Alfreton Town overcome Kidderminster Harriers to move away from Conference drop zone
Favourable results elsewhere, allied to Alfreton Town’s impressive 2-0 win over Kidderminster Harriers at the lmpact Arena, have enabled the Reds to sit four points clear of the Vanarama Conference drop zone with ten games remaining.
The goals that cheered up the Reds came from John Johnston and Karl Hawley, but there was concern for Bradley Wood, who picked up a nasty injury that saw him replaced at left-back by Duane Courtney after 28 minutes.
Courtney slotted in well, despite having missed several matches through injury, as a strong defensive display kept what little Kidderminster had to offer at bay, the Reds recording back-to-back wins without conceding for the first time in 12 months.
The opening goal after 11 minutes stemmed from a huge clearance by Jason Mooney, after the keeper had pulled off a diving save to thwart the much-travelled Lee Hughes, Hawley’s persistence allowing him to outwit Josh Gowling before Johnston stroked the ball home from eight yards.
Alfreton had to wait until the 70th minute to consolidate their advantage, the second goal arriving after Hawley had won a free-kick at the by-line, which was whipped in by Andi Thanoj for Hawley to convert at the near post with a stooping header.
There had been just one change from the previous week’s victory at AFC Telford United, with Callum Howe replacing Aaron Bentley at the heart of the defence after serving a one-match ban for being sent off against Aldershot Town.
Early exchanges went in the visitors’ favour, with Danny Wright going close from a Callum Gittings cross in the fourth minute and the latter flashing a shot wide five minutes later from just outside the area.
A great through-ball from Dan Bradley sent Hawley to the by-line, where Jordan Tunnicliffe intercepted at the expense of a corner, then ten minutes after taking the lead Hawley forced a save from visiting keeper Danny Lewis from Johnston’s cross.
Aman Verma squandered a good chance for Harriers when he sent a free-kick from 25 yards out of the ground, then seven minutes before the break Joe lronside’s cross saw Bradley’s shot blocked before the midfielder’s follow-up drifted wide.
Two minutes later Jared Hodgkiss crossed for Hughes, who was just beaten to the ball by the vigilant Howe and it scuttled behind for a fruitless corner.
Eight minutes after the restart Luke Graham won a corner from another long punt by Mooney, but the right-back side-footed over from Johnston’s corner, then in response two minutes later Wright had successive shots blocked by Howe and Courtney.
Ironside’s 62nd minute foray into the area saw the striker turn and deliver a curling shot towards the back post, where Lewis palmed it away at full stretch, then almost immediately at the other end Verma’s shot was blocked by Graham with Courtney heading the loose ball clear.
Thanoj sent Hawley down the left flank on 65 minutes, but Anthony Howell appeared to be prevented from reaching his cross on the edge of the area by Jamie Grimes, although there was no free-kick forthcoming.
Gittings scooped over a clear opportunity for an equaliser in the 68th minute, after Hughes had picked him out at the back post, and that miss was punished two minutes later when Hawley pounced to double Alfreton’s lead.
Joe Leesley cut in from the right with nine minutes left on the clock, unleashing a shot from 22 yards that Lewis held, then in added time both lronside and Bradley went close with similar shots that just evaded the back post, while Jake Green hooked wide from a Hodgkiss cross in pursuit of a late Kidderminster consolation.
ALFRETON: Mooney; Graham, Howe, Rowe-Turner, Wood (Courtney 28), Thanoj, Johnston (Leesley 75), Lenighan, Bradley, Hawley, lronside (Howell 64).
Subs not used: Shaw, Stevenson.