24 January 2012
Dave Pursglove's Bath City match picture album here
Alfreton Town clambered out of the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation zone for the first time this season, despite a below-par performance at basement club Bath City on Tuesday night.
It was very much a case of the hosts losing this vital six-pointer at Twerton Park rather than the Reds meriting a 3-0 win, but the points were gladly accepted after Adam Connolly's own goal had opened the scoring on 17 minutes and City had been reduced to nine men in the 59th minute.
And it was once again keeper Dan Lowson with a trio of magnificent first half saves that had undoubtedly kept Alfreton in the driving seat on a very mild night in Somerset.
Both full-backs Josh Law and Connor Franklin were rested, with Theo Streete reverting to right-back and Greg Young occupying the left-back berth as Leigh Franks finally re-appeared at the heart of the defence with his first start of 2012 after injury.
Anton Brown had recovered sufficiently from a bout of flu, while Anthony Wilson was soon in action with a fourth minute back header from a Young corner being held by keeper Glyn Garner after the striker had been recalled to replace the suspended Louis Moult.
A timely tackle by Jake Moult halted Alex Russell's by-line progress four minutes later, then in a similar move at the other end Garner blocked Nathan Arnold's angled drive after Nathan Jarman had played him to the by-line.
Moult's 13th minute header back across goal from a Jamie Mullan pass was cleared by Andy Gallinagh, then two minutes later Mullan latched on to a loose ball but dragged his shot tamely wide.
On the balance of play to that point the Reds deserved their 17th minute lead, and it was a classic sucker punch to savour after Bath had been seduced by a handful of Young's medium length throws.
Franks had missed so many games that the hosts had probably not picked up on his throwing powers and when he launched the ball deep into the six-yard box at the first opportunity their defence was so confused that Connolly could only deflect the ball into his own net with his midriff virtually on the goal-line.
However instead of pushing forward Alfreton were pegged back as the Romans realised they had to recover the situation and a dangerous run by Scott Murray needed an incisive tackle from Young, then Murray saw his 33rd minute shot blocked by Adam Quinn.
Streete could only clear the ensuing corner as far as Russell on the edge of the area and his powerful volley was expertly tipped over by Lowson, who then proceeded to deny Murray by leaping full-stretch to his left to claw away a goalbound shot.
If the first two saves had been remarkable then the third was extraordinary, as skipper Gethin Jones looked certain to score with an angled header on the stroke of half-time, but the Reds' keeper again managed to divert the ball away at the last moment.
Jarman again played Arnold to the by-line in the 51st minute, and the latter then fired well wide after embarking on a central run to the edge of the area, but the story of the game revolved around a 58th minute incident that took so long to sort out that six minutes stoppage time was needed.
It was Jones' two-footed lunge on Anton Brown that brought him a straight red, very much in the style that Louis Moult had been sent off against Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday.
After the customary scuffle Sean Canham completely lost the plot, and ultimately any chance of any points for Bath, when he appeared to throw the ball at the referee before taking a swing at Franks and he too was dismissed.
Full credit to City though who pushed forward despite their depletion in numbers, but Lowson was never seriously tested again, but there was growing impatience from Alfreton fans as well because they could not consolidate their advantage straight away.
Eventually though after several corners and a shot into the side-netting by Arnold, the Reds did settle the issue after Garner had impeded Jarman at the back post from an 88th minute Law corner which had been the substitute's first kick of the game.
Up stepped Jarman for his sixth penalty success that took his goal tally to 13 for the season, then in the 90th minute Craig Clay became the fourth Alfreton player of the 2011/12 campaign to score on his debut when he converted Arnold's cross from six yards.
Alfreton Town Team:
Dan Lowson, Leigh Franks, Adam Quinn, Greg Young, Anton Brown, Jamie Mullan (Josh Law 86), Jake Moult (Craig Clay 75), Theo Streete, Nathan Arnold, Anthony Wilson (Paul Clayton 63), Nathan Jarman.
Substitutes not used: Connor Franklin, Matt Wilson
Bath City Team:
Glyn Garner, Sekani Simpson, Gethin Jones, Scott Murray, Adam Connolly, Lewis Hogg (Lee Phillips 49), Marc Canham, Joe Burnell, Alex Russell, Andy Gallinagh, Sean Canham.
Substitutes not used: Paul Stonehouse, Jim Rolo, Jamie Cook, Mark Preece.
Alfreton Town - Adam Connolly (17, own goal), Nathan Jarman (88, penalty), Craig Clay (90)
Bath City - Lewis Hogg 46, Scott Murray 60
Alfreton Town - Nathan Jarman 56, Paul Clayton 65, Adam Quinn 83
Bath City - Gethin Jones (59), Sean Canham (59).
Man of the Match: Dan Lowson
Referee: Mr Stephen Bratt of Walsall