07 February 2015
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ALFRETON Town produced perhaps their best 45 minutes of football of the season to come from behind and overpower Southport in a crucial relegation six-pointer at the Impact Arena.
Incredibly, this was a first Saturday home game in seven weeks for the Reds and they had to shake off a disastrous start when Southport produced their first goal of 2015. It was a lead the visitors held until half-time despite Alfreton enjoying the bulk of the possession after conceding.
After the break though, Nicky Law’s reshaped side put in an intense all-round display which brought four goals and they could have had more as they chalked up their second league double of the campaign.
Law completely switched his defence around with captain Luke Graham moving to right back, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner moving from left back to partner Callum Howe in central defence and Niall Heaton being handed his first start for the club at left-back at the age of just eighteen.
It was a bold gamble which paid handsome dividends in a game of such magnitude where a victory for Southport would have put them seven points clear of Alfreton with a game in hand. As it is, the gap is now down to just one point and Nicky Law’s side have the momentum of seven points out of the last twelve.
Law also rested Anthony Howell and Andi Thanoj to the bench with fit again Dan Bradley recalled to central midfield alongside Bradley Wood whose fully committed display saw him emerge head and shoulders as man-of-the-match, scoring one goal and setting two others up.
With Legend Football Partners Jonathan Collura and Michael Hitchcock also present for the game at the end of a busy week for everyone at the club, the scene was set for a special occasion and the players didn’t disappoint.
However, the first real foray came from Southport but ended with Richard Brodie putting his cross into the side netting before Luke Graham headed a Brodie flick-on safely back to keeper Jason Mooney.
Alfreton’s first attempt on goal came on seven minutes with Bradley Wood heading a long Niall Heaton throw-in narrowly past the far post.
Southport broke quickly but James Caton’s hurriedly ambitious shot only troubled the tea bar.
The visitors took the lead in fortuitous fashion on twelve minutes. Richard Brodie turned quickly and and although his 25 yard shot had plenty of power, it slipped through the grasp of home keeper Jason Mooney before dropping agonisingly over the line.
Alfreton responded well to going behind, dominating possession for long spells and they fashioned a swift counter-attack through Dan Bradley and John Johnston but Lee Stevenson was robbed on the edge of the visiting area by Luke Foster.
Alfreton had the ball in the net on 14 minutes but Karl Hawley’s angled drive in-off the bar was ruled out for a marginal offside decision.
Southport broke through Brodie again down the left but Graham got back well to block his shot from the edge of the penalty area.
The hosts had a great chance to equalise on 22 minutes, but after being flicked in by Stevenson, Karl Hawley dragged his shot wide of the far post.
Alfreton were denied an equaliser on 26 minutes when visiting goalkeeper Callum Burton missed a deep Tom Shaw cross, Niall Henton got a header towards goal and Andy Parry cleared off the line at the foot of the post and as Alfreton continued to press, Johnston’s driven cross was well held by Burton.
Southport returned fire and Mooney got down quickly to snap up a Parry shot.
Johnston’s trickery won Alfreton’s first corner on 32 minutes with Foster again coming to ‘Port’s rescue by clearing from almost on the line.
A great cross in from Johnston had Burton scrambling to parry away at his front post before Richard Brodie and Bradley Wood both needed treatment after a full-blooded aerial clash.
From a drop-ball restart, Hawley won the ball, Shaw fed Stevenson whose shot was blocked on the edge of the area by Joe Connor.
Southport hit back and Alfreton had Graham to thank for a timely goalline clearance from a stabbed effort from Brodie.
Dan Bradley was desperately unlucky to see a thumping 18 yarder smack the top of the bar on 42 minutes as Alfreton continued to dominate and they forced three late corners as Southport struggled to clear their lines.
A late low Hawley shot was easily smothered by Burton and the visitors were clearly relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
Alfreton had a dream start to the second half with two goals in the space of five minutes turning the game on it’s head.
The Reds were awarded a penalty just 35 seconds in. Stevenson’s ball in from the left picked out Tom Shaw who was tripped by Luke Foster as he burst into the visiting area for a definite penalty.
After the visiting protests had died down, Bradley Wood coolly despatched the resultant spot-kick on 47 minutes and two minutes later Alfreton were in front.
Wood chased down and won possession after Southport had failed to clear a home raid and delivered a terrific low cross from which Karl Hawley steered home from close range to send the home fans delirious.
Home keeper Mooney easily held a Joe Connor header from a deep right wing free kick for the visitors before
Southport’s Brodie thought he had equalised on 53 minutes when his shot was deflected onto the underside of the bar by a great save by Mooney. The near-side assistant ruled it had not crossed the line after Mooney had dived back to kick clear off the line.
Games and even season’s turn on such incidents.
Southport’s Paul Smith was fortunate to only see a yellow card for a rash challenge on Bradley Wood on 61 minutes as an absorbing game hotted up even further.
Alfreton extended their lead to 3-1 on 64 minutes when Callum Howe powered home a towering header into the roof of the net from eight yards out to finish raking Tom Shaw corner.
Two minutes later it was 3-2 as lively Southport substitute Paul Rutherford stabbed home at the second attempt after Mooney had denied him with a fantastic close range save after he had latched onto a piercing cross from the left.
Brodie pounced on a miskick by Rowe-Turner but had his shot deflected for a fruitless corner and after Smith was guilty of a woeful effort from a decent opening on 73 minutes, the visitors fell away as an attacking force.
Alfreton came back strongly with some good contolled football and sealed victory on 88 minutes, Bradley Wood’s superb ball in from the right being steered home by Southport defender Joe Connor with Karl Hawley coming in behind him.
Alfreton were twice denied a fifth goal in the dying embers of the game when Charlie Joyce produced a great goalline clearance to keep out Karl Hawley’s shot which had looped up off keeper Burton before Dan Bradley latched onto Johnston’s right wing cross but fired past the front post.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Jason Mooney
05 Luke Graham (c)
28 Callum Howe
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
26 Niall Heaton
27 John Johnston
02 Bradley Wood (21 Andi Thanoj, 90+1 mins)
10 Dan Bradley
12 Tom Shaw
08 Lee Stevenson (11 Anthony Howell, 88 mins)
23 Karl Hawley
Substitutes not used:
14 Jake Sheridan
15 Jordan Keane
24 Joe Leesley
25 Callum Burton
20 Paul Smith
05 Dom Collins
06 Luke Foster (c)
03 David Fitzpatrick
11 Andy Parry (16 Paul Rutherford, 54 mins)
14 Charlie Joyce
15 Joe Connor
26 James Caton (07 Micah Evans, 79 mins)
23 George Donnelly
10 Richard Brodie
Substitutes not used:
01 Danny Lloyd-Weston
04 Scott Kay
18 John Marsden
Alfreton Town – Bradley Wood (47, penalty), Karl Hawley (50), Callum Howe (64), Joe Connor (own goal 88) Southport – Richard Brodie (12), Paul Rutherford (66)
Alfreton Town – Dan Bradley, Niall Heaton
Southport – Paul Smith, Charlie Joyce, Luke Foster, Paul Rutherford, Micah Evans
Man of the Match: Bradley Wood
Referee: Richard Wigglesworth of Doncaster