01 March 2014
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
Alfreton Town may have become runaway Skrill Premier leaders Luton Town's latest victims as they steamroller their way back into the Football League, but there were many positive signs to emerge from Saturday's game.
In the corresponding fixture at the Impact Arena earlier in the season the Hatters had coasted to a 4-0 lead inside the opening 18 minutes before easing off the throttle to add only one further goal, but at least the onerous task of keeping them in check at Kenilworth Road succeeded in frustrating them for almost a third of the game.
In the final analysis manager Nicky Law identified three defensive errors that cost his team. "If you take those mistakes out of the game there was not a great deal between the teams" he reflected after the game.
It was a record-breaking 13th consecutive home win in the Conference for Luton, whilst the Reds were playing in front of the biggest crowd in their history, which eclipsed the 7,369 that had witnessed their FACup First Round second replay against Barrow at Saltergate on November 20th, 1969.
Tom Shaw was recalled to a bolstered midfield with Job Ayo Akinde on the bench as Shaun Harrad ploughed a lone furrow up front, but the early chances came Alfreton's way with Dan Bradley firing wide on 13 minutes after Harrad had flicked on Bradley Wood's cross.
Ten minutes later Bradley was slightly off balance as he missed the target from Shaw's pass, but gradually the hosts began to apply pressure and in the 27th minute Shaw recovered well after initially selling Andrai Jones short on the edge of his own area.
Two minutes later though Bedfordshire was set alight with the opening goal, which stemmed from an Andre Gray cross that led to Luke Guttridge beating Jon Worsnop at his near post at the second attempt after Wood had cleared off the line.
A neat back-heel from Wood found Josh Law, who became bogged down as he was quickly surrounded by defenders, then a measure of Luton's containment was reflected in the game's first corner after 40 minutes which was won by Bradley from a Jones cross.
Both Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu and Gray went close as the first half petered out.
Three minutes after the restart Harrad sent a header over from 16 yards from a Bradley cross.
Luton's first corner on 50 minutes saw Michael Wylde clear Fraser Franks' header off the line, but an error of judgement by Jones two minutes later as he tried to usher a wayward Mpanzu shot out of play allowed Franks to nip in and leave Gray with a simple tap-in for 2-0.
Harrad's angled 55th minute drive was held by Hatters' long-serving keeper Mark Tyler, who then had to tip over Bradley's thunderous drive at full stretch six minutes later from a Shaw tee-up, with Wood then heading over from the subsequent corner.
Ronnie Henry's driven cross needed parrying at his near post by Worsnop, then the Reds' keeper reacted sharply to smother as Gray was played through by Alex Lawless, before Mpanzu fired over from 18 yards to groans from the crowd.
Manager Law reverted to 4-4-2 for the final 14 minutes of the game with Akinde replacing Wood, and the substitute was soon advancing along the by-line before seeing his angled attempt turned behind by Tyler.
The result was put beyond any lingering doubt four minutes from time following a fluke occurrence, when Worsnop hacked a clearance against Wylde to leave Jake Howells free to set Paul Benson up for a simple conversion.
Results on the day largely went in Alfreton's favour and they remain firmly embedded in the play-off positions, with a return trip to Kenilworth Road in the not too distant future still a possibility.
Alfreton Town Team:
15 Jon Worsnop
10 Dan Bradley
03 Connor Franklin
07 Josh Law
05 Michael Wylde
16 Nick Fenton
02 Bradley Wood (18 Job Ayo Akinde, 76 mins)
25 Andrai Jones
08 Tom Shaw
23 Godfrey Poku
24 Shaun Harrad
Substitutes not used:
12 Daniel Meadows
09 Paul Clayton
20 Jay McFadzean
06 Darran Kempson
Luton Town Team:
01 Mark Tyler
11 Jake Howells
25 Ronnie Henry
05 Steve McNulty
12 Scott Griffiths
43 Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu
02 Fraser Franks
19 Cameron McGeehan (23 Matt Robinson, 64 mins)
21 Luke Guttridge (07 Alex Lawless, 68 mins)
26 Paul Benson (09 Jon Shaw, 88 mins)
27 Andre Gray
Substitutes not used:
16 Elliot Justham
06 Anthony Charles
Goals: Luton Town - Luke Guttridge 29 mins, Andre Gray 52 mins, Paul Benson 86 mins.
Alfreton Town - Godfrey Poku (77 mins, foul on Alex Lawless); Tom Shaw (87 mins, foul on Jake Howells).
Attendance breakdown: 8,412 including 79 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Godfrey Poku
Referee: Peter Bankes of Liverpool