Blue Square Bet North
Boston United 3
Alfreton Town 2
ALFRETON Town were left scratching their heads in bewilderment on Tuesday night having thrown away a 2-0 half-time lead, allowing Boston United to complete an unlikely Blue Square Bet North double.
It was a fifth game on the trot that manager Nicky Law had selected an unchanged starting line-up and for much of it there seemed to be every chance of a fifth successive victory for the Reds, but a spirited resurgence by the home side after the break put paid to those aspirations.
Anton Brown gave the visitors a 20th minute lead in his 200th appearance for the club, a feat only achieved in 52 years of the Reds’ existence by 17 other players, when he glanced home a header from six yards from an Ian Ross delivery on the right.
The second goal arrived in the 42nd minute and stemmed from Theo Streete’s clearance from Marc Newsham at the other end, ironically after a rare slip by Scott Garner had led to keeper Chris Mackenzie parrying Newsham’s initial effort.
Streete had somehow managed to send Liam Hearn clear from the half-way line and in trademark style the striker drew Boston keeper Dan Haystead before slotting home from 12 yards.
Six minutes after the turnaround the Pilgrims were back in the hunt when Jamie Green’s cross was turned in at close range by Newsham, then the equaliser on 68 minutes left Streete needing lengthy treatment as he fell heavily and painfully whilst trying to abort Danny Sleath’s strong run at goal.
Sleath took full advantage and ran on to score in similar style to Hearn’s earlier goal for Alfreton, but he was originally gifted the ball by a weak clearance from Mackenzie following a Garner back-pass.
The winner came seven minutes from time with skipper Shaun Pearson left with a free header from ex-Red Jamie Yates’ corner, which had been won by perseverance from former Alfreton striker Danny Davidson.
First action of the game had seen Newsham’s progress blocked by an excellent Garner tackle in the tenth minute, with Josh Law tidying up as Adam Boyes arrived on the scene, then two minutes later at the other end Hearn’s shot from ten yards from Connor Franklin’s cross was deflected behind for a corner.
Law attempted to go one better than Daryl Clare had on Saturday against Corby when his 14th minute punt from almost on the half-way line forced Haystead into a stretching save as the keeper collided with the upright.
Pearson would have played Boyes through on goal had it not been for another timely tackle by Garner, then with 18 minutes gone Mackenzie saved a sharp 22 yarder from Sleath.
Garner intervened again as Yates almost succeeded in teeing up Newsham, then in first half added time Mackenzie could only punch James Cullingworth’s deep cross straight at Sleath but the Red’s keeper quickly recovered to save the follow-up.
Boyes fired into the side-netting from Yates’ 49th minute cross, then between Boston’s first two goals Brown cheekily lobbed the ball from outside the area and almost grazed Haystead’s left-hand post.
Streete managed to stick out a leg to prevent Boyes from scoring in the 75th minute at the expense of a corner, then Brown dragged a further chance wide from 16 yards after Paul Clayton had laid off Law’s through-ball.
Nathan Arnold went close a minute before United’s winner, then with six minutes of stoppage time indicated Alfreton suddenly perked up and engineered two good opportunities for a late equaliser.
First of all Law’s free-kick was headed over from close range by debutant substitute Nathan Jarman, then a clinical finish by Arnold from eight yards as he latched on to a Garner header whacked against the near post.
A further blow to Alfreton had been the enforced withdrawal of Hearn after 57 minutes when he suddely pulled up during a Reds’ attack, and they are now third in the table but only one point behind Boston with six games in hand and two points adrift of Nuneaton Town having played seven games less.
Boston United : 1 Dan Haystead, 2 Lee Canoville, 3 Jake Cullingworth, 4 Anthony Church, 5 Shaun Pearson (c), 6 Kevin Austin, 7 Jamie Yates (Grant Darley 90), 8 Danny Sleath, 9 Adam Boyes (Danny Davidson 80), 10 Marc Newsham (Spencer Weir-Daley 80), 11 Jamie Green.
Substitutes not used: Ryan Semple, Miles Hunter
Alfreton Town : 1 Chris Mackenzie, 2 Josh Law, 3 Connor Franklin, 4 Theo Streete (c), 5 Scott Garner, 6 Matt Wilson, 7 Ian Ross (Nathan Arnold 77), 8 Anton Brown, 9 Daryl Clare, 10 Liam Hearn (Paul Clayton 57), 11 Anthony Howell (Nathan Jarman 86).
Substitutes not used: Laurie Wilson, Jordan Hall.
Referee: Mr Neil Guest of Grimsby
Attendance: 1,503 (including 89 from Alfreton).
Goals: Boston United - Jamie Green (50), Danny Sleath (68), (Shaun Pearson (83)). Alfreton Town - Anton Brown (20), Liam Hearn (42).
Bookings: Boston United - Lee Canoville (90+3 (unsporting conduct).
Reds man of the match : Scott Garner