13 September 2014
DAVE PURSGLOVE'S MATCH PICTURE ALBUM HERE
Alfreton Town recorded their long-awaited first win of the season when they visited Southport on Saturday, clambering off the foot of the Vanarama Conference in the process.
The Reds have had their fair share of success at Haig Avenue, but none can have been sweeter than this, their first win in 17 games stretching back to March 18th when relegated Tamworth were beaten 4-2 at the lmpact Arena.
Striker Karl Hawley was given his first start up front alongside Joe Ironside, with Massiah McDonald reverting to the bench, and his inclusion was instantly merited with an assist and a goal inside the opening nine minutes to put the Reds firmly in control.
Other changes saw Chris Smith return to the heart of the defence after a spell out injured, whilst Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Anthony Howell were recalled after suspension, their positions vacated by Dan Gray, Jake Sheridan and the injured Nathan Hicks.
The whole shape of the game was formed in that initial nine minute period, with Ironside scoring the third goal of his loan spell within 90 seconds of the start when he charged down Dominic Collins' attempted clearance and the ball rebounded off him before bobbling into the net.
Hawley's exquisite back-heel had set up the move, with Tom Shaw's shot blocked before Hawley's deflected effort was directed at Collins.
Southport thought they had leveled the score after seven minutes when a neat move involving John Marsden, Danny Hattersley and David Fitzpatrick ended with Paul Rutherford smashing a header against the crossbar from close range.
That miss was immediately punished with Alfreton forcing a right-wing corner, which Shaw delivered deep with a deft flick-on by Smith, Hawley cutting in to send an angled drive arrowing into the bottom corner of the net with Southport's defence all at sea.
It was fairly mundane stuff after that initial surge of activity, but that format clearly suited the Reds, who were able to comfortably control the game, Howell embarking on a protracted run in the 11th minute before firing tamely at keeper Danny Lloyd-Weston.
Hawley then scuffed a decent chance wide from just outside the area, then at the other end on 19 minutes Reds' keeper Cameron Dawson comfortably held Stephen Brogan's free-kick.
The young loanee keeper's confidence increases every game and he competently dealt with a powerful Scott Kay header from Brogan's 22nd minute cross, then Fitzpatrick fired a pot-shot over from 30 yards as the Sandgrounders were held at bay.
Successive crosses from Brogan did cause concern though six minutes before the break, with Hattersley heading across the face of goal from the first and a scrambled corner the product of the latter.
Andi Thanoj sent Hawley through on 41 minutes, but the ball would not settle for the striker and he was quickly crowded out by recovering defenders, then Hawley was left clear by Jordan Keane only for Lloyd-Weston to somehow prevent a third goal with his legs.
Seven minutes into the second half Rutherford squandered a golden opportunity for Southport to claw their way back into the game when sprinting free before inexplicably cutting inside with only Dawson to beat, a decision that allowed Luke Graham to block.
Ironside's effort from 22 yards was held comfortably by the keeper, then after 64 minutes Joe Connor's shot was deflected behind by Shaw from an Andy Mitchell cross.
A 70th minute corner led to Mitchell's volley being held by Dawson, then in response Howell saw his shot blocked before forcing Lloyd-Weston to parry as he latched on to the follow-up with the assistance of Ironside.
Too little too late Southport created a couple of chances in the closing stages with Danny Whitehall's header from a Rutherford cross glancing off a Reds' defender for a corner, and a John Gorman free-kick whistling millimeters over the bar.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Cameron Dawson
05 Luke Graham
15 Jordan Keane
02 Bradley Wood
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
06 Chris Smith
11 Anthony Howell
21 Andi Thanoj
12 Tom Shaw (14 Jake Sheridan, 68 mins)
18 Joe Ironside (09 Paul Clayton, 86 mins)
23 Karl Hawley
Substitutes not used:
22 Lawrence Gorman
19 Benny Igiehon
17 Massiah McDonald
01 Daniel Lloyd-Weston
15 Aaron Connor
03 David Fitzpatrick
05 Dominic Collins
23 Clayton McDonald (21 Danny Whitehall, 78 mins)
08 Luke George
04 Scott Kay
16 Paul Rutherford
11 Stephen Brogan (22 Andrew Mitchell, 46 mins)
18 John Marsden (13 Johnny Gorman, 65 mins)
09 Danny Hattersley
Substitutes not used:
12 Johnny Lynch
20 James Smith
Alfreton Town - Joe Ironside (2 mins), Karl Hawley (9 mins)
Southport - None
Alfreton Town - Anthony Howell (56, foul on Andrew Mitchell), Lathaniel Rowe-Turner (90+1, dissent)
Attendance breakdown: 832 including 41 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Karl Hawley
Referee: Steven Rushton