TWO stubborn defences reigned at the Impact Arena on Tuesday night as Alfreton Town picked up their first Blue Square Bet Premier point in a hard-fought 0-0 draw with last season’s reprieved side Southport.
Jamie Mullan and Jake Moult made their first starts of the season at the expense of Chris Senior and Nathan Jarman, with Anthony Wilson back on the bench after his close season operation.
Nathan Arnold partnered Paul Clayton up front and the pair combined in the third minute from Dan Lowson’s free-kick, with Clayton heading on and Arnold’s subsequent header being saved from eight yards by Southport keeper Tony McMillan.
Connor Franklin almost scored from 35 yards with a blocked tackle as Russell Benjamin tried to push Southport forward, but the visitors went closest to breaking the deadlock in the 22nd minute.
Shaun Whalley’s initial shot was saved by keeper Lowson’s legs, then the same player’s follow-up had to be headed off the line by Theo Streete at the expense of a corner.
It was McMillan’s turn to block with his body three minutes later as Arnold fired through a crowded area.
Then James Smith had to intercept as Clayton’s header looked a certainty to leave Arnold clear on goal as the clock reached 30 minutes.
Lowson did well to beat out a ferocious angled drive from Simon Grand four minutes before the break, with Whalley firing over from the ensuing corner.
Mullan’s 22 yarder was deflected behind for a 44th minute corner, which led to successive crosses into the box by Moult that tested the Southport rearguard to its capacity.
Two minutes into the second half Arnold’s turn and shot was held at his near post by McMillan.
Ten minutes later at the other end Anton Brown came to the Reds’ rescue as Benjamin picked out Tony Gray.
Alfreton’s best move of the game came 19 minutes from time when Matt Wilson’s through ball allowed Moult to send Clayton forward with a clear sight of goal, but the striker lost his footing at the vital moment.
Greg Young directed a header wide from an 84th minute Jordan Hall corner after Clayton’s progress had been halted by Steven Akrigg, then sudden acceleration by Anthony Wilson left a brace of Southport defenders in his wake but there was no-one in support as he fired across the face of goal.
The game ended with Streete seeing his header held by McMillan from six yards following an Arnold free-kick in added time.