Match report: Lincoln City 0 Alfreton Town 2

Alfreton's 'keeper George Willis -Pic by: Richard Parkes
Alfreton's 'keeper George Willis -Pic by: Richard Parkes
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Alfreton Town are through to the second round of the FA Trophy after gaining revenge for a humiliating F.A.Cup defeat at Lincoln City on Saturday.

Back in October the Reds were thrashed 5-1 at Sincil Bank, but had to play their replay that night with midfielder Anthony Howell in goal, but on this occasion there were no such problems with Sheffield United loanee George Willis in command between the sticks.

Manager Nicky Law did have one headache to contend with though with inspirational central defender Tom Davies returning to parent club Fleetwood Town, but club skipper Duane Courtney adequately filled the role in an otherwise unchanged team.

With £5,000 prize money on offer Alfreton were looking to progress beyond the First Round of this competition for the first time in three seasons, previously reaching that stage in 2011/12 when they had won 6-0 at Weymouth before going on to lose 1-2 at Gateshead, having initially beaten Southport 4-0 at home.

Efforts from Bradley Wood and John Johnston in the early stages, which were repelled by home keeper Paul Farman, made Alfreton’s intentions clear from the start on a bitterly cold afternoon.

However Willis was also brought into early action, dealing with a deflected Hamza Bencherif shot and a hopeful shy from distance by former Reds’ striker Ben Tomlinson, but the visitors took their chance when it presented itself in the 19th minute to break the deadlock.

Tom Shaw’s free-kick from wide right picked out Howell just outside the area, and his shot was woefully fumbled by Farman to leave Luke Graham with the easiest of chances to stab the ball over the line from close range and double his tally for the season.

Three minutes later Willis superbly tipped Marcus Marshall’s shot around the near post from a Sean Newton cross, then Alan Power’s free-kick was only partially cleared before Jon Nolan wasted a good opportunity to draw the tie level.

Cliff Byrne’s stooping header from another Shaw free-kick in the 29th minute rebounded off the inside of the back post, threatening to spin over the line before being hacked behind desperately for a corner.

Willis held Charlee Adams’ low drive, then Wood intercepted a menacing run by Marshall from a Jake Caprice pass, then on the stroke of half-time Newton failed to control the ball in front of goal from a Power free-kick.

Controversy greeted the start of the second half when Marshall prodded the ball over the line from Newton’s cross within seconds of the re-start, the goal initially awarded before the assistant referee’s intervention brought play back for an infringement on Willis.

Anger raged for several minutes as the lmps came to terms with the decision, Marshall almost finding the net again after a determined run but dragged his shot just past the far post.

Farman blocked from Courtney on the hour following a free-kick when Johnston had been clattered into touch by Nolan, but Alfreton doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute when Shaw took a return pass from Johnston to guide the ball past the keeper from eight yards.

A reflex save by Willis with his legs thwarted Tomlinson, the Reds’ keeper then kicking a Graham back-pass straight at the Lincoln striker before calmly collecting the rebound.

Twenty minutes from time Karl Hawley struck the foot of the upright when a shaky Farman had presented him with the chance, after dropping Johnston’s cross at the near post, then Willis drew applause with a stretching save to tip over Conner Robinson’s header.

The closing stages saw Alfreton comfortably contain and frustrate Lincoln to ensure their progress and record a confidence boosting third win in eight days.

ALFRETON: Willis; Byrne, Courtney, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Johnston (Hicks 89), Wood (Keane 85), Shaw, Bradley, Howell, Hawley.

Subs not used: Clayton, Sheridan, Lamb.

Attendance: 1,243 (45).