Alfreton Town failed to hold on to their interval lead when they entertained Brackley Town on Saturday, but this was at least a much improved performance on their opening two National League North games.
Manager Nicky Law brought in former Premier League keeper Matt Duke for his first game in an Alfreton shirt since the Reds beat a Manchester United XI 1-0 as part of the club’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 1999.
Duke’s experience was clear to see, although he was beaten by Sam Smith’s close range header from a 69th minute Stephen Morley free-kick, although there was a strong suspicion of a push on Sam Berry that was not spotted.
Alfreton had taken a 38th minute lead after Ryan Wilson had sent Niall Heaton to the by-line with a superb through-ball, the defender’s cross being turned into his own net by Brackley skipper Ryan Austin at the near post.
The goal had been coming following a purple patch for the home side around the 20-minute mark, Jamie Jackson running on to an Andi Thanoj pass to strike the ball against Curtis McDonald before the ricochet was gathered by visiting keeper Dan Crane.
Then a long throw by Heaton was headed on by Tom Allan with Wilson smashing a header against the crossbar, earlier chances having seen Thanoj and Cliff Moyo go close for the Reds.
Meanwhile Todd Jordan had needed to block a full-blooded volley by Tom Winters in the seventh minute and Duke gathered confidently as Richard Batchelor played Smith through 12 minutes later.
After the break Brackley posed far more problems than they had in the first half, Duke holding a snap shot from Glenn Walker, then pawing away an awkward Owen Story cross at full stretch before the equaliser arrived.
Three minutes after Brackley’s goal Smith missed a gilt-edged chance from Deon Burton’s set-up, then David Moyo’s shot needed holding by Duke after Reds’ defender Moyo had gifted possession to the Saints with a foul throw.
ALFRETON: Duke; Moyo, Allan, Berry, Heaton, Jordan, Thanoj, Jones, Wilson, lronside [Leesley 63], Jackson [Smith 55].
Subs not used: Paling, Galinski, Draper.