After a spell of games where some fans were beginning to
feel that the Bucks early season form may have been a false dawn, Gavin Cowan’s
team have rediscovered their mojo. A second successive 1-1 draw for the Bucks,
this time away from home, was lacking in all but one area. Alas it was a
crucial one; scoring goals, but it perhaps feels just a matter of time before
that clicks too, and the Bucks give someone a hiding.
They warranted much more from their visit to Derbyshire,
especially given that they played half-an-hour of the contest with ten men
after the questionable dismissal of top scorer Daniel Udoh.
Cowan’s men were galvanised by the setback, and much as they
did at Curzon Ashton two weeks ago they responded to what they saw as an
injustice by playing some of their best football; given a lead just after the
half-time break by captain Shane Sutton, it took a penalty kick from Jordan
Sinnott to deny them a victory. Few could have argued had they taken all three
It was a first half of few chances. With the wind gusting
the autumn leaves across the playing surface, the home side’s Bobby Johnson
looked the most likely man to get the bonfire lit. The clever no.10 brought a
fine save from Andy Wycherley after 10 minutes, before then contributing to the
main talking point of the half.
Udoh was already on a yellow card, handed to him by referee
Peter Kitchen for what looked a simple collision with home keeper Sam
Ramsbottom, when he went into a tackle with Johnson. It was perhaps a 60/40,
and there was little malice in Udoh’s attempt to win the ball, but he caught
Johnson and as the Alfreton man rolled on the turf Udoh watched aghast as Mr
Kitchen brandished a second yellow.
Cowan urged his side not to panic and to keep their shape,
and they progressed to half-time with few alarms.
HALF TIME: Alfreton Town 1 AFC Telford United 1
A reorganisation at the break
saw the Bucks shift to more of a 4-3-2 formation, with Darryl Knights, outstanding
on the day, pushing up from his usual position ‘in the hole’ to support Amari
Morgan-Smith. The changes tricked Alfreton, and worked a treat. On 51
minutes, Knights stole in on the left and his attempt to find the far corner
saw him denied by Ramsbottom’s reflexes. It mattered little, as from the
resulting corner Alfreton left captain Shane Sutton unmolested and he stooped
to nod home from close range.
With an advantage to defend you’d imagine the Bucks would
have done just that, but no. Cowan always prefers positivity, and sensing
Alfreton had little to respond with the Bucks went looking for a second goal. Knights
won the race to a through ball to poke just wide, and the Bucks were buzzing.
Reds boss Billy Heath, a seasoned and wily campaigner, threw
new signing Reece Styche into the mix, hoping for him to stir things up, and he
did, but not as he’d intended. Styche, was booked within five minutes, for what Mr Kitchen ruled to be a
dive, as he looked to win a free-kick, and within 15 minutes Styche was dismissed,
jumping with a raised arm that caught defender Ross White and the Red saw red.
In between those acts it was still mostly Telford;
Morgan-Smith shot inches wide of the far post from an angle, and with Ellis
Deeney claiming a penalty for shot that he felt struck an arm. However, it was
another raised arm that literally handed Alfreton a lifeline on 75 minutes;
Henry Cowans blocked a cross fired at him and referee Peter Kitchen awarded a
spot-kick, despatched firmly by Jordan Sinnott.
Undeterred, the Bucks still looked the more likely side to
take all three points, and went close again before the whistle. Knights’
inventiveness created a chance he fired just over, whilst Steph Morley also
shot just over as the Bucks pressed. It wasn’t to be, and as Cowan revealed
afterwards, the disappointment in the dressing room was palpable.
Ramsbottom, Clackstone, Wilde (Platt 81), Lynch, Hird, Shiels, Bateson, Sinnott,
Peniket, Johnson (Styche 55), Clarke (Hobson 67).
Unused Substitutes: Nicholson, Gowling.
Scorer(s): Sinnott (pen) (75).
Bookings: Johnson, Clarke.
Dismissals: Styche (two yellow cards)