Vanarama National League North
Saturday 20th January 2018
Brakes endured a miserable afternoon in Derbyshire on their first visit to Alfreton since the Midland League days of the 1960’s as the home side marked Chris Moyses’ first game in charge by inflicting a heaviest defeat of the season so far on Paul Holleran’s side.
It turned out to be an afternoon for that well worn cliche that a new manager always initially provokes an upturn in fortunes, but in truth Leamington were well in this contest until some poor decision making allowed the hosts to build a lead which they never looked like relinquishing.
Holleran restored James Mace and Kaine Felix, the only two changes to his starting line up from the Southport defeat, with Richard Taundry present but unavailable due to the injury he sustained last week. Ahmed Obeng dropped to the bench.
The morning snow and rain gave way to clearer skies on a bitterly cold January afternoon. The Impact Arena pitch was covered overnight but the dew covered playing surface proved difficult at times, with some players losing their footing.
Kaine Felix was booked for a rash challenge from behind on Ryan Jennings inside the opening couple of minutes, the Alfreton man then kicking at thin air as he attempted to shoot following the free kick from just inside the Leamington half.
Chris Sharp looked to have a decent shot at opening the scoring as he entered the Brakes penalty area unchallenged on the right, but blazed his effort high and wide.
Leamington’s first moves forward resulted in Reds keeper Chris Elliott comfortably claiming the ball first from a free kick and then from a left wing cross from Felix. Kieran Dunbar’s shot from the edge of the box had the sting taken out of it, Craig Disley’s effort at the other end going the same way as the two sides sized each other up in the opening 15 minutes.
Jack Edwards blasted a first time effort over the bar from Daniel Udoh’s right wing cross, and while the ball spent a lot of time in the middle of the pitch early on both sides moved it around well when they got near close to goal.
Dunbar unfortunately lost his footing as he attempted an exchange of passes with Callum Gittings after a neat move in from the right, while Brendan Daniels claimed unsuccessfully for a Leamington touch as his shot travelled harmlessly across goal and wide.
Goalkeeper Elliott was nearly left with a face as red as his team mates’ shirts as he pushed Dunbar’s left wing corner into the air and then against the post before finally claiming the ball.
Leamington committed defensive suicide in giving away the opening goal on 34 minutes. It was a catalogue of errors as Connor Gudger’s first touch let him down, forcing him to play the ball wide for Breeden to try and clear. He was dispossessed right on the edge of the box by Ryan Jennings, and as the two hit the turf the Brakes skipper was adjudged to have fouled the Alfreton man. Brendon Daniels stepped up and sent him the wrong way from the penalty spot to put the hosts in front.
Gudger’s free kick struck the defensive wall after Gittings was felled by a poor challenge from Disley, and after the ball was played back into the box unsuccessfully twice, Clarke headed on for Gittings to strike first time, the shot deflected over the bar. The same player then fizzed a low ball across the six yard box which Jamie Hood missed by a whisker.
Breeden’s misery was compounded when he cleared the ball to Cieron Keane just inside the Leamington half, the former Worcester City man taking full advantage with the keeper off his line, sending the ball looping over his head into the empty net.
A positive start saw Felix cut in from the left and drive in a curling strike that Lee Beevers diverted over the bar, the corner coming to nothing.
Jennings virtually sealed the game for Alfreton three minutes into the second half, Keane laying it off for Jennings to strike a low drive through Breeden into the net.
It became embarrassing on 57 minutes, Keane racing in on goal from halfway having been gifted possession and driving a shot wide of Breeden into the corner.
Udoh somehow failed to smuggle the ball home from almost on the line, while James Mace grazed the roof of the net with a good strike from 25 yards.
Holleran threw on Liam Canavan and Joe Magunda in an attempt to stem the tide, Joe Clarke bringing two superb saves from Elliott in a matter of seconds, the first an instinctive tip over the bar from a thunderous first time volley, the second similar as Clarke set his sights before curling a well struck effort on target.
Reds substitute Craig Westcarr was left bemused as he latched onto a well struck long ball from inside the Alfreton half as Breeden looked to have got a touch on his shot, but Referee Sam Mulhall awarded a goal kick.
There was a crumb of consolation for Leamington with four minutes to play when Clarke’s attempt to drive the ball across goal from the left was adjudged to have been handled by the grounded Luke Shiels, Canavan stepping up to send Elliott the wrong way from the spot.
Leamington have often bounced back from huge disappointment with stirring victories in the past. They will need to do that more than ever as they step out for another six pointer against Gainsborough Trinity at home on Tuesday evening.
Alfreton Town: Chris Elliott, Tom Allan, Bradley Wood (16 Sam Topliss, 71), Craig Disley (14 Kegan Everington, 80), Luke Shiels ©, Lee Beevers, Ryan Jennings, Tom Platt, Chris Sharp (12 Craig Westcarr, 75), Brendon Daniels, Cieron Keane.
Subs not used: 15 Andre Johnson, 17 Noel Burdett.
Leamington: Tony Breeden ©, James Mace, Connor Gudger, Joe Clarke, Jamie Hood, Junior English, Kieran Dunbar, Callum Gittings (14 Joe Magunda, 61), Daniel Udoh, Jack Edwards (15 Liam Canavan, 61), Kaine Felix (12 Ahmed Obeng, 71).
Subs not used: 16 Kurtis Revan, 17 Stefan Moore.
Referee: Mr Sam Mulhall
Assistant Referees: Mr Jonathan Maskrey & Mr Jon Kenny.
Brakes Man of the Match: Joe Clarke.
Injury update: Richard Taundry was unavailable due to the nature of the injury he sustained at Southport. He is confident it will heal quickly however. Colby Bishop was also at the game, he will be having his operation on February 8th.