Alfreton Town and Whaley Bridge Athletic’s Derbyshire Senior Cup Third Round tie is still in the balance after referee Tim Walker abandoned proceedings midway through the second half on Saturday.
Despite torrential rain falling all day the lmpact Arena surface held firm, but the problem was the standing water that at times made play farcical.
One particular tackle sent John Johnston and defender Liam Prophet sliding a dozen yards into touch shortly before the abandonment.
Just one goal and five Leagues separated the teams, with Johnston converting a 25th minute penalty after the unfortunate Bill Sutton had prevented Johnston’s volley from entering the net with his hands.
He received his marching orders in the process to leave the underdogs with a big challenge ahead.
Yet Whaley Bridge had gone closest to scoring the second goal of the game when Tom Storer’s thunderous drive smashed against the crossbar after being put through by Jack Gregory in the 59th minute.
The conditons had been responsible for Reds’ keeper Nick Draper picking up a painful injury in the third minute, a back-pass selling him way short as the ball held up dramatically, a collision with Adam Jarad ensuing and lengthy treatment needed.
Jason Broome found himself on the edge of Alfreton’s area in the 13th minute, but fired high and wide, then a darting run by Johnston signalled the Reds’ first notable attack four minutes later with Sam Smith firing across the face of goal.
A superb tackle back by Rob Newton halted Lindon Meikle’s progress on 19 minutes, then in response Athletic’s keeper James Tattersall’s huge clearance bounced awkwardly before being fielded at the second attempt by Draper.
A looping header by Jarad was held rather more comfortably by Draper five minutes into the second half, then Johnston’s run into the area saw his intended pass to Sam Jones stop well short with Newton gratefully hacking clear.
When Jamie Jackson found himself in front of goal in the 57th minute, but unable to inject enough pace to beat the conditions, the referee called both sets of managers together to express his concerns about the continuation of the tie.
Reluctantly the official decided to continue, Tattersall having to make a sprawling save from Smith in the 61 st minute, but an incident five minutes later brought a premature end to the tie when Josh Bailey made a mistimed tackle on Johnston and received a second yellow card to reduce the visitors to nine men.
A decision will now have to be made by the Derbyshire Football Association to decide whether the result will stand or be re-played.