Alfreton Town suffered a home defeat to Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday, despite an encouraging first half performance, that has seen them slip to tenth spot in the Vanarama National League North.
Out of the blocks quickly the Reds were stunned when the visitors opened the scoring in the tenth minute with their first venture into Alfreton territory, and despite fully deserving to be level at half-time their second half performance left much to be desired.
Manager Nicky Law had club captain Dan Bradley available again after a lengthy seven-match suspension, although Joe Leesley retained that role on the pitch with Ryan Wilson making way.
Jamie Jackson was preferred to Joe lronside up front, but it was Bradley who was first to test veteran keeper Tony McMillan with a third minute rasper from 18 yards.
Three minutes later Sam Jones unleashed a shot that McMillan could only parry before Jordan Robertson’s follow-up was turned behind, the corner from Leesley forcing Bohan Dixon to head off the line.
Alex Johnson’s through-ball to Steve Tames sent the latter on a darting run before finding the far corner of the net with a low angled drive, and Stalybridge led 1-0.
It took a while for Alfreton to regain their composure and matters were not helped when Jones’ full-blooded drive was inadvertently cleared by striking Robertson, then a long throw from Niall Heaton saw Tom Allan’s towering header flash wide of the back post.
It was another long, raking Heaton throw that led to the equaliser in the 27th minute, this time taken on the right, that allowed Robertson to stroke the ball home from eight yards for his fifth goal in six starts.
Six minutes into the second half Jones’ 25 yarder was comfortably held by McMillan, just before a major let-off for the Reds when a late flag ruled out Adam Farrell’s header from a Tames’ pull-back.
Efforts from Jackson and Jones were dealt with by Stalybridge before they swooped to regain the lead with 20 minutes remaining, Tames following up to ram home the ball after Farrell had smashed a shot against the upright.
Farrell again found the post intervening as he let rip from 25 yards on 78 minutes, with Sam Berry blocking as Dale Wright latched on to the loose ball, but the killer third goal arrived five minutes later when Johnson was on hand to stab the ball home from close range after Matt Duke had parried Dixon’s shot.
Alfreton: Duke; Moyo, Allan, Berry, Jordan (Wilson 80), Heaton (Thanoj 58), Bradley, Leesley, Jones (Johnston 80), Jackson, Robertson. Subs not used: Galinski, Ironside.
Alfreton Town boss Nicky Law said his side got exactly what they deserved from the defeat to Stalybridge Celtic.
He reflected: “It is just really, really disappointing. I think we started the game well and showed that we could possibly be the better team.
“Then we started having too many touches, we didn’t shift the ball quick enough.
“Credit to them, they stuck at it and ground away at us. Really at the end of the game we got what we deserved which was nothing.
“Fair play to Liam Watson and his players, we have probably got a bit ‘out-physicalled’ today.
“It is alright having all the ability in the world but if you can’t stand up to it you are going to come unstuck and that is what we have done today.
“We have been bullied if you want, but I think a lot of it was our own downfall because as I say we started brightly and then all of a sudden we need too many touches, we are bringing them on and we get ourselves into a position, or a bit of a hole if you like and then we haven’t got the character or the know-how to get out of it.”
- For more local sport go online to www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk/sport.