Alfreton Town were fighting for F.A. Cup survival after conceding two goals in the opening six minutes of their Second Qualifying Round tie at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday, but perseverance and a totally dominant second half rescued the tie.
Jon Letford was left with oceans of space to slot home the opener after just two minutes from a James Beresford through-ball, and four minutes later Lee Smith lashed home the second goal from 18 yards after a long Beresford throw had not been dealt with.
Nathan Hotte’s header rebounded off the post from a Jordan Sinnott corner on 14 minutes and James Clifton was also denied by the upright with a thunderbolt from 25 yards 18 minutes later.
There was also a Reds’ goal ruled out for off-side as Josh Gowling met a Sinnott free-kick three minutes before half-time, but Alfreton had keeper Sam Ramsbottom to thank for a desperate save as Letford took advantage of a 25th minute defensive mix-up that should have made the score 3-0 to the hosts.
A much more decisive attacking display after the break finally saw the Reds come to grips with the difficult 3G pitch, Richard Peniket prodding the ball home amidst a flurry of action in the six-yard box from a 53rd minute Clifton throw.
Then eight minutes later Declan Bacon celebrated his first goal for the club with a swerving, dipping shot that flew past home keeper Connor Hopkins before he had chance to react.
Several chances ensued with Sutton restricted to isolated attacks, the clearest chances seeing Sinnott unable to connect with a free header in front of goal from a Josh Wilde cross before Curtis Bateson ended a solo run by driving the ball inches beyond the far post.