07 March 2017
Alfreton Town produced a solid performance against AFC Halifax Town to record Russ O'Neil's first win, when the two sides met in the Vanarama National League North at the Impact Arena on Tuesday night.
It had been a long time coming and will be a huge relief to everyone concerned at the club, the crucial win being achieved alongside another clean sheet as the Reds sought to pull themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Wes Atkinson was introduced to the side upon arrival on loan from Notts County, contributing to the Reds positive outcome, whilst fellow loanee Jordan Richards had a hand in the 61st minute goal that seperated the teams.
Richards pumped the cross in from the right, Sam Johnson misjudged the pace and Craig Westcarr benefitted from the keeper's error, his initial shot blocked before the Red's leading marksman steered the ball neatly past Johnson into the corner of the net.
Crucially Westcarr had been recalled to the side after injury alongside key defender Terry Kennedy, but having originally appeared on the team sheet, Liam Hearn had to be withdrawn having pulled up in the warm up.
Halifax had started with promise, but Liam King fired tamely at Fabian Spiess and David Lynch's effort was held by the Red's keeper at the second attempt before ten minutes had elapsed.
However, by the mid-point of the first half Alfreton had responded positively with Westcarr almost succeeding with a long range free-kick that dipped dramatically before being clutched by Johnson just under the bar.
Former Red's striker Tom Denton drew a point blank save from Spiess with a header from a Jordan Sinnott cross, then a concise pass from Mark Shelton allowed Westcarr to feed Sam Smith whose volley was caught under pressure from Atkinson by Johnson.
The keeper then needed a second touch to deal with another accurate Westcarr free-kick, the opening half concluding with Westcarr side-stepping Johnson before finding the side netting from an ever diminishing angle.
The action continued apace after the break with neither keeper being seriously tested, then eight minutes after the breakthrough Alfreton survived a hectic goalmouth scramble that saw both Denton and Scott Garner denied by last ditch clearances off the line.
A slick build-up between Shelton and Richards led to Ryan Wilson seeing his shot blocked with 15 minutes remaining, Speiss then needing to make an outstanding double save to keep the Reds ahead, parrying from Sinnott before tipping over Richard Peniket's towering header from the ensuing corner.
The final action saw Niall Heaton's long throw only partially cleared for Westcarr to fire over, the Reds at last able to celebrate victory after a determined and encouraging display.
Alfreton Town Team:
Spiess, Richards, McGowan, Kennedy, Wilson, Atkinson, Monkhouse, Shelton, Allan ( Heaton 49), S.Smith, Westcarr
Sus not used ; A.Smith, Marshall, Jordan
FC Halifax Town Team:
Johnson, Roberts, Wilde, King ( Morgan 65), Garner, Brown, Kosylo, Lynch ( Hotte h/t), Denton (Peniket 81), Sinnott, Clarke
Subs not used : Mayo, Drench
Referee: Martyn Rawcliffe