Alfreton Town maintained their impressive home record with a sixth win from seven games in a highly entertaining encounter with Forest Green Rovers on Saturday.
The win was achieved despite losing striker Paul Clayton with an ankle injury after just 30 seconds and having key defender and skipper Nick Fenton controversially red-carded for a foul on James Norwood 19 minutes from time.
There had been one change from the side defeated at Braintree in the previous Reds’ game with Dan Bradley recalled to midfield at the expense of Daniel Meadows, the win hoisting Alfreton back up to eighth in the Skrill Premier.
Clayton’s early replacement Danny Wishart grabbed a brace to register his first goals for the club, as well as making the opener for Tom Shaw in the 12th minute after his by-line cross had left the midfielder with a simple side-foot into the far corner of the net from six yards.
Alfreton keeper Ross Atkins had needed to pull off a stretching save from Danny Wright’s stinging header with four minutes on the clock, but in reality only 60 seconds of play had been witnessed after Clayton’s lengthy treatment.
Job Ayo Akinde ran on to John McGrath’s through-ball in the seventh minute only to be barged off the ball by Rovers’ keeper Sam Russell, but the striker stayed on his feet to tee up Bradley for a shot blocked by Chris Stokes whereas the referee might have had no choice but to award a penalty had he gone down.
Wishart dragged a shot across goal shortly after the opener, then at the other end Wright headed on to the roof of the net from a deep cross by Jared Hodgkiss.
Rovers fought back with Magno Vieira turning Yan Klukowski’s 19th minute corner in off the near post from close range, then the visitors took the lead eight minutes later when Matthew Barnes-Homer volleyed home Wright’s cross from 15 yards.
Wright’s 25 yard rasper threatened to increase the Gloucestershire side’s lead on 38 minutes, but Atkins parried the initial attempt before gathering the follow-up from the same player.
Alfreton were back on level terms two minutes before the break though when Wishart latched on to a Wylde through-ball before accelerating to the edge of the area and beating Russell with aplomb.
Six minutes into the second half Wishart completed the scoring by running on to Akinde’s cross from the left and thumping the ball past Russell from 12 yards after side-stepping defender George Pilkington.
Josh Law fired over from 18 yards from another Akinde pass, then a long, raking, diagonal run by Akinde ended with an awful shot wide in the 64th minute.
Wishart’s hat-trick bid was thwarted by Russell’s catch three minutes later, then controversy reigned as Fenton fouled Norwood right in front of the home dugout.
There appeared to be no malice in the tackle but Norwood stood up before deciding to writhe around in agony on the turf, then as soon as the red card had been produced the Rovers’ substitute sprinted away without having needed any treatment
Lathaniel Rowe-Turner switched to the centre of the re-organised defence with Law covering at left-back, while Akinde still managed to test Russell despite being left isolated up front.
Atkins’ reflex save prevented Wright from converting Klukowski’s 76th minute cross at the near post, then a misjudgement by Law almost let Wright in but Michael Wylde rectified it.
Forest Green continued to throw everything at the Reds in the latter stages but met resolute defending amidst dogged concentration, that only lapsed in the 89th minute.
Norwood looked certain to become even more unpopular with the home fans when he was allowed to advance from the right and slip the ball across goal, but Wright just could not make contact to force it over the line with Atkins stranded.
In added time Al Bungara’s low drive from the edge of the area was diverted behind for a Forest Green corner, then Andy Mangan headed their last chance over from a reasonable position.
ALFRETON: Atkins; Wood, Fenton, Wylde, Rowe-Turner, McGrath, Shaw, Bradley, Law, Clayton [Wishart 1], J.Akinde.
Subs not used: Franklin, Kempson, Meadows, S.Akinde.