Alfreton Town pulled off their most impressive result of the season at second placed Cambridge United on Tuesday night to send shock waves through the Conference Premier’s upper echelon.
Not a particularly great match but a huge win with Bradley Wood’s 25th minute goal separating the teams as Alfreton picked up a third win from four visits to the Abbey Stadium.
Manager Nicky Law reverted to a familiar 4-4-2 formation with Shaun Harrad available after missing the Salisbury trip, while Tom Shaw returned to the bench, but it still needed a defensive performance to restrict United to a handful of chances.
The goal was set up by
Godfrey Poku, whose rasping drive from 20 yards cannoned off Job Ayo Akinde to leave Wood with a reasonably simple conversion at the back post, the only previous chance for the Reds having seen Harrad have a shot from 18 yards eight minutes earlier saved by keeper Will Norris.
Former Alfreton triallist Matthew Barnes-Homer chipped the ball onto the roof of Jon Worsnop’s net in the seventh minute, with the Reds’ keeper comfortably holding a low drive from Tom Elliott three minutes later.
Worsnop then saved Liam Hughes’ powerful header just after the goal, before producing a point-blank save to deny Luke Berry after being played through by Elliott in the 33rd minute.
Five minutes into the second half Wood’s deep free-kick almost lured Greg Taylor into slicing the ball past his own keeper, but he escaped with a corner, then within three minutes at the other end Cambridge squandered their clearest chance of the game when Barnes-Homer blazed wide from six yards from a right-wing corner.
Then on 57 minutes Akinde was suddenly presented with a clear opening after United skipper Ian Miller misjudged Wood’s through-ball before sprawling injured inside the area, but the striker obviously had not realised just how much time and space he had and his snatched shot was gathered by Norris.
Alfreton were forced onto the back foot as Cambridge pressed incessantly, but there was no cutting edge to their attacks and the Reds’ defence was able to cope adequately.
Four minutes from time Poku was poleaxed by the strength of Berry’s shot, but was still able to block the follow-up from former Alfreton player Nathan Arnold, despite still being grounded.
Injury concerns surrounded Chris Westwood and Michael Wylde, who were both forced to leave the action, whilst Josh Law and Connor Franklin both left the field at the end rather cautiously after taking knocks.
Alfreton: Worsnop; Westwood (Shaw 37), Fenton, Wylde (Kempson 74), Franklin, Wood, Law, Poku, Bradley, Harrad, Akinde (Meadows 80). Subs not used: Clayton, McFadzean.
Attendance: 2,106 (31).