Alfreton Town keep up superb run with win at FC United of Manchester

Alfreton v Nuneaton (blue), Lindon Meikle
Alfreton v Nuneaton (blue), Lindon Meikle

Alfreton Town’s remarkable unbeaten run stretched to ten games when they won their first ever meeting with FC United of Manchester at Broadhurst Park on Saturday.

Their 3-1 win was made all the more remarkable as the Reds have now doubled their points tally in the Vanarama National League North to 40 since Christmas, a period of just seven weeks.

However it was not plain sailing for Alfreton as they recorded their fourth consecutive away win, the hosts with their huge following edging the first half with a goal deep into added time, but they were no match for the rampant Reds after the break.

There was one enforced change, with Niall Heaton the natural replacement at the heart of the back four with Brad McGowan side-lined through injury, but manager Nicky Law was only able to name three substitutes, although Andi Thanoj arrived late after suffering a puncture en-route to Moston.

Chances for either side were few and far between in the early stages, although a Sam Jones shot that was blocked by Lewis Lacy in the fourth minute led to a swift break and a Tom Brown goal ruled out for off-side.

Both Jones and Greg Daniels failed for their respective sides before Reds’ custodian Matt Duke, who had previously played at Old Trafford against Manchester United for Hull City, pulled off a save that Gordon Banks would have been proud off, repelling Luke Ashworth’s goalbound header from a corner low and instinctively to his right.

That was in the 20th minute and 12 minutes later Joe Leesley unleashed a venomous drive from the edge of the area that smashed against the crossbar after Jamie Jackson had seen his shot charged down.

Two minutes into first half added time United stole the lead with a slick move that left Sam Madeley with an easy chance to fire home from 12 yards after Scott Kay had pulled the ball back from the left hand bye-line.

Whatever was said by Law at half-time Alfreton emerged from the interval with positive intent, although Duke was the first keeper in action when he turned behind George Thomson’s angled drive.

Young debutant keeper Dylan Forth then produced a reflex save to deny Jones’ powerful header from a Leesley corner in the 52nd minute, and it was only another nine minutes before Alfreton’s fans were rewarded with an equaliser.

Ryan Wilson’s corner created mayhem in the box, with several attempts blocked before the ball fell for Lindon Meikle at the back post to stab it over the line.

Jackson was literally terrorising the FC defence with his direct runs, and more times than not he was brought down unceremoniously in the process, Alfreton gaining the upper hand from one such free-kick in the 69th minute.

With regular free-kick takers Leesley and Thanoj not on the field the task fell to top-scorer Jones, who promptly planted the ball just inside Forth’s right hand post, a superb delivery that would have beaten any keeper, let alone a novice.

Jackson almost scored the goal he deserved, Forth stretching to palm away his 83rd minute shot, but Dan Bradley was on hand to hoist the loose ball into the roof of the net from eight yards and the afternoon’s scoring was completed.

There was still time for United’s Ashworth to receive his marching orders after lashing out at Todd Jordan as the Reds’ defensive wall was preparing to face a free-kick, the game boiling over for the umpteenth time during the course of the 90 minutes.

ALFRETON: Duke; Moyo, Heaton, Jordan, Allan, Meikle, Leesley (Wilson 58), Nyoni, Bradley, Jones (Robertson 78), Jackson. Subs not used: Smith. ATTENANCE: 3,338.