Dance spot on as he makes it strictly misery for Alfreton
ALFRETON Town were beaten by a disputed late penalty at the end of a dire encounter on a freezing cold night in their Blue Square Bet Premier trip to Nuneaton.
That consigned the Reds, who made one change with Ben Tomlinson recalled and Theo Street reverting to the bench, to their second double defeat of the season.
Early exchanges were stifled but a cross from the right wing by Aaron Phillips only just failed to tee up Andy Brown in front of goal.
At the other end, goalkeeper Lee Burge almost made a hash of a tame Nathan Arnold shot for the Reds.
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The tempo of the game still hadn't picked up by the 20th minute, before Adam Walker fired over from 20 yards and Arnold won a 22nd-minute corner from a neat Steven Hewitt cross following an error from Simon Forsdick.
Both sides did their best to inject some enthusiasm into the contest.
Louis Moult beat the offside trap after 34 minutes to latch on to a through ball and force a corner, while a couple of promising Alfreton attacks broke down in sight of goal.
Probably the blandest first half of the season concluded with an apology of a shot from Forsdick that was almost reluctantly held by Reds keeper Phil Barnes.
There was more energy to the game after the break.
Daniel Meadows superbly played in Arnold down the right before having his progress halted by a posse of defenders, then Brown fired wide at the other end.
A Josh Law corner missed everybody as it whistled through the goalmouth after 58 minutes and, three minutes later, Connor Franklin played in Paul Clayton but, as he cut inside from the left, he was stopped by a solid Forsdick tackle.
Clayton had a sharp shot saved by Burge and, nine minutes from the end, Louie Soares broke into the area, only to see his shot deflected to safety off the heels of Nuneaton skipper Gareth Dean.
Reds defenders held their breath at Connor Taylor's 83rd-minute corner as James Dance met the delivery at the near post with a crisp header that smacked against the bar before being scrambled clear.
All the action was coming late in the game and Clayton turned neatly eight yards out to power in a low drive that was turned aside by a reflex save from Burge.
Two minutes from time, Law was adjudged to have impeded Wesley York and the referee pointed to the spot. Dance dispatched the penalty with aplomb.
Alfreton threw everything at Nuneaton in a bid to salvage the game and, in added time, both Soares and Dan Bradley had shots from the edge of the area diverted for corners, while Tomlinson wasted a clear chance.
NUNEATON TOWN: Burge, Phillips, Cowan, Dean, McNamee (Sleath, 79), Walker, York, Armson (Taylor, 63), Forsdick, Brown, Moult (Dance, 71). Other subs: Cartwright, Adams.
ALFRETON TOWN: Barnes, Law, Franklin, Franks, Kempson, Meadows, Hewitt (Streete, 66), Bradley, Arnold (Soares, 74), Clayton, Tomlinson. Other subs: Boden, Worsfold, Killock.
REFEREE: J Hopkins.