• Amar Sharma

REPORT/HIGHLIGHTS: Jones header earns Alfreton a point in opener

James Jones' first-half header sealed a point for ten-man Alfreton Town at the Tameside Stadium in torrential conditions, on the opening night of the National League North on Monday night.

Dominic Knowles gave the hosts the lead on 38 with a run from the right before cutting inside and curling one past George Willis.

The Reds responded well and dominated the latter part of the first half and were given their just rewards when Jones headed a Bobby Johnson corner home from a few yards.

Alfreton started the game well, Johnson with the first effort of the game on nine minutes, a low shot which went wide of the far post.

The Nash responded but Alex Curran's shot went wide of the post inside the box. Robbie Evans then hit a fizzing volley wide from 25 yards after a corner was cleared by Josh Clackstone at the near post.

James Jones got the equaliser for Alfreton.

Max Harrop then hit a free-kick harmlessly wide from 30 yards before the hosts nearly took the lead on 21 as Matty Waters came in late at the far post in attempt to collect a cross but he couldn't connect to the ball.

Curzon were creating some good openings and putting us under pressure but Willis in the Reds net was yet to be tested.

On 26 Alfreton should have taken the lead when a corner from Johnson was swung in, Clackstone headed the ball back into the mix, Curzon couldn't clear and the loose ball fell to Dom Smith who fired over the bar from a few yards.

Alfreton turned the tide from those early Nash chances and were having a good spell, Michael Clarke spun well on the right touchline but his cross was cleared away in the box. Curzon keeper Theo Roberts then denied Dan Bradley's effort from inside the D.

Roberts also denied Johnson with a near post save after neat link up play with Clackstone in the box. The Curzon keeper frustrated Johnson again with an outstanding stretching save to palm away the Reds midfielder's stinging shot.

Against the recent run of play, the hosts took the lead on 38 when Knowles was found on the right side, he cut inside and curled a shot into the bottom corner from just outside the box.

But the Reds grabbed a deserved equaliser in first half stoppage time as Jones rose highest at the far post to nod home from Johnson's delivery.

The second period saw an increase in fouls, an increase in the rain to monsoon conditions and both sides battling hard in an intense game.

The hosts gained several free-kicks with the Reds defending hard, Willis punching a free-kick away.

Elliott Reeves had an opening on 52 following a corner which was cleared towards him, however the forward could only fire wide of the post when well-placed.

The game was becoming increasingly stretched with the Reds last ditch at times thanks to interceptions from Conor Branson and Jones. Bradley had a shot blocked on the edge of the box before Johnson's ball into the box just needed a touch but the ball eluded everyone in red.

Craig Mahon curled a shot over the bar before Willis denied Curran's shot from close range with a strong save before three straight Curzon corners were dealt with in the pouring rain.

Willis saved from Mahon again before Waters and Curran both blazed over the bar.

Clackstone was shown a second yellow card in stoppage time to see his night end early, but the Reds held on for a point.

Alfreton host Spennymoor on Saturday at the Impact Arena, behind closed doors.

Alfreton: Willis, Clackstone, Fox, Branson, Jones, Lees, Smith, Bradley (c), Clarke, Reeves (Day 76), (Lund 90), Johnson.

Subs Not Used: Unwin-Marris, Grice, Sketchley.

By Amar Sharma