07 March 2015
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Alfreton Town’s Vanarama Conference survival bid gained more momentum after the Reds deservedly beat Kidderminster Harriers 2-0 at the Impact Arena.
The Reds scored once in each half and could have had a bigger victory margin as chances were created throughout the game, particularly in the closing stages when they were unlucky not to add to their final tally against a Harriers side who are now winless in six league games and have not scored in their last four outings.
A measure of Alfreton’s improvement in fortunes over the past couple of weeks is that this success made it back-to-back wins with clean sheets in both games for the first time this season.
The victory also pushed Nicky Law’s side four points clear of the relegation zone and it remained that way after nearest rivals Welling United lost 1-0 at home to Altrincham in Sunday’s only league fixture.
Manager Nicky Law made just one change to the side which had won at AFC Telford United the week before with central defender Callum Howe returning to the side in place of Aaron Bentley, the Plymouth Argyle left-back ruled out through injury.
The first chance of the clash fell to Kidderminster striker Danny Wright on three minutes but he scuffed his effort from the edge of the penalty area and then put a header from a right flank cross well wide.
Karl Hawley’s persistence won the first corner of the game on seven minutes for Alfreton and John Johnston’s flag kick went through a crowded area, taking a deflection for a second corner.
Callum Gittings was only inches away from giving the Harriers the lead on nine minutes, his thumping effort from 22 yards flashing past Jason Mooney’s right-hand post.
Alfreton then had keeper Mooney to thank for a smart save low down after some lovely control by veteran striker Lee Hughes enabled him to get a shot away from around the penalty spot.
The Reds broke instantly and took the lead on 12 minutes. From Mooney’s clearance, Karl Hawley’s persistence enabled him to get around the back of Josh Gowling and his pull back fell into the path of John Johnston who netted a superbly steered shot into the far corner from eight yards out.
Joe Ironside then burst inbetween two visiting defenders but was denied a shot as Harriers keeper Danny Lewis came out sharply to snatch the ball up.
Alfreton threatened through Johnston again down the right and from his low cross, Hawley got across his defender but could only divert his shot into the waiting arms of Lewis.
Bradley Wood injured a knee after a bruising 50/50 clash in midfield before Dan Bradley had a strong shot charged down as the Reds went in search of a second goal.
After treatment, Wood was replaced by Duane Courtney who slotted in seamlessly at left back.
Callum Howe produced a powerful block clearance to stop Danny Wright from breaking into the home area before Kidderminster’s chance from a 30 yard free kick was badly wasted as Aman Verma’s effort sailed yards wide and high.
Twice in quick succession Harriers keeper Danny Lewis had to race out to fly-hack clear as Joe Ironside threatened to break through the middle then Johnston created a chance for Bradley who dragged his second shot wide after having his first one blocked at close quarters deep inside the penalty area.
Kidderminster had big shouts for a penalty after the ball appeared to strike an Alfreton arm waived away by referee Karl Evans on 43 minutes. It was one of a series of puzzling decisions by the match official which perplexed management, players and fans of both sides throughout the game.
The final attack of the half came from Kidderminster with a left flank cross from Jake Green ending with Wright getting up highest but glancing his header well beyond the far post.
Kidderminster made a change at half-time with central defender Jordan Tunnicliffe replaced by Kevin Nicholson and the visitors made a bright start to the second half as a strong run down the right by Jared Hodgkiss earned Kiddy their second corner of the game, his cross deflecting off Lathaniel Rowe-Turner.
An ambitious cross-cum-shot from substitute Nicholson caught on the wind and Mooney had to be alert to hold it on his front post before Nicholson delivered a quality low free kick from the right which thankfully no-one got a touch on and it rolled through to Mooney.
As Alfreton began to respond, Johnston’s trickery won a corner on Alfreton’s right from which Luke Graham clipped a shot over the bar.
At the other end Callum Howe got in two timely blocks to deny firstly Hughes and then Wright as Kidderminster continued to ask questions of the home defence.
However, Joe Ironside went close to increasing the Reds’ lead on 62 minutes. He wriggled past two defenders in the box, turned back on himself and got in a curling shot from 12 yards which was kept out by a fine diving save from Lewis.
Ironside then found himself replaced on 64 minutes by Anthony Howell who partnered Hawley up front.
Callum Gittings wasted a good chance to equalise on 68 minutes, he connected with a low Hughes cross from the right but skied his shot way over the bar at the far post.
The miss proved costly for the visitors as Alfreton doubled their lead on 70 minutes. A low ball in from Andi Thanoj from a free kick on the left ended with Hawley’s stooping in a crowded area to glance a header into the far corner for 2-0 and his ninth league goal of the campaign.
Harriers continued to pepper the home penalty area with deep crosses but the home defence, in which every man put in a solid shift, stood firm and were never in any serious danger.
Hawley cut in from the right but his low shot was easily saved by Lewis before substitute Joe Leesley – on for Johnston – despatched a firm 30 yarder which was well smothered by Lewis.
Leesley was inches away from adding a third in the first minute of stoppage time, after turning inside his marker his shot flashed past the far post.
Kidderminster’s Nicholson then spurned a very good chance for a Harriers consolation when he lashed a left footed shot past the far post but it was the hosts who finished on the front foot and
Dan Bradley emulated Leesley’s earlier effort with a firm shot narrowly missing the target.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Jason Mooney
05 Luke Graham
28 Callum Howe
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
02 Bradley Wood (04 Duane Courtney, 28 mins)
27 John Johnston (24 Joe Leesley, 75 mins)
21 Andi Thanoj
10 Dan Bradley
25 Simon Lenighan
18 Joe Ironside (11 Anthony Howell, 64 mins)
23 Karl Hawley
Substitutes not used:
08 Lee Stevenson
12 Tom Shaw
Kidderminster Harriers Team:
01 Danny Lewis
30 Josh Gowling
02 Jared Hodgkiss
25 Jordan Tunnicliffe (28 Kevin Nicholson, h/t)
15 Jamie Grimes
03 Jake Green
07 Jack Byrne
17 Aman Verma
18 Callum Gittings (23 Keyon Reffell 72)
09 Danny Wright (27 Dominic Knowles, 60)
35 Lee Hughes
Substitutes not used:
10 Craig Reid
29 Akwasi Asante
Alfreton Town – John Johnston (12), Karl Hawley (70)
Alfreton Town – None
Kidderminster Harriers – Keyon Reffell (foul on Karl Hawley, 74)
Man of the Match: Karl Hawley
Referee: Karl Evans of Wigan