Alfreton Town’s final away game of the season ended with a 3-2 defeat to Hereford United, who are struggling to survive both on and off the field.
This latest setback saw the Reds fall to ninth spot in the Skrill Premier and they can now only finish eighth at best after being in a play-off spot for a large chunk of the season.
One bright spot to emerge from Edgar Street was the display of teenage goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith, the Sheffield Wednesday loanee given his chance to shine and evoke memories of a young Adam Legzdins’s heroic display that had kept Alfreton in a goalless F.A.Cup tie at Hereford back in 2005.
The Reds began with promise and forged a seventh-minute lead when Job Ayo Akinde swept the ball past keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston from 16 yards following a superb pass down the right by Andrai Jones.
Daniel Meadows did his best to support lone striker Akinde, but failed to react positively when gifted the ball by Lloyd-Weston’s poor 16th minute clearance, then three minutes later Meadows wasted a good chance from a shrewd Tom Shaw through-ball.
Hereford knew this was a game they simply could not afford to lose and began to gain enough confidence to be rewarded with a 29th minute equaliser, Kingsley James scoring from a tight angle from a Jamie Edge cross.
Four minutes later, Josh Law’s shot was blocked by Lloyd-Weston after Dan Bradley’s through-ball had seen Akinde miskick in front of goal, then almost immediately at the other end Wildsmith superbly tipped over an overhead kick from former Alfreton striker Michael Rankine.
Edge fired over from 30 yards and Chris Bush saw his long range shot held by Wildsmith, who then had to make a reflex save from Sam Smith’s downward header, but the first half ended with another squandered opportunity for Alfreton when Meadows failed to convert Bradley’s cross from ten yards.
There was little Wildsmith could do to prevent Dom Collins from giving Hereford a 61st minute lead with a header from a left-wing corner, which had occurred after Wildsmith had once again produced a top-drawer save.
On 71 minutes, Hereford led 3-1 when Bowen hit the bullseye from ten yards with a volley from a James cross.
Shaun Harrad did manage to give the home fans a nervous finale though when he scooped Akinde’s 87th minute cross over Lloyd-Weston from six yards.