Fifth defeat on the road as Reds lose at Braintree

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Alfreton Town were beaten 3-1 by Braintree Town on Saturday as they slid to their fifth defeat on the road, with only a late Bradley Wood goal for consolation.

The 89th minute strike from the defender - his first for the club - did however maintain a run of 11 scoring games since the Reds failed to register a goal in the season’s opener at Dartford.

There was one change that had seen Josh Law making his first start since taking to fatherhood, which meant Dan Bradley standing down, but there was to be a setback at half-time when key defender Nick Fenton had to withdraw through a recurring calf problem.

Notably all the goals were conceded after Fenton’s departure, but the Reds created few chances throughout the game while the host’s patient approach paid dividends.

John McGrath’s second minute free-kick needed fisting away when home keeper Nathan McDonald spotted it late in flight, then in the fourth minute Job Ayo Akinde’s by-line cross was turned behind by Alan Massey under pressure from Paul Clayton and Daniel Meadows.

Akinde fired wide from 12 yards, although McGrath’s pass was running away from him, but Alfreton fell behind in the 61st minute from a simple break upfield.

Mulley was the instigator with a pass down the left flank that allowed Strutton to cut in unchallenged and bury the ball in the far corner from a diminishing angle, then four minutes later a long menacing run by Mulley ended with a wayward shot.

Atkins saved Sean Marks’ effort from 18 yards, then for a short spell the Reds had three attackers on display after Danny Wishart had replaced Meadows, but during that period it was the home side that went closest to scoring.

Ironically it was midfielder Tom Shaw who then had the best chance, hooking wide from Wood’s 77th minute throw before Dan Bradley replaced Clayton.

Bradley was soon in action though, latching on to a Lathaniel Rowe-Turner cross but unable to inject enough power to test McDonald.

Braintree went two goals ahead on 84 minutes when Marks finally found the target.

Three minutes later sub Dan Sparkes put the issue beyond the Reds with a simple tap-in.

Then Wood pounced from a very tight angle to complete the late scoring flurry after Akinde had forced the ball almost to the right-hand by-line.