New Year’s Day failed to herald a new start for Alfreton Town as they slipped into the relegation places with a 3-1 defeat to Stockport County at the lmpact Arena — where they have not won since September.
A goal down inside seven minutes to Chris Smalley’s finish at corner, the Reds’ cause was not helped by Craig Westcarr’s 34th-minute red card for foul and abusive language to the assistant referee after a decision had gone against him.
Manager John McDermott refused to blame the defeat on the dismissal.
“Did it make more hard work for ourselves? Yes.
“l thought it was a corner and not a goal-kick, and that’s why Westy got frustrated.
“He obviously swore at the linesman... it’s not right but it happens in football.
“It’s a man’s game and you have to be thick-skinned, but if he got the decision right in the first place that would not have happened.
“But we’ve been beaten because we haven’t defended the box — it’s as simple as that.”
Smalley doubled Stockport’s tally five minutes into the second half when he stabbed home a Thomas free-kick from close range.
A rare blunder by keeper Chris Elliott saw the Reds’ keeper help an inswinging Scott Duxbury corner into his own net with 15 minutes remaining, before to added time substitute Brendon Daniels converted a penalty after being brought down.
One bright spot for the home side was an enterprising debut by midfielder James Baxendale.
McDermott added: “l thought the players worked hard and they tried to play.
“It’s very frustrating. l’m not having a go at the players as they have given everything.”
ALFRETON: Elliott; Topliss, Shiels, Allan, Keane, Wood [Daniels 72], Platt, Disley, Baxendale, Westcarr, Mulhern. Other subs: Jennings, Everington, Johnson, Sharp.
STOCKPORT: Hinchliffe; Cowan, Duxbury, Ball, Smalley [Clarke 58], O’Halloran, Thomas [McKenna 78], Stopforth [Winter 40], Oswell, Warburton, Stephenson. Other subs: Dixon, Ormson.
Referee: Anthony Tankard.
Attendance: 949 [inc. 469 from Stockport].