Alfreton Town have reached the First Round Proper of the F.A.Cup for the sixth time in their history, after beating Gateshead on Saturday for the first time in 39 years.
Saturday’s 2-0 win at the Impact Arena sealed the Reds’ progress, thanks to a solid all-round performance that restricted their Tyneside opponents to a handful of chances.
Alfreton also recorded successive clean sheets for the first time this season, and would have fielded an unchanged side from the 0-0 draw at Ebbsfleet had Anthony Wilson not pulled up during the warm-up.
Prize money of £12,500 was pocketed while the subsequent draw, made live on national television, paired the Reds with fellow Blue Square Bet Premier outfit Wrexham at their Racecourse Ground on November 3.
A header from James Brown flashed wide from Chris Bush’s cross with two minutes elapsed as Gateshead attempted to draw first blood. Then in response, two minutes later Darran Kempson volleyed wide from a Josh Law corner.
A central run by Dan Bradley ended with a low drive off target, then in the tenth minute Reds’ keeper Jon Stewart picked out Nathan Arnold with a huge punt upfield but the latter chipped over from the edge of the area.
Ben Tomlinson hooked over fom 18 yards after taking a return pass from Dan Meadows, then on 16 minutes Law’s error let in Josh Gillies before Kempson’s blocking tackle averted the danger.
Five minutes later, the first shot on goal from either side was instantly followed by a second as Gateshead keeper Adam Bartlett parried a Meadows shot, and a covering defender then blocked Tomlinson’s follow-up before Arnold fired wide.
Paul Clayton was just unable to make contact with Meadows’ cross in the 29th minute, then a Meadows through-ball sent Tomlinson clear, only to delay a fraction and allow Carl Magnay to put the ball safely behind for a corner.
The last action of the first half saw Micky Cummins’s deep deflected shot from the left comfortably gathered by Stewart.
Gateshead almost broke the deadlock within two minutes of the restart after Stewart had uncharacteristically fumbled a Gillies free-kick, but the keeper immediately made amends by parrying a full-blooded follow-up from Nathan Fisher.
Bradley fired high and wide from 20 yards, but Alfreton took a 55th minute lead when Arnold’s angled drive from eight yards after cutting in from the right cannoned off James Curtis to completely deceive Bartlett at his near post.
Two minutes later, Clayton scooped over after Arnold had again worried the visiting defence, and by the 64th minute the Reds had doubled their advantage in style after Tomlinson had run 30 yards with a Ross Killock pass before firing low from eight yards to find the corner of the net.
A scorching 25 yarder from Connor Franklin tested Bartlett a minute after the goal, then another jinking run from Arnold on 78 minutes ended with Bartlett saving his stifled shot.
Two late chances for the visitors was all that astute Alfreton defending allowed, Fisher’s shot from 22 yards held by Stewart while James Marwood fired over from half that distance.