18 October 2011
Bill Wheatcroft and Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
ALFRETON Town may have suffered yet another hefty defeat at the hands of Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night, but at least there were more positives to emerge than from the Cambridge United game.
They were undone by a harsh decision ten minutes before half-time by Braintree referee Rob Whitton, who deemed Theo Streete to be the last line of defence as he tangled legs with Jamie Vardy.
Not only did the official award a penalty, which was thumped home by Richard Brodie, but sent off the Reds' skipper at a time when the hosts were enjoying a competitive spell.
Vardy compounded Alfreton's misery with a 14-minute hat-trick early in the second half, all three goals from the edge of the area, but the Reds kept trying to move forward whenever possible and were rewarded by Paul Clayton's consolation after 70 minutes.
It was a repeat of the 4-1 defeat Fleetwood inflicted on the Reds on their previous visit to the Impact Arena in November 2009, but Alfreton went on to lose only two further league matches that season and remained unbeaten at home for ten months.
A well-struck Josh Law free-kick in the sixth minute was headed away by Nathan Pond, then an angled drive from Lee Stevenson was well wide of the target.
Brodie flashed a shot across goal for the Cods before seeing a low drive held by Reds' keeper Joe Day, following a determined 17th minute run by Ryan Jackson.
Anton Brown was caught in two minds after 25 minutes when he fired tamely at Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies from a Levi Mackin pass, then four minutes later a huge clearance by Davies sent Brodie on a run that was only halted by Leigh Franks' timely tackle.
Davies did well to clutch a bouncing ball as Connor Franklin and Jamie Mullan converged on the keeper, then three minutes after the opening goal Franks again had to intervene as Brodie shaped to shoot.
Another Law free-kick was held by Davies, then in first half added time Clayton outpaced Charlie Wassmer before slipping the ball to Mullan, whose cross from the right was wasted against his former club.
Fleetwood led by two goals just 98 seconds after the restart when Vardy suddenly found himself goal-side of Brown, who was covering for Streete in the heart of the Alfreton defence, from a Jamie McGuire through-ball and lashed the ball past Day.
Gareth Seddon was then gifted a chance from a sloppy back-pass by Mackin but struck the upright from a tight angle in the 49th minute, then in response Davies had to stretch low to turn behind Stevenson's 22 yarder from a Mullan cross.
Vardy hooked over from 12 yards when set up by Andrew Mangan, but scored again on 58 minutes when put through by Seddon and completed his treble three minutes later by turning on the edge of the area and firing into the roof of the net.
Jordan Hall fired wide from 20 yards as Alfreton kept pushing forward and when Mangan's back pass went astray 20 minutes from time Clayton latched on to it, took a couple of paces and planted the ball firmly past Davies from the edge of the area.
Franklin then won a corner from a telling cross by Mullan, then on 78 minutes Day had to palm away a shot from Pond, before the same Fleetwood player missed an easy chance from a left wing corner.
With time running out Mullan cut in and fired over before Clayton went close, and the visitors were certainly flattered by a score-line that hoisted them to second place in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Alfreton Town Team:
Connor Franklin (Greg Young 85)
Jordan Hall (Jake Moult 66)
Lee Stevenson (Chris Senior 66)
Substitutes not used: Anthony Wilson, Nathan Jarman
Fleetwood Town Team:
McGuire (Milligan 60)
Brodie (Seddon 46)
Vardy (Clancy 67)
Substitutes not used: St Louis-Hamilton, Goodall
Bookings: Alfreton Town - Connor Franklin and Levi Mackin. Fleetwood Town - Charlie Wassmer and Steve McNulty.
Sent off: Theo Streete (35, professional foul on Jamie Vardy)
Man of the Match: Paul Clayton
Referee: Robert Whitton of Braintree