Another loss for the Reds

Alfreton captain Duayne Courtney and Matt Derbyshire.
Alfreton captain Duayne Courtney and Matt Derbyshire.

Alfreton Town suffered another defeat on Saturday but there was a vast improvement as the Reds returned from deepest Gloucestershire with renewed hope.

The inclusion of striker Joe Ironside, on loan from Sheffield United, made a substantial difference, although he did manage to miss the clearest chance of the afternoon for the Reds to register a goal.

An improved defensive performance though counted for nothing with a lethal break by the hosts in the 31st minute following a strong penalty appeal, then conceding from a corner with 20 minutes remaining.

Club skipper Duane Courtney was fit to make his first start and his presence certainly made a difference to midfield, although a head injury midway through the first half threatened to curtail his inaugural appearance.

Forest Green, with the ominous front pairing of Lee Hughes and Jon Parkin, made a solid start with former Reds’ loanee Elliott Frear providing Parkin with a clear chance after just 90 seconds.

Jordan Keane tried to push Alfreton forward, but his long run petered out tamely, then Jake Sheridan forced a save from Sam Russell after 16 minutes, then Russell had to juggle with a deep cross from Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.

Further pressure from the home side came to nothing, then just after the half hour mark Sheridan’s shot from the edge of the area appeared to be charged down by a Forest Green arm.

Devon referee Brett Huxtable waved play on, David Pipe was sent on a long raking run down the right and when Jon Stewart could only parry his cross, Hughes pounced to score from close range.

Six minutes before the break Rovers looked to have doubled their advantage from Clovis Kamdjo’s downward header from a Frear cross, but Stewart reacted well to save on the line.

For much of the second half, Alfreton also had to contend with a strong wind that seemed to have gathered strength during half-time, but, far from being pegged back, the Reds adapted positively to this additional problem.

With 58 minutes elapsed, Ironside, who had impressed with his ability to hold up the ball and his accurate distribution, directed a diving header wide from six yards after Anthony Howell had sent Bradley Wood down the right.

Far from being downhearted from what might normally have been their only opportunity Alfreton pressed again, and within two minutes another cross from Wood rattled the Forest Green defence, Russell fumbling before recovering as Danny Coles miskicked at the near post.

A Sinclair corner finally put paid to Alfreton’s aspirations, the delivery from the left leaving Kamdjo with a downward header inside the six-yard box to put the hosts 2-0 ahead.