On Tuesday 9th October 2012 I visited the Impact Arena to watch Alfreton Town play Grimsby Town in the Blue Square Premier Division.
Over the past few years, me and my Dad have often selected a non-league game to go to on a Tuesday evening with our friend Paul. However, it had been almost two years since our last non-league match with Paul and with this in mind, we decided to head to the Impact Arena for Alfreton Town’s game against ex league side Grimsby Town.
I had previously visited the ground in January 2008 to have a look and take some photographs, but we decided to return and watch a game at the Impact Area. Upon arrival around half an hour before kick off, we headed through the turnstiles, bought a pre match burger and took our seats in the Tom McRoy Stand. There is seating on three sides of the ground while the away supporters are given the open terrace which can hold around 1,200 fans.
Coming in to this game, the two sides were at the opposite ends of the table. Alfreton Town sat in 17th position despite the fact that they were unbeaten in their last six matches, which included victories against former league sides Lincoln City, Luton Town and Macclesfield Town. Meanwhile, Grimsby Town were a single place outside the play offs in 6th. However, the Mariners had lost their last game 2-0 to Dartford after going on a ten game unbeaten run and were looking to get back to winning ways at the Impact Arena.
The game got underway in front of 1,192 supporters, of which 572 had made the journey from Lincolnshire. The home side started brighter and had the first decent opportunity when Nathan Arnold fired a low shot that was comfortably saved by James McKeown in the Grimsby net.
The visitors quickly grew in to the game though with Scott Neilson forcing a save from the Alfreton goalkeeper while a corner was headed in to the side netting at the near post.
The Reds almost gifted Grimsby the lead soon after when Daniel Meadows hit his back pass with far too much power and the goalkeeper was forced to play the ball out of play. The resulting corner was easily cleared and Nathan Arnold charged forward before playing Dan Bradley through on goal. Bradley hit the shot first time on the on rushing goalkeeper did brilliantly to hold on to the shot and clear the danger.
The former league side continually whipped the ball in to the danger area and they finally made a chance count on the stroke of half time. With just 6 minutes to go until half time, former Chesterfield player Derek Niven overhit a cross to Joe Colbeck on the edge of the area. Colbeck played the ball back to Neilson who hit a fantastic first time strike past Jon Stewart in the Alfreton net.
It remained 1-0 to the visitors until half time but it was still a very even game and anything could happen in the second period. During the break, we went in the club shop to have a look at the programmes and other items. For the second half, we decided to stand on the Main Stand terracing to get a different view of the action.
The Mariners started the second half well as they went in search of a second goal. Colbeck saw a low shot stopped by the ‘keeper while some neat build up play led to Aswad Thomas firing a long range effort wide of the target and in to the supporters on the open terrace. As the hour mark approached, it was Grimsby who continued to control the play and Ross Hannah saw his effort from the edge of the area go just over the crossbar.
Alfreton then began to pile the pressure on the Mariners defence and have some chances of their own as the desperatley pushed for an equalising goal. Arnold drilled a low cross in front of goal and Paul Clayton was just inches from the connecting with the ball, which would have almsot certainly resulted in a goal. Josh Law, the son of Alfreton manager Nicky, fired a free kick from the edge of the area on target but the ball was well held by goalkeeper McKeown, who was having a good game.
As the pressure continued, the ball bounced around the Grimsby area and the home side frantically tried to put the ball in the net, but it was eventually once again cleared by the defence. The visitors still look threatening on the counter attack and Hannah played Anthony Elding through on goal, but the striker fired the ball over the bar from a tight angle. Neilson also came close to scoring his second goal of the game when he cut inside and fired a shot in to the hands of Stewart.
Alfreton’s best chance of the game arrived with around 10 minutes to play, when the ball dropped to Clayton inside the area but his goal bound strike was magnificiently tipped wide but the Grimsby ‘keeper. The missed opportunity cost the Reds as Hannah put the result beyond doubt on the 88th minute. Craig Disley played the on-loan striker through and he cooly put the ball in to the bottom corner to to make it 2-0 and confirm the victory.
Overall, the result was probably fair as Grimsby had dominated for long spells of the game and while the home side did have some good chances, they failed to convert any of them in to goals. The result saw Alfreton fall a further spot down to 18th in the table, while the Mariners remained a place outside the play offs in 6th place, 8 points behind the leaders Newport County.
My evening at the Impact Arena. The ground is a nice place to watch football and the game was hard-fought and very entertaining. Of course, most importantly of all, the pre match burgers were tasty!
Alfreton Town 0–2 Grimsby Town
Neilson ’39, Hannah ’88Stewart, Law, Franklin, Kempson, Bradley, Streete, Killock, Meadows (Russell ’84), Arnold, Wilson, Tomlinson (Clayton ’60) McKeown, Thomas, Pearson, Niven, Colbeck, Disley, Wood, Pond, Neilson, Elding (Cook ’88), Hannah Attendance: 1,192