Blue Square Bet Premier Division
Alfreton Town 2
Cambridge United 1
Alfreton Town pulled off a vital win against Cambridge United at the Impact Arena on Saturday to further cement their survival chances in their inaugural Blue Square Bet Premier season.
Manager Nicky Law made two changes following the frantic nine-goal thriller that had ended in Mansfield Town’s favour in midweek, with son Josh and striker Paul Clayton rested.
Seamus Conneely regained his spot at the heart of the defence after his late withdrawal against the Stags due to illness, while Adam Cunnington was offered his first start.
There was a further enforced change when Darran Kempson had to be replaced at half-time, but Anton Brown took over his position admirably at the back while Nicky Deverdics slotted into his vacated midfield role.
There was never going to be quite the same tempo to this game on a particularly warm afternoon, but Alfreton still managed to start in blistering style with a goal inside 59 seconds.
From the fourth of a sequence of throws down the right by Theo Streete, which edged closer to the opposition’s goal whilst increasing each time in distance, Cambridge defender Jonathon Thorpe was lured into heading past his own keeper.
The visitors thought they had equalised in the third minute, but Andy Pugh’s effort was ruled off-side, then another long throw from Streete led to Connor Franklin firing well over from 18 yards.
Brown almost sliced the ball into his own goal in the seventh minute after Josh Dawkin had cut in from the left and fired low and hard, then Blaine Hudson’s header from a James Jennings corner was held by Alfreton keeper Jon Stewart.
Dawkin seemed to have picked his spot from a right wing cross but Stewart stuck out a foot at the last moment to foil him, then Rossi Jarvis dragged the follow-up wide.
Mustafa Tiryaki volleyed just wide from a Jennings cross in the 17th minute, then at the other end two minutes later Anthony Wilson’s lofted header from a Nathan Jarman cross flew over.
Cunnington’s scuffed shot from 20 yards was turned aside by United keeper Danny Naisbitt, then Jarman’s unnecessary foul on Jarvis as he was going away from goal conceded a penalty that pulled the visitors level in the 31st minute.
Having missed their last three spot-kicks Cambridge entrusted Pugh with the formalities, and he gave Stewart no chance by firing low into the corner of the net.
Streete curled a 25 yarder over from a neat Brown pass, then Cunnington turned and fired at the keeper from similar distance in the 40th minute.
Hudson headed over again from a Jennings cross, then Stewart did well to clutch the ball under the bar after Dawkin’s by-line cross had looped up off Brown.
In the shadow of half-time Cunnington just missed the back post from an inventive shot with the outside of his foot in mid-air from Wilson’s by-line cross.
Nathan Arnold’s 50th minute cross whipped through a crowded area and travelled all the way out to Streete on the right flank, from where his returned lob came back off the crossbar.
Jarman reacted quickest but his shot was cleared off the line by Hudson, then moments later Arnold turned on a sixpence only to fire over.
The decisive second goal arrived out of the blue on 54 minutes when Wilson latched on to a loose ball, swivelled and fired past Naisbitt from just the edge of the penalty area to cap a fine personal appearance, although it was only his fifth goal of the season.
Tiryaki’s free-kick had to be parried by Stewart in the 56th minute, but the flag went up for off-side as Pugh became active when the loose ball fell to him, then Jake Moult volleyed over from eight yards when set up by Arnold 15 minutes later.
The only other noteworthy chance came in the 75th minute when Hudson’s weak effort from 18 yards was comfortably held by Stewart, after a left wing corner had triggered a hectic goalmouth scramble.
Alfreton Town: Jon Stewart, Theo Streete, Darran Kempson (c) (Nicky Deverdics, h/t), Seamus Conneely, Connor Franklin, Nathan Jarman, Jake Moult, Anton Brown, Nathan Arnold, Adam Cunnington (Paul Clayton 78), Anthony Wilson.
Substitutes not used: Josh Law, Leigh Franks, Daniel Meadows.
Cambridge United team: Danny Naisbitt, Kevin Roberts (c), Blaine Hudson (Luke Berry 80), Rory McAuley, James Jennings, Josh Dawkin, Rossi Jarvis, Harry Pell, Jonathon Thorpe (Ryan Jackson 65), Mustafa Tiryaki 7 (Michael Gash 64), Andy Pugh.
Substitutes not used: Jack Eades, Robert Ambrusics (GK).
Attendance breakdown: 965 including 229 from Cambridge
Alfreton Town - Thorpe (1, og), Wilson 54.
Cambridge United - Pugh (31, pen)
Alfreton Town - Connor Franklin (41, foul on Andy Pugh), Nathan Jarman (64, dissent).
Cambridge United - Blaine Hudson (79, foul on Anthony Wilson), Luke Berry (90, foul on Anthony Wilson)
Man of the Match: Anthony Wilson
The Reds are away at Ebbsfleet United on Tuesday night (7.45pm).