Alfreton Town brought the curtain down on the 2012/13 season with a home win over Forest Green Rovers, the Gloucestershire side’s fifth straight defeat.
Josh Law and Nathan Arnold scored the goals that ensured the Reds finished 14th with 60 points, one place and six points better than their inaugural season, ten points clear of the relegation zone. It is also a mark of Alfreton’s progress that three of the five teams that joined the Blue Square Bet Premier alongside them at the beginning of last season have been relegated.
Those were Stockport County, who had come down from League Two, Ebbsfleet United from Conference South and AFC Telford United, who had been promoted with the Reds from Conference North. Alfreton finished above Lincoln City for the second time, the Imps having also come down from League Two, but 2010/11 Conference South champions Braintree Town fared better on both occasions.
It was also a measure of huge improvement by the Reds that both results against Forest Green had seen last term’s 6-1 home defeat and 4-1 away setback overturned, having earlier drawn 1-1 at the New Lawn. Perhaps even more remarkable was an increased attendance of 73 on what had been Alfreton’s second home game at the pinnacle of the non-League pyramid when the two sides had met at the Impact Arena in August 2011.
Saturday’s game saw a rare start for midfielder Alastair Taylor, which was his first since the 1-5 defeat at Dartford on September 1st and only his fourth of the season.
A towering header by Reds’ skipper Darran Kempson from Josh Law’s third minute corner was held by Forest Green keeper Sam Russell, but he had no chance with Law’s firmly driven shot from the edge of the area after nine minutes, from Connor Franklin’s lay-off that gave Alfreton the lead.
James Norwood’s free-kick was comfortably held by Alfreton keeper Jordan Pickford, then Law was just wide with his free-kick at the other end after Jamie Turley had brought down Paul Clayton.
Arnold dragged a good chance wide after running on to Taylor’s sublime pass in the 23rd minute, then Taylor’s low drive was held by Russell from Law’s pass and Clayton was caught offside as he ran on to Law’s through-ball.
This flurry of activity led to the second Reds’ goal in the 37th minute, with Arnold latching on to Kieron Forbes’s awful pass to slot low past Russell after running into the area.
The first half concluded with Law firing across the face of goal in the first minute of added time, and there was a rare statistic to record with Forest Green manager Dave Hockaday making two tactical substitutions by the 38th minute.
Five minutes after the break, Norwood shot wide from 20 yards and Matty Taylor missed a sitter after Theo Streete had been beaten by Reece Connolly, but Turley headed past Pickford from five yards to put Rovers back into contention from Norwood’s 55th minute corner.
James Rowe fired into the side-netting and Norwood was well off-target as the visitors continued to press, but in response Ben Tomlinson’s promising run ended with Russell parrying and Steven Hewitt steering the loose ball wide.
Norwood did his level best to grab a late equaliser by firing across goal before seeing successive headers repelled by Streete and Law.
Post-match celebrations and awards included the presentation of the Manager’s Player of the Season [Nathan Arnold], the Players’ Player of the Season [Paul Clayton] and the Supporters’ Player of the Season [Josh Law].