Alfreton Town record first league win of season

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Torrential rain in Cumbria made Alfreton Town’s first Blue Square Bet Premier win of the season all that more difficult to attain, but they emerged triumphant from their arduous journey.

A brace from Paul Clayton doubled his season’s tally, ably supported by Ben Tomlinson as the Reds’ only goalscorers to date notched their fourth and second goals respectively.

Manager Nicky Law handed former Barnsley player Alastair Taylor his debut on the right side of midfield. He also recalled Darran Kempson after injury and he was joined in central defence by Theo Streete with both Adam Quinn and Leigh Franks rested to the bench. Nathan Arnold did not feature in the squad at all.

Alfreton had to soak up early Barrow pressure, despite Dan Bradley’s fourth minute shy at goal having to be saved by Bluebirds’ keeper Danny Hurst.

Two minutes later Darran Kempson had to be accurate with a sliding tackle as Sean Hessey attempted to play Paul Rutherford through, then seconds later Rutherford cut in and fired low with Paul Barnes able to hold the slippery ball.

A 20 yarder from Danny Rowe all along the ground had to be dealt with efficiently by Barnes before Anton Brown responded, but his shot was blocked by James Owen.

Alastair Taylor almost marked his Alfreton debut with a 25 yarder that needed turning behind by Hurst then the Reds nudged ahead in the 28th minute.

Josh Law’s deep free-kick was helped through a crowded area by Tomlinson for Clayton to slide home at full stretch from six yards, but 12 minutes later Law had to head off the line to keep the lead intact.

Rutherford’s cross from the right reared up at a congested near post and would have looped in after Barnes had been deceived by the deflection, but Alfreton finished the half in attacking mode as Kempson came within a whisker of scoring with a downward header from a Simon Russell corner.

Two minutes after the break a glancing header by Rowe was held by Barnes from a Rutherford cross, then on 51 minutes the Reds were able to double their advantage with Tomlinson picking his spot from ten yards after taking a return pass from Russell.

Russell had engineered the chance by forcing Hurst to commit himself after slipping, and the midfielder neatly side-stepped the keeper to present the ball on a plate to Tomlinson.

Barnes had to beat out a 55th minute by-line cross from Garry Hunter, then Adam Boyes raced clear down the left only to pull his delivery behind the unmarked Rowe.

Hunter fired over from 20 yards to ruin Barrow’s neatest move of the game in the 66th minute, then four minutes later Clayton was in the right place at the right time to grab the Reds’ third goal.

Tomlinson latched on to Gavin Skelton’s error to by-pass Hurst and fire at goal but this time Tom Anderson hacked off the line, only for the ball to go straight to the lurking Clayton for a simple tap-in.

Barrow reduced the arrears on 77 minutes after Danny Meadows had unfortunately slipped in the deteriorating conditions and allowed Boyes a clear passage to steer past Barnes.

And they should have scored a second when Kempson fell foul of the greasy surface to leave Rutherford clear, but this time Barnes was not troubled by the wayward shot.

Alfreton Town: Phil Barnes, Josh Law, Darran Kempson, Theo Streete, Connor Franklin, Alastair Taylor (Daniel Meadows, 72), Dan Bradley, Anton Brown, Simon Russell, Paul Clayton (Anthony Wilson, 72), Ben Tomlinson.

Substitutes not used: Adam Quinn, Leigh Franks, Ashley Worsfold.

Attendance: 768.

August Bank Holiday sees Alfreton Town face league newcomers Nuneaton Town at the Impact Arena.

The Reds will be aiming to record a first home win of the season. Kick-off is 3pm.