A memorable first season in the Blue Square Bet Premier drew to a successful close for Alfreton Town at the Impact Arena on Saturday.
The 2-1 win over relegated Bath City was the Reds’ only double of the season, but there was still every reason for the players to return to the pitch ten minutes after the final whistle to accept the fans’ appreciation in finishing in a creditable 15th position.
Several awards were presented after the game, with the “Supporters’ Player of the Season” being claimed by Anton Brown, with Nathan Arnold the runner-up and Theo Streete acknowledging third place in the vote.
The game itself was quite a lively affair despite neither side having anything left to prove, with the Reds sweeping into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes before seeing their advantage halved five minutes later.
Alfreton started on a positive note with Seamus Conneely’s through-ball causing Mark Preece to slip and allow Nathan Jarman a clear shot at goal, but the ball drifted beyond the back post.
Danny Meadows’ cross almost deceived Bath defender Lewis Hogg, who could only head the ball on to the top of his own net in the eighth minute.
Meadows capped a fine performance by opening the scoring in the 17th minute, the Nottingham Forest loanee firing home from ten yards after Jarman had been sent down the left by Connor Franklin.
Three minutes later Anthony Wilson merely had to guide the ball over the line from close range after Arnold had chased down and dispossessed the unfortunate Preece before crossing from the right-hand by-line.
Scott Murray headed over for the visitors from a right-wing corner in the 22nd minute, then three minutes later Murray’s cross struck Franklin’s hand and a penalty was the harsh outcome.
Murray, who was playing his last game before retiring, struck the spot-kick firmly and despite Dan Lowson having a firmer grip of the ball than had Franklin the Reds’ keeper could not prevent it from entering the net.
Jarman’s snap shot from 30 yards was held low by City keeper Glyn Garner, then in the 35th minute Meadows headed over at the back post after Leigh Franks’ long throw had bounced all the way through the area.
Four minutes later a trio of opportunities arose for Alfreton, triggered by Arnold’s shrewd through-ball to Wilson, with Garner parrying his shot before Josh Law’s follow-up was hacked off the line by Sekani Simpson.
Finally Law’s ensuing corner was fed deep to Meadows, whose angled drive clipped the top of the crossbar.
A rare Bath attack one minute before the half-time break saw Murray’s shot blocked after cutting in from the left, then seconds after the restart Andy Gallinagh volleyed over at the back post from a Simpson cross.
Lowson then had to save a Marc Canham effort, before the Reds resumed their attacking ploy with Wilson denied by Garner after running on to a Meadows through-ball.
Meadows was proving to be a handful to cope with and when his shot from Law’s 55th minute corner looped up off Preece an off-side Arnold hooked over from close range.
A swift break by the Romans ended with Jamie Cook’s shot from 18 yards being held by Lowson, then on 59 minutes Lowson had to turn behind a low drive from Simpson.
Hogg’s 25 yarder looped up off Brown in the 71st minute before being held by the alert Lowson, then Jarman sent Adam Cunnington down the right before cutting in and testing Garner.
Cunnington then had successive shots blocked at close range by the Bath keeper after being put through by Conneely, then with six minutes of the season remaining Alex Russell was denied an equaliser from 16 yards by another good Lowson save.
ALFRETON: Lowson; Law (Moult 83), Franks, Quinn, Franklin, Conneely, Brown, Meadows, Arnold (Mullan 55), Jarman, A.Wilson (Cunnington 55).
Subs not used: Clayton, Streete.
ATTENDANCE: 786 (42 from Bath).