A scrappy game went in Alfreton Town’s favour on Saturday as the hosts beat Tamworth for the third time this season, thanks to an 89th minute Dan Bradley strike.
Having won at the Lamb Ground in both the F.A.Cup in September and their Vanarama National League North meeting on Boxing Day it was the Reds’ first clean sheet since 12th September.
It was also Alfreton’s first win at the lmpact Arena in seven games, but apart from the goal there was little to enthuse over from a game of precious few chances and played in miserable, damp conditions.
Manager Nicky Law had to make a change in midfield, with Ryan Wilson replacing Sam Jones who was ill, but the sparkle and momentum that had been evident in the previous two games had clearly deserted his side.
There were however two critical points in the first half from which either side could have taken the lead, Matt Duke misjudging a deep cross from Andy Burns in the 16th minute with Tamworth player-manager Andy Morrell quick to react and put the ball in the net, although the referee spotted an infringement to rescue the Reds.
Then on 34 minutes Duke’s huge clearance bounced through the Tamworth rearguard to send Lindon Meikle clear, but he shot wide off-balance.
lt had taken a while for either side to muster an opportunity, Wilson’s corner just evading Sam Smith’s lunging header, then Tom Allan’s wayward header flashed across the face of goal following a Joe Leesley free-kick.
Smith then homed in on a Meikle cross, only to be denied when Lambs’ keeper James Belshaw flapped at the ball, yet did just enough to prevent Smith from making contact.
The second half fared little better, Smith glancing a 55th minute header wide from an Allan cross before Josh Heaton went close for the visitors from a deep Paul Green free-kick.
Ross Dyer glanced a header wide from a long throw by Curtis Strong on 65 minutes, then after an interminable lull in proceedings Allan headed over from a teasing Leesley corner with mercifully just nine minutes of a turgid affair remaining.
At last though there were signs of a breakthrough as Jordan Robertson and Jamie Jackson both went close after coming off the bench, then in the 85th minute Bradley whipped a bye-line cross straight through the goalmouth with Robertson just unable to convert in front of goal.
Robertson though was the key to Alfreton’s success, delivering a similar cross after being sent to the bye-line by Andi Thanoj, with Bradley on hand this time to stab the ball past Belshaw from close range.
Alfreton: Duke; Moyo, McGowan, Heaton (Jordan 45 mins), Allan, Meikle, Thanoj, Leesley, Wilson (Jackson 70), Bradley, Smith (Robertson 63).
Subs not used: Johnston, Spiess.