FA Cup: Alfreton stand-in keeper Howell cannot prevent thrashing

Athony Howell (centre) tussles with Liverpool's Lucas Leiva
Midfielder Howell was part of the Mansfield Town side that pushed Liverpool all the way in the FA Cup third round in 2013

Alfreton Town midfielder Anthony Howell was unable to perform heroics as an emergency goalkeeper as the Conference side lost 5-1 at Lincoln in the FA Cup.

The Reds only had 11 fit players for Tuesday's fourth-qualifying round replay at Sincil Bank and a keeper crisis meant Howell started in goal.

"It was a good experience," Howell told BBC Radio Derby. "But five goals and losing kind of dampens it.

"I will never take the mick out of a keeper again - it's a hard job."

The Reds fought back to draw Saturday's match 1-1, but their only fit goalkeeper James Severn ruptured a thigh muscle in the game and was ruled out for eight weeks.

And only players who are registered in time for the initial game are eligible to play in the tie.

Howell helpless in FA Cup humbling
"I think all the lads appreciated I tried my best and that was all I could do."Anthony Howell

Howell, 28, only found out he would be the last line of defence a few hours before kick-off.

"I didn't expect it five hours before - although I obviously knew we didn't have a goalkeeper," said Howell, who rejoined Alfreton from League Two side Mansfield Town in the summer.

"But as soon as I met the gaffer, he had a word with me as he knows I could do a job having been in goal in training."

Hopes of an unlikely FA Cup success were dashed early on as Sean Newton's fine free-kick put the Imps 1-0 up and another Newton set-piece made it 2-0 at half-time.

Newton completed his hat-trick with a penalty and the Reds then had Karl Hawley sent off.

The visitors did find the net through Bradley Wood's header, but two late Delano Sam-Yorke strikes sealed Lincoln's place in the first round.

Alfreton manager lays down the Law
"Anthony did well in goal; he was probably our best player. He kicked well, came and punched a few and could do nothing about the goals. It was nothing he did, it was the 10 in front of him."Nicky Law

Howell added: "The lads put a good shift in but a few set-pieces early on killed us. We didn't want to give free-kicks away around the box and we gave one away early on and it was a great free-kick.

"There was no chance any keeper in the world would save it - let alone me. I think all the lads appreciated I tried my best and that was all I could do."

Alfreton boss Nicky Law, whose side are second from bottom of the Conference, praised Howell but was furious with the rest of his players.

"We didn't turn up, didn't fancy it, and never got near anything," he said. "It was not just the lack of desire to want to win, there was no desire to go and get on the ball and pass it.

"We went to Lincoln with a problem of having no goalkeeper, but when you come away having been beaten 5-1 and not having the excuse that it was your goalkeeper's fault, there is something badly wrong.

"I can't defend what's not defendable and I cannot defend that performance."

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