Blue Square bet Premier Division
Cambridge United 3
Alfreton Town 0
THERE was precious little to enthuse over from an Alfreton Town perspective as they suffered a bland defeat at Cambridge United on Saturday, where the Reds had recorded that famous 6-3 FA Trophy success just nine months earlier.
The visitors looked lively in the first few minutes, but for the rest of the game offered little competitively and were constantly pegged back by a lively United side as they suffered their fifth away defeat on the bounce since winning at York City at the end of August.
Josh Law had recovered from an injury to take his place at right-back, with Jamie Mullan making way from the side that had lost at home to Lincoln City in midweek.
Rory McAuley played Ross Jarvis through in the second minute but Leigh Franks tackled back positively to concede an early corner.
In the fifth minute Paul Clayton headed on for Anthony Wilson to win a corner, which led to Franks’ header being punched clear by home keeper Danny Naisbitt as the referee blew for an infringement.
Lee Stevenson hooked over with 17 minutes on the clock after a Franks throw had been partially cleared to him 16 yards out, then James Jennings responded with a lengthy angled run that saw the United skipper fire the ball inches beyond the back post.
Franks only just managed to muster enough energy into his back header to Reds’ keeper Joe Day with Luke Berry ghosting between the two, then Harrison Dunk slipped at the crucial moment with a clear sight of goal with Law hacking his clearance against Ashley Carew and safely behind for a goal-kick.
A glancing header by Berry from Carew’s 29th minute corner gave Cambridge a soft 1-0 lead and further pressure forced Greg Young into scooping over his own net as Jennings played Jarvis in.
The second goal four minutes before the break came from a direct run by Dunk, who was allowed to progress unchallenged from a wide left position before drilling the ball low past Day.
HT: Cambridge United 2 0 Alfreton Town
In the 49th minute Jarvis was allowed to embark on another unchecked run that ended with Young blocking Berry’s shot, but Alfreton can consider themselves unfortunate to concede the third goal the way they did three minutes later.
A cross from Michael Gash picked out Carew who fed Berry only for Day to pull off a particularly good save with his legs, but the loose ball ran kindly for Dunk to slot home his second goal from 12 yards.
Almost immediately Dunk played Jennings to the by-line only for the latter to slice behind, then at last a constructive move by Alfreton in the 66th minute involving Levi Mackin, Law, Anton Brown, Chris Senior and latterly Mullan before Law was crowded out as he homed in on the final pass.
Day held a Ryan Charles free-kick under pressure in the 70th minute, then at the other end Clayton saw his shot from 22 yards held by Naisbitt after the striker had cut in from the left flank.
Mackin was dispossessed by Berry with Day having to palm away his effort, then Berry outwitted Franks with 11 minutes remaining and chipped wide from 30 yards.
Jordan Hall wasted a good cross from Theo Streete in the 83rd minute, then Day pushed a rasping drive from Jonathon Thorpe around the post two minutes later.
Hall squandered another opportunity after taking a return pass from Streete, then in added time a clearance by Day was almost headed straight back into the net by Berry.
The game concluded with Streete’s timely tackle as Gash advanced on goal, with keeper Day gathering the loose ball.
Connor Franklin (Jordan Hall 71)
Lee Stevenson (Jamie Mullan 51)
Anthony Wilson (Chris Senior 46)
Substitutes not used: Adie Hawes, Nathan Jarman
02 Roberts (Thorpe 72)
10 Carew (Charles 66)
11 Dunk (Winn 67)
Substitutes not used: Patrick, Marriott.
Attendance: 2,741 - including 60 from Alfreton.
Cambridge United - Luke Berry (29), Harrison Dunk (41 & 50).
Bookings: Alfreton Town - Josh Law (36, foul on Harrison Dunk)
Man of the Match: Joe Day
Referee: Jeremy Simpson