Nicky Law praises Alfreton Town for keeping focus
Nicky Law praised his players for maintaining their focus following as 3-2 win at Stalybridge Celtic.
Alfreton went into the match after sealing their progress into the FA Cup first round after a replay win over Gateshead,
But the Reds needed a late winner to make it back-to-back wins as their energy levels showed signs of being depleted late on.
Law said: “It was a tough game - we’re comfortable at half-time and l think second half we ran out of fuel - the legs had gone a bit.
“We had a tough game last Saturday, a three/four hour journey up to Gateshead on Wednesday, played 120 minutes and a four hour journey back and not enough recovery time, but credit to the players they’ve ground out a deserved victory.
“This is our bread and butter - we needed to make sure it wasn’t a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ and l think we approached the game with a good attitude, but l think we just ran out of legs - l thought it was a deserved victory, good performance and l thought the lads applied themselves really well.”
Both sides had early chances before Craig Westcarr’s sublime finish after home keeper Tony McMillan had dropped Tom Allan’s 19th minute through-ball at his feet on the edge of the area, although a difficult angle still needed to be negotiated by the Reds’ leading scorer.
The much travelled keeper was having a nightmare, offering Sam Smith a similar opportunity in the 38th minute when he failed to deal with a Ryan Wilson pass down the left flank, the striker desperately unlucky as his shot was repelled by the near post.
Lessons had clearly not been learned by the Tameside strugglers though and when McMillan raced well out of goal to try to hack clear a through-ball from Terry Kennedy on the stroke of half-time the keeper was beaten in the race by Smith, whose lob this time bounced into the net from nigh on 30 yards out.
There had been a let-off for the Reds on 32 minutes when Brian Summerskill found the back of net, only to be denied by a raised flag, but generally Alfreton had dominated the opening 45 minutes.
That certainly was not the case after the break, although Westcarr was denied a 49th minute goal by the underside of the crossbar after running on to an Andy Monkhouse pass, Stalybridge belying their lowly position by pushing forward relentlessly.
They were rewarded in the 53rd minute when Aidan Chippendale’s shot was diverted past Fabian Spiess by Scott Spencer’s outstretched leg, then 12 minutes later Chippendale fired home an angled drive after an unchecked run to draw the teams level at 2-2.
Spiess needed to be at his best as Celtic continued to press, pulling off top-drawer saves from Chippendale in the 71st minute and Liam Dickinson with five minutes remaining, but crucial late changes for Alfreton added more fire-power up front in the closing stages.
On many occasions this season Alfreton have suffered from a late goal, but this time around they benefited from one, Adam Priestley thumping Monkhouse’s tee-up past McMillan from 12 yards after George Edmundson’s ferocious drive had been parried by the keeper and Liam Hearn’s follow-up had swerved towards Monkhouse.
STALYBRIDGE: McMillan; Morton, Mather, Ryan, Wisdom, McKnight (Chalmers 86), Summerskill, Gee, Dickinson, Spencer (Wilkins 60), Chippendale (Oyibo 89).
Subs not used: Toner, Owens.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Mantack, McGowan, Edmundson, Kennedy, Wilson, Nyoni, Monkhouse, Allan (Priestley 75), Westcarr (Clayton 80), S.Smith (Hearn 75).
Subs not used: Heaton, Marshall.
REFEREE: Anthony Tankard.