28 February 2015
Dave Purglove's match picture album here
Alfreton Town's vital win at AFC Telford United - a first ever for the Reds at Telford - has hoisted them two places clear of the Vanarama Conference relegation zone for the first time since September 20th.
What made the win all the more satisfactory was the Reds' awful scoring record at the New Buck's Head, where they had previously mustered just one goal - from defender Scott Garner in a 2-1 defeat during the 2010-11 season - and this time right-back and skipper Luke Graham's 57th minute goal proved decisive.
Simon Lenighan was given his first start in midfield for the trip to Shropshire, with Andi Thanoj recalled to the starting line-up, whilst Anthony Howell and the suspended Niall Heaton made way for the pair.
Aaron Bentley and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner were at the hub of the back four, with Bradley Wood switched to left-back, where he slotted in with ease.
John Johnston's strongly hit eighth minute corner had to be retrieved by Bentley well beyond the back post, but from his cross Rowe-Turner found space to power a header inches wide.
Bentley was soon involved at the other end as well, tackling positively on the edge of the area as Tony Gray latched on to a loose ball, then Reds' keeper Jason Mooney punched clear John Disney's 11th minute driven cross under pressure.
Five minutes later Gray's cross from the left edge of the area found Mike Grogan and Wood vying for the ball in front of goal, with the latter attaining the touch that diverted it behind for a corner.
A long, promising run by Johnston, that had stemmed from a Wood clearance, ended disappointingly with a shot over the bar with Telford's defence at full stretch, then on 21 minutes Thanoj found Dan Bradley, who sent Johnston down the right and Joe lronside just failed to make a clean contact at the near post.
Danny Ventre's 32nd minute free-kick found Neill Byrne, who headed wide as Mooney attempted to punch clear and missed, although to be fair it was the only occasion during the 90 minutes that the visiting keeper had shown weakness.
Thanoj's attempt from 25 yards went close from Johnston's pass, then Johnston tried to lob Freddy Hall from lronside's astute clip through, but the home keeper managed to take the sting out of the ball and Byrne was able to hack clear.
Two minutes after the break Karl Hawley fired at the keeper from 16 yards following a delayed Wood throw that was helped on by lronside, then seven minutes later Thanoj's angled drive was held low by Hall after playing a neat one-two with Hawley.
The goal that separated the two teams arrived 12 minutes into the second half and stemmed from a Johnston corner that was headed back to him meekly by Ventre, Johnston's subsequent cross headed firmly past Hall by Graham from six yards out and level with the back post.
Sean Clancy headed over from Ventre's 66th minute corner, then nine minutes later Mooney restored confidence after a shaky game against Aldershot Town seven days earlier with a superb diving save to thwart Clancy after a wayward pass from Hawley.
Manager Nicky Law introduced Joe Leesley to the fray with seven minutes remaining, asking him to make a third front-runner as Alfreton tried to consolidate their lead rather than sit on it.
And it nearly reaped immediate dividends with Hall having to palm behind Leesley's shot, then the keeper had to save from lronside with his legs at his near post after Byrne had blocked the striker's initial shot from Leesley's through-ball.
Leesley was then sent through by Thanoj, forcing another block from Hall before Glenn Matthews threw himself in front of lronside's follow-up, but deep into added time Clancy missed a gilt-edged chance for Telford to snatch an equaliser when he screwed his shot wide from ten yards after turning to control Ventre's cross.
Alfreton Town Team:
20 Jason Mooney
02 Bradley Wood
05 Luke Graham
29 Aaron Bentley
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
25 Simon Lenighan
10 Dan Bradley
21 Andi Thanoj
23 Karl Hawley
18 Joe Ironside
27 John Johnston (24 Joe Leesley, 83 mins)
Substitutes not used:
04 Duane Courtney
08 Lee Stevenson
11 Anthony Howell
12 Tom Shaw
AFC Telford United Team:
25 Freddy Hall
23 John Disney
03 Ben McLaughlin (26 Glen Matthews, 19 mins)
04 Neill Byrne
27 Ian Sharps
24 Danny Ventre
20 Godfrey Poku
10 Tony Gray
18 Sam Smith
29 Ross Dyer (11 Sean Clancy, 61 mins)
06 Michael Grogan (09 Adam Farrell, 61 mins)
Substitutes not used:
22 Jack Rea
28 Callum Preston
Alfreton Town - Luke Graham (57 mins)
AFC Telford United - Danny Ventre and Adam Farrell
Alfreton Town - Jason Mooney
Attendance breakdown: 1,561 including 93 from Alfreton
Man of the Match: Tbc
Referee: Steven Rushton