19 December 2015
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Alfreton Town's league struggles continued with a narrow 1-0 home defeat against in-form Bradford Park Avenue who ultimately edged a tight game thanks to a 15th minute Craig King strike.
The loss was a fourth successive Vanarama National League North defeat for the Reds and saw them drop a place in the table to sixteenth, just one point ahead of the relegation places after a dismal run of just four points from the last 33 on offer.
Reds manager Nicky Law handed a starting debut to latest signing, goalkeeper Fabian Spiess and he did well throughout with some confident kicking and several good saves.
Clear cut chances were at a premium throughout but Alfreton's best two came in the first half with Lindon Meikle's 18 yarder coming back off the face of the bar and Joe Ironside wasting a good chance at the far post just before half time.
The Reds enjoyed the better of the play in the second half but could not find enough creativity to get past a dogged Avenue defence.
As Alfreton began the game on the attack, the first effort came from John Johnston with his left flank clipped shot tipped away by former Reds keeper Jon Stewart.
Bradford responded to win the game’s first corner on eight minutes from which the ball was only cleared to the edge of the area and Ryan Qualter’s shot was deflected behind for another corner which was cleared easily.
The lively Chib Chilaka then got goalside Niall Heaton but saw his angled drive smartly parried away by debutant Reds keeper Fabian Spiess.
Avenue took the lead on 15 minutes when the visitors were allowed to advance from a throw in from near their own dug-out. Richard Marshall fed Craig King out wide right and he despatched a firm low cross shot into the far corner in-off the far post.
Todd Jordan followed through on Paul Marshall to receive the game’s first yellow card on 18 minutes.
As Alfreton finally began to piece some meaningful passing together, Sam Jones was tripped behind on 24 minutes by Richard Marshall, the latter earning a yellow card. From the free kick, Dan Bradley’s effort was deflected for Alfreton’s first corner of the game.
Alfreton went close on 26 minutes when Lindon Meikle cut in from the right and despatched a dipping left footed shot which beat Stewart but came off the bar before beind hammered clear.
A Brad McGowan mis-kick handed Avenue another corner and after Bradley headed clear, Qualter fired well wide.
Avenue continued to press down the right and after Ryan Wilson slipped, Craig King advanced to curl a shot a couple of yards over the top.
A long free kick from Spiess picked out Joe Ironside at the far post and his glancing header was flicked on by Meikle but was cleared before the Reds could pounce on the loose ball with Stewart committed and in no man’s land.
Meikle created a yard of space inside the Bradford area and set up Dan Bradley beyond the far post but his shot was hurried and high, wide and not so mighty.
Alfreton were handed a corner on 45 minutes when Bradley’s deep cross was put behind by Jake Scott. From the flag kick Ironside turned sharply but couldn’t hit the target from close range, firing wide of the left-hand post.
Alfreton began the second half down the slope and in far more positive mood.
John Johnston cut in from the right but saw his shot go straight into the hands of Stewart then Johnston broke down the left and got round the back but saw his low cross deflect off Qualter and into the grateful arms of Stewart.
As the visitors replied, after Paul Marshall was brought down, his free kick skidded straight through the area and out past the far post.
Ironside fed Bradley down the left and from his deep cross Bradford cleared behind for a corner on 57 minutes but Wilson’s effort was over-hit.
Sam Jones was the next to threaten with a 35 yarder which whistled past the right-hand angle then Johnston tried to break through but was stopped at the expense of another corner from which Bradley flashed an angled 18 yarder over the top before Johnston’s curler from 18 yards failed badly.
The first change of the game came on 67 minutes with manager Nicky Law changing Johnston for Jamie Jackson.
Ironside was felled by a sandwich of two Bradford players right on the angle of the penalty area and from Meikle’s superb curling free kick, Stewart went full length to pull off a fine save just inside his right-hand post.
Stewart then followed up by punching clear Bradley’s raking cross from the left as Alfreton continued to carry the game to Avenue.
Joe Ironside was a replaced by Andi Thanoj on 73 minutes and the visitors made two changes a minute later.
Shortly after the visitors had the chance to put the game out of Alfreton's reach but Richard Marshall was denied Avenue’s second goal by a superb save from Spiess at the expense of a corner.
Alfreton’s last throw of the dice saw Joe Leesley on for Sam Jones but the Reds still could not make any head way as they fell to a fifth successive home defeat on the spin.
Alfreton Town Team:
1. Fabian Spiess
2. Brad McGowan
3. Niall Heaton
4. Cliff Moyo
5. Ryan Wilson
6. Lindon Meikle
7. John Johnston (Jamie Jackson, 67 mins)
8. Dan Bradley
9. Joe Ironside (Andi Thanoj, 73 mins)
10. Todd Jordan
11. Sam Jones (Joe Leesley, 88 mins)
Substitutes not used:
Matt Duke (GK)
Bradford Park Avenue Team:
1. Jon Stewart
2. Jake Scott
3. Adam Mather
4. Nathan Turner
5. Ryan Qualter
6. Billy Priestley
7. Craig King
8. Paul Marshall
9. Chib Chilaka (James Walshaw, 74 mins)
10. Richard Marshall
11. Jason St Juste (Darren Schofield, 74 mins)
Substitutes not used:
Bradford Park Avenue – Craig King (15)
Alfreton Town – Todd Jordan (18 mins, foul on Paul Marshall)
Bradford Park Avenue – Richard Marshall ( mins, foul on Sam Jones), Jon Stewart (60, time wasting)
Man of the Match: Lindon Meikle
Referee: Peter Gibbons of Neston