National League North: Lowestoft Town 1 Alfreton Town 0
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Lowestoft Town have extended their unbeaten run to five matches with a hard-four 1-0 defeat of Alfreton Town at a blustery Crown Meadow.
Top scorer Jake Reed scored his 11th of the season midway through the second half, thanks to an excellent pass from Ryan Jarvis, to fire Lowestoft to their first ever league double over a team in the second tier of non-league football.
The Trawlerboys went into the match with a three-match unbeaten league run and off the back of an excellent 4-0 home thrashing of St Albans City in the FA Trophy final qualifying round.
The visitors made the trip from Derbyshire looking to get their season back on track, having taken just four points from their last eight games.
Lowestoft were without central midfielder Andrew Fisk through a groin injury and full-back Joe Marsden due to an ankle problem, bringing in Ryan Jarvis and Shaun Bammant, with Dean Mason dropping to the bench.
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The first half was a battle against the wind for both sides, with gusts of over 40mph predicted for the afternoon.
It was the Reds who generally had the wind in their favour though, with striker Joe Ironside testing Lowestoft keeper Ben Killip with a long-range effort in the second minute, with the Norwich City loanee holding the shot.
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Danny Crow then went close to giving the Trawlerboys the lead just a minute later, firing the ball towards the top-right corner after being teed up by Shaun Bammant but seeing former Hull City keeper Matt Duke palm his effort around the post.
The hosts then had the biggest chance of the opening half in the 11th minute, after a rampaging run from right-back Harry Barker was bundled to an end by Thomas Allan.
Jack Ainsley, normally so reliably from the spot after scoring 14 penalties last season, wasted the chance though by striking his effort against the right-hand post.
Alfreton then picked up the pace and Allan headed wide at the back post from a Niall Heaton cross in the 21st minute.
The Reds' best chance came two minutes later, with Ironside heading a golden chance wide inside the six-yard box, after a cross from the lively Andy Thanoj.
Former Grimsby Town and Albania Under-21 international Thanoj then went close himself in the 28th minute, poking an effort beyond the right-hand post after good work from Jamie Jackson to keep the chance alive.
Alfreton again went close in the 35th minute, Jordan hitting a bouncing ball on the edge of the box but unable to keep his effort under the crossbar.
Among increasingly difficult conditions there was time for another chance for each side before the half-time whistle.
Ironside flicked a header wide from a Thanoj free-kcik from the left in the 43rd minute and shortly after Heaton was booked after kicking the ball away in frustration at a free-kick being given against him for bringing down Harvey Hodd in midfield.
Crow floated the free-kick in and found Bammant, who hooked a volley goalwards, but saw his effort float wide and the half end at 0-0.
The hosts had the wind in their favour in the second half and it very nearly helped them take the lead in the 49th minute, Adam Smith's inswining corner from the right swerving in the air and nearly going in at the near post, forcing Duke into a good reaction save.
The Reds went close five minutes later, Killip flapping at an Allan header from a Thanoj corner and then fortunate to see Allan loft a shot over the bar when he should have done better.
Ryan Jarvis forced a decent save with a free-kick from 30 yards in the 57th minute and it was the former Norwich City man who helped break the deadlock 10 minutes later, after Killip had bravely saved at the feet of Jordan to keep the hosts level.
Jarvis played an excellently weighted pass which split the Alfreton defence and sent Reed clean through, with the striker poking over the on-rushing Judge for his 11th of the season and 1-0.
Smith then had a good chance to extend the lead in the 73rd minute, after Heaton lived dangerously and brought Reed down on the edge of the box despite already being on a yellow card. The full-back tried to whip the set-piece into the top-left corner, with the wind in his favour, but bent his effort around the post.
Hodd drove Lowestoft forward in the 80th minute and teed up Bammant on the edge of the box but the former Dereham forward couldn't dig out a shot and his deflected effort looped up towards substitute Bradley Woods-Garness, whose spectacular overhead kick went wide.
Otherwise, it was all hands to the pumps in the closing stages, as the Trawlerboys saw out a narrow victory in testing conditions.
Lowestoft: Killip; Barker, Ainsley, Spillane, Smith; Bammant, Rossi Jarvis (C), Hodd, Ryan Jarvis; Crow (Woods-Garness), Reed. Unused subs: Jessup (GK), Mason, Henderson, Eagle.
Alfreton: Duke; Galinski, Allan, Sam Berry, Niall Heaton; Bradley (C), Jordan (Smith 88), Thanoj (Johnston 76), Meikel, Ironside, Jackson. Unused sub: Draper (GK).
Referee: Ashvin Degnarain (London)