Law has no defence as Alfreton crumble

Alfreton Town 0 Carlisle United 4
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The Independent Football

Like all the 32 non-League teams in the first round of the FA Cup, Alfreton allowed themselves to dream – but for every fairytale in the world's most famous knock-out competition there are a dozen prosaic defeats.

The hard-working officials at the grandly-named Impact Arena club did as much as they could to put their former mining town on the map but their players, sadly, were a bit of a let-down, at least when it came to defending.

It has been the story of Alfreton's season, their manager, Nicky Law, lamented. Elevated to the Blue Square Premier for the first time in their history with promotion last season, the Derbyshire team have struggled to overcome a losing habit at the higher level and currently have only Bath City below them inthe table.

Carlisle, two divisions and 60 places above them, arrived with a record of one defeat in their last 10 games and that against the League One leaders Charlton Athletic. The gap sometimes looked smaller but, given the nature of the goals conceded, that it did was somewhat academic.

All the scoring came before half-time, which did not make for much of a second half for a crowd just short of 1,500. Alfreton had looked bright, even threatening, in the opening 20 minutes but their failure to land a meaningful tackle on Jon-Paul McGovern as the one-time Celtic trainee jinked around in their penalty area allowed Lee Miller to slide home a soft opener for the Cumbrians and for the next 21 minutes they were shambolic. Rory Loy, a former Scotland Under-21 forward, added a second from a skilfully executed overhead kick but there followed two complete gifts. The first was accepted by James Berrett after the goalkeeper Joe Day had heroically kept a deflection off one of his defenders from going in, the second by Liam Noble, who somehow managed to escape the notice of three Alfreton players as he headed home Berrett's cross without even having to jump.

It did not help that Josh Law, the manager's son, limped off with an ankle injury after the second goal, requiring the midfielder Theo Streete to take his place, but it was hardly an excuse.

It was hard to watch for the home contingent, not least Law senior, who began his playing career with Arsenal and been a defender who commanded respect during 500 League appearances for seven clubs. "It was sad because there were times in the game that we matched them," he said. "But if you don't defend, don't look after the ball, if you can't stop balls coming into your box the way we did, you are going to struggle. It has been the story of our season, losing games because we have givenaway silly goals."

To make matters worse, Alfreton even missed a penalty, which would at least have earned them a modicum of respect after keeping Carlisle from scoring again.

But the substitute Chris Senior – one man from whom you might have expected composure onlysix months after he scored Darlington's play-off winner at Wembley in May – blasted his kick against the woodwork.

Alfreton (4-4-2): Day; Law (Mullan, 39), Franks, Young, Brown; Hall, Church, Streete, Arnold (Senior, 56); Clayton, Wilson (Jarman, 80)

Carlisle (4-3-1-2): Collin; Ribiero, Livesey, Michalik, Robson; Berrett (Taiwo, 76), Thirlwell (Zoko, 62), Noble; Loy; McGovern (Curran, 73), Miller.

Referee Eddie Ilderton.

Man of the match Loy (Carlisle).

Match rating 7/10.