Blue Square Bet North
Alfreton Town 3
Nuneaton Town 2
PROUD Alfreton Town players paraded the championship trophy after this home win over Nuneaton Town, the visitors having sportingly applauded the winners of the Blue Square Bet North on to the pitch prior to the kick-off.
It was the Reds’ 12th double in their finest season, with Liam Hearn bringing his total in all games to 32 goals while Aden Flint marked his swansong by bagging the opener in the eighth minute.
Nuneaton played their part in a lively encounter and at one stage led 2-1, and despite ending the season only in sixth spot after leading for many weeks they still qualify for the play-offs with Eastwood Town deemed ineligible.
The game was preceded by a minute’s applause in memory of Reds fan Graham Jones who had sadly passed away prior to the Gainsborough Trinity game on Easter Monday five days earlier.
It needed a good block from Gareth Dean in the fourth minute to prevent Josh Law’s driven cross from reaching Anthony Wilson in front of goal, then on seven minutes Hearn’s angled drive was turned behind by keeper Danny Alcock’s legs.
A minute later Alfreton were ahead when Law’s corner induced a goalmouth melee with Dean scooping the ball off the line before Flint prodded it in from close range, but the visitors were level by the 18th minute.
Robbie Burns curled a James Armson pass into the top corner of the net in such spectacular style that it may well have prompted his ancestral namesake to break into verse, then in response Matt Wilson went close from Nathan Arnold’s tee-up.
Nathan Jarman’s low drive struck Richard Lavery and caused Alcock to dive full length to save, then back at the other end Chris Mackenzie saved Burns’ crisp drive from a move instigated by Andy Hall.
Anthony Wilson almost succeeded with a glancing header from Law’s 35th minute free-kick, then in first half added time Paul Clayton fired into the side-netting from a tight angle after replacing the injured Anthony Wilson.
Seconds after the restart Theo Streete had to stretch out a leg to prevent Burns from going clear, then in an Alfreton attack Clayton fired over after Anton Brown had chested down Jarman’s pass.
Nuneaton edged in front five minutes into the second half when Iyseden Christie’s left-footed drive from the edge of the area beat Mackenzie after dummying Streete, but the Reds were back on level terms within two minutes.
Brown was tripped in the area by Lavery and Law was entrusted with the spot-kick which Alcock saved - however Hearn reacted instinctively to squeeze the loose ball home from a diminishing angle.
Eddie Nisevic embarked on a menacing central run before seeing his shot held by Mackenzie, then Hearn cut in from the right and fired from 22 yards with Alcock saving.
The scoring was completed in the 68th minute after a disastrous back-pass by the hapless Lavery was intercepted by Clayton before being brought down by Dean, with Hearn making no mistake from Alfreton’s second penalty of the afternoon.
Two minutes later Nuneaton felt they should have been awarded a spot-kick when Christie went own under a challenge from Streete, then a speculative lob from Daryl Clare just failed from 35 yards.
The season concluded with Arnold preventing an equaliser by clearing from Adam Walker who for a split second was clear on goal, and all that was left was for the triumphant Reds to soak up the fans’ adulation.
Alfreton Town: Chris Mackenzie, Josh Law, Connor Franklin, Aden Flint (c), Theo Streete, Nathan Arnold, Anton Brown, Matt Wilson (Jordan Hall 81), Anthony Wilson (Paul Clayton 36), Liam Hearn, Nathan Jarman (Daryl Clare 64). Substitutes not used: Laurie Wilson, Ian Ross.
Nuneaton Town: Danny Alcock, Seb Harris, Eddie Nisevic, Mark Noon (Kyle Storer 87), Gareth Dean, Richard Lavery, Andy Hall (Lee Moore 79), Adam Walker, Iseyden Christie (Danny Spencer 79), Robbie Burns, James Armson. Substitutes not used: Rob Oddy, Simon Forsdick. Referee: Jason Tyas of Holmfirth.
Attendance: 1,123 (249 from Nuneaton).
Booking: Nuneaton Town – Gareth Dean (68 foul on Paul Clayton).
Goals: Alfreton Town – Aden Flint (8), Liam Hearn (51 and 69). Nuneaton Town – Robbie Burns (18), Isyeden Christie (50).
Reds man of the match: Liam Hearn