New Year, same outcome. Boston United began 2019 as they finished last year, conceding a late goal to drop vital points.
Following Bradford Park Avenue’s 94th-minute leveller on Saturday, Nathan Hotte repeated the feat at the Impact Arena, heading home a 90th minute equaliser to cancel out Nicky Walker’s early opener.
United battled, grafted and showed a bit more of that streetwise attitude which served the hosts so well in the reverse fixture seven days earlier. Quite frankly, they out-Alfretoned Alfreton for much of the game.
The return of Gavin Allott and another starting role for Jay Rollins also offered Boston a little more to throw at their hosts this time around.
But Alfreton pressure finally paid off at the death.
It was an early goal which settled Boxing Day’s meeting between the two sides and, once again, it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken.
On this occasion Boston - unchanged from Saturday’s draw with Bradford - drew first blood, Nicky Walker needing just 78 seconds to slot through Sam Ramsbottom’s legs from close range.
A long ball down the right channel saw Nathan Hotte stumble, allowing Jay Rollins to nip in, dart to the byline and cut back for Walker.
In a first half packed with robust challenges which referee Aaron Bannister let go unpunished, danger man Rollins saw two attempts beaten away by Ramsbottom and Max Wright’s hopeful lash at the ball was always curling away from goal.
For the Reds, Reece Styche, scorer of Alfreton’s winner in Boston, put three efforts off target while Tom Platt tested George Willis with a stinging 25 yarder.
The second half had that same bluster but fewer chances.
Styche dragged an effort wide for Alfreton before Walker put the ball in the Reds’s net, only to be denied a second by an offside flag.
As the away side defended deeper, Tom Allan somehow put a free header over.
But when Hotte was granted his opportunity he took it to leave United thinking what might have been once again.
There was still time for United to claim a penalty when Allott was sent sprawling during a corner, but referee Bannister stuck with form and opted not to blow the whistle.
ALFRETON: Ramsbottom, Clifton, Hotte, Lynch, Curry, Shiels, Styche, Platt, Peniket, Bateson (Sinnott 78), Allan; Subs (not used): Nicholson, Hobson, Clackstone, Clarke.
UNITED: Willis, Davies, Jackson, Thanoj, Gibbens, Qualter, Wright (Wafula 82), Abbott, Allott, Walker (Harris 90), Rollins (Chisholm 72); Subs: Slew, Malkowski.
REF: Aaron Bannister.
STAR MAN: Lewis Gibbens - fearless and strong in defence for United.
GOALS: ALFRETON - Nathan Hotte (90); UNITED - Nicky Walker (2).
BOOKINGS: ALFRETON - Tom Allan (40), James Clifton (56); UNITED - George Willis (39), Ryan Qualter (48).