20 December 2014
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Alfreton Town's three-game winning resurgence was ended in abrupt fashion in their last game before Christmas and left the Reds in relegation trouble going into the festive fixtures.
The Reds simply threw away an early one-goal lead, trailed 3-1 at the break against a Macclesfield side who looked dangerous throughout going forward, conceded two more in the second half and had keeper George Willis to thank for saving a penalty mid-way through the second period.
Two of the goals came from unfortunate unforced errors, but the visitors - who look to be serious contenders for a play-off spot on this showing - were in the mood to take full and ruthless advantage of all slip-ups.
Manager Nicky Law stayed with the same starting line-up that had won at Lincoln in the FA Trophy the week before and the hosts got off to a good start, winning a corner within 58 seconds that was eventually cleared.
As Macclesfield returned fire, Lathaniel Rowe-Turner did well to step in and cut out a Chris Holdroyd cut-back from the right by-line.
Alfreton took the lead on eight minutes when Bradley Wood rifled home from the penalty spot after Andy Halls brought down Dan Bradley in full flow to end a surging 30 yard run into the visiting 18 yard box.
Rowe-Turner did well again to shut out Waide Fairhurst down the right and then from a Paul Turnbull free-kick Matthew Barnes-Homer miskicked 12 yards out.
It was short relief though as the visitors equalised on 17 minutes. Former Reds trialist Barnes-Homer was picked out by a through-ball from Scott Barrow which cut the Reds defence wide open and George Willis was beaten on his front post by an angled shot from six yards.
Macclesfield almost went in front three minutes later when Holroyd again cut the ball back and Barnes-Homer’s shot missed the far post by inches as the Silkmen began to make inroads down Alfreton’s left.
Cliff Byrne then came to Alfreton’s rescue when he headed a Paul Turnbull corner clear after home keeper Willis had come for and missed the ball into his area.
And as the visitors continued to press, Holroyd fired another good chance into the side netting.
An unlucky defensive error ended with Macclesfield taking a 2-1 lead on 27 minutes. Cliff Byrne slid in to try and halt another visiting raid but only succeeded in putting the ball into the path of the unmarked Waide Fairhurst who squared for the even more unmarked Barnes-Homer to steer his second of the game past the despairing dive of Willis.
Alfreton responded with a neat passing move through midfield but after Rowe-Turner burst in from the left, he ran the ball out of play with players waiting in the middle.
Macclesfield took advantage of a very unfortunate slip by Tom Shaw to go 3-1 up on 36 minutes as Danny Whitaker picked up possession out wide left and quickly took advantage of a retreating home rearguard to advance and crack home a superb 25 yarder to underline his side’s attacking superiority.
Alfreton hit back to win a corner and from Tom Shaw’s inswinging flag-kick, the visitors got another touch for a second corner which was easily cleared.
The Reds built a smattering of momentum to the half-time whistle and Karl Hawley brought a low save from Rhys Taylor
As with the first half, Alfreton began the second period on the front foot but still struggled to prise open a well drilled visiting defence.
However, the first chance went to Macclesfield with skipper Turnbull snatching at a good chance and firing well wide of the far post.
Reds boss Nicky Law made the first change of other game when he fetched his defensive holding midfielder Bradley Wood off for striker Paul Clayton. Wood had insisted on playing despite suffering from a stomach upset. It finally got the better of him.
The visitors moved out of sight with a fourth goal on 59 minutes. Whitaker got in behind the defence on the left, George Willis produced a great save to keep out a Fairhurst shot but the rebound unfortunately fell kindly for Chris Holroyd to steer into the bottom corner from ten yards out.
Two minutes later Alfreton failed to clear their lines and Willis was grateful to see Halls steer his shot straight at him.
John Johnstone became the first player into the referee’s book for bringing down Adriano Moke as he burst down the left.
George Pilkington stormed across to put the ball out for a throw-in and end a storming 40 yard run from Dan Bradley down the Reds’ left but the visitors looked increasingly dangerous on the counter.
George Willis produced a very good save to deny the Silkmen a fifth as he superbly saved a 68th minute penalty from a well-struck Fairhurst penalty after Duane Courtney brought down Barnes-Homer. Courtney received a yellow card for his misdemeanour.
Dan Bradley went close for the Reds with a fizzing 18 yarder going narrowly past the post after which Clayton got onto a long ball and flicked on but Hawley was unable to collect under pressure.
Alfreton had plenty of possession but tellingly lacked the final cutting edge and pass in and around the penalty area.
Cliff Byrne rescued a stranded Willis by reacting sharply to cut out a Barnes-Homer cut-back from the left byline at the expense of a corner from which the Reds broke through Johnstone who, not for the first time, lost his footing at the end of a promising run.
Macclesfield concluded their scoring at 5-1 on 82 minutes after Rowe-Turner cheaply lost possession on the half-way line and the visitors once again broke with speed, the move ending with a low cross from Halls on the right turned in at close range by Denny Johnstone.
Willis prevented a sixth with a low save to hold onto a strong downward header from Pilkington before Bradley fired narrowly wide and was then dispossessed at the end of another long run into the area before he blazed wildly over just before the final whistle.
Alfreton Town Team:
01 George Willis
26 Cliff Byrne
04 Duane Courtney
05 Luke Graham (c)
03 Lathaniel Rowe-Turner
02 Bradley Wood (09 Paul Clayton, 54 mins)
27 John Johnston (07 Nathan Hicks, 89 mins)
12 Tom Shaw (14 Jake Sheridan, 71 mins)
10 Dan Bradley
11 Anthony Howell
23 Karl Hawley
Substitutes not used:
15 Jordan Keane
24 Carl Lamb
Macclesfield Town Team:
01 Rhys Taylor
02 Andy Halls
05 George Pilkington
31 Liam Hogan
03 Scott Barrow
09 Chris Holroyd
06 Paul Turnbull (c)
23 Danny Whitaker
11 Adriano Moke
29 Matthew Barnes-Homer
10 Waide Fairhurst (32 Denny Johnstone, 77 mins)
Substitutes not used:
12 Daniel Cowan
14 Arthur Gnahoua
20 Ritchie Branagan
28 Alex Grant
Alfreton Town – Bradley Wood (8, penalty)
Macclesfield Town – Matthew Barnes-Homer (17 & 27), Danny Whitaker (36), Chris Holdroyd (55), Denny Johnstone (82)
Alfreton Town – John Johnstone (60 mins, foul on Adriano Moke), Duane Courtney (67 mins, foul on Matthew Barnes-Homer)
Man of the Match: Dan Bradley
Referee: Jason Whiteley of Leeds