02 January 2016
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Alfreton Town kicked off 2016 with a narrow but just about deserved 1-0 home win over Tamworth thanks to an 89th minute goal from skipper Dan Bradley.
The Reds skipper steered home a precision low cross from substitute Jordan Robertson to edge the points and wrap up a festive double over Tamworth who have lost three times this season to Alfreton and have now lost four league games in a row.
The victory, and a welcome first clean sheet since September 12th, took Alfreton up to thirteenth in the table after a pleasing festive period of seven points from three tough games.
Reds boss Nicky Law was forced to make a change from the side which had gone so close to winning against Solihull Moors with Sam Jones unfortunately dropping out through illness and Ryan Wilson replaced him to put in a good shift in central midfield.
Visiting manager Andy Morrell chose to start himself up front as the Lambs tried to halt a run of four straight defeats in all competitions but for all his and strike partner’s Ross Dyer’s experience, young Reds central defenders Niall Heaton and Brad McGowan in particular were easily equal.
A tight game on a surface made greasy by steady rain throughout the majority of the game saw clear chances at an absolute premium with two well-drilled defences on top although visiting keeper Dale Belford was certainly the busier of the two.
The Reds won the first corner of the game from their first real raid on six minutes, Dan Bradley getting round the back but having his cross blocked for a flag kick. From Ryan Wilson’s inswinging corner, Joe Leesley couldn’t make contact and the ball sped through a packed area and out.
A raking free kick on nine minutes from Joe Leesley picked out Tom Allan at the back post but there was no-one on hand to get on the end of his strong head down.
Tamworth had a let-off on eleven minutes when a deep Joe Leesley cross ended with visiting keeper James Belshaw flapping at the ball which fell just behind the incoming Sam Smith at the far post.
Dan Bradley was adjudged to have fouled Connor Taylor but from the free kick Niall Heaton produced a powerful clearing header.
Alfreton then had a let off on 16 minutes when home keeper Matt Duke dropped a long ball in from Andy Burns from the right and was adjudged to have been fouled by Andy Morrell before the Lambs manager put the ball in the net, referee Joe Hull coming to the Reds’ rescue by chalking the effort out.
A strong run down the right by Ryan Wilson brought Alfreton’s second corner on 21 minutes which was quickly followed by a third from the opposite side as the visitors struggled to clear but Tamworth were reprieved by a foul on keeper Belshaw.
Another Leesley free kick for the Reds ended with Brad McGowan getting up but heading over the top then Lindon Meikle managed to get free in midfield and advance to send in a 20 yard shot which was deflected for another unproductive corner on 28 minutes,
A long throw from Tamworth’s Steve Tomasson saw Brad McGowan easily head clear as both defences continued to hold sway.
The one big chance of the first half came on 34 minutes when a long punt from Matt Duke evaded everyone and and Lindon Meikle nipped in behind the visiting defence but, off balance, could only steer an angled shot wide with just Belshaw to beat.
Tamworth’s Josh Heaton picked up the game’s first yellow card on 38 minutes after scything down Ryan Wilson.
Alfreton striker Sam Smith was booked for a rash challenge on Curtis Strong in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the first half which unsurprisingly ended in a goalless stalemate.
Reds manager Nicky Law made his first change at half time with Todd Jordan replacing Niall Heaton at the heart of the defence, Heaton being withdrawn with a slight hamstring strain.
Tamworth had an early half-chance but Morrell miskicked an attempted high shot from a long throw in then at the other end a swinging cross from Tom Allan on the left picked out Sam Smith but he couldn’t direct his header on target.
A long free kick from the left by Paul Green for the visitors failed to trouble anyone in the area and Duke comfortably watched it past the far post.
Tamworth had another half chance on 59 minutes when Green’s free kick went through to the back post but Josh Heaton could only stab wide under pressure.
Alfreton’s second change of the game saw Jordan Robertson on for Sam Smith up front on 63 minutes.
Another Curtis Strong long throw caused Alfreton problems and they were thankful to see Ross Dyer’s header hit the side netting.
Andy Morrell made his first change of the game by replacing himself on 66 minutes with Elliott Durrell and four minutes later Jamie Jackson came on for Ryan Wilson for the Reds.
Belshaw had to concede a corner from Heaton’s poor back pass on 73 minutes but the keeper came and claimed well through a ruck of players.
As the rain began to increase Tom Allan was booked for felling Paul Green in the middle of the pitch on 75 minutes.
Tamworth made their second change with ten minutes left, Danny Newton coming on for Ross Dyer.
Alfreton created an opening on 85 minutes but Bradley’s low cross from the left sped through the area and Jordan Robertson was unable to control beyond the far post.
Elliott Durrell fired in a left flank free kick which Duke needed two grabs of but once again there was little threat from the visitors.
Alfreton snatched the lead on 89 minutes when Robertson chased down a Thanoj ball down the line and got right to the left byline before clipping in an accurate low cross which Dan Bradley steered in from close range.
There was little time for the visitors to respond although they did make their third and final substitution in the second minute of added time with Luke Hubbins replacing Curtis Strong and the Reds held out comfortably for the win.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Matt Duke
02 Cliff Moyo
03 Niall Heaton (Todd Jordan, h/t)
04 Tom Allan
05 Brad McGowan
06 Andi Thanoj
07 Joe Leesley
08 Lindon Meikle
09 Ryan Wilson (Jamie Jackson, 70 mins)
10 Sam Smith (Jordan Robertson, 63 mins)
11 Dan Bradley (c)
Substitutes not used:
Fabian Spiess (GK)
01 James Belshaw
02 Andy Burns
03 Connor Taylor
04 Lee Smith
05 Steve Tomassen
06 Josh Heaton
07 Paul Green (c)
08 Shane Clarke
09 Ross Dyer Dyer (Danny Newton, 80 mins)
10 Andy Morrell (Elliott Durrell, 66 mins)
11 Curtis Strong (Luke Hubbins, 90+2)
Substitutes not used:
Alfreton Town – Dan Bradley (89)
Alfreton Town – Sam Smith (45+1, foul on Curtis Strong), Tom Allan (75 mins, foul on Paul Green), Jordan Robertson (90+3, off the ball incident)
Tamworth – Josh Heaton (38, foul on Ryan Wilson), Paul Green (90+3, off the ball incident)
Man of the Match: Brad McGowan
Referee: Joe Hull of Stockport