Lambs unbeaten run comes to an end
09 December 2008
Tamworth welcomed Alfreton Town to the Lamb in the knowledge that they could extend their lead at the top of the table to four points with a win, as Southport were in Setanta Shield action at the same time.
But they would have to overcome a team who liked to draw away from home – having failed to win or lose five of their seven games away from The Impact Arena so far this season.
David Bevan returned between the posts and with Des Lyttle ruled out through injury following a hamstring pull against Solihull Gary Mills had moved quickly to find a temporary replacement to plug the gap – 19 year old Alex Melbourne signing on a months loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers went straight into the squad for the game.
Nick Wright took a place on the bench with Matt Birley coming in to the starting eleven.
With the winter chill in the air, Tamworth kicked off the game towards the Castle End of the ground but the visitors has the first chance on 3 when Muirhead knocked the ball forward to Hearn to try a lob which Bevan jumped high to watch go out at his near post.
Alfreton won a corner on 7 which McFadzean sent goalward with a looping header and Foster headed off the line allowing Tamworth to break but they were thwarted in the attempt to break quickly.
A rasping shot from close range after losing his marker from Hearn forced Bevan to make a point blank stop on 9 and Tamworth responded to the danger winning a corner on 10 which was booted away before the visitors moved the ball past the half way line again.
Bevan collected another high corner from Alfreton shortly after as both teams tried to move the ball around.
The visitors then took the lead when Hearn turned and fired in low into the far post from the right after a good pass through the Lambs defence from Muirhead set him up for a low shot with his right boot. (0-1, 16 mins)
A foul from McAughtrie on Hearn gave Town a freekick on the left on 19 which Law fired into the area causing Bevan to punch clear from the resultant header and Sheldon almost blocked Sutcliffe’s goal clearance from a long ball into the danger area straight after.
Another foul by McAughtrie on the other side of the field gave Alfreton another free kick which The Lambs cleared as Tamworth continued to look rattled by the visitors.
The Lambs were doing their utmost to get back into the game, without threatening the Alfreton goal and Shaw found himself offside from a good ball and run from Sheldon then Birley on 26.
Shaw took the full force of a clearance from Sutcliffe on the half hour, but the ball didn’t fall kindly for anyone to follow up. However, Tamworth continued to press and Sheldon forced the ‘keeper to collect down to his left with a strike from outside the box.
Shaw’s right wing freekick was pushed into the box by Pritchard on 33 and Sheldon turned on the ball and shot but it was not strong enough to beat Sutcliffe.
Law then received a booking for a late challenge but a push ended any hopes that The Lambs would be able to capitalise on the ball into the box from the freekick.
Birley unleashed a right footed drive at goal on 36 from Sheldon’s knock down but Sutcliffe tipped the ball over the bar and nothing came from the corner other than a booking for Foster following a freekick awarded against him for handball.
Tom Shaw equalised in the 38th minute after a great run by Rodman put the ball in the danger area and after a short melee in which the visitors failed to clear their lines, Shaw pounced and fired home from 6 yards. (1-1, 38 mins)
Alfreton kicked off, but Tamworth immediately won a corner which McAughtrie got his head to but a defender blocked the chance, and almost straight awat Alfreton broke and Hearn found time and space to fire past Bevan from the edge of the area with The Lamb defence left found wanting.
A foul on Pritchard in the area was given a penalty by the referee and Shaw made contact to a cross but Sutcliffe collected under pressure before Clayton fired into the side netting at the other end in the next move.
The Lambs won a corner with two minutes of normal time remaining in the first half but the keeper took the ball.
Two minutes added time were shown at the end of the half and Rodman fired wide from 25 yards with a right footed effort shortly before the whistle blew.
Alfreton kicked off the second period and there was little to report from either side as although both sides were moving the ball around neither could forge a path through to get a decent chance on goal.
McFadzean headed a visitors corner on 58 wide of the far post under pressure and this prompted movement from the Lambs bench with Wright replacing Birley.
Rodman hit a blast from fully 35 yards only to see it come back off the bar with the keeper beaten and Sheldon forced a corner from the rebound which came to nothing while at the other end a visitors corner was headed into the floor and over the bar by Butler on 62.
Burgess replaced debutant Melbourne on 64 and Foster had to work hard to stop Hearn from getting a cross in as he sprinted into the box and again on 67 Hearn made his way into the danger area, but his first touch took the ball too far and out for a goal kick.
With the pitch gradually turning a lighter shade of green by the minute play on the field was becoming increasingly more erratic from both sides as the ball didn’t seem to want to be moved around as either side intended it.
Sheridan became the final Lambs substitute to take to the field on 76 in a final throw of the dice from boss Gary Mills.
Wright won a corner on 79 taken short but the final ball went straight to Sutcliffe.
Sheldon tried a deft lob which didn’t quite come off on 80 as the ball whizzed across the face of goal and out and Shaw dragged his right footed shot wide of the mark on 83 from 20 yards.
Then Rodman tried his luck on the turn from a short Shaw freekick on 85 but was just a foot wide of the right hand post with Sutcliffe at full stretch.
Tamworth pushed on looking for an opening doing their best to pen Alfreton in their own half if not the final third of the field.
But it was not to be Tamworth’s night and their 15 match unbeaten run in the league came to an end after 5 minutes added time.
Bevan, Melbourne (Burgess 64), Wylde, Smith, McAughtrie, Foster (Sheridan 76), Birley (Wright 59), Shaw, Sheldon, Rodman, Pritchard
Subs: Lea, Law
Alfreton Town Team:
Sutcliffe, Marples, McFadzean, Butler, Wilson, Curtis, Muirhead (Bowler 68), Hall, Clayton, Hearn, Law
Subs: Davidson, Mayman, Ellender, Evans
Man of the Match: Bradley Pritchard
Referee: Mr. P. Hobday (Tipton)