A hat-trick by new striker Job Ayo Akinde sealed Alfreton Town’s best ever start to a Conference Premier campaign when they hosted Salisbury City on Saturday.
Even though the season is only three games old the Reds can bask in the glory of fifth spot in the Skrill Premier, just one point behind the leaders in their highest ever position.
However Alfreton had to come back from conceding the first goal of the game after 33 minutes and were made to work hard for the points, but they dug in to overcome their opponents with some resilient defending, especially after Salisbury had scored late in the game to set up a nervy conclusion.
John McGrath blazed over for the Reds from the edge of the area in the third minute, then three minutes later Connor Franklin squandered a clear shooting chance from Bradley Wood’s through-ball by opting to pass to the off-side Dan Bradley.
Nick Fenton had to intercept as Warren Feeney tried to pick out Dan Fitchett in a dangerous City attack, then Reds’ keeper Ross Atkins failed to clear on the edge of the area as Fitchett ran through but was rescued by the alert Wood.
The game was somewhat flat compared to the high-tempo midweek win over Kidderminster Harriers, but Salisbury’s goal 12 minutes before half-time livened up proceedings, with Theo Lewis converting Ricky Wellard’s by-line cross from close range.
Akinde glanced a header wide from a Wood cross, but soon found himself on the score-sheet with a 39th minute equaliser when Josh Law’s free-kick found a way through the wall and sat up invitingly for the striker to stroke home left-footed from eight yards.
The half concluded on a controversial note with referee Christopher Kavanagh pointing to the spot after Law had been brought down by Luke Ruddick, only to notice his assistant poised with flag aloft for an off-side decision.
Two minutes after the break Atkins held Chris McPhee’s 22 yarder, then Lewis played Fitchett through to miss by the narrowest of margins.
Akinde failed from eight yards from a Franklin cross in the 56th minute, but only had to wait a further seven minutes to edge Alfreton ahead with his second goal - a header from eight yards after Wood’s probing long throw could only be dealt with by City skipper Glenn Wilson sending a looping header into Akinde’s path.
Franklin’s decisive tackle prevented a 75th minute equaliser as Fitchett played Lewis menacingly through, but three minutes later Alfreton led 3-1 as Akinde completed his treble with an absolute gift.
Paul Clayton flicked the ball through with the intention of feeding his strike partner, but keeper Will Puddy and Callum Hart left the decision to each other as the ball bounced on the edge of the area and suddenly Akinde was confronted with an open goal to slot into.
Atkins did well to catch Ben Wright’s shot that cannoned off Fenton, but Salisbury reduced the deficit with a minute of normal time remaining when Wright smashed a free-kick home from 25 yards after Bradley had impeded Elliott Frear unnecessarily.
In added time Atkins produced the save of the afternoon to deny the Wiltshire visitors by stretching to tip over a curling shot from Frear that looked destined to succeed.
ALFRETON: Atkins; Wood, Fenton, Westwood, Franklin, Law, Shaw [Meadows 87], Bradley, McGrath, Clayton [Wishart 87], Akinde.
Subs not used: Kempson, Ramsey-Dickson, Taylor. Att: 463.