Alfreton Town notched up their fourth successive win to go third in the Skrill Premier on Saturday, the highest position in their 54 year history, but an entertaining game very nearly failed to pan out in the Reds’ favour.
After dominating a first half in which they had cruised into a two goal lead by the half hour mark, the Reds were pegged back after the break and had to endure a nervy finale when Southport reduced the arrears 15 minutes from time.
The visitors did create the first opening of the game after six minutes, with Bradley Wood having to clear Matty Flynn’s header from a corner, but three minutes later Alfreton had found their stride when Paul Clayton headed marginally over from a Tom Shaw flag-kick.
A further three minutes had elapsed by the time Shaw’s deflected shot from a Job Ayo Akinde cross was diverted behind, then almost immediately Flynn blocked a Clayton volley from the first of several quality crosses by Dan Bradley.
Daniel Meadows sprinted clear to the by-line but opted to shoot from an improbable angle with both Clayton and Akinde in support, then on 19 minutes Southport managed to counterattack with Chris Almond sending Richard Brodie through but keeper Jon Worsnop pounced to smother.
When Clayton drilled the ball into the box in the 22nd minute, after latching on to a Bradley pass, defender Michael Wylde claimed his fourth goal from as many games by steering home from eight yards and Alfreton only had to wait eight more minutes to score again.
This time it was Bradley’s cross that was met by Meadows eight yards out, with a diving header that the midfielder managed to propel downwards before bouncing over Southport keeper Danny Hurst.
Five minutes later Clayton was denied a third goal by a combination of keeper and upright, again from a Bradley cross after David Fitzpatrick had been dispossessed, but there were signs of a Southport revival with two late first half chances that saw Almond fire wide after a good run and Scott Brown fire over from 25 yards.
Almond was off target again three minutes after the restart, then a deflected shot by Brodie from a Luke George pass was well read by Worsnop before Darran Kempson headed wide for Alfreton from another Shaw corner.
Danny Wishart sent Akinde down the left in the 65th minute, but the striker dwelt too long after embarking on a mazy run across the area and was crowded out, then within seconds at the other end the dangerous Brodie produced a great save to his right by Worsnop.
Brodie glanced a 71st minute header over from a deep free-kick, then four minutes later he was finally rewarded for his perseverance with a goal after latching on to a massive clearance from Hurst and firing positively past Worsnop.
Just before the goal Wishart had drilled a shot just wide of the back post after being fed by Akinde, then Wylde had glanced a header wide from yet another Shaw corner, but with Southport definitely in with a chance concentration needed to be at a premium to protect maximum points.
Even so there was to be two further chances for the Sandgrounders with Brodie chipping the ball on to the roof of the net after beating Kempson on the left in the 84th minute, then two minutes from time Worsnop had to be alert again to save a powerful drive by Steve Akrigg.
Alfreton: Worsnop; Westwood, Wylde, Kempson, Rowe-Turner, Wood, Meadows, Shaw, Bradley (Franklin 75), J.Akinde, Clayton (Wishart 63). Subs not used: Taylor, Fenton, McFadzean.