SPOILS SHARED BETWEEN AVENUE AND ALFRETON
The spoils were shared between Avenue and Alfreton in a thoroughly entertaining league showdown.
Mark Bower shuffled the pack for the visit of Alfreton Town, clearly looking to avoid a repeat of the performance he witnessed in the defeat to North Ferriby United. Ed Hall replaced Steven Drench between the sticks, Mark Ross and Javan Vidal returned from injury, and Matt Hill and Danny Boshell reclaimed their starting berths.
Avenue started brightly and managed to get in behind the Reds defence on several occasions early on. Some intricate passing on the edge of the box led to Vidal breaking down the right and cutting back across goal, but Alfreton managed to hack clear.
Oli Johnson was then denied two opportunities to test Tobias Johannson, firstly by the linesman’s flag and then by a headed clearance that turned Nicky Clee’s cross away from the forward’s direction.
Avenue were rewarded for their early dominance when they struck first with fourteen minutes on the clock. Defender Matt Hill opened his account for the season with a drilled effort across Johannson that flew into the bottom corner, giving Avenue a deserved lead.
Alfreton embarked on a hunt for a quick response, but Nyal Bell’s close-range strike was palmed away by the returning Hall.
Avenue had a golden opportunity to double their lead after the ball fell kindly for Boshell in the box with Johannson stranded, but former Avenue forward Chris Sharp made a dramatic goal-line clearance to deny his former teammate.
The hosts continued to pile on the pressure but were dealt a sickening blow when Tom Platt unleashed a vicious strike from long-range that flew past Hall.
Despite conceding against the run of play, Avenue remained on top. Clee wriggled past two defenders before teeing up Johnson, who will have been disappointed to have struck the post with his tame effort.
Alfreton then took a shock lead, as Sharp found the top corner with a spectacular long-range strike that rendered Hall helpless.
Half-time brought an incredibly frustrating opening 45 minutes to a close, and the Avenue players left the pitch with disbelief etched upon their faces.
Avenue emerged after the interval with a sharpened clinical edge and were eventually rewarded for their continual pressure. Mark Ross whipped in a delightful delivery from the right that Johnson leapt to meet and nod home from close-range.
Vidal then had a golden opportunity to edge Avenue ahead but couldn’t stretch further enough to prod home an Adam Boyes cut-back.
Alfreton introduced winger Brendon Daniels in the 71st minute and the winger made an instant impact by swinging a free-kick past Hall with his first touch to regain the Reds’ lead.
Frank Mulhern was brought on in the aftermath of Daniels’ goal, and he came agonisingly close to drawing level with a curled free-kick that fizzed just wide of the post.
Despite the set-backs, Avenue continued to pose a threat going forward and soon found a breakthrough when Johnson’s cut-back was bundled home in a frantic scramble.
A dramatic finale ensued, but neither side could find the winning goal and it finished 3-3.
Bradford Park Avenue: Hall, Ross, Hill (Smith 80’), Wroe (c), Atkinson, Havern (Killock 69’), Vidal (Mulhern 74’), Boshell, Boyes, Johnson, Clee.
Unused substitutes: Toulson, Spencer
Alfreton Town: Johansson, Topliss, Allan (c), Platt, Wagner, Green, Jennings (Daniels 70’), Baxendale (Disley 76’), Sharp, Bell (Westcarr 66’), Marshall.
Unused substitutes: Elliott, Keane
Referee: Benjamin Speedie