Fleet’s unpromising away form – seven successive defeats on the road – continued tonight as Alfreton’s relatively trouble-free victory as good as ensured their survival for next term while plunging their visitors further into the relegation mire.
Fleet recalled Joe Howe (pictured) to defence, with Tom Phipp moving forward into midfield at the expense of Neil Barrett. But Alfreton took the lead on 14 minutes when Paul Lorraine’s push in the back on the home side’s top scorer Paul Clayton gave Preston Edwards his second penalty to save inside 15 minutes of football. Where Newport’s Andy Sandell failed, however, Alfreton’s Dan Bradley made no mistake and the home side were one up.
Clayton and Ben Tomlinson both went close for Alfreton while at the other end Matt Godden fired past goalkeeper Pickford but struck the post and was cleared to safety. Tomlinson was more accurate with his second opportunity for Alfreton on 28 minutes after Clayton’s run and cross delivered a ball that sat up nicely for the striker to tuck away.
Edwards had to be alert to fend off efforts by former teammate Louie Soares and Clayton’s header, though Fleet ended the half with a couple of chances, Godden’s shot blocked in the six-yard box and then Liam Enver-Marum beaten to a high ball by Pickford.
A double substitution of Stefan Payne and Lanre Azeez for Liam Bellamy and Enver-Marum briefly woke Fleet up as they attempted to turn possession into a vital goal, but Alfreton still pressed and Tomlinson again tested Edwards.
And on 71 minutes the home side put the match beyond doubt, Jordan Rose firing low past a despairing Edwards to convert a corner from the manager’s son Josh Law. Substitute Nathan Arnold could have made it 4-0 and also had a penalty shout turned down by the referee in an all-action final 10 minutes for him but the Fleet were long beaten by that stage.
TEAM: Edwards, Howe, Gwillim, Lorraine, Walsh, Bellamy (Azeez 54), Carew, Phipp, Enver-Marum (Payne 54), Elder, Godden. Subs not used: Menz, Blake, Shitta