21 April 2014
Dave Pursglove's Hereford United match picture album here
Alfreton Town's final away game of the season ended with a 2-3 defeat to Hereford United, who are struggling to survive both on and off the field.
This latest set-back saw the Reds plummet to ninth spot in the Skrill Premier and they can now only finish eighth at best after being in a play-off spot for a large chunk of the season.
Meanwhile Hereford still have a chance of survival, but they will need to win at Aldershot Town on the final day and hope that Chester fail to beat Salisbury City.
One bright spot to emerge from Edgar Street was the display of teenage goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith, the Sheffield Wednesday loanee given his chance to shine and evoke memories of a young Adam Legzdins' heroic display that had kept Alfreton in a goal-less FA Cup tie at Hereford back in 2005.
Chris Westwood returned to the heart of the defence after a lengthy lay-off through injury with Bradley Wood not having travelled, while Tom Shaw was recalled to the starting line-up with Paul Clayton reverting to the bench.
The Reds began with promise and forged a seventh minute lead when Job Ayo Akinde swept the ball past keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston from 16 yards following a superb pass down the right by Andrai Jones.
Luke Graham's header from a Frankie Artus corner gave Wildsmith his first taste of action for the Reds, then a deep cross from Jarrod Bowen dipped on to the crossbar with the Reds' keeper covering its flight.
Daniel Meadows did his best to support lone striker Akinde, but failed to react positively when gifted the ball by Lloyd-Weston's poor 16th minute clearance, then three minutes later Meadows wasted a good chance from a shrewd Tom Shaw through-ball.
Hereford knew this was a game they simply could not afford to lose and began to gain enough confidence to be rewarded with a 29th minute equaliser, Kingsley James scoring from a tight angle from a Jamie Edge cross.
Four minutes later Josh Law's shot was blocked by Lloyd-Weston after Dan Bradley's through-ball had seen Akinde miskick in front of goal, then almost immediately at the other end Wildsmith superbly tipped over an extravagant overhead kick from former Alfreton striker Michael Rankine.
Edge fired over from 30 yards and Chris Bush saw his long range shot held by Wildsmith, who then had to make a reflex save from Sam Smith's downward header, but the first half ended with another squandered opportunity for Alfreton when Meadows failed to convert Bradley's cross from ten yards.
Within two minutes of the restart Wildsmith palmed away a stinging drive from Artus, having been put through by Bowen, then the busy keeper held a free header from Bowen rather more comfortably.
There was little he could do to prevent Dom Collins from giving Hereford a 61st minute lead with a header from a left-wing corner, which had occurred after Wildsmith had once again produced a top-drawer save from an Artus header.
A rare Reds' chance fell to Darran Kempson who headed Michael Hoganson's 66th minute corner beyond the back post, but five minutes later Hereford led 3-1 when Bowen hit the bulls-eye from ten yards with a volley from a James cross.
Alfreton tried to restore pride but Akinde fired tamely wide after creating an opening, then Akinde sent Shaun Harrad through only to see Rob Purdie's desperate tackle divert the ball behind, and Law's corner led to Bradley's shot being blocked.
Harrad did manage to give the home fans a nervous finale though when he scooped Akinde's 87th minute cross over Lloyd-Weston from six yards after stubbing his first attempt, but Alfreton failed to emulate last season's performance when they had come back from a two-goal deficit to draw 3-3 with two late goals.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Joe Wildsmith
25 Andrai Jones
21 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
07 Josh Law
06 Darran Kempson
04 Chris Westwood
10 Dan Bradley
08 Tom Shaw (23 Godfrey Poku, 63 mins)
18 Job Ayo Akinde
12 Daniel Meadows (24 Shaun Harrad, 63 mins)
26 Michael Hoganson
Substitutes not used:
03 Connor Franklin
09 Paul Clayton
15 Jon Worsnop
Hereford United Team:
21 Daniel Lloyd-Weston
07 Rob Purdie
03 Chris Bush
04 Kingsley James
06 Luke Graham
12 Dominic Collins
33 Billy Murphy (22 Jamie Edge, 28 mins)
16 Frankie Artus
11 Sam Smith
15 Michael Rankine (30 Cory Williams, 86 mins)
32 Jarrod Bowen (17 Jonathan Brown, 77 mins)
Substitutes not used:
09 Dan Walker
14 Joel Edwards
Hereford United - Kingsley James (29 mins), Dominic Collins (61 mins), Jarrod Bowen (71 mins)
Alfreton Town - Job Ayo Akinde (7 mins), Shaun Harrad (87 mins)
Hereford United - Jamie Edge (31 mins, foul on Tom Shaw), Chris Bush (53 mins, foul on Andrai Jones), Jarrod Bowen (72 mins, foul)
Attendance breakdown: 2,445 including 85 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Joe Wildsmith
Referee: Justin Amey