Match report: Alfreton Town 1 Bradford Park Avenue 3
Alfreton Town 1
Ross OG 23’
Bradford Park Avenue 3
Boyes 48’, Killock 59’, Johnson 67’
Bradford Park Avenue provided the perfect response to Monday’s humbling at the hands of Stourbridge, disposing of Alfreton Town in impressive fashion with a 3-1 victory.
Mark Bower resisted the temptation to ring the changes, making just one alteration from Monday, replacing Javan Vidal with Nicky Clee.
The opening five minutes were a cagey affair, with neither side managing to grip a hold on a game which offered both the opportunity to bounce back from early FA Trophy exits.
The first half-chance of the afternoon fell to the visitors. Wayne Brooksby slipped through to Adam Boyes after some trickery synonymous with the winger on the right flank, but Craig Disley demonstrated his tenacity to recover and challenge.
Alfreton debutant Marcus Day was the first to test the Avenue backline, finding space on the edge of the box but seeing his low drive deflected by the outstretched leg of Shane Killock and into the grateful clutches of Steve Drench.
A route one approach then nearly saw the visitors take the lead, as a Drench punt was flicked on by the head of Wayne Brooksby and into the path of Adam Boyes. The prolific forward, however, succumbed to the pressure of defenders and fired wide.
Twenty minutes in, a melee ensued following a heavy Clee challenge on Craig Westcarr. Avenue players and staff alike voiced their displeasure at the referee’s inconsistency, having seen Tom Allan escape punishment for a nasty challenge on Brooksby minutes prior.
The visitors then saw their fury heightened, as Ross steered a Day cross into his own net to gift the home side a 23rd minute lead in the aftermath of the commotion.
Despite being a goal down and in far from their most impressive form, Avenue remained firmly in contention. Clee struck the post twice in the space of twenty seconds, as Avenue’s frustration at the nature of the game threatened to boil over in the closing minutes of the half.
Mark Bower claimed he told players to ‘simplify’ things at the interval, and Avenue certainly emerged with a sharpened clinical edge after the break.
After just three minutes, Boyes latched on to a perfectly executed through-ball from Jamie Spencer before calmly converting past a helpless Chris Elliott to level proceedings.
With the score deadlocked, both sides had their feet pressed firmly on the pedal, and Day almost put Alfreton ahead with a low drive that Drench was forced to beat away barely two minutes after the equaliser.
Avenue, however, had hit their stride, and began to show why they were play-off contenders.
Elliott was forced into an excellent stop by Oli Johnson, whose shot was frantically scrambled away as Boyes looked to pounce.
With pressure mounting on the home side, it was only a matter of time before Alfreton shipped a second. Avenue’s second of the afternoon came in the form of a bullet header from Shane Killock, who leapt to meet a corner swung in by Nicky Wroe and delight the euphoric travelling support behind the goal.
It wasn’t long before Avenue extended their lead, as Ross advanced unchallenged on the right before delivering to Johnson, who made no mistake in poking home from close-range.
Despite having a two-goal cushion to protect, Avenue had chances to add to their advantage in the closing stages. A Ross piledriver almost saw the defender cancel out his own-goal in spectacular fashion with seven minutes left on the clock.
Somewhat surprisingly, Alfreton failed to show potential to haul themselves back into the game, and the closing stages saw Avenue see out the victory with relative ease.
Avenue remain in the dizzy heights of the National League North play-offs, and welcome Tamworth to the Horsfall Stadium next week.
Bradford Park Avenue: Drench, Ross, Hill, Wroe (c), Killock, Havern, Brooksby, Spencer (Vidal 60’), Boyes, Johnson (Boshell 90+2’), Clee.
Unused subs: Hall, Nowakowski, Knight.
Alfreton Town: Elliott, Keane, Wood, Platt, Clappison, Allan, Cover, Disley (c) (Jennings 66’), Westcarr (Sharp 66’), Day, Daniels.
Unused subs: Johnson, Everington, Marshall.
Thanks Tom Coates for the match report