Alfreton Town manager Billy Heath praises Reds’ character as they go fourth after first win five matches

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Alfreton Town manager Billy Heath hailed the character of his side after a narrow 1-0 win at Leamington — their first in five matches — took the Reds up to fourth in the National League.

A spectacular eighth minute strike from Bobby Johnson was enough to earn the Reds victory in a game of few chances.

He fired home from the edge of the area after good hold-up play by Danny Clarke.

But there was a price to pay with skipper David Lynch suffering a serious leg injury early in the game, as well as other knocks for Dominic Smith, Danny East and Johnson during the 90 minutes.

Heath said: “Every player put their bodies on the line. Once again these players have shown a willingness and desire to get a result.

“When we finished the game we only had probably eight of our players fit.

“It won’t be for lack of trying that we lose games or a lack of effort or desire or application — it’s just that sometimes we make mistakes and choose wrong options.

“We really needed to show our character and needed to put bodies on the line. We did that.

“Dom Smith should have come off after about 55 minutes [following lengthy treatment] but he’s somehow managed to keep himself on the pitch — Danny East and Bobby Johnson kept going when they maybe should have come off.

“It was a great result because we basically lost our entire left side, with Shane Killock and Josh Wilde already out injured.”

Heath also praised the finish from matchwinner Johnson.

“Bobby doesn’t score tap-ins! It’s got to be from outside the box, but what a finish in a game that was pretty broken up,” the manager added.

“People will say it was a poor game, but it wasn’t. It was the way the game panned out.

“It’s what you have to deal with and we dealt with it well, though the game may have lacked a bit of quality.

Apart from the winning goal, the only other noteworthy action of a turgid first half was a wayward header by Kaiman Anderson for the hosts from a 19th minute corner.

Leamington pressed hard after the break. Alfreton defended doggedly and resolutely, yet keeper Charlie Andrew had only one crucial save to make from dangerous winger Dexter Walters on 64 minutes.

Walters created several openings, but they were all dealt with, then right at the end Amari Morgan-Smith drew a couple of fine saves from home keeper Jake Weaver as the Reds belatedly pushed forward.

ALFRETON: Andrew; Clackstone, Smith, Qualter, East, Lynch [Blake 13], Branson, Johnson, Thacker, Clarke, Morgan-Smith.

Subs: Bacon, Grice, Bennett, Atkinson.

Referee: Michael Barlow

Attendance: 521