09 April 2016
Match picture album courtesy of Bill Wheatcroft here
Match picture album courtesy of Anthony Siddall here
Alfreton Town made it back-to-back 3-2 wins as they came from behind to deservedly see off high-flying Harrogate Town at the Impact Arena.
Victory brought a first home win in six outings for Nicky Law’s side, a run stretching back to January 23rd when Chorley were defeated 1-0. It also meant the Reds had recorded a league double over Harrogate.
Alfreton began well but found themselves behind to a Jordan Thewlis strike on 32 minutes but the Reds went in level thanks to Todd Jordan heading home a Joe Leesley free kick a minute into added time at the end of the first half.
After that it was almost all Alfreton as they produced a powerful all-round display and carved out several chances.
The Reds went in front on 49 minutes when Sam Jones stabbed in another precision Leesley delivery from the left and it was Leesley who set up the third on 74 minutes with Jamie Jackson swooping to net from close range after Leesley's shot was only parried by visiting keeper Peter Crook.
The visitors reduced the arrears through a Brendan Daniels close range finish two minutes later but Alfreton could and should have made victory more comfortable with several more chances going untaken.
Manager Nicky Law brought leading scorer Sam Jones straight back into the side after a three-match suspension at the expense of Jamie McDonagh who dropped to the bench and Joe Doyle was ruled out altogether with a minor injury.
Also out with injury was former Reds striker Liam Hearn who failed a late fitness test for Harrogate and another ex Reds striker, Paul Clayton had to be content with a place on the visiting bench although he did end up playing 80 minutes and received a great reception when he came on.
Alfreton won the first corner of the game within 30 seconds when Dan Bradley’s left flank cross was blocked away and from the flag kick visiting keeper Peter Crook didn’t make the ball and Bradley had a shot blocked at close quarters.
In the next Reds raid Lindon Meikle almost got Sam Jones free but Lewis Turner got across to clear.
At the other end, Matt Duke comfortably held a Brendan Daniels free kick from 20 yards out wide as Harrogate.
Harrogate Town had to make an injury-enforced change after just ten minutes when Andy Gascoigne was replaced by former Reds favourite Clayton who received warm applause all around the ground.
Sam Jones forced Alfreton’s second corner of the game on 14 minutes from which Dan Bradley collected the half-cleared ball but blazed his shot well wide.
Niall Heaton required treatment after being caught in the head by a high boot from Joe Colbeck and from the resultant free kick from Andi Thanoj the ball arrowed straight into the arms of Crook.
Sam Jones created himself a yard of space and burst forward before letting fly with a low shot which was comfortably saved by Crook.
Referee Cooke inexplicably failed to produce a yellow card for Lloyd Kerry on 22 minutes after the Harrogate man produced a rash challenge on Cliff Moyo but then booked Paul Thirlwell for a foul on Bradley right on the edge of the penalty area on 25 minutes.
Thanoj’s free kick flicked off the end of the wall for another Reds corner.
Joe Colbeck was booked for belting the ball away after the whistle had already gone for an Alfreton free kick then Dan Bradley was yellow carded for simulation after going over at the end of a run into the Harrogate penalty area.
Harrogate went in front on 32 minutes when Paul Clayton turned Julian Banton on the right side of the penalty area and slid the ball into the path of Jordan Thewlis who side-stepped last defender Cecil Nyoni and rolled the ball into the far corner from ten yards out.
Todd Jordan became the next player to be yellow carded on 35 minutes after pulling Thewlis back down the left side of the penalty area as Harrogate sought to build on their lead.
Clayton missed a golden chance to double Harrogate’s lead when he put a free header wide of Matt Duke’s left-hand post from six yards out as he latched onto a raking right flank cross from Lewis Turner.
However, that was all but the last serious threat from the visitors and Alfreton equalised on 45+1 minutes when Todd Jordan headed home a superb curling free kick from Leesley from close range at the far post.
The second half began with a Jordan foul on Clayton 20 yards out but from Daniels’ free kick, Bradley got a head on it to deflect the ball for a corner which came to nothing.
Alfreton then went ahead on 49 minutes. A long goal kick from Matt Duke went right through to Leesley down the left and from his low, quality ball in Sam Jones stabbed the ball home from close range for his 17th goal of the season in all competitions.
Minutes later Harrogate keeper Crook parried away a driven Leesley shot from the left then a dangerous ball in from the right by Bradley was eventually cleared away.
Lewis Turner was then booked for a rash challenge on Leesley on 55 minutes before Bradley unleashed a 25 yarder which brought a fine diving save from Crook.
The Reds made the first change of the game on 61 minutes with Jamie Jackson replacing Lindon Meikle before another quality Leesley cross saw Jackson unable to guide his header on target then Bradley fired a shot straight at Crook.
Harrogate made their first change with Jack Emmett coming on for Joe Colbeck on 66 minutes.
Jordan produced a great block to stop a Tom Platt shot just inside the penalty area after another nice lay off from Clayton but it was 3-1 on 74 minutes when Leesley cut inside and unleashed a shot which Crook could only parry and Jackson swooped to net the loose ball from almost on the line.
Harrogate cut the deficit to 3-2 two minutes later when Daniels swept the ball home to finish a cut back from the byline by Emmett.
Julian Banton was then booked for a foul on the lively Emmett.
Leesley unfortunately chose the wrong decision when he over-hit a cross with Bradley free at the far post then Louis Swain blocked a Bradley shot on the line.
The visitors made their final change with Mason Warren replacing Thewlis on 82 minutes but the visitors had another let off on 87 when Swain cleared from Bradley again from another Leesley run and cross from the left.
Harrogate’s misery was complete on 90 minutes when Daniels got a free kick completely wrong, scooping his 25 yard effort miles over the top of the home bar.
However, for all of Alfreton’s superiority, it still took a fantastic last gasp save from Matt Duke to ensure all three points as he went full length to tip over a glancing Danny Ellis header from a Warren cross which looked destined for the top left corner.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 Matt Duke
02 Cliff Moyo
03 Julian Banton
04 Todd Jordan
05 Niall Heaton
06 Cecil Nyoni
07 Joe Leesley
09 Sam Jones
10 Lindon Meikle
11 Dan Bradley (c)
Substitutes not used:
Harrogate Town Team:
01 Peter Crook
02 Lewis Turner
03 Louis Swain
04 Lloyd Kerry
05 Dave Ellis (c)
06 Paul Thirlwell
07 Joe Colbeck (Jack Emmett, 66 mins)
08 Andy Gascoigne (Paul Clayton, 10 mins)
09 Jordan Thewlis (Mason Warren, 82)
10 Tom Platt
11 Brendan Daniels
Substitutes not used:
Alfreton Town – Todd Jordan (45+1), Sam Jones (49), Jamie Jackson (74)
Harrogate Town – Jordan Thewlis (32), Brendan Daniels (76)
Alfreton Town – Dan Bradley (28, simulation), Todd Jordan (35, foul on Jordan Thewlis), Julian Banton (78 foul on Jack Emmett) Harrogate Town – Paul Thirlwell (25, foul on Dan Bradley), Joe Colbeck (27, unsporting behaviour), Lewis Turner (55 mins, foul on Joe Leesley)
Man of the Match: Joe Leesley
Referee: Ben Cooke of Atherstone