Away In A Mazda Part 3 (The trilogy)

                                                                                 



Following on from  ‘Away in a Mazda’ parts 1 and 2 I have been besieged from all sides.......well Burnage Jeff off the ‘Flyer’ did anyway( ask me to  maybe complete a trilogy).
Burnage  Jeff......







Therefore due to the underwhelming public demand I have elected to do just that. My dilemma being which of the two successive away games since Altrincham do I choose?
Now the natural, feel good choice, would be Ashton United. A 6-0 win on the lower slopes of the Pennine Hills on a dark and dismal December eve. This is now my favourite away ground of all time having never witnessed a 6-0 away win during my 50 plus years of following the Hatters.






 I had arrived at the ground ridiculously early, circumnavigated all the stands, consumed a cup of tea and joined around 600 or so fellow travellers to witness the dismantling of Ashton United. So, for none of those reasons I am going to write about Alfreton.

Writing this pre Christmas and not knowing how we will fare, reader’s maybe:

a)   Euphoric, having beaten Altrincham (twice) and Kidderminster
b)   Mildly satisfied having extracted an acceptable number of points from those games.
c)   Not pleased having not extracted an acceptable number of points from those games.

And so to Alfreton. I navigated the awful pre Christmas Stockport traffic from SK2 to Reddish/Heaton Chapel to pick up the travelling companion for this game, who, incidentally was a different travelling companion to Spennymoor whom I had kept secret due to his witness protection programme confidentiality, it was not Ian Dooley………doh (he’s not really in a WP programme, or at least I don’t think he is!)
Not proven !









Each time I go to Alfreton my Sat Nav sends me a different way. Same car but there must be a ‘variety’ setting somewhere that I cannot locate. A couple of Christmas’s ago it sent me through a stream and a farmer’s field somewhere south west of Chesterfield. I think today it was trying to send me to Chesterfield, down the M1 and then into Alfreton. 








Not fancying a repeat of the Stockport traffic in Chesterfield I detoured towards the farmers field and we eventually arrived outside the ground just before 2 PM.

Having paid my £14 I headed for the infamous eatery with an ‘in’ door and an ‘out’ door. Despair, as we were informed that the electric had gone off and no hot drinks or pies were available yet. Bizarrely the lack of power had not affected what ever they were cooking the chips with and an agreeable chip balm was consumed, and blissfully there was no sign of Mr Ian Brown or his camera.
Food Q Hell !






I said this was an ‘infamous’ eatery as, should you have the misfortune to try and obtain food or drink any time after kick off, you will remain in that queue of people for the entire length of the game. As I eat I ruefully scorned the pile up of leaves on the terrace.
No leaves, but some loose turfery courtesy of Andrew Machin !







 These were not this years leaves but last years leaves, I know this because in my HTH capacity as assistant, deputy, reserve, back up, if all else fails call him groundsman at EP – I do some weeding, edging and leaf blowing, I am uniquely qualified to know this.

And so to the game itself. Expectations were high following our recent form, particularly away from home but Alfreton are always tricky. The first time I ever visited this ground we lost 6-1, I left early missing our last minute consolation goal, although the referee that day was Sebastian Stocksbridge who personally scored three of those goals!
 
Sebastian Stocksbridge- far more `orrible than even the Harrow Horror ever wos !




 Still on the referee theme, I noted that our official today was one Aaron Jackson. This left me with an uneasy, queasy feeling. I was not quite sure why but then it dawned on me that he was the official in our home game against Fylde a year or two back who you may remember felt that a right hook ‘Tyson’ style to Scott Duxbury’s face was perfectly acceptable and that a fractured eye socket and cheek bone was not in the least dangerous play putting Scott out of the game for several months. The assailant was not dismissed and played a major part in the late winning goal for Fylde that night. What possible horrors would Mr Jackson conjure up today for us…………he did not disappoint!

Most of the early pressure came from County and a superb Matthew Warburton 20 yarder was matched by an equally superb save from the home keeper.
 
Neat strike from Warby !






 The quality of the save was entirely Ian Dooley’s fault who had without remorse mocked the keeper during the warm up for his salmon pink boots spurring the keeper on to perform heroics.

I feel the home side had done their homework and trademark Duxbury and Adam Thomas runs were in short supply with the home side at times putting three defenders on each flank to counter these threats. Alfreton were accruing a vast number of fouls against but the visitors were unable to fashion much in the way of goal bound threats. 0-0 at half time and any thoughts of half time refreshment was countered by the conga queue that ended somewhere in deepest Derbyshire. I contented myself with a Satsuma and an apple although Mr Brown is never around to photograph the healthy option!


The second half proceeded much in the same vain as the first when, with Alfreton attacking........ the ball was successfully cleared. As Dan Cowan advanced forward he walked into a home player who went to ground. Before he had actually hit the ground our friend Mr Jackson, barely containing his delight blew for a penalty kick. The resultant penalty kick cleared the cross bar by some margin.
 
Always worth another look, as the ball heads for Blueys and County fans have histerics!





 Around 120 seconds later with Alfreton again on the attack Frank Mulhearn extended a leg, some distance from the attacking player, who, in a slow motion recline eventually hit the deck. Mr Jackson again, gleefully pointed to the penalty spot long before the ‘corpse’ had hit the turf and this time pantomime villain and long time County ‘thorn’ Reece Styche achieved what his predecessor could not and scored from 12 yards ( Ed: I have unaccountably been unable to locate a pic of this one).
 Not content with that Styche then proceeded to goad the large away contingent for some time, whilst Mr Jackson pretended not to spot this touch of vaudeville and jogged with his back to the ‘action’ At this point my spent apple core and Satsuma peel nearly made for an airborne missile but I resisted the urge after considering both the consequences and the aerodynamics of orange peel.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes Nyal Bell scored a good volleyed equaliser from an AdamThomas cross.
Nyal Bell
 
...and a bonus pic from Andrew Machin, showing the keeper`s ingloriously pink boots!




From that point in County dominated the game and Alfreton employed a variety of methods to kill time that included: kicking the ball away at a free kick for County which offended Mr Jackson who yellow carded the miscreant although when the home bench clung on to the match ball Mr Jackson decided that he rather enjoyed that and did nothing. In the dying seconds of the game Jake Kirby ran into the opposition penalty at speed, with the ball and appeared to have his legs comprehensively taken from him. The courage that Mr Jackson had found to award the home side two penalty kicks in as many minutes deserted him and what looked like (albeit from 90 yards away) the most blatant of penalty kicks never happened and shortly afterwards the game was over although I noted that he blew around a minute short of the minimum 4 minutes he had added and not made any additional time available for the home sides and staffs efforts to time waste. Be sure, if this game had gone on another 5 minutes we would have won it.

Having laughed out loudly at the Fingerpost Flyer’s M1 routing back to SK I found that my Sat Nav was not so amusing and a put me on the very same motorway, through a relatively quiet Chesterfield and home.

Perhaps not a bad point although the amount of drawn games is probably too many.

So that’s Alfreton for at least another season and hopefully for ever but perhaps that being unkind. A typical ground at this level; I just wish somebody would clear those leaves.


Adrian Caville

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