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  • Writer's pictureHead Scout

Ginsters Pasty

Alfreton Town 0-0 Curzon Ashton (National League North)

It’s the start of the new cricket season this weekend but I’m not needed until day four at Trent Bridge on Monday so I’m on Saturday afternoon duty, booked in for a usual full-bodied non-league football encounter between Alfreton Town and Curzon Ashton.

I’m excited to be heading the short journey into Derbyshire to a ground I’m very familiar with, I’ve asked the wife for a pound in loose change to give the guys in the press box who provide the tea and biscuits, and a quick glance at the table tells me both teams are locked horns, level on points in fifth and sixth respectively and equally fighting for playoff places.

Storm Kathleen is on her way, the wind has picked up over the last 24 hours but the weather is mild, blue skies with a bit of cloud, as I head out the door and up the M1 just 20 miles from my home, a local one for me, which makes a nice change.

The Venue

I’ve pulled up on North Street as the Curzon coach appears, I’ve had nothing to eat all day and there’s a petrol station at the top of the road with a Co Op, so I take a walk and grab a ginsters pasty and pack of beef hula hoops. I’ve got time so finish my grub in the car as I listen to Crystal Palace v Manchester City on the radio, before walking over, ten to two, across the car park and into reception, the wind howling as the door slams shut behind me, “go straight through” says the man with a clipboard when I say my name, entering the corner of the ground, the pitch sloping down has a bit of grass left long, in reasonable but bobbly looking condition, the red paint pealing off the posts propping up the roofed terrace above the walkway to my right as the wind whirls up a gust, I’m heading straight for the press area and some cover as I walk past the away teams changing rooms where music blurts out.

I’ve sat down on the back row of an elevated two tier platform for press use only, it's tight but cosy, there’s a couple of photographers as folk congregate near a glass door, “Anyone for a cuppa” a club official shouts. “I’ve brought my pound” I reply, apparently nobody who visits ever pays but the staff at Alfreton do pay out their own pockets for tea bags, coffee, milk, bourbons and custard creams and they always say “help yourself” whilst expecting nothing but a charitable donation back.

It's a little price to pay for the upkeep of a lovely service, for a quid I get access to a kettle and as many biscuits as I like, they’ve even brought out the cakes today, a sticky little fruit flapjack for anyone who wants one.

As I’m sat down with a cuppa and cake, writing the teams out, another gust of wind whirls in, I’m looking down onto the pitch, in sunlight, the Alfreton chief tweeter telling me the last match of the season is at Scarborough. A night out planned, the hotel is already booked.

The Game

It’s cagey is the opening as Alfreton go long but struggle to deliver the ball where they want it in such strong wind, the first half is niggly, feisty, but fair, the only person moaning is a fan sitting to my right, every decision he contests as he frequently tells the linesman on this side what he should, and shouldn’t be giving.

Long throws are hurled into the Curzon box, all dealt with quite well, in return the away side look to play on the break, and look the better with the ball, a shot five or six minutes before half time by Sinclair from outside the box is pushed around his posts by Willis, the first attempt on goal of the game, but for an earlier blocked effort by Waldock at the other end.

The Score

I’m pouring myself another brew at the break as we discuss a damp squib of a first half, it’s not been the best but tensions are high, neither side want to give anything away and although it’s been ugly, the best players have been the centre halves, one of which Dwayne Wiley of Alfreton is booked for a big heavy challenge on half way. A reducer as we say in the game. He's a big unit but not one I would like to play against.

“Billy’s launched into them at half time” we are told as shouting is heard from within the doors of the Alfreton changing room, they don’t improve much however in the second half as Curzon again look like the ones more comfortable on the ball, but it’s far from a classic, there’s far from much incident, my first nil nil since the FA Cup Final of 2022.

The Stars

There’s key battles between target men and man marker as Kennedy Digie keeps Jimmy Spencer quiet, at the other end I’m impressed with Marcus Poscha, he besides Devon Matthews get the better of Jake Day who’s busy but doesn’t really look like ever scoring.

Alfreton’s wide man Jordan Thewlis is direct and positive, Curzon number 7 Isaac Sinclair is equally as immediate in the way he plays, a forward thinking footballer who likes to get on the ball and make things happen with jinking ability, unfortunately on this service, in these conditions, against this opposition, it's easier said than done.

I’m impressed again with Jordan Richards at right full back, he used to play for Alfreton Town I’m told and I vaguely remember, whilst Stefan Mols is a player with ability, but he wasn’t allowed to get in the game, Town’s aggressive defending collectively impressive rather than individually brilliant.

The Verdict

South Shields apparently won 7-0 against bottom side Bishop’s Stortford to leapfrog both Alfreton and Curzon in the table but with Curzon facing Bishop’s and another of the leagues relegated sides Gloucester next, they’ll be confident in a maximum six points from their remaining two matches of the campaign.

Alfreton have three games left, like Curzon they have Gloucester next, on Tuesday, before hosting Spennymoor and that trip north to sunny Scarborough at the end of the month. By then, they’ll be hoping to have a playoff slot already wrapped up.

The Teams

Alfreton Town: George Willis, Josh Clackstone, Nathan Newell, Adam Lund, Kennedy Digie, Dwayne Wiley, George Cantrill, Jake Day (Ryan Taylor 87), Liam Waldock, Billy Fewster (Lewis Salmon 89), Jordan Thewlis (Gerry McDonagh 75).

Curzon Ashton: Joshua Olleranshaw, Marcus Poscha, Devon Matthews, Alex Kenyon (Luke Griffiths 67), Isaac Sinclair, Jimmy Spencer, Will Hayhurst, George Waring, Stefan Mols, Jordan Richards, Adam Barton.

3:00pm Kick Off. Saturday 6th April 2024, North Street, Alfreton (att 665).

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