27 August 2011
Match picture album by Dave Pursglove here
ALFRETON Town's reshuffled side fell to a second successive heavy home defeat as a Jake Speight hat-trick took an impressive Wrexham to the top of the Blue Square Bet Premier Division.
An impressive Speight proved to be the difference between the sides with some clinical finishing in his hat-trick, but the Reds did have their opportunities during the course of the 90 minutes.
Already suffering with injuries to Anthony Wilson and Nathan Arnold, who each broke a metatarsal in the previous two games, manager Nicky Law's options were further reduced when son Josh pulled up with a groin strain in the warm-up and had to be replaced.
Defender Adie Hawes, making his first start of the season, was employed as a target man to add height up front but few chances emanated from this source.
The Reds began promisingly with Nathan Jarman's second minute shot from Paul Clayton's stooping header being held by Wrexham keeper Chris Maxwell.
Matt Wilson had to divert the ball behind for a corner following a dangerous run to the by-line by Speight, then on nine minutes Dan Lowson held a free header from Danny Wright following a James Tolley free-kick.
Wilson then volleyed over from 12 yards in receipt of a Leigh Franks through-ball in the 12th minute, but Wrexham took the lead 60 seconds later when Speight curled the ball out of Lowson's reach and into the far corner of the net after cutting in from Maxwell's clearance.
Maxwell had to punch clear an awkward Franks cross from the right, then Franks had to head behind at the other end after Speight had again caused problems for the Reds' defence.
Alfreton deservedly drew level in the 21st minute when Nathan Jarman converted his second penalty in successive games, this being the Reds' fourth spot-kick in their opening five outings although two were missed in the first half at Hayes & Yeading on the opening day.
Clayton had been impeded by Nathaniel Knight-Percival just inside the area and Jarman's firmly struck penalty gave Maxwell little chance, then two openings came for Alfreton just short of the half-hour mark.
First of all Jordan Hall, who had been drafted into the starting line-up following Law's injury, embarked on a long central run before delivering a stifled shot that was held by Maxwell.
Then the visiting keeper kicked the ball straight to Clayton, and his shot fizzed inches past the back post from the edge of the area as Maxwell breathed a sigh of relief.
Neil Ashton's cross had to be headed out of the area by both Connor Franklin and Wilson, but Tolley still managed to fire at goal from 20 yards with the target almost attained.
Lowson just managed a vital touch as Knight-Percival attempted to play Ashton through, then Wrexham regained the lead with 32 minutes on the clock when Speight ran along the edge of area before firing low into the corner of the net.
Two minutes later Knight-Percival scooped over from 12 yards from a Tolley free-kick, then Speight threatened again but dragged his shot wide after cutting in.
Lowson made a brilliant save four minutes before the scheduled break after Tolley had teed up a free-kick for Knight-Percival to hammer from 22 yards, then a foul by Levi Mackin on Tolley led to a brawl and cautions for both players.
Having signalled three minutes of added time referee Ross Joyce mystified everybody by extending the first half into its 53rd minute, during which time Clayton's overhead kick from a Franklin cross had to be beaten out for a corner by Maxwell.
Four minutes after the restart Speight was denied by the inside of the post with a drive from just outside the area, then the hungry striker squandered a better chance in the 53rd minute.
Speight's hat-trick arrived four minutes later though from the penalty spot after Anton Brown had checked Ashton at the by-line, with Lowson unable to prevent the Welshmen from establishing a 3-1 lead.
Clayton went down under a 58th minute challenge from Mark Creighton, but penalty appeals were brushed aside, then moments later a long throw from Franks led to Clayton's close range header being held by Maxwell.
Jamie Mullan was unfortunate when he cut in from the left only to see his shot deflect off Creighton to be easily gathered by Maxwell, then a similar move in response saw Mathias Pogba's shot saved by Lowson.
Clayton's 81st minute pull-back saw Mullan fire over from 15 yards, then Brown's header was held from Hall's cross, but Pogba completed the scoring in the last minute when he fired through a ruck of players from 12 yards from Speight's by-line pull-back.
Alfreton did enough to suggest that they will pick up points in due course having at times put the title contenders under pressure, prompting Wrexham manager and former Derby County striker Dean Saunders to reiterate those points to Nicky Law after the game.
Attendance: 1,165 including 445 from Wrexham
Alfreton Town - Nathan Jarman (20, penalty)
Wrexham - Jake Speight (13, 32 and penalty 56), Mathias Pogba (90)
Alfreton Town - Anton Brown (23, foul on Curtis Obeng), Leigh Franks (34, foul on Jake Speight), Levi Mackin (44, unsporting behaviour), Matt Wilson 78, foul on Adrian Cieslewicz)
Wrexham - James Tolley (44 unsporting behaviour), Lee Fowler(86 unsporting behaviour)
Alfreton Town Team:
Dan Lowson, Jordan Hall, Connor Franklin, Theo Streete ©, Matt Wilson, Anton Brown, Paul Clayton (Chris Senior 90), Leigh Franks, Nathan Jarman (Jamie Mullan 61), Levi Mackin, Adie Hawes (James Ellison).
Substitutes not used: Jake Moult, Greg Young
21 Chris Maxwell, 2 Curtis Obeng, 3 Neil Ashtonb, 4 Mark Creighton, 6 Jay Harris, 20 Nat Knight-Percival, 8 Lee Fowler, 9 Danny Wright (Mathias Pogba 62), 10 Jake Speight (Gareth Taylor 90), 11 Andy Morrell (c) (Adrian Cieslewicz 61), 18 James Tolley.
Substitutes not used: 12 Dean Keates, 26 Joe Clarke.
Man of the Match: Leigh Franks
Referee: Mr Ross Joyce of Middlesbrough