Alfreton Town record back-to-back wins to boost survival hopes

editorial image

Alfreton Town stuck to their task on Wednesday night to record a pulsating win over Eastleigh on their first visit to the lmpact Arena.

Twice the visitors from the Southampton area drew level but the Reds had the last word with a contender for “Goal of the Season” from midfielder Dan Bradley with barely a minute of normal time remaining.

Manager Nicky Law was forced to make one change from the victorious side against Nuneaton Town on the previous Saturday, after keeper Sam Johnson had picked up a shoulder injury.

George Willis was drafted in from Sheffield United and despite conceding twice put in an encouraging performance that included two late saves from Jack Midson to keep Alfreton on course for maximum points.

The opening goal arrived in the seventh minute and the gusting wind played a big part in it, Tom Shaw’s corner swerving violently towards goal as if remotely controlled.

Eastleigh keeper Ross Flitney managed to parry it on the line, and as Reds’ players and supporters behind the goal started a mass appeal that the corner had gone in directly Cliff Byrne remained calm to smash the loose ball through a ruck of players from six yards to claim his first Alfreton goal.

It would have been a remarkable double for Shaw, having scored straight from a corner recently against Dover Athletic, but without goal-line technology or indeed a raised flag Byrne’s name will remain as the scorer.

There had been an earlier example of the conditions affecting the game, with Lathaniel Rowe-Turner’s cross buffeting and changing direction in the wind, but Eastleigh appeared not to have taken notice.

Paul Reid tried to drag the visitors level with an 11th minute cross aimed for top-scorer James Constable, but Tom Davies was alert and managed to intercept, then a John Johnston run down the right set up an Alfreton attack that saw Bradley Wood’s curling shot from the edge of the area being held by Flitney.

Back at the other end Luke Graham tackled back smartly to block from Midson, then a long pass from Bradley in the 16th minute sent Johnston scampering down the right flank again, his shot partially blocked by the keeper before Chris Todd hastily hacked behind.

Shaw’s corner needed no assistance this time as it fell perfectly for Davies, whose close range header was cleared off the line by Midson.

Graham then had his header held by the keeper after Bradley had helped on Shaw’s free-kick, but Eastleigh struck in the 25th to restore parity through Jai Reason whose deflected shot deceived Willis following a long throw from Dan Spence that had swirled in the wind.

Willis gained confidence in the 33rd minute with a difficult stretching save to keep out Midson’s by-line cross, then Flitney came out of his goal sharply to smother as Bradley played Karl Hawley through.

Another good tackle by Graham prevented Constable from running on to Reason’s 57th minute pass, the central defender and skipper then blocking from Ben Strevens.

Hawley’s effort from the edge of the area was held by Flitney on 62 minutes, then Byrne’s throw released Shaw for a menacing run and shot that Flitney did well to keep out.

Willis saved from Constable as play rapidly switched, the tempo continuing apace with Hawley’s by-line cross just too high for Johnston to convert.

Alfreton led for the second time in the 78th minute with a neat goal triggered by Byrne and taken on by Bradley, who side-stepped a couple of defenders before feeding Hawley for a sublime finish low into the corner of the net from 12 yards.

Just 90 seconds later though Eastleigh were level again when Strevens’ through-ball allowed Craig McAllister to score, his initial shot parried by Willis before completing the job from the rebound.

Those two important saves by Willis denied Midson on 84 and 87 minutes, then Bradley struck with the spectacular winning goal after cutting in from the left and blasting home from just outside the area, the move initiated by Johnston on the right.

For the second successive game no substitutes were used as Alfreton climbed to 21st in the Vanarama Conference with renewed confidence.

ALFRETON: Willis; Byrne, Davies, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Bradley, Shaw, Wood, Howell, Johnston, Hawley. Subs not used: Courtney, Clayton, Sheridan, Keane, Lamb.

Att: 442.