Alfreton woes go on after latest defeat

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Alfreton Town lost 3-0 to Darlington 1883 to make it five straight defeats without scoring.

It was always going to be difficult for the Reds with a growing injury/illness list that has kept out key central defenders Terry Kennedy and Brad McGowan, added to which they ended the game without striker Sam Smith, who left the pitch in pain with his arm in a sling after challenging for a cross with visiting keeper Adam Bartlett.

To their credit the keeper and a Darlington defender immediately alerted the referee and assisted Smith whilst the visiting physio, being in the nearest dug-out, attended instantly.

Darlington had started the game like a greyhound coming out of the traps, being denied by the woodwork twice in the opening six minutes, Mark Beck heading against the foot of the post on three with the ball then rebounding off Fabian Spiess, then David Ferguson smashed his shot from all of 30 yards against virtually the same spot on the upright.

Even at that early stage Spiess had already had to beat out a ferocious drive from Steven Thompson, Alfreton at last managing to push forward in the 19th minute with Callum McFadzean’s shot blocked after Liam Hearn had slipped the ball through to Craig Westcarr on the right.

The Reds were unlucky to have a McFadzean goal ruled out for off-side six minutes later from a Mark Shelton cross after a neat interchange between Wes Atkinson and Hearn, but almost immediately at the other end Spiess held a close range header from Josh Gillies.

Twelve minutes before the break Darlington struck when a through-ball fell kindly to Nathan Cartman, who remained on-side to slot the ball past Spiess, then on 43 minutes there was a double escape for the Reds when Thompson’s back-heel was cleared off the line by Niall Heaton with Spiess blocking the follow-up from the same player.

Four minutes into the second half Paul Marshall’s cross was met with a miskick by McFadzean, with Westcarr curling the loose ball over, then with 58 minutes on the clock Darlington doubled their advantage when Gillies lashed home a Thompson cross at the back post.

On the hour Hearn ran on to a through-ball and tried in vain to lob Bartlett, but the game was over by the 63rd minute when Shelton was deemed to have held back Beck and Terry Galbraith stroked the resultant penalty past Spiess.

A neat move between McFadzean and Adam Priestley led to Smith’s angled drive being turned behind by the keeper after 67 minutes, but the only other direct chance to come Alfreton’s way was a Priestley header that was held by Bartlett in added time.

ALFRETON: Spiess; Richards, Allan, Heaton, Wilson, McFadzean (Priestley 64), Atkinson, Marshall, Shelton, Westcarr, Hearn (S.Smith 55), (Evans 83).

SUBS NOT USED: Monkhouse, Cox.

DARLINGTON: Bartlett; Hunter, Ferguson, Turnbull, Galbraith (Marrs 80), Brown, Thompson (Wearmouth 65). Syers (Scott 65), Beck, Cartman, Gillies.

SUBS NOT USED: Wilczynski, Suanders.

REFEREE: Paul Marsden.

ATTENDANCE: 867 (inc. 339 from Darlington),