Harriers 3, Alfreton 1

HARRIERS recorded a fifth straight win to rise to second in the Blue Square Bet Premier but they were forced to work hard by durable Alfeton.

Goals for Amari Morgan-Smith, Josh Gowling and Anthony Malbon made sure of all three points.

But Steve Burr's side were below their best against an Alfreton side battling for their lives at the wrong end of the table.

Ben Tomlinson had bagged an equaliser in the first half, before Harriers roared back into a 3-1 lead by the break.

Despite having defender Leigh Franks in goal because of an injury to stopper Phil Barnes and Theo Streete sent off, the away side had the best of the second half.

Harriers had opened the scoring 55 seconds into the game.

On-loan Macclesfield striker Morgan-Smith bagged his first goal for the hosts.

He did well to skip past Darren Kempson and slot the ball coolly beyond keeper Barnes.

Harriers were piling the pressure on their out of form opponents but Alfreton's top-scorer Paul Clayton nearly grabbed a leveller out of nothing with a fine first-time effort, but keeper Danny Lewis produced a fine save.

Wideman Marvin Johnson then steered a fierce low effort just wide.

But the hosts were stunned when Alfreton equalised in the 27th minute. Gowling slipped in midfield and gave the ball away. Former Harrier Dan Bradley drove down the right and crossed, while an unmarked Tomlinson headed home.

But the home side responded well and Gowling attorned  for his error by putting Harriers back ahead.

He was the first to reach Kyle Storer's free-kick and headed home.

Alfreton keeper Barnes was also nursing an injury and he was powerless to prevent Marvin Johnson's cross from flying over him and Malbon volleyed home a spectacular third goal.

Barnes could not continue and he was substituted at the start of the second half, with outfield player Franks going into goal, while wideman Nathan Arnold came on.

The visitors started the second half brightly and pushed the hosts back.

Josh Law whipped in a free-kick which evaded everyone in the box, while Arnold saw his cross fly over the bar after teasing Mickey Demetriou.

Harriers saw a neat attack come to an end when Malbon was trying to find Danny Jackman.

Malbon then saw an effort saved from point blank range by Franks.

But Alfreton were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute when Streete was shown a straight red card after he retaliated to a foul by Gowling, who was also handed a yellow.

Substitute Martin Devaney nearly marked his debut with a goal after being set-up by Malbon but Alfreton's emergency keeper made another save.

For all of Alfreton's time on the ball they failed to truly test Lewis and Harriers held on for a hard fought three points.

Harriers: Lewis, Demetriou, Storer, Vincent (Pearson, 80), Malbon, Johnson (Devaney, 73), Jackman, Shakes, Morgan-Smith (Blissett, 58), Dunkley, Gowling.

Subs: Williams, N Vaughan.

Alfreton: Barnes (Arnold, 46), Franks, Franklin, Quinn, Kempson, Law, Bradley, Streete, Meadows, Clayton (Boden, 70), Tomlinson (Soares, 83).

Subs: Worsfold, Hewitt.

Referee: Chris Cavanagh (Lancashire).

Attendance: 2,209 (87)