F.A. Cup 2nd Qualifying Round

Hednesford Town

Alfreton Town

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Alan Nagington


Alfreton Town (A) 2.10.07

The Pitmen kept their second home clean sheet of the week to earn them a replay against Blue Square North side Alfreton Town on Tuesday night after the two sides had, in essence, cancelled each other out over the ninety minutes

There was a slight reshuffle to the Hednesford side that had beaten Ilkeston Town on Monday night with Alan Nagington returning to the side after an injury lay-off; he replaced the cup-tied Linden Dovey. In defence, on-loan Burton midfielder Sam Hall was dropped to the bench, with Dave MacPherson returning to the side after just one game amongst the substitutes. Peter Knox and Rob Hawthorne had both departed the club in midweek, with Knox signing for today's visitors but was cup-tied after playing against Stratford Town in the previous round 

Step two Alfreton made the short journey across from Derbyshire looking to avoid an upset against their step three hosts, who had beaten Alfreton's local rivals Ilkeston in midweek on the same pitch. Manager Nicky Law made two changes to his side from their previous game, a 3-1 win over Worcester City last weekend as Tom Hannigan and Scott Rickards came in for Mark Barnard and the cup-tied Danny Reet respectively. There was a further late change to the Reds line-up as goalkeeper Ryan Sutcliffe pulled up in the warm-up and was replaced by former Stafford Rangers goalkeeper James Lindley


Both sides traded chances inside the first five minutes as the game started at a furious pace; Brian Cusworth looked to turn a Chris Walton cross goalwards in the second minutes, but was denied by a Gordon Simms block and clearance

A minute later, former Tamworth man Rickards shot narrowly over the bar from close-range after Cusworth played him in goal only for an offside flag to save the striker's blushes


In the fifth minute, the returning Nagington forced Lindley into an instinctive save with his legs as he turned and drove an instinctive shot towards the Alfreton goal


Three minutes later, new skipper Tom Marshall was on hand to make a timely block from ten yards out as Cusworth was played through by Dave Cockerill, only for the striker to delay his shot and allow the defender to turn the shot away from danger

Hannigan had Alfreton's next sight at goal on thirteen minutes, although he knew very little about it as Laurie Wilson's deep free-kick hit him en route and looped over Rene Gilmartin's crossbar


Lindley came to Alfreton's rescue two minutes later, taking the ball off the toes of Nagington as the striker latched onto a pass from Tom Ward in behind  the Alfreton defence


A dangerous-looking Chris Adam free-kick was smartly claimed by Lindley on twenty minutes before the dangerous Cusworth went closest to opening the scoring five minutes later as he turned well past Simms and drove a low shot just inches wide of Gilmartin's post from eighteen yards out

Gilmartin made a meal of a Rickards cross in from to Cusworth three minutes later, dropping a simple ball at his near post before recovering well to smother the ball at the feet of the striker


Kris Bowler forced Gilmartin into a fine save on the half-hour mark, cutting in from the right and letting fly from eighteen yards out which the Hednesford keeper did brilliantly to turn away from goal

Cusworth was afforded too much time and space in the Hednesford penalty area once again on thirty-five minutes as Bowler's deep cross was met by the striker, only for him to head wide from a great position with Alfreton's best chance so far


The game became quite attritional for a spell as both sides struggled to create any openings of any real note. With two minutes of the half remaining, Matt Wilson's low shot from the edge of the penalty area beat Gilmartin but cannoned back off the base of the post and back into play, where Marshall was on hand to clear the danger


The Pitmen started the second half with purpose and went close to taking the lead just six minutes after the restart; the impressive Nagington did well to get to the byeline and cross for MacPherson, whose acrobatic overhead kick was only a matter of inches away from nestling in the bottom corner of the net

Sensing that they could win this without the need for a replay, the Pitmen made an attacking change on fifty-five minutes with Mario Pedro coming on for Dominic Heath, who had struggled with the pace of the game


It was Lindley's turn to have a moment of indecision on three minutes later as he dropped an Adam corner kick at the feet of the incoming Hednesford attackers before recovering well to dive on the loose ball at the second attempt
There was almost a sense of deja vu for the Hednesford fans who had witnessed Monday night's win over Ilkeston on the hour mark, as Adam picked the ball up and fired in a cross-shot, reminiscent of his goal against Ilson, but this time he missed the far post by matter of inches

Another fine piece of play from Nagington on sixty-three minutes saw him get away from the attention of Laurie Wilson and send Pedro on his way down the right flank; his cross was met by the incoming Adam, only for Lindley to make a fine save down by his post

Back came the visitors, with Laurie Wilson's through ball sending Rickards away down the right two minutes later. He steadied himself before picking out Cusworth in the box, only for the striker to show a rare lack of composure in front of goal and weakly turn the ball straight into the grateful arms of Gilmartin

Nanginton's presence saw him win the ball just inside the Alfreton half on seventy-three minutes as Anton Brown dawdled on the ball and gave it to the former Leek man. His incisive pass sent Pedro on his way down the wing, only for Pedro to take a touch too many as he was caught in two minds and slice his cross behind rather than play it into the path of the incoming Nagington

Gilmartin was having arguably his best game for the Pitmen so far and kept Cusworth at bay once again with fourteen minutes remaining with another parry away from goal to push the striker's rising shot away from goal

At the other end, Nagington's speculative effort was easily fielded by Lindley on eighty minutes after the striker had played a quick one-two with ward to create a yard of space eighteen yards out

With eight minutes remaining, there were loud calls for a penalty as Adam jinked his way across the penalty area, only to appear to be brought down just inside the box by Hannigan. Despite the protests, the referee denied the Pitmen what looked a certain penalty, and to add further insult, booked Adam for diving


With three minutes left, new boy Ashley Woolliscroft could have won the tie for the hosts as Ward set him up, only for the former Stoke City man to lash his shot high over the crossbar from fifteen yards out


Matt Wilson picked up a late booking for an overly aggressive challenge on Adam right in front of the Hednesford bench, prompting a furious reaction from both teams - Hednesford demanded a red card for Wilson, whilst Alfreton's officials felt that the winger had dived and demanded a second yellow card for Adam


In added time, Alfreton substitute Matt Glass did well to get to the byeline and cross into the Hednesford six-yard box, only for the ball to drift past any of the incoming Reds players and out of play with the final action of the game

So, it's everyone back to Alfreton's Impact Arena on Tuesday night after this entertaining but goalless encounter. Hednesford's local rivals Rushall Olympic lie in wait for the winners in the third qualifying round, plus the small matter of the £3,750 prize money

Hednesford Town: Gilmartin, Marshall ©, Adams, Robinson, Simms , MacPherson, Ward, Heath (Pedro 55), Adam , Woolliscroft, Nagington        Subs Unused: Sanders, D. Brown, Hall, Blair

Alfreton Town: Lindley, L. Wilson, A. Brown, M. Wilson , Hannigan, Doxey, Cockerill, Walton, Cusworth, Rickards (Glass 79), Bowler (Ellis 68)       Subs Unused: McDonald, Green, Dodds

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