Match report: Alfreton Town 0 Bristol Rovers 0
A point against Bristol Rovers has to be considered to be a good result as Alfreton Town strive to extricate themselves from the Conference Premier relegation zone.
A second successive clean sheet will no doubt have been as satisfying at a wet Impact Arena on Tuesday night that witnessed its first goalless draw of the season.
Paul Clayton found the net after Dan Bradley’s stinging drive had been parried by visiting keeper Steve Mildenhall in the 19th minute, but it was chalked off for off-side.
Manager Nicky Law fielded the same starting line-up that had won 1-0 at Altrincham ten days earlier, midfielder Anthony Howell passing a late fitness test to take his place, whilst new striker Carl Lamb was given a run for the final 36 minutes to add a fresh threat up front.
Despite the lack of goals there was plenty to enthuse over from Alfreton’s point of view, particularly the defensive concentration displayed in the latter stages that had not been evident earlier in the campaign.
Nathan Hicks headed over for the Reds from 15 yards following Dan Bradley’s good run and cross in the seventh minute, then in Rovers’ first attack Cameron Dawson held a Lee Brown free-kick competently.
Brown’s driven cross on ten minutes needed heading clear by Lathaniel Rowe-Turner, then Ryan Brunt miskicked from a good position before Alfreton received a stroke of good fortune in the 31st minute.
Brown’s fearsome drive from the edge of the area looked set to test Dawson to the full, but was diverted by the involuntary interception of Bristol’s Matty Taylor who could not manage to step out of the way.
Jamie White’s shot was parried by Dawson before being hacked clear by Tom Davies, then Tom Parkes headed over from a Lee Mansell free-kick.
Alfreton were only making inroads intermittently, but a promising move in the 39th minute ended with Tom Shaw hammering his shot inches wide of the target from distance, but the first half concluded with Dawson holding Parkes’ awkward deflected shot.
Taylor headed wide from close range as the visitors continued to attack after the break, then Taylor’s fortunate mistimed through-ball sent Brunt scampering clear only to lose his footing in sight of goal.
Another let-off came on 62 minutes in the shape of Ellis Harrison’s inadvertent intervention as Tom Lockyer aimed for goal with a back-post header from a Bristol corner, then five minutes further on Brown overlapped on the left before smashing his effort across the face of goal.
By far the closest Alfreton had come to scoring a legitimate goal was in the 73rd minute when Luke Graham’s header was saved by Mildenhall after Clayton had nodded a Shaw free-kick back into the goalmouth.
Intense late pressure by Rovers failed to break the deadlock, although Dawson had to make the save of the game ten minutes from time to prevent Parkes from scoring, then shortly afterwards the busy Reds’ keeper also thwarted Lyle Della-Verde.
Right at the end Harrison would have snatched a win for the visitors from a corner, but a vital block from Davies kept the score-sheet blank.
Alfreton: Dawson; Wood, Graham, Davies, Rowe-Turner, Hicks (Keane 73), Bradley, Shaw, Howell, Clayton, McDonald (Lamb 54).
Subs nots used: Courtney, Ironside, Smith.
Attendance: 880 (315).