• George Edmonds

Alfreton are beaten by impressive Darlington

Alfreton Town slumped to a fourth defeat in the last five league games and in turn made it back to back losses for the second time in the month of November as Darlington struck in each half to claim a deserved win at the Impact Arena on Saturday.

The Reds named an unchanged line-up from the side that collapsed at Leamington on Tuesday and hoped for a positive response, but they nearly fell behind in the first minute when Darlington captain Will Hatfield thundered a long-range effort off the under side of the crossbar.

The Quakers had the better of the opening exchanges and took the lead on 12 when Érico Sousa prodded in at the back-post after George Willis parried away a Tony McMahon cross. The dangerous and tricky winger showed quick feet following the parry to create himself a tap in from just a few yards.

Alfreton had their first notable chance on 20, an inch perfect pass from Dan Bradley found Josh Clackstone in space on the right but his cross was headed wide of the right post by Jake Day. Connor Branson then arrived late to head wide from another Clackstone cross.

Darlington goalkeeper Melvin Minter was effective with his distribution and it was his long punt on 27 that nearly led to a second when he picked out McMahon who cut inside and saw his shot blocked behind, with the resulting corner cleared. A last ditch challenge came moments later from Toby Lees in the box as the visitors chased a second.

Bradley then had a great opportunity on 33 when he was picked out from a cross by Clackstone but the skipper fluffed his lines with a header from seven yards.

The Reds' final effort of the half on 37 was another great chance as Reeves was played through on the left side by Bradley, but he curled his effort a couple of yards wide of the right-hand post.

The second half began much brighter for the Reds, Branson testing Minter from 20 yards. Willis then denied Maguire's effort before being caught stranded looking to intercept a ball through to Sousa who attempted to chip the Reds goalkeeper but the ball landed just over the bar.

Nathan Fox gets a cross in against Darlington. Photo: Alfreton Town FC.

James Jones nearly levelled from a corner with a shot which went over the bar after it came all the way through the box, then minutes later Branson forced Minter into another save.

Alfreton were enjoying their best spell mid-way through the second half and continued to press for the equaliser, Reeves and Bradley both came close when their respective efforts from outside the area were saved by Minter.

But Darlington played the counter-attack game to a tee and killed the game on 84 when Sousa found Adam Campbell in acres of space on the left inside the box and he slotted the ball into the bottom corner to seal the contest and the three points.

Alfreton huffed and puffed in the final stages, Minter saving Nathan Fox's effort, but there was not to be a consolation for the Reds despite their improvement in the second period.

The Quakers played some neat and slick football and their quality in front of goal shone through.

The Reds will need to dust themselves down and go again for their next fixture in the National League North, the re-arranged trip to Kidderminster on Tuesday night. Kick off is 7.45pm at Aggborough.

Alfreton: Willis, Clackstone, Fox, Branson, Lees (Walker 58), Jones, Smith, Bradley (c), Day, Reeves, Atkinson (Johnson 72).

Subs Not Used: Lund, Unwin-Marris, Williams.