Alfreton Town 1, Lincoln City 1
Alfreton Town had just 11 outfield players available for selection when Lincoln City visited the Impact Arena on Saturday in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup.
Central defender Adie Hawes had become the latest injury victim in midweek, while Peterborough United prevented on-loan keeper Joe Day from being allowed to play in the tie and Greg Young, Anthony Wilson and Anton Brown were all serving a one-match suspension.
Under the circumstances a 1-1 draw would have been regarded as an achievement, but the visitors had keeper Joe Anyon sent off seven minutes before the interval and that changed the complexion of the tie.
Lincoln had taken a simple tenth minute lead when Sam Smith was left with a free header from six yards from a Nicky Nicolau cross, and briefly the Imps looked to be on their way to repeating their League success of 18 days earlier.
In the 38th minute Anyon had gathered the ball as Chris Senior chased a long clearance from Dan Lowson, back between the sticks after a five-match absence, but then inexplicably lashed out at Chris Senior.
After consultation with her assistant referee Amy Fearn awarded a penalty and produced a red card, with young keeper Nick Draper brought off the bench to be sent the wrong way by Nathan Jarman from the spot after a three-minute delay.
The Reds started brightly but Paul Clayton’s hasty first-minute shot flew so wide that it went out for a throw-in, then as Lincoln settled in Jean Christophe put Smith through and Leigh Franks had to be alert as he tackled back.
Either side of the opening goal Jake Moult saw a stifled shot from a Jarman cross drift wide, then a poor back-pass from Simon Russell almost let Theo Streete in but Anyon’s blocking tackle thwarted him.
Mitchell Nelson headed a decent chance over from Nicolau’s 28th minute corner, then almost immediately at the other end John Nutter struggled to force the ball behind after his keeper had parried a rasping drive from Senior as Clayton followed up.
Russell fired behind from a diminishing angle for Lincoln, then in the 43rd minute Tony Sinclair did well to block as Senior almost played Moult through.
An overhead kick by Nelson from a Nicolau free-kick straight after the break was followed in the 50th minute by Jarman hammering the ball against the inside of the Lincoln post before Moult fired wide from the rebound.
A Moult free-kick on the hour led to Streete’s diving header going close, then Jarman’s cross almost succeeded in reaching Clayton but Nutter headed behind.
Lowson recovered well to hack clear after slipping in receipt of Luke Potter’s pass back with Smith on the premises, then after a vital headed clearance from a Smith cross Streete embarked on a determined run before firing just wide from 30 yards.
Clayton won a corner off Sinclair from a 72nd minute Jarman cross, then a similar move led to Moult firing behind from a difficult angle.
With 11 minutes remaining Jamie Mullan’s low drive was well held by Draper following an intuitive pass from the halfway line by Jordan Hall, then the Imps’ keeper had to stretch to tip Jarman’s teasing effort over the angle of bar and post from Moult’s cross.
There were a couple of edgy moments for home fans to survive in the closing stages when Kyle Perry fired over following a strong central run, then Francis Laurent’s by-line cross took a deflection before Lowson pounced on it at the near post.
Alfreton: Lowson; Hall, Streete, Franks, Potter, Moult, Mackin, Mullan, Jarman, Clayton, Senior (Ellison 83). Other sub: Turner.
Attendance: 1,000 (488 from Lincoln).