s corner home with the ball brushing Nathanial Rowe-Turner on its way.

Alfreton: Mooney; Keane, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Heaton, Johnston (Leesley 90+2), Shaw, Stevenson [Howell 88], Wood, Bradley, Hawley. Subs not used: Sheridan, Gray, Thanoj. Attendance: 458.