Alfreton Town had to defend in depth after allowing a 3-0 lead to dwindle at Brackley Town on Tuesday night
But they survived a late scare to cling on to a valuable 3-2 win.
A much-changed Reds’ side had created only a couple of chances before skipper Dan Bradley swept the ball past Laurie Walker in the 37th minute, after the keeper had only punched a Wes Harding cross as far as the edge of the area.
Craig Westcarr had drawn a point-blank save from Walker from a long Harding throw on 18 minutes and Liam Hearn hooked wide from close range from a Sam Smith lay-off, otherwise much of the first half action had involved the home team.
Alex Gudger’s 13th minute header from a corner needed clearing off the line, then Cecil Nyoni needed to tackle back as Steve Diggin played Lee Ndlovu through before James Armson fired wide from an Ellis Myles cross.
Fabian Spiess came out strongly to close down a scoring opportunity for Brackley moments into the second half by denying Ndlovu, then Glenn Walker glanced a header wide from a right flank cross, but Alfreton weathered the storm to grab two goals in a three minute spell with the aid of two excellent Westcarr corners.
Such was Westcarr’s accuracy that his 57th minute flag-kick went straight into the net off the bsck post, then on the hour another delivery left Tom Allan with a towering header six yards out that flew into the net to give the Reds a seemingly unassailable three goal lead.
However Alfreton were harshly penalised three minutes later when Armson fell rather too easily in the box under pressure from Allan, the Brackley player picking himself up to plant the spot-kick firmly past Spiess.
Diggin squandered a good chance to reduce the arrears further in the 68th minute, then seconds after replacing Hearn in the 78th minute Evan Garnett pulled his shot wide when he found himself one-on-one with the keeper from Smith’s pass.
Four minutes from time the pressure intensified when Armson’s glancing header from a Glenn Walker corner made the score 2-3, and with a good chunk of added time still to be played it took a great deal of concentration and defiant defending for the Reds to maintain their advantage.
BRACKLEY: L.Walker; Myles, Gudger, Byrne, Graham [Pitt 66], Dean, G.Walker, Armson, Ndlovu [Moyo 66], Diggin [Jeacock 82], A.Walker.
Subs not used: Dias, Lowe.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Harding, Kennedy, Jordan, McGowan, Allan, Nyoni, Bradley, Westcarr [Wilson 89], Hearn [Garnett 78], Smith.
Subs not used: Heaton, Doyle.
Referee: Rob Massey-Ellis.