ALFRETON Town edged a fraction closer to a third season in the Blue Square Bet Premier with a point at Tamworth on Saturday from a game they should have won.
It was a fourth game unbeaten at The Lamb for the Reds, who held a first half lead through Louie Soares before twice being denied by the framework of the goal after the break.
The same side started the game that had been selected to face Barrow before fog intervened in midweek, but a 38th minute injury to skipper Darran Kempson allowed Leigh Franks to come off the bench earlier than expected.
Barely had the game entered the second minute when Ben Tomlinson turned and fired at goal from the edge of the area, but home keeper Tony Breeden held his effort, then at the other end nine minutes later Jordan Pickford competently held Sam Oji’s header from a Jakob Hessenthaler free-kick.
Soares’ shot from a Connor Franklin cross was beaten out by Breeden on 13 minutes, then Soares was on target again with an angled drive nine minutes later from Scott Boden’s tee-up.
Soares was in the thick of it again on 25 minutes, but his shot struck an off-side Anton Brown before being saved by Breeden, then in response ex-Reds loanee striker Adam Cunnington embarked on a strong central run before seeing his shot blocked by Kempson.
Alfreton took a 29th minute lead with easily the best move of the game, which began by Dan Bradley spraying an inspirational crossfield pass to Boden on the right and his accurate cross allowed Soares to stylishly rifle home from 16 yards.
A towering Danny Wright header on 34 minutes was held by Pickford from ten yards, then nine minutes into the second half a thunderbolt from Hessenthaler was also competently dealt with by the Reds’ keeper.
Tom Marshall had to hack clear an inswinging by-line cross from Nathan Arnold that threatened to pick out Boden at the far post, then in the 60th minute Soares struck the foot of the upright after a strong run and defence-splitting pass from Franklin had paved the way.
Cunnington’s run down the right led to the equaliser on 65 minutes, his deep cross bundled in at the back post by Darren Byfield despite Pickford managing a touch, but the game became fragmented as the referee made several unnecessary stoppages.
In fact as rare as an authentic bounce-up is in football nowadays the official managed to award three as both sets of players became frustrated by the lack of fluency.
However one decision did go in Alfreton’s favour when he pulled up play to caution Brown on 70 minutes for a foul on Connor Gudger, with Cunnington racing towards goal.
Six minutes later Pickford did well to clutch Danny Lloyd’s awkward cross after Josh Law’s rare slip, then on 82 minutes Franks attempted an overhead kick after Paul Clayton had nodded down a Law free-kick.
Either side could have snatched a winner in added time as Clayton rose majestically to Arnold’s cross to head against the underside of the crossbar, before Byfield headed wide from close range from a deep free-kick.
ALFRETON: Pickford; Law, Kempson (Franks 38 mins), Quinn, Franklin, Soares, Brown, Bradley, Arnold, Boden (Meadows 81 mins), Tomlinson (Clayton 60 mins). Subs not used: Hewitt, Worsfold. ATTENDANCE: 703.
REFEREE: Declan Ford (Lincoln).