14 September 2013
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
A goal from midfielder Daniel Meadows after 26 minutes was enough to give Alfreton Town their first away points of the season when they visited Macclesfield Town on Saturday.
The margin of victory at Moss Rose should have been greater, but amazing misses by Paul Clayton and Job Ayo Akinde and the intervention of the post contrived to keep the score-line low.
Ironically Meadows had been the solitary change from the Woking victory, which had been necessitated by Josh Law becoming a father in the early hours of Saturday morning, the Reds' manager reflecting after the match that he was "too young to be a grandfather".
A nightmare coach journey had seen the players arrive just 18 minutes before kick-off, but without a proper warm-up the Reds astounded everyone by quickly taking the game to their hosts and had created four chances by the ninth minute.
In their first attack Tom Shaw had seen his shot blocked at source on the edge of the area by James Bolton, then Meadows volleyed over from 22 yards from a John McGrath corner.
Alfreton might have been awarded a penalty when Clayton was sandwiched between Bolton and his keeper Rhys Taylor as he ran on to Shaw's fifth minute through-ball, then Akinde's powerful effort from the left edge of the area bulged the side-netting.
Macclesfield were allowed just one opening in this period with Lathaniel Rowe-Turner blocking Peter Winn's off-target shot from Chris Holroyd's by-line cross in the seventh minute.
The clearest chance to date arrived on 13 minutes when Taylor was caught in two minds as he raced to the edge of his area with Clayton latching on to Bradley Wood's through-ball, opting to head the ball up in the air and behind him.
Clayton clearly did not realise how much space he had suddenly been presented with as he had his back to the open goal, and the opportunity was squandered with a wayward overhead kick.
Clayton was posing all sorts of problems for the Macclesfield defence, and when he ran on to Shaw's through-ball with still only 15 minutes having elapsed, it needed a wily tackle back by veteran Efe Sodje to prevent a goal.
Despite their later misses Clayton and Akinde were enjoying a free rein up front, and when the latter turned neatly from his strike partner's flick-on it was Meadows who ended the slick move by firing weakly at Taylor from 18 yards.
Holroyd scuffed a half-chance wide for the Silkmen in the 24th minute, but Alfreton edged ahead two minutes later after another rush of blood to the head had seen Taylor carry the ball out of his area.
The keeper was only shown a yellow card as the incident had not affected an Alfreton move, but the referee was surrounded by annoyed Macclesfield players for several seconds as protests about the award of the free-kick were waved aside.
McGrath drove the free-kick low through the area from the right of goal and Meadows calmly slotted the ball past Taylor from almost on the penalty spot.
A poor punch by Ross Atkins, as the Reds keeper was brought into action for the first time in the 33rd minute, saw Wood tidy up with a back post clearance after Joe Connor had firmly headed an Andy Halls' corner.
Atkins quickly atoned with a smart save from Holroyd's header after Winn had been allowed to cross from the left, then another neat Alfreton move ended with McGrath's deflected shot going behind for a corner from Meadows' astute cross.
Macclesfield almost snatched an equaliser in the second minute of first half added time when Shaw had to stick out a leg to divert Danny Andrew's shot over the bar, then two minutes after the break came Clayton's incredible miss.
Shaw had taken a return pass from Akinde and set Meadows up for a header that had beaten Taylor at his near post and landed at Clayton's feet four yards out with a routine tap-in to score, but somehow the ball rebounded off the crossbar to everyone's disbelief.
Bolton had to clear behind after McGrath's free-kick had sent Akinde to the by-line, the keeper verbally furious with his defenders for their slack marking, then Clayton headed over from Akinde's 57th minute tee-up.
A low Winn drive from 20 yards was comfortably held by Atkins, but Bolton's header back across goal from Danny Whitaker's 66th minute corner was a little too close for comfort.
A crisp Meadows drive was held by Taylor after Shaw, Clayton and Akinde had combined on the left, then Holroyd headed over for the hosts from close range.
The last six minutes were hectic with Akinde blazing wide of an open goal from six yards after Clayton had laid back a McGrath free-kick, and he won't even be able to claim a prestigious "Alf" award at the end of the season for the miss of the match.
Akinde almost made up for it within seconds though, when his stooping header from Shaw's cross rebounded off the foot of the post too sharply for the supporting Clayton.
A brilliant tip over by Atkins from Danny Rowe's vicious volley spared any further embarrassment for the strikers, then Dan Bradley fired over from an Akinde pass while Atkins had the last word with a late save to deny Rowe again.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Ross Atkins
02 Bradley Wood
05 Michael Wylde
10 Dan Bradley
16 Nick Fenton
21 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
08 Tom Shaw
12 Danny Meadows
17 John McGrath
09 Paul Clayton
18 Job Ayo Akinde
Substitutes not used:
03 Connor Franklin
04 Chris Westwood
19 Jack Andrews
14 Alastair Taylor
13 Daniel Wishart
Macclesfield Town Team:
01 Rhys Taylor
03 Danny Andrew
05 James Bolton
16 Efetobore Sodje (10 John Paul Kissock, 77 mins)
26 Andy Halls
02 Joe Connor
23 Danny Whitaker
25 Scott Kay (07 Jack Mackreth, 50 mins)
09 Chris Holroyd
11 Peter Winn (24 Danny Rowe, 74 mins)
19 Scott Boden
Substitutes not used:
04 Carl Martin
06 Paul Turnbull
Alfreton Town - Danny Meadows (27)
Macclesfield Town - Rhys Taylor, James Bolton, Efetobore Sodje, Andy Halls, Joe Connor, Danny Whitaker
Alfreton Town - Bradley Wood, Michael Wylde, Paul Clayton
Attendance breakdown: 1,271 including 95 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Danny Meadows
Referee: Peter Bankes of Liverpool