ALFRETON Town ground out their fourth away Blue Square Bet Premier win of the season in leafy Surrey on Saturday, despite having to soak up a fair degree of pressure from the hosts.
Paul Clayton drew away from the pack as the Reds’ top scorer with nine goals after notching his fourth brace in League and Cup games, and he is now only one short of last season’s tally.
The opening exchanges belonged to Woking, with Leigh Franks having to turn a dangerous cross from former Lincoln City captain John Nutter behind for a second minute corner.
Then on six minutes Jayden Stockley directed a clear header wide from another telling Nutter cross, then 13 minutes later Reds’ keeper Jon Stewart blocked superbly as Dean Sinclair glided on to a Gavin McCullum pass.
Stockley headed wide again, this time from a 23rd minute McCallum cross, but three minutes later Alfreton eased in front with virtually their first noteworthy attack of the game.
Josh Law’s corner found Clayton five yards out, and his crisp header had nestled in the back of the net before Woking keeper Aaron Howe could react.
A low drive from Dean Sinclair only troubled the side-netting on 29 minutes, then seconds later Nathan Arnold was sent clear by Clayton but dragged his shot across the face of goal.
The home side drew level on 38 minutes after Stewart had failed to hold Nutter’s free-kick, but Brett Williams managed to turn the loose ball in from 12 yards despite frantic attempts to clear.
Clayton then looped a shot over with the outside of his boot from Connor Franklin’s cross, before Howe picked out Stockley with a huge clearance and McCallum missed his cross at the back post with Alfreton stretched.
In first half added time the Reds almost regained the lead, but Clayton’s shot from close range was cleared off the line by Joe McNerney after Franks had nodded down a Law free-kick.
A low drive from McCallum as the second half commenced was dealt with by Stewart, then the same Woking player missed twice from decent positions in quick succession.
The Cardinals were left to rue their missed chances on 54 minutes when Daniel Meadows’ shot from just outside the area was parried by Howe, only for Meadows to regain his composure and head the loose ball to the back post for Clayton to ghost in and head home.
McCallum embarked on a dangerous run in the 61st minute, but marshalled by Franks he was lured into a hurried shot that was so far off target that it went out for a throw, then the same player headed over at the back post from a deep Williams cross.
Sheffield United loanee Matthew Harriott almost marked his Alfreton debut with a goal 17 minutes from time, but Howe held his shot after Dan Bradley had laid off Arnold’s pull-back from a useful through-ball by the hardworking Theo Streete.
Arnold’s 81st minute shot was parried by the keeper, with Meadows unable to keep the move flowing after Arnold had fed Bradley with the loose ball, then for the remainder of the game the Reds had to concentrate on maintaining their advantage.
Stewart held a strong low drive from Woking sub Loick Pires on 85 minutes, then Stockley, Sinclair and Williams were all stopped short of producing an equaliser by some astute defending.
ALFRETON: Stewart; Law, Killock, Franks, Franklin, Streete, Meadows (Quinn 90+2), Bradley, Harriott (Brown 81), Clayton, Arnold.
Subs not used: Russell, Tomlinson, Worsfold.
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Weather for Mansfield
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 16 C
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Temperature: 7 C to 18 C
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