Amari Morgan-Smith’s first-half double helps Alfreton begin their defence of the Senior Challenge Cup with a 2-0 victory over Heanor Town.
Up against a team three divisions below them, Alfreton fielded a strong starting XI who did enough to progress into the last eight, despite being given a scare or two by Glen Clarence’s Lions.
Aside from Morgan-Smith’s impressive individual display, one of the game’s key talking points was a serious groin injury suffered by Alfreton midfielder David Lynch.
It took Alfreton just seven minutes to take the lead courtesy of a powerful strike from Morgan-Smith.
David Lynch won the ball in an advanced position and slid in the 30-year-old forward, who finished excellently past Heanor stopper Jordan Pierrepont.
However, Lynch suffered a potentially serious injury in the build-up to this goal, receiving treatment on his thigh for six minutes before being stretchered off.
Lynch is understood to have been taken to hospital for further checks.
Just before the half-hour mark, Alfreton doubled their advantage, with Morgan-Smith grabbing his second of the night.
Winger Declan Bacon produced a wicked left-footed cross which the former AFC Telford striker headed at goal, with the ball clipping the crossbar before bouncing into the bottom-right corner of Pierrepont’s net.
The home side had a couple more opportunities to add to their lead before the interval, going particularly close through Nyle Blake, but the Tigers fought well to keep themselves in the contest for the second half.
After the break, a flurry of chances arrived for both sides.
Firstly, Morgan-Smith went close to his hat-trick but was denied by a good save from Pierrepont.
Then, just after the hour, Heanor had a good chance to halve the deficit, but substitute Jessie Vowles’ long-range strike went just wide of Charlie Andrews’ left-hand post.
Alfreton dominated the final quarter of the game but didn’t quite manage to add to their two-goal lead.
In the 79th minute, young substitute Harvey Grice went close to getting on the scoresheet, finding space on the edge of the box before firing a low effort towards the bottom corner, but Pierrepont got down well to tip the shot around the post.
Just before the final whistle, Reds defender Jake Bennett perhaps should have made the result look more convincing - he dribbled towards goal and lined up well to shoot but failed to find the target, instead firing over the bar.
This victory will be one of relief for Alfreton boss Billy Heath, whose side’s last home win came back in early September.
Having won this competition last season, beating Mickleover Sports 2-1 in the final seven months ago, Alfreton players and fans might well be keen for another potential trip to Pride Park this term.