By Gerry PrewettA trip to almost the dead centre of the country sees Alfreton Town entertain Bristol Rovers on Tuesday night. Alfreton. Lying almost equidistant from Derby and Mansfield, Alfreton has a population of just about 25,000. After two season of finishing mid-table the club decided to go part-time.
Currently in 22nd spot with 16 points from 18 games, the Derbyshire team are struggling. In their last game, the Reds secured their second away win of the season. Luke Graham chose the perfect time to produce his first goal for the club when he headed the only goal of the game on 20 minutes from a Tom Shaw corner.
Kyle Perry shot straight at Dawson and later Damian Reeves saw his effort hit the post as the home team sought to get on level terms. The Cheshire team were given the perfect opportunity to share the spoils when in the 93rd minute Graham turned villain when he fouled substitute Steven Gillespie who then saw his penalty superbly saved by Cameron Dawson in the Alfreton goal.
Alfreton Town was formed by a merger between Alfreton Miners Welfare and Alfreton United in 1959. The new club was admitted into the Central Alliance North Division One in 1959, and within two seasons entered the Midland Counties League.
In 1970, after a few seasons of finishing near the top, they won the league title, and won it again in 1973 and 1977. After the Midland League and the Yorkshire League merged in 1982, they won the Northern Counties East League in 1985, division champions in 1987, and joined the Northern Premier League in 1988.
In 2003, the club won the First Division and the Derbyshire Senior Cup. After this turn of events, they won promotion to the Conference North. Alfreton have played in the Conference Premier since the 2011–12 season after sealing promotion by winning the Conference North title.
The Reds will have had a 10 day break from competitive football before they attempt to make back-to-back wins in the league for only the third time this season, and the first since September. That win at Altrincham came after a run of games without a victory at Altrincham in their last outing last Saturday, Alfreton boss Law will be looking for his side to build on the foundations of that win which was gained by sheer hard work and discipline.
Law was pleased with the reaction he got from his side, "I thought we did well. We are the away side and we set up how we thought we needed to. They had a lot of good possession, to be fair to them, they try and play the right way. We got the goal and could have possibly had a couple more before they really came back into it.”
"And then obviously right at the death, Luke Graham, who I thought was magnificent all afternoon, has just climbed on the lad a bit and given the penalty (away) right on the 94th minute as well and you are thinking oh well, that just sums it up for us.
"The young 'un (Cameron Dawson) has made a great save. I don't know whether it was a poor penalty or a good penalty and a great save, but it doesn't matter, he saved it and we have come out the other end with three much-needed points. I think the turning point today was that we came and turned up. I think from the front to the back we have worked extremely hard.
"We are just grateful for the three points and we can now use that as our bench mark and kick on. We played at a tempo. I think there is still a lot more in us. I think to get back to being the team people don't want to play, we have shown big parts of that today but I think there is still room for improvement there."
Law also had praise for Nathan Hicks who made his first start since dislocating a shoulder in the corresponding fixture with Altrincham at the Impact Arena back on September 9th.
"I said before the game that I am going to pick players who are going to go out and have a go, put themselves on the line, and I think he certainly did" reflected Law.
"That boy had a dislocated shoulder a few weeks ago and he has been putting himself forward for three weeks now. That's the kind of commitment and desire we are going to need if we are going to survive and he just epitomised everything. I brought him off near the end because he was blowing a bit but that is great testament to him as well. He has only had probably three training sessions but he has looked after himself, kept himself fit.”