Match Photographer: James Williamson
Match Report by Jamie Griffiths
Brendon Daniels played the role of super sub after coming off of the bench to grab two goals helping Alfreton to beat Ilkeston in an entertaining end-to-end game, which survived the heavy snow due to the help of local volunteers.
The game was even with both sides holding nothing back in the search for a goal, when Daniels was brought on by the hosts. In the space of a few minutes he changed the game with a sweet free kick from 20 yards and a side footed finish from close range to ensure that Alfreton beat both the elements and the visitors.
The game was brought into doubt due to the snow, raising concerns that the game would have to be rearranged once more. However thanks to the help from volunteers, the covers were moved and the lines were made visible, and they were rewarded with an entertaining game, albeit in freezing conditions.
Clear cut chances were at a premium in the first half, but it was still a match that you couldn’t look away from, as with each attack came a swift counter attack. It was difficult to see which way the tie was going to go.
Both sides had chances in the opening 15 minutes, with Alfreton’s Andre Johnson firing wide under pressure following a cross from the left, and Ilkeston’s Jamie Walker seeing his effort fly over the crossbar after cutting back inside the box on the left.
Both sides were coping well with the conditions, and they didn’t stop them from powering forward at every opportunity, which was shown in the best chance of the half.
Ilkeston played the ball down the left, moving it around well, but after seeing an effort blocked, the hosts countered with pace creating a 3 on 2 opportunity as they moved over half way. With a man either side, Alfreton shifted the ball to the left as they approached the box, but their effort was well saved by Jamie Hannis.
Half Time: Alfreton Town 0 Ilkeston Town 0
After defrosting during the break, both teams picked up where they left off.
The hosts had the first chance of the half when Craig Westcarr saw his effort from the edge of the box tipped over by Hannis. The resulting corner was then well dealt with.
Both teams then made changes early in the second half as Alfreton introduced Daniels for Johnson and Ilkeston replaced Martin Lench with Ben Fairclough.
Moments after play was restarted, Ilkeston came close to opening the scoring. Alex Marshall was well placed at the back post to receive a deep cross from the left, but Tobias Johansson was there to deny him, holding onto his headed effort.
The visitors were then forced into making another substitution just after an hour, as the injured Lavell White was replaced by Ben Morris.
Soon after, the game was to chance in a matter of minutes. After drawing a foul 20 yards out, right of centre, Alfreton had a tasty opportunity to break the deadlock. Up stepped Daniels, who then sweetly curled the free kick over the wall and into the bottom left hand corner. 1-0.
After Alfreton made a change, replacing Tom Platt with James Baxendale, Ilkeston went in search of an equaliser when Tom Marshall let fly from range, with the ball just dropping beyond the goal.
Moments later Alfreton, and Daniels, struck again. Following Ilkeston’s effort, they worked the ball down the right, where Craig Westcarr found enough space behind the defence to square the ball in the box to Daniels, who gratefully side footed the ball past the keeper and into the net. 2-0.
Despite finding themselves two down in a matter of minutes, Ilkeston still threatened and nearly pulled one back when Alex Marshall saw another back post header well saved by Johansson.
The visitors looked to get a foothold in the game by introducing Montel Gibson for Tim Hopkinson, and it very nearly worked. Gibson won the ball on halfway and drove forward towards goal, before opting to play the ball left to Marshall, who controlled and then sent an effort just wide of the right hand post.
Alfreton then made their final change, bringing on Marcus Marshall for Chris Sharp.
The game didn’t calm down as it entered the final stages with chances falling to both sides; Alfreton going close through Ryan Jennings, who sent a header wide after rising highest in the box, and again through Westcarr who saw his free kick from the left tipped round the post.
Ilkeston had a great opportunity to cause a nervy finish to the game when Walker found some space as he cut inside the box on the right, but he fired his effort straight at the keeper.
The full time whistle blew soon after, and it brought cheers from the home crowd as the result now leaves them just one win away from cup success.
Full Time: Alfreton Town 2 Ilkeston Town 0
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