A trio of free headers were the root of Alfreton Town’s 3-0 loss at Kidderminster Harriers on Tuesday night, as they recorded the second defeat of their opening two Vanarama Conference matches.
Assistant manager Russ O’Neill made two changes from the Woking defeat, bringing in Jake Sheridan and Jordan Keane at the expense of Tom Shaw and Lee Stevenson, but despite defending well for the first quarter of the game the Reds were undone by Chey Dunkley’s free back-post header from an Aman Verma corner in the 24th minute.
And to make matters worse, the move was repeated in almost identical fashion on the hour as Harriers established a two-goal lead, embellished by Marvin Johnson’s header six minutes from time.
Dan Gray had made a timely interception that prevented Nathan Blissett’s ninth minute pass from reaching Craig Reid, then after Dan Bradley had attempted a brace of shots for the Reds from outside the area that had failed to trouble home keeper Danny Lewis the Alfreton goal came under siege in the 18th minute.
First of all Reid looked certain to score until his shot nicked off a defender for a corner, which proved a rehearsal for Dunkley whose header was cleared off the line by the alert Gray, then the subsequent flag-kick saw Verma scuff his shot wide from close range.
The signs were beginning to look ominous, and unfortunately went unheeded, as Dunkley put Kidderminster ahead in the simplest of fashions six minutes later, then Reid went close from a Kyle Storer free-kick.
Paul Clayton had been ploughing a lone furrow up front, but frustration prevailed and he became the first Reds’ player of the new season to receive a caution just before half-time, apparently for persistent fouling.
Clayton though never stopped running and popped up in defence to head behind an awkward Kevin Nicholson corner in the 57th minute.
An angled drive from Reid produced another corner for the home side in the 60th minute, and defender Dunkley was left with a simple header to put Alfreton two goals adrift.
Chris Smith was not too far off target with a header from Bradley’s 72nd minute cross, but it was a further six minutes before Alfreton managed to win their first corner.
But on 84 minutes, the issue was settled by Johnson’s simple header from 12 yards
Alfreton’s best chance came right in the third minute of added time through a Luke Graham header.