Alfreton Town’s stuttering form continued as they faced up to a fifth successive away game when they travelled to Nuneaton Town on Saturday, the hosts topping the Vanarama National League North courtesy of a facile 2-0 win.
The Reds had their best chance early in the game, but Nuneaton struck moments after half-time from a long throw that was not dealt with efficiently and a fortuitous second goal that amounted to an early Christmas gift.
With Dan Bradley and Todd Jordan unfit manager Nicky Law recalled Joe lronside and John Johnston to the starting line-up, whilst Cliff Moyo returned after suspension - meanwhile Andi Thanoj reverted to the bench.
Jordan Robertson had a golden opportunity to score when Nuneaton’s defence was breached by Johnston in the eighth minute, but the Reds’ top scorer dragged his chance wide from just inside the area.
By that time though Callum Chettle had already gone close and Alfreton keeper Matt Duke had pulled off the first of a series of good saves to deny Elliott Whitehouse.
Ironside did well to control a deep free-kick in the area under pressure before feeding Niall Heaton, who fired over after cutting in from the left in the 26th minute, then the roles were reversed as Heaton’s lengthy run and cross was hoisted over the bar by lronside six minutes later.
In between those efforts Whitehouse squandered opportunities to break the deadlock for the home side when he was twice allowed room to manouevre inside the area.
Home keeper Jordan Smith was eventually required to field the ball ten minutes before half-time after James Clifton had hacked a clearance straight at Sam Jones, which led to Heaton’s innocuous attempt from wide left.
A rather more forceful save was needed by Duke at the other end as he fisted clear a driven cross from Cieron Keane under pressure, but just 90 seconds into the second half Alfreton fell behind to a sucker punch.
A long throw on the right found Shane Byrne unmarked and he drilled the ball low into the far corner of the net, well out of Duke’s reach.
Jones was dispossessed rather easily on the half-way line by David Morgan, who then proceeded to waste his chance after sprinting clear, Duke then saving from Aaron Williams in the 58th minute.
Five minutes later a similar move saw a Williams cross-shot beaten away by Duke, then Williams blasted over from close range as Nuneaton dictated proceedings.
Alfreton’s approach work visibly improved with the introduction of Thanoj midway through the second half, the midfielder setting up Jones who snatched at his chance without testing the keeper.
A promising run by Johnston in the 74th minute was halted by Keane, who received a caution in the process, before Smith saved well from Johnston at the far post when the free-kick was delivered.
Nuneaton settled the issue four minutes later when Williams ran on to a hacked clearance by Smith, but seemed to have lost his chance when confronted by Stefan Galinski.
However the Reds’ defender completely failed to make contact with the ball and Williams was left with one of the easiest finishes he will ever have.
A deflected shot from lronside was easily held by Smith, but in added time Duke needed to produce a flying save to prevent Byrne from adding a third goal.
ALFRETON: Duke; Moyo, Galinski, Allan, Wilson, Heaton (Jackson 73), Leesley (Thanoj 66), Johnston (Smith 82), Jones, Ironside, Robertson.
Subs noy used: Paling, Draper.