Match report: Aldershot Town 2 Alfreton Town 0

Nicky Law pondering
Nicky Law pondering

Alfreton Town slipped back to second bottom of the Conference Premier with their third successive defeat without scoring a goal when Aldershot became their latest conquerors on Saturday.

Another long journey found the Reds’ coach-load of supporters once again making themselves heard, despite being outnumbered by 35 to one, but apart from being in good voice throughout the game there was precious little for them to sing about.

A handful of chances materialised for Alfreton, although few posed a threat to home keeper Phil Smith, and once Aldershot had established a two-goal lead with 27 minutes remaining there was little more to offer.

The same starting line-up was employed that had shown vast improvement despite losing to FC Halifax the previous Tuesday, but the fluency and determination shown in that game was not readily evident in Hampshire.

Joe lronside was caught off-side in the sixth minute as David Mellor played him in, but four minutes later successive clearances by Luke Graham and skipper Duane Courtney were needed as Sam Hatton twice tried to give Aldershot an early lead.

Reds’ keeper Cameron Dawson did well to hack clear as Lathaniel Rowe-Turner’s weak back-pass almost let in Tom Derry in the 14th minute, then in response Ironside’s volley from close range from a quality cross by Dan Bradley was straight at Smith, who was temporarily injured in the process of saving it.

A low drive from Jordan Roberts was held by Dawson on 19 minutes, then another good cross from Bradley led to both Karl Hawley and Bradley Wood having efforts blocked before Jordan Keane hammered the loose ball over the bar.

Courtney was fortunate to recover after losing possession to Derry, with Aldershot baying for a penalty as he wrestled the ball back just inside the area, but the home side took a 32nd minute lead that knocked the stuffing out of the Reds, Hatton scoring directly from a free-kick after Graham had impeded Brett Williams.

At the conclusion of the first half there was belated action at either end, with Williams cutting in from the right before seeing his cross flash through the goalmouth with both Roberts and Derry unable to make contact, then lronside glanced a header wide from a deep Bradley cross.

Hawley’s 48th minute header deflected off an Aldershot defender before shaving the outside of the post from Anthony Howell’s corner as Alfreton came closest to scoring, then Andi Thanoj embarked on a central run before firing tamely at Smith.

Wood had to come to the rescue as Dawson failed to hold a Williams shot in the 58th minute, then Bradley headed well over from a good position from a Howell cross.

Hawley then played Bradley to the by-line on 62 minutes, but lronside’s weak attempt was comfortably held from eight yards, and from the swift break upfield that ensued the Shots doubled their advantage as Thanoj lay injured with ankle problems just inside Alfreton’s half.

There was no attempt to halt play, so Jaydon Gibbs was allowed to progress before cutting in and firing low into the far corner of the net, more or less a carbon copy of the goal that had undone the Reds at Dover the previous week.

Tom Shaw went close with a 75th minute free-kick, further chances for Aldershot saw Dawson palm aside an angled drive from Gibbs then save a low shot from Roberts, but the game ended with Ironside finding himself one-on-one with the keeper yet allowing Mark Phillips to tackle back and prevent even an attempt at goal.

Alfreton: Dawson; Wood, Graham, Courtney, Rowe-Turner, Keane, Bradley, Thanoj (Shaw 66), Mellor (Howell 36), Ironside, Hawley (Clayton 69).

Subs not used: Sheridan, McDonald.

Att: 1,476 (39).