Alfreton Town recorded their long-awaited first win of the season when they visited Southport on Saturday, clambering off the foot of the Vanarama Conference in the process with a 2-0 victory.
The Reds have had their fair share of success at Haig Avenue, but none can have been sweeter than this, their first win in 17 games stretching back to March 18, when relegated Tamworth were beaten 4-2 at the lmpact Arena.
Karl Hawley was given his first start up front alongside Joe Ironside, with Massiah McDonald reverting to the bench, and his inclusion was instantly merited with an assist and a goal inside the opening nine minutes to put the Reds firmly in control.
The whole shape of the game was formed in that initial nine-minute period, with Ironside scoring the third goal of his loan spell within 90 seconds of the start when he charged down Dominic Collins’s attempted clearance and the ball rebounded off him before bobbling into the net.
Hawley’s exquisite back-heel had set up the move, with Tom Shaw’s shot blocked before Hawley’s deflected effort was directed at Collins.
Southport thought they had leveled the score after seven minutes when a neat move involving John Marsden, Danny Hattersley and David Fitzpatrick ended with Paul Rutherford smashing a header against the crossbar from close range.
That miss was immediately punished with Alfreton forcing a right-wing corner, which Shaw delivered deep with a deft flick-on by Smith, Hawley cutting in to send an angled drive arrowing into the bottom corner of the net with Southport’s defence all at sea.
It was fairly mundane stuff after that initial surge of activity, but that format clearly suited the Reds, who were able to comfortably control the game.
Too little too late, Southport created a couple of chances in the closing stages with Danny Whitehall’s header from a Rutherford cross glancing off a defender for a corner, and a John Gorman free-kick whistling millimetrs over the bar.