A thriller, but Rovers beaten
MASTER contributors to the pulsating finish, Forest Green Rovers could do with fewer matches scoring highly in the entertainment stakes but in a losing cause.
Their latest Skrill Premier blockbuster resulted in a fourth defeat in five matches, despite playing the final 20 minutes with a one-man advantage as plots were lost and tempers flared.
Substitute Danny Wishart's double won it for Alfreton after goals from Magno Vieira and Matthew Barnes-Homer had cancelled out Tom Shaw's early opener.
It left Rovers 13th in the table after as many matches – an especially unlucky number for those who believed the summer hype and envisaged a title challenge at the New Lawn.
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Captain Anthony Barry's ear infection meant Kieron Forbes was handed his first start of the season in midfield, and within 30 seconds of the kick-off Alfreton had to contend with some disruption of their own when striker Paul Clayton landed awkwardly on his ankle and had to be replaced by Wishart.
Rovers could have capitalised quickly when Danny Wright soared to meet a Yan Klukowski free-kick and saw his glancing header tipped over by Ross Atkins.
The hosts eventually cleared their heads, and there was a warning to Dave Hockaday's men in the seventh minute when Job Ayo Akinde was put clear by Dan Bradley's pass and nicked the ball past the onrushing Sam Russell – only to find himself crowded out.
Five minutes later it was 1-0 as Josh Law picked the pocket of a hesitant Aarran Racine near the byline and squared for Shaw to ram home from close range.
Wright had a decent opportunity to restore parity when he expertly controlled a high ball and had time to set his sights inside the penalty area, only to blaze over.
The leveller eventually came in curious fashion on 19 minutes, Klukowski delivering a near-post corner at waist height that seemed to deceive Atkins in the flight before Vieira got the final touch with his head.
That was all the encouragement the visitors needed, and they went ahead in the 27th minute when Wright's low cross was allowed to travel a long way and Barnes-Homer produced an emphatic finish.
Wright was denied by Atkins again when a snap-shot was parried back into the path of the striker, who failed to connect properly with the rebound.
But Alfreton's threat never diminished, and they equalised two minutes before half-time when Wishart strode forward and let fly with a 20-yard shot that gave Russell no chance.
Klukowski almost applied the finishing touch to a fine Rovers move at the start of the second period, but his deft flick from Jared Hodgkiss' low cross rolled right across the goal-line.
It proved costly, as two minutes later Akinde fed Wishart in the left channel and the substitute outfoxed Russell with a prodded finish.
Akinde turned provider again after finding himself in a worrying amount of space, but Law's lofted attempt over Russell landed on the roof of the net.
Wishart brought a tumbling save from Russell as he sought an unlikely hat-trick, but his side were reduced to 10 men when Nick Fenton saw red for a wild lunge on James Norwood from behind.
A golden chance for Forest Green to level came when Hodgkiss swung over another delicious cross, only for Wright to head tamely at Atkins.
And it was agony again for Wright at the death when he flung himself at Norwood's cross-shot and could only locate the side-netting.
Alfreton Town: R. Atkins; B. Wood, N. Fenton, M. Wylde, L. Rowe-Turner; J. McGrath, T. Shaw, D. Bradley, J. Law; P. Clayton (D. Wishart 3), J. Akinde; Subs not used: D. Kempson, C. Franklin, D. Meadows, S. Akinde.
Forest Green: S. Russell; J. Hodgkiss, A. Racine, G. Pilkington, C. Stokes; K. Forbes (M. Kelly 62), A. Bangura, Y. Klukowski; M. Vieira (A. Mangan 62), D. Wright, M. Barnes-Homer (J. Norwood 68); Subs not used: E. Asafu-Adjaye, M. Bulman.
Referee: C. Kavanagh (Manchester)
Star man: Jared Hodgkiss – Enjoyed having the captain's armband back and raided impressively down the right.