Alfreton Town still cannot be sure they are safe after stumbling to a 1-0 defeat at home to Bradford Park Avenue on Saturday, conceding a league double for the fourth time in the process.
It was the Reds’ first defeat at home since November 8, Terry Kennedy’s weak back header from an innocuous through-ball letting in Oli Johnson to settle the issue on 36 minutes, the Bradford striker able to latch on to the loose ball and take it around Fabian Spiess before slotting home.
Ironically the goal came after some of the most bizarre defending from the visitors that had been witnessed at the Impact Arena, at least three corners conceded through miskicks or misdirected punches by former Alfreton keeper John Worsnop.
The hosts had a golden opportunity to draw level after a concerted spell of pressure in which two blatant hand balls by Bradford defenders inside the area had been waved aside, referee Peter Gibbons eventually pointing to the spot with 17 minutes of the game remaining after James Knowles had brought down Callum McFadzean close to the bye-line.
Craig Westcarr stepped up to stroke the penalty low to the keeper’s left, but not powerfully enough to prevent the save, and was also unable to capitalise on the sharp rebound.
Just 60 seconds had elapsed when Mark Shelton’s hopeful punt from distance caused Knowles to make a complete hash of his clearance as he sliced the ball out for a corner, from which it was Shelton’s turn to miskick at the back post.
Wes Atkinson fired well wide from a promising position, then Sam Smith slipped the ball through for McFadzean to fire from a tight angle, with Worsnop fumbling before Jake Hibbs cleared.
Bradford did not forge an opening until the 29th minute, Johnson looping a header over after Wayne Brooksby’s shot had been blocked, then as if suddenly gaining inspiration Brooksby tried again only to be thwarted this time by Spiess.
Four minutes after his mistake Kennedy cleared off the line from Adam Nowakowski after Knowles’ shot had been blocked, then in first half added time another error of judgement by Worsnop in fielding a Jordan Richards cross led to another corner and an Atkinson shot that went close.
After the break Atkinson fired over from 16 yards and Richards’ shot was blocked as he took a return pass from Andy Monkhouse, then four minutes before the penalty award McFadzean headed inches over from a Westcarr free-kick.
The visitors should have doubled their advantage three minutes from time as Brooksby played Johnson through, but the latter dragged his shot across the face of goal, and that turned out to be the final chance created by either side as the game petered out amidst bitter disappointment for Alfreton.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Richards, Wilson, Kennedy, McGowan, Monkhouse [Hearn 85], Shelton, Atkinson [Heaton 90], Westcarr, S.Smith, McFadzean [Marshall 88]. Subs not used: Wright, Jordan.
BRADFORD: Worsnop; Hibbs, Hill, Wroe, Killock, Knowles, Brooksby, Bushell, Johnson, Nowakowski, Rothery [Sharp 74]. Subs not used: Toulson, Hall, Chippendale, Payne.
Referee: Peter Gibbons.