Alfreton Town had to settle for a draw from their visit to basement club AFC Telford United on Saturday, despite the hosts having Sean Clancy sent off for a lunging tackle on Todd Jordan just 19 minutes into the game.
The New Buck’s Head has never been a happy hunting ground for the Reds - indeed Sam Jones’ equaliser was only the third Alfreton goal in over a decade of regular visits, the previous two having been scored by central defenders Scott Garner and Luke Graham.
With defender Cliff Moyo suspended Niall Heaton returned to the starting line-up to make a significant contribution, but once again an early goal conceded proved decisive as Connor McCarthy’s third minute angled drive from a Clancy cross seemed to take a nick off Tom Allan before deceiving Matt Duke at his near post.
Pressure from the Reds brought about the leveller eight minutes before half-time when an Andi Thanoj corner was headed back across goal by Allan for Jones to stab past home keeper James Montgomery from just outside the six-yard box.
However ugly scenes dominated the first half as tempers frayed, the home contingent having taken Clancy’s dismissal badly, a couple of interruptions ensuing as players squared up to each other, with Reds’ skipper Dan Bradley goaded to such an extent that manager Nicky Law opted to withdraw him before half-time.
Amidst the unpleasantness, apart from Jordan being booed every time he touched the ball, a Jones header was clutched late by Montgomery, Duke saved from Robert Paratore and David Hibbert under pressure and both Joe Leesley and Jordan Robertson went close for the Reds.
Right on the stroke of 45 minutes Montgomery produced a fantastic reflex save to keep out a thunderous drive from Thanoj, before Allan glanced a header wide from the resultant corner.
A game of football broke out after the break with no further hint of aggravation, but Jones fired wildly over and sub John Johnston, back after a three-game suspension, saw his shot blocked.
Jones then had his 58th minute volley from Heaton’s cross blocked, but Duke was forced to come to Alfreton’s rescue again seven minutes later with a save low to his right from McCarthy.
Johnston dragged a clear chance wide from a long Heaton throw, then Montgomery did well to save from Ryan Wilson, the keeper then thwarting Heaton from an angled drive after cutting in from the left.
Perhaps the most diappointing factor, particularly in the second half, was the ease on occasions that Telford were able to push forward with ten men, albeit that their end product was no better than that of the Reds.
Alfreton Town: Duke; Galinski, Allan, Heaton, Jordan, Wilson, Leesley, Thanoj (lronside 68 mins), Bradley (Johnston 43 mins) Jones, Robertson (Smith 85 mins).
Subs not used: Paling, Draper.
Referee: Ben Cooke (Atherstone)
Star Man: Niall Heaton.