There was no Christmas cheer for Alfreton Town as they slid to their fifth consecutive home defeat when Bradford Park Avenue secured a 1-0 win on Saturday.
This latest setback has left the Reds hanging precariously just one point above the Vanarama National League North drop zone, with that early season spark long extinguished.
With goalkeepers Matt Duke and Nick Draper both injured the club brought in former Notts. County keeper Fabian Spiess, who had figured for the Reds in a pre-season friendly against the Magpies, and despite the odd shaky response he pulled off some very good saves.
Alfreton were the first to press with Lindon Meikle setting up Dan Bradley in the first minute, the skipper drawing a save from former Reds’ keeper Jon Stewart with an angled lob.
Cliff Moyo was back in the side after being absent through personal reasons and twice had to make crucial clearances before Bradford took a 15th minute lead, first of all heading behind a shot from Ryan Qualter before tidying up after Chib Chilaka’s bye-line cross had been palmed aside by Spiess.
The goal was scored by Craig King, who found the net from 16 yards from a defence-splitting Richard Marshall cross, and the only other noteworthy efforts during the remainder of the first half fell to the hosts.
Meikle went closest in the 26th minute, crashing a shot from the edge of the area against the crossbar, before combining with Joe lronside 12 minutes later with Adam Mather having to clear.
Bradley then fired wildly over following Meikle’s run and cross, half-time arriving with lronside rippling the side-netting from a Ryan Wilson corner.
Stewart held an angled drive from John Johnston as the game resumed after the break, then the keeper reacted smartly when Qualter sliced Johnston’s cross towards his own goal in the 49th minute.
Both Bradley and Sam Jones went close as Alfreton tried hard for a leveller, then Johnston squandered an inviting Meikle cross when well placed on the hour.
Spiess had to parry a Marshall shot before pouncing to smother, the keeper also dealing with Chilaka’s effort before the Reds’ best chance of the second half arrived in the 71st minute.
Meikle’s free-kick on the left-side edge of the area invited a dip at the near post, which would have succeeded but for an acrobatic save by Stewart, the ensuing corner then reaching Bradley, whose shot was beaten away by the Bradford keeper.
Unfortunately there was little to enthuse over from an Alfreton perspective after that, Spiess having to turn behind a Marshall shot before denying King a second goal in the closing stages.
ALFRETON: Spiess; Moyo, McGowan, Heaton, Wilson, Jordan, Meikle, Bradley, Jones (Leesley 88), Johnston (Jackson 67), lronside (Thanoj 73). Subs not used: Galinski, Duke.