Alfreton Town suffered another 0-2 defeat on their travels in the Vanarama Conference, this time at FC Halifax Town who became the second team this season to complete a double over the Reds.
Apart from a 12th minute goal-line clearance by Cliff Byrne from a Scott Boden rasper Alfreton’s plan to contain Halifax worked well for the first hour of the game, but two goals were eventually conceded to end the hosts’ own poor run.
Karl Hawley was the lone front runner until the latter stages when striker Massiah McDonald and new loanee winger John Johnston were brought off the bench, and although the Reds probably had their best spell in the last ten minutes it was a case of too little too late.
Alfreton had lost at the Shay by the same score back in March in front of the TV cameras, but at least Saturday’s performance was an improvement on that particular display which had triggered a rapid decline from play-offs to mid-table.
Hawley almost succeeded in carving an opening on the left with six minutes elapsed, but slipped at the vital moment after outwitting Simon Ainge, then Paul Marshall went close for Halifax with a free-kick.
A woeful pass by Scott McManus allowed Hawley to run at goal on 19 minutes, but he was halted in his tracks by Marc Roberts, then at the other end Richard Peniket fired tamely at Reds’ keeper Sam Johnson after being played through by Kevin Roberts.
Johnson held Boden’s 34th minute drive as the Shaymen began to show more urgency, Boden then teeing up for Will Hatfield to fire wide before the former Chesterfield and Reds’ striker missed a glorious chance himself.
Four minutes before the break Johnson punched clear as Ainge’s deep cross arrowed in on goal, then Peniket’s driven cross was held by the keeper before Lois Maynard’s diving header just evaded the target.
A long throw by McManus in the 51st minute was allowed to bounce all the way through the box before rearing a fraction too high for Boden to keep his free header down, then six minutes later a promising central run by Hawley ended with veteran home keeper Matt Glennon saving comfortably.
Johnson’s brilliant save from Marc Roberts on the hour unfortunately led to the opening goal, with the corner causing confusion before Maynard hooked in from close range.
Ross Dyer fired into the side-netting when given a scoring opportunity by Boden on 66 minutes, then Bradley Wood tried to emulate his midweek Derbyshire Senior Cup goal from 25 yards but saw his shot deflect behind for a wasted corner.
Dan Bradley’s 74th minute angled drive was held low by Glennon after McDonald had sent him down the right, then after Dyer had again gone close from a Boden pass the Shaymen struck with a lethal second goal eight minutes from time.
Again a superb parry by Johnson, this time from Dyer, led to Jamie Jackson pouncing on the loose ball to lash it into the roof of the net from six yards.
Johnston was brought on shortly afterwards and gave Alfreton late hope with a couple of deadly crosses that saw Hawley’s angled drive blocked by the keeper in the first instance and a desperate save from the second as Hawley threatened to convert.
McDonald also had a shot saved after Johnson’s free-kick had allowed Tom Shaw and Hawley to link before playing him through, and there was also a good save by Glennon from a Shaw free-kick before Johnston won a late corner.
ALFRETON: Johnson; Byrne, Davies, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Courtney, Shaw, Wood (Johnston 83), Howell (McDonald 70), Bradley, Hawley. Subs: Keane, Clayton, Lamb.
Attendance: 1,198 (46).