Match report – Darlington 0-2 Alfreton Town

Posted by: Belinda Hargreaves

Mon 12th February 2024

Here is the latest match report and photo from the Alfreton Town Football Club’s website:

Much needed win on the road for the Reds at relegation threatened Darlington
Alfreton Town returned to winning ways on Saturday (February 10) when they visited Blackwell Meadows to face relegation strugglers Darlington in National League North
The win was secured thanks to two second half goals as the Reds kept a much needed clean sheet on the road – their first since a 4-0 win at Bishop’s Stortford back in November.
The afternoon was not without its challenges however and indeed it was the hosts who made the stronger start to proceedings.
The Quakers almost took the lead within the opening sixty seconds when Reds goalkeeper George Willis had to be on his toes as Scott Barrow’s cross was diverted goalwards by an Alfreton defender before Cedric Main’s cross came back off the crossbar.
On seven minutes Main’s shot was deflected for the games first corner kick with Darlington defender Cardo Siddik directing his diving header from the flagkick wide of the post from six yards out.
There was concern for the welfare of Quakers goalkeeper Tommy Taylor on nine minutes after he collided with the frame of the goal when Dwayne Wiley tried a clever attempt to catch the keeper out from long distance.
Darlington were carrying a threat on the counter through the outlet if Main but Josh Clackstone did well defensively for Alfreton on 11 minutes.
With 26 on the watch Steve Watson’s Darlington side had their best chance of the first half. Matty Cornish wiggled free in some space from a throw in and curled a shot inches wide of the post.
Alfreton began to come in to the game as the half time whistle began to approach. The playing surface was very heavy given all the rain of recent days and both teams were finding it difficult to put anything of real note together.
The Reds forced a couple of corners on 38 minutes after Dwayne Wiley`s free header hit the face of home defender Hedley out for another corner which caused indecision in the Darlington defence but Kennedy Digie was flagged offside by the assistant referee.
Both sides went in to the half time interval level after a goalless first half.
Alfreton were given the opportunity to make the perfect start to the second half when referee Robert Claussen pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Adam Lund launched a trademark long throw and after a spell of head tennis Kennedy Digie was upended in the area by Darlington defender Cardo Siddik. Striker Gerry McDonagh stepped up from 12 yards to hand Ofton the lead after his second goal following his loan move from Kidderminster Harriers.
In an effort to get back in to the game the hosts made a couple of substitutions but Alfreton were playing better this half with Billy Fewster`s shot foiled by Taylor following a neat through ball from Harry Perritt on 62 minutes.
With 20 minutes to play the Quakers did have the ball in the net after Scott Barrow’s cross in to the area was turned home by Cornish but Alfreton were saved by the assist referee who raised his flag for offside.
On 73 minutes the Reds were indebted to George Willis who produced the first of a series of quality saves to keep Darlington out. Cornish cut inside and his near post effort was expertly turned behind by Willis.
With just under a quarter of an hour of the 90 to play Willis again thwarted Darlington as he tipped over Cedric Main’s effort after he had also cut inside.
With five minutes to go and the hosts desperate for an avenue back in to the game Reds boss Billy Heath made a double substitution as he introduced Jake Day in place of Gerry McDonagh in a like for like move with Sheffield United loanee George Dickinson entered in to the fray for his Reds debut in place of Billy Fewster.
With 88 minutes played there was bewilderment amongst Alfreton ranks after Referee Claussen had a moment to forget. George Cantrill was incorrectly given a second booking by the match official after being fouled by a home player in the aftermath of a foul committed by Billy Fewster. Indeed it took some time for the referee to be alerted to the fact that Cantrill had already been cautioned and as such was shown his marching orders in a case of mistaken identity.
In response centre back Shaun Brisley was introduced to the closing stages in place of Lewis Salmon as Billy Heath looked to sure things up defensively.
Alfreton once again were indebted to Willis who denied substitute Curry at close range before Hatfield’s follow up was bravely blocked behind by a Reds defender on 89.
With six additional minutes signalled Alfreton substitutes Day and debutant Dickenson combined after the latter had read a Darlington throw in and intercepted with great effect and in turn allowed Jake Day to run on to the loose ball and unleash a thunderbolt of a strike that flew past Taylor to double Alfreton’s lead to the delight of the travelling faithful.
There was still time for man of the match Willis to produce another quality save to deny Main
The ten men of Alfreton held on though to claim a potentially crucial three points ahead of an important triple header of home matches starting with the visit of South Shields to the Impact on Tuesday night.
Photo credit – Dave Arrowsmith

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