Just 48 hours after gaining their first win of the new Blue Square Bet Premier season Alfreton Town capitulated against newly promoted Nuneaton Town on Bank Holiday Monday.
It was the Reds’ third home game and it was the third time they had conceded three goals at the Impact Arena, but this was by far their worst performance to date.
Adam Walker did the damage with a well-taken hat-trick to give Nuneaton their first win of the campaign, leaving Alfreton in the bottom four with just Hyde, Barrow and Kidderminster Harriers beneath them.
Manager Nicky Law fielded the same starting eleven that had defeated Barrow, but there was no sign of the energy and confidence that had been evident in the North-West.
Unusually there were three occasions in the opening nine minutes where goals were ruled out for off-side, Kyle Patterson thwarted by the assistant referee’s flag in the third minute while Paul Clayton and Anton Brown were denied on six and nine minutes respectively.
Sandwiched in on seven minutes was a speculative lob from Ben Tomlinson that had to be cleared off the line by Delroy Gordon.
Dan Bradley’s 19th minute shot was comfortably held by Nuneaton keeper Neil Collett following a cross-field pass by Clayton, then Theo Streete had to hack off the line from a Patterson header.
Tomlinson’s 31st minute volley had to be beaten out by Collett after Alastair Taylor had taken a return pass from Bradley in a neat move, then ten minutes later Alfreton were left to wonder just how they had not managed to break the deadlock.
Bradley’s cross may have held in the swirling wind before rebounding off the foot of the post, then Clayton’s volley clipped the top of the crossbar.
Clayton inadvertently blocked Simon Russell’s header a minute later from another precise Taylor cross, then in first half added time Taylor dragged his shot wide from 20 yards.
Four minutes after the interval Patterson’s low delivery from the left had to be held low at his near post by Reds’ keeper Phil Barnes, then in the 53rd minute Walker opened his account by stabbing home Patterson’s deflected cross from eight yards.
Six minutes later Russell’s corner was headed towards his own net by Gordon with Andy Brown heading off the line to prevent an equaliser, then in the same move sub Nathan Arnold cut in to drill low and hard with Collett saving.
Darran Kempson’s vital 61st minute intervention prevented Patterson from taking advantage of Connor Franklin’s error, then in response Brown steered wide after Arnold’s shot had been blocked.
A scorching effort from Tomlinson from just outside the area almost shaved the back post in the 70th minute, but the match was settled nine minutes later when Walker fired past Barnes from 12 yards after cutting in from the left.
Clayton’s header from Anold’s cross was held as stoppage time began, and in its third minute Walker completed his treble by sweeping home the loose ball after Danny Meadows had partially cleared a Robert Thompson-Brown cross.
ALFRETON: Barnes; Law, Kempson, Streete (Meadows 89 mins), Franklin, Taylor (Arnold 53 mins), Brown, Bradley, Russell (A.Wilson 64 mins), Clayton, Tomlinson. Subs not used:Franks, Worsfold.
ATTENDANCE: 680 (116 visitors).
Picture courtesy of Dave Pursglove.