Alfreton Town suffered a heavy 4-1 setback at Lincoln City on Tuesday night as their sixth game inside 18 days took its toll, but the nature of the defeat left much to be desired, with three of the goals coming from long throws.
It was the Reds’ first loss at Sincil Bank in four visits since promotion to the Conference Premier, but they still retain third spot with more games played than any of their nearest challengers.
Twice in the opening stages, Mitch Austin caused problems by cutting into the area and delivering sharp crosses, the first of which was blocked by Nick Fenton and the second leading to a long Tom Miller throw and the opening goal in the eighth minute.
It was Austin who latched on to the delivery to produce an angled drive that Darran Kempson could only slice into his own net, then as Lincoln gathered momentum Jon Worsnop had to tip over a smart header from Johan Dixon.
A snap shot by Job Ayo Akinde in the 18th minute was saved well by Imps’ keeper Paul Farman, but three minutes later Lincoln struck again to lead 2-0 from another Miller throw that fell nicely for Nick Wright to hook past Worsnop from 12 yards.
Six minutes before the break, Worsnop parried from Nolan before Chris Westwood blocked Sam-Yorke’s follow-up, then in first half added time Bradley Wood’s shot from 20 yards was parried by Farman and the ball would just not sit up for the supporting Paul Clayton.
The Reds came out after the interval in a determined mood and Clayton fired into the side-netting from a Westwood cross.
Ten minutes into the second half Alfreton deservedly reduced the deficit when Fenton headed home a Shaw corner that Clayton had won.
There was a distinct lull in the proceedings for a while after that and it was the 75th minute before Akinde almost managed to turn in a Kempson through-ball, but Jordan was on hand to block.
Then a Kempson shot from a Josh Law corner was blocked by Nat Brown before Lincoln extended their lead in the 80th minute, Nolan firing home from the edge of the area.
Alfreton were undone yet again by a long throw three minutes from the end, this time taken by Dan Gray, which left Sam Yorke completely unmarked to head past Worsnop from close range.