Blue Square Bet North
Alfreton Town 5
Stalybridge Celtic 3
Alfreton Town completed a league double in the most entertaining style by reversing last season’s 3-5 defeat by Stalybridge Celtic in the corresponding fixture.
The Reds returned to the top of the Blue Square Bet North but they twice had to come back from behind in the first half at the Impact Arena last Saturday.
The Reds were without goalkeeper Paddy Gamble and Paul Lister, both out with a flu virus, and the injured Anton Brown and Matt Wilson.
Celtic made their attacking intentions evident as early as the third minute when deputising keeper Ross Turner held a sharp angled drive from Philip Marsh, but in immediate response Paul Clayton glanced a header over from Laurie Wilson’s cross.
Wilson’s eighth minute volley from 16 yards was deflected behind, then seven minutes later at the other end central defender Rhys Meynell looped a header over from six yards after staying up for a corner.
Stalybridge took a 16th minute lead when Stephen Brogan teed up Callum Warburton to volley in from just outside the area, but Alfreton were back on level terms six minutes later when Wilson hammered a cross to the back post for Clayton to guide a sublime header past keeper Ashley Woodhouse from six yards.
A vital tackle back by Aden Flint prevented Brogan from putting the visitors back in front within seconds, then Alfreton were denied strong penalty appeals when Clayton appeared to be brought down in the area on 27 minutes.
A strong run by Jordan Hall two minutes later led to his shot being parried by Woodhouse before Andy McWilliams cleared off the line, then the keeper stuck out a foot to thwart Liam Hearn in the 32nd minute after being sent on a run by Josh Law.
Two minutes later though the pendulum swung back in Celtic’s favour when Brogan embarked on a strong run before sliding the ball past Turner, but it only took a further three minutes for the Reds to draw level again.
Wilson sent Hearn on another run and in typical fashion he shrugged off a challenge before firing across Woodhouse and into the far corner of the net to record his 14th goal of the season.
With 41 minutes gone, Alfreton took a 3-2 lead when Connor Franklin thumped home Hearn’s cross from the edge of the area, then just 50 seconds after the interval Anthony Howell headed home from six yards from an Ian Ross corner to stretch the advantage.
Unfortunately Hearn had to be withdrawn at half-time and this may have contributed to a quieter spell, but Stalybridge fashioned an opening in the 64th minute only for Craig Hobson to blaze over after good work by Warburton along the by-line.
Three minutes later Flint again saved the day with a brilliant interception to divert the ball behind for a corner as Hobson fired at goal, but the deficit was reduced in the 83rd minute when sub Craig Davies converted Warburton’s cross from close range.
After a period of positive defending Alfreton pushed forward in the last minute and following a weak back pass Nathan Arnold pounced to cut in from the left and secure the points with a well-taken goal.
Alfreton Town: Ross Turner, Josh Law, Connor Franklin, Aden Flint, Darren Stride, Laurie Wilson, Jordan Hall, Ian Ross, Paul Clayton (Dan Dillon 86), Liam Hearn (Nathan Arnold h/t), Anthony Howell. Substitutes not used: Jake Moult, Chris Hall, Anthony Wilson.