Alfreton suffer back-to-back Conference defeats

Alfreton debutant Dan Gray heads clear from a Woking attack.
Alfreton debutant Dan Gray heads clear from a Woking attack.

Assistant manager Russ O’Neill made two changes from the Woking defeat but despite defending well for the first quarter of the game the Reds were undone by Chey Dunkley’s free back-post header in the 24th minute.

And to make matters worse the move was repeated in almost identical fashion on the hour as Harriers established a two-goal lead, which was embellished by Marvin Johnson’s header six minutes from time.

Dan Gray had made a timely interception that prevented Nathan Blissett’s pass from reaching Craig Reid, then after Dan Bradley had attempted a brace of shots for the Reds from outside the area the Alfreton goal came under siege in the 18th minute.

First of all Reid looked certain to score until his shot nicked off a defender for a corner, which proved to be a rehearsal for Dunkley whose header was cleared off the line by the alert Gray, then the subsequent flag-kick saw Verma scuff his shot wide from close range.

The signs were beginning to look ominous, and unfortunately went unheeded, as Dunkley put Kidderminster ahead in the simplest of fashions six minutes later, then Reid went close from a Kyle Storer free-kick.

Paul Clayton had been ploughing a lone furrow up front, but frustration prevailed and he became the first Reds’ player of the new season to receive a caution just before half-time, apparently for persistent fouling.

Clayton though never stopped running and popped up in defence to head behind an awkward Kevin Nicholson corner in the 57th minute, which led to another Dunkley header flashing inches wide from a Jack Byrne cross.

An angled drive from Reid produced yet another corner for the home side in the 60th minute, and once again defender Dunkley was left with a simple back-post header to put Alfreton two goals adrift.

Gray sent a free-kick high over the Kidderminster bar, then on 69 minutes keeper Jon Stewart had to be accurate as he raced out of goal to tackle Blissett, but as the game wore on the Reds began to make inroads.

Stewart prevented a certain goal by stretching to tip over a scorcher from Verma in the 82nd minute, then two minutes later the issue was settled by Johnson’s simple header from 12 yards from a Byrne cross.

Stevenson fired high and wide from a promising position, then at the other end Callum Gittings carved an opening before seeing his shot blocked.

Ironically Alfreton’s best chance came right at the end in the third minute of added time, Nathan Hicks forcing a late corner only for Luke Graham to direct his clear header straight at a defender on the line.

Alfreton: Harris-Stewart; Gray (Stevenson 74), Smith, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Wood, Keane, Sheridan, Bradley, Howell (Hicks 88), Clayton (McDonald 84).

Attendance: 1,686 (52).