Alfreton Town 1 Fleetwood Town 4 - A devastating fifteen minute second half hat-trick from Jamie Vardy led Fleetwood Town to their sixth successive away victory in the Blue Square Bet Premier league.
To make matters worse for Alfreton Town, they went down to ten men after just 34 minutes when skipper Theo Streete brought down Vardy for a penalty converted by Richard Brodie. The league’s most porous defence could not handle the pace that confronted them, notably from Vardy.
Nathan Pond made his first start of the season for Town, replacing Jamie Milligan in the only change from Friday’s starting eleven at Lincoln.
A familiar face in Alfreton’s colours was Jamie Mullan, making his eighth start, following his move from Highbury to the Impact Arena in the summer.
Vardy was immediately tormenting the home defence but it was Alfreton who took the territorial honours in the early minutes and a worrying sight for the 41 travelling fans was a limping Charlie Wassmer.
Brodie turned a ball across Joe Day’s goal after seven minutes as Town retaliated but the home side looked composed and belied their lowly league position.
Town came forward after 16 minutes with Glenn Wilson and Ryan Jackson linking down the right but Brodie’s shot was comfortably saved. The striker then appeared on the left, slipping the ball to Vardy who was caught offside.
Wilson and Jackson combined once more with Friday’s two-goal hero firing wide to Day’s right.
Town had a chance to open the scoring on 27 minutes. Wilson hooked a ball down the centre and Brodie chased but could not capitalise as the Reds defence regrouped.
Referee Whitton had not endeared himself to the home crowd during the first half hour and was to further distance himself in the pivotal 34th minute.
Brodie ran strongly down the right and delivered a perfect cross to Vardy who advanced before being brought down in the penalty area by Streete. The defender received his marching orders and Brodie placed the spot kick to Day’s right for his fourth goal of the season.
The official’s yellow card was raised two minutes later, Town’s Wilson the recipient for a foul near the left edge of Town’s penalty area.
Alfreton could have gone in level but wasted an opportunity when Paul Clayton fed Mullan down the right but the former Highbury favourite’s cross was misplaced.
Wassmer, happily recovered, was booked just before the interval for a foul.
Brodie was replaced by Gareth Seddon at the start of the second period.
Alfreton came forward down the left with Mullan at the heart of the action but Town were about to deliver a killer blow. Jamie McGuire hooked the ball clear and Vardy put Anton Brown under pressure on the half way line. Town’s flyer slipped away and beat the advancing Day for his sixth goal of the season with less than two minutes of the half completed.
Seddon could have made matters worse for the Reds after 49 minutes, when he beat the advancing Day on the left only to see his shot from a narrow angle hit the post.
Alfreton came back momentarily in the 55th minute, Lee Stevenson forcing Davies into his first save as he dived to his left but Town turned the screw further three minutes later when Seddon combined with Vardy, the latter beating offside to score his second with a left foot shot that gave Day no chance.
Jamie Milligan replaced McGuire on the hour and it did not take long for Vardy to claim his hat-trick, pouncing after 61 minutes as the referee played advantage to drivehis third left-foot shot past Day.
The referee booked Connor Franklin for a foul on Town’s Jackson. Vardy left to be replaced by Sean Clancy.
The game’s next goal went to the home side after 70 minutes when Clayton ran strongly off the left wing and hit a shot to the right of Davies who got a hand to it but it was not enough.
Mullan brought his former team-mate Milligan down soon after and joined the list in the referee’s notebook.
Pond almost added his name to the scoring list, striking a shot from the edge of the area narrowly wide of Day’s left-hand post but the damage had been done in front of a crowd of 625. Nineteen goals in six away games is an achievement to be proud of.
After the match, Micky Mellon said: “We knew we were in for a tough match and that we had to compete in all areas because it’s a difficult ground to come to.
“Jamie Vardy was fantastic. He has blistering pace and that bit of magic. He was the hero but there’ll be different heroes each week because of the quality we have.
“We’ve worked hard to get where we are. Once again, the fans were fantastic.”
Vardy added: “I’ve bagged a few hat-tricks but you just look to the next one now. I use my abilities to my advantage and not many catch me but it’s where we are at the end of the season that matters.”
Scorers: Clayton 70, Brodie (pen) 37, Vardy 47, 58, 61
Alfreton Town: Day, Law, Franklin (Young 85), Streete red card, Franks, Brown, Hall (Moult 66), Mackin yellow card, Mullan, Stevenson (Senior 66), Clayton. Substitutes, Young, Moult, Senior, Wilson, Jarman. Fleetwood Town: Davies, McNulty yellow card, Brown, Wilson, Wassmer yellow card, Jackson, Pond, McGuire (Milligan 60), Brodie (Seddon 46), Mangan, Vardy (Clancy 67), Substitutes, St Louis-Hamilton, Goodall, Clancy, Milligan, Seddon. Ref: Robert Whitton. Att: 625