Alfreton Town kick off 2022 with three points at Boston United
Alfreton Town kicked off 2022 with a deserved 3-2 win at Boston United.
Connor Branson, Bobby Johnson and Bailey Hobson were on target as the Reds moved up to eighth.
Jordan Preston' s 20-yard blockbuster and Danny Elliott's stoppage time penalty were scant consolation for the Pilgrims who were outplayed by Billy Heath's side.
The home crowd let their feelings known as boos rang out at full time.
Despite three consecutive league defeats, all at home, Boston cling on to seventh in the National League North, the final play-off spot.
But just four points separate them and 15th place Chester, suggesting they need to turn things around swiftly to avoid getting dragged down the table.
Alfreton took a deserved 2-0 lead into the interval as the Pilgrims were second best in every department.
Preston's early free kick warmed the hands of United old boy George Willis early on, but that was as good as it got in the opening 45.
Branson gave the visitors a 14th-minute second lead, side footing cleverly past Marcus Dewhurst at his near post after Matt Rhead's neat backheel set him free.
Johnson doubled the advantage seven minutes later, his 20-yarder taking a deflection on the way past the rooted Pilgrims stopper.
It would have been worse for Boston had Dewhurst not denied Rhead's close range header.
Whatever Craig Elliott said at half time must have had an impact as seconds after the re-start Jake Leake crashed an effort at full stretch onto the Reds' crossbar and LKeenan Ferguson brought a save from Willis.
In between those efforts Dewhurst twice denied Rhead, from a hopeful 20-yarder and a head.
Chances continued, Danny Elliott dragging wide of the Town goal. In response, Yusifu Ceesat struck the bottom of Dewhurst's post, the Pilgrims man then parrying Bailey Hobson's drive and holding onto Dayle Southwell's follow up.
Preston pulled the Pilgrims back into the game with the spark his side were desperate for in the 64th minute.
A driving run from Ferguson saw the ball end up at the feet of Preston, who curled a pacey 20-yarder into the top corner.
As Alfreton broke with a two-on-one, Ceesay was denied by Dewhurst's body block.
Hobson restored the two-goal advantage in the 71st minute with a firm, clever header.
Elliott gave Boston some slim hope with his last gasp penalty, his 16trh of the season, given after the attacker was tripped by Willis. But time ran out for the hosts as the Reds secured a deserved win.
PILGRIMS: Dewhurst, Tootle (Leesley 67), Platt, Shiels, Green (F. Preston 75), Ferguson, Elliott, J. Preston, Byrne (Lalkovic 84), Leake, Gordon; Subs (not used): Duxbury, Dimaio,.
ALFRETON: Willis, Lund, Preston, Branson, Sutton (Wiley 39), Smith, Ceesay, Southwell, Rhead, Johnson (Evans 67), Hobson; Subs (not used): Grice, Butterfield, Smith-Eccles.
REF: James Westgate.
ATT: 2,051 (106)