Struggling Alfreton Town held at home to Curzon Ashton

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Alfreton Town were held to a home draw against newly-promoted Curzon Ashton as they struggle to adjust to life after relegation.

The Reds are rapidly becoming the draw specialists of the Vanarama National League North after recording their third successive one at home and their fourth from the opening five games.

The Reds appeared to have matters under control when Sam Jones put them in the driving seat after 16 minutes.

However defensive errors allowed Matthew Warburton and Ryan Brooke to capitalise on 26 and 36 minutes respectively to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.

But second half pressure by Alfreton,, amidst intermittent thunderstorms led to Joe Leesley thumping a loose ball spectacularly into the net from 20 yards with 16 minutes remaining.

Warburton used his loaf when Ryan Wilson failed to clear properly and smashed the equaliser past keeper Matt Duke from just inside the area.

Then Niall Cummins pounced on the Reds’ indecision barely in their own half to send Warburton clear, his shot parried by Duke but falling to Brooke for a simple tap-in.

It could be argued that Alfreton missed central defensive pairing Tom Allan and Sam Berry, who were both serving one-match suspensions after being sent off on the opening day, and they certainly had a case deep into added time when Curzon keeper Hakan Burton clattered Sam Smith to the ground without being penalised.

Leesley had failed to test Burton effectively when clear from Cliff Moyo’s second minute cross, then Jonathon Hunt blocked as Jones sent Johnston through four minutes later, Johnston then having two further efforts saved by Burton.

Leesley glanced a header wide from Dan Bradley’s cross in first half added time, then as Alfreton built up a head of steam approaching the leveller Thanoj was thwarted by another Hunt block and George Grayson flung himself in the way of a Johnston shot from a long Duke clearance.

Both sides battled for the winning goal in the closing stages with Smith heading wide from a deep Moyo free-kick and Leesley winning a corner with a good attempt from distance, whilst at the other end Jason Paling had to tackle back to halt Gary Burnett’s progress and Duke needed to save Warburton’s angled drive with his legs.

ALFRETON: Duke; Moyo, Jordan, Galinski, Heaton [Smith 63], Bradley, Thanoj, Jones, Wilson [Jackson 59], Johnston [Paling 81], Leesley. Subs not used: lronside, Draper.

Attendnace: 488.