Alfreton Town’s recent dip in form saw them struggle against adverse conditions at the Impact Arena on Saturday, yet still come away with a second 1-1 draw of the season against Gloucester City.
The visitors produced the majority of the action, but in the end had to rely on a late equaliser two minutes from time through their skipper Tom Webb to cancel out Sam Smith’s opener, which had seen the Reds lead from the 30th minute.
In the end though the Reds once again owed a huge debt of gratitude to keeper Matt Duke, whose saves particularly in the second half kept their sight focussed.
Smith had cleverly steered Lindon Meikle’s shrewd pass beyond keeper Jasbir Singh’s reach from ten yards, but that first half hour had seen Alfreton only threaten through Dan Bradley’s curling shot from the edge of the area that the keeper held on 22 minutes.
Gloucester had pushed forward from the off, assisted by the increasing wind strength as it swept up the pitch, Louis Robles almost profiting as he nipped in between Todd Jordan and Duke in the 13th minute, although there was a suspicion of a push on the Reds’ defender.
Robles was proving to be a handful, scuffing a shot wide before testing Duke with an angled drive and then drawing an excellent save from the keeper after being put through by Ed Williams, all within a three-minute spell immediately before Smith struck at the other end.
Two minutes after scoring Smith persevered in chasing a wayward Bradley pass to the by-line, then almost curled the ball in at the back post from an impossible angle, the first half ending with Gloucester somewhat shell-shocked and nearly conceding a second goal after Bradley had gone close following a good central run.
A similar run by Meikle two minutes after the break saw Smith unable to make proper contact in front of goal, but Duke was soon having to stretch to tip over a powerful header from Colby Bishop, in receipt of a Billy Jones free-kick.
Duke managed to somehow claw aside Webb’s 58th minute shot, with Joe Leesley on hand to block from Bishop’s follow-up, then seven minutes later a glaring miss from close range by Chris Knowles kept Alfreton’s fragile lead intact.
Further critical saves by Duke were needed to keep out efforts from Bishop and Webb before Bradley’s low drive in response was beaten away by Singh in the 85th minute.
Three minutes later though, as the wind intensified and the rain drove down, Webb lashed the ball low to Duke’s right from 16 yards after Alfreton had been unable to clear a loose ball, and few could argue that Gloucester deserved to be level.
ALFRETON: Duke; Banton, Jordan, Heaton, Leesley, Nyoni, Meikle [Doyle-Charles 71], Thanoj, Bradley, Jackson [Allan 81], Smith. Subs not used: Robertson, Wilson.