25 February 2012
Dave Pursglove's match picture album here
ALFRETON Town may have been conclusively beaten by leaders Fleetwood Town on Saturday, but other results helped bolster the Reds' hopes of retaining their Blue Square Bet Premier status.
The hosts conceded several petty free-kicks in the opening few minutes that stifled Alfreton's hopes of an early breakthrough, but the first direct approach of the game was undertaken by Fleetwood's Gareth Seddon in the eighth minute which needed Greg Young's intervention in conceding a corner.
In the 14th minute Andy Mangan looked certain to convert Peter Cavanagh's cross until Reds' keeper Dan Lowson pulled off a magnificent point-blank save, but Fleetwood took the lead anyway three minutes later.
It was a quickly taken Jamie Vardy free-kick that was bundled in at the back post by Nathan Pond as Darran Kempson attempted to block.
Jamie Maguire embarked on a central run before firing wide from 18 yards, then at the midway point of the first half Leigh Franks set up Nathan Jarman who almost succeeded in playing Clayton through on goal.
Jarman's 26th minute free-kick had to be held at the second attempt by Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies, then an unsavoury incident instigated by Vardy could easily have seen Theo Streete sent off.
Streete was shepherding the ball out when Vardy scythed into him and propelled the Reds' defender into touch, but the strong reaction from Streete had the Fleetwood fans baying for his dismissal.
Matt Wilson's rising drive almost cleared the stand in the 33rd minute, then Mangan's deflected shot won the home side a corner after a long run.
Fleetwood led 2-0 on 37 minutes after Kempson's header was intercepted by Seddon before firing past Lowson from an angle, then Mangan went close as the interval beckoned.
Six minutes after the break Franks' free-kick was not caught cleanly by Davies, but Jarman was penalised before Clayton could take advantage.
Streete then blocked Seddon's effort from a Vardy cross before Alfreton fell further behind in the 56th minute, when Seddon side-footed home from six yards after Mangan's blistering run down the left.
The Reds had a spell of pressure around the hour mark which saw Jarman's chip from 18 yards just missing the angle of the goal, then Clayton's curling drive from wide left swung inches wide of the back post.
A long throw by Franks allowed Adam Quinn to head on, but Clayton just could not manage to turn the ball towards goal, then Fleetwood picked up the pace again with Lee Fowler going close with a thunderbolt from 25 yards.
Magno Vieira's rasper was turned behind by Lowson in the 77th minute, then in response Jamie Mullan's by-line cross was held by Davies.
A similar move at the other end produced a disastrous outcome though when Vardy's deep cross was palmed into his own net by Lowson for Fleetwood's fourth goal in the 84th minute.
Lowson held Richard Brodie's deflected shot with four minutes remaining, then in added time both Alan Goodall and Vardy fired over from decent positions.
Alfreton Town Team:
Dan Lowson, Theo Streete (Josh Law 58), Greg Young, Adam Quinn, Darran Kempson, Matt Wilson, Jake Moult, Leigh Franks, Craig Clay (Jamie Mullan 61), Paul Clayton (Anthony Wilson 66), Nathan Jarman.
Substitutes not used: Connor Franklin, Nathan Arnold.
Fleetwood Town Team:
Scott Davies, Steve McNulty, Nathan Pond, Alan Goodall, Peter Cavanagh, Andy Mangan, Jamie McGuire, Lee Fowler, Danny Rose (Magno Vieira 59 [Till 79]), Gareth Seddon (Richard Brodie 76), Jamie Vardy.
Substitutes not used: Dave Stephenson (GK), Junior Brown.
Fleetwood Town - Nathan Pond 18; Gareth Seddon 37 & 56; Dan Lowson own goal 84.
Fleetwood Town - Jamie Vardy (27, foul on Theo Streete); Lee Fowler (54, foul on Adam Quinn); Alan Goodall (87, foul on Leigh Franks).
Alfreton Town - Theo Streete (retaliation 27), Matt Wilson (29, foul on Danny Rose), Leigh Franks (39, foul on Andy Mangan).
Man of the Match: Nathan Jarman
Referee: Mr Ross Joyce of Middlesbrough