Worcester City 5-3 Alfreton Town
Vanarama National League North
Rob George reports from the Victoria Ground.
WORCESTER City recorded their first win of the season at the ninth attempt in a hugely entertaining game on a warm, sultry night at the Victoria Ground.
With games involving the visitors averaging 5.5 goals per game before kick-off, it was perhaps no surprise the following 90 minutes yielded an incredible eight goals.
City boss Carl Heeley made five changes from the 2-2 draw with Gainsborough Trinity with Andy Gallinagh, Graham Hutchinson, Sam Oji, Ebby Nelson Addy and Steven Craig coming in for James Chambers, Tom Sharpe, Danny Jackman, Colby Bishop and Richard Batchelor.
Alfreton have already hit the net 20 times in this campaign and made it 21 after just six minutes when the visitors skipper Daniel Bradley found Craig Westcarr whose shot was deflected by Oji into the path of Samuel Smith who tapped home.
Early season City would perhaps have let their heads drop but there is a growing confidence in this Blue and White team and Heeley’s men responded well to the setback.
And they were rewarded on 17 minutes when Hughes capitalised on a slip by the Alfreton centre-half to race through on goal and slot it confidently low into the bottom right corner to make it 1-1.
The home side remained on the front foot and got a deserved reward eight minutes later when a teasing cross from Cieron Keane was just about cleared by the struggling visitors defence.
Keane raced over to take the corner and his pinpoint delivery was met by a powerful header by Junior English to put City ahead.
Alfreton rallied and put City under pressure from a couple of set pieces and Westcarr perhaps had the best chance in the closing stages of the first half when his header sailed narrowly wide with Ethan Ross flat footed in the City goal.
Weir and Craig both had opportunities but City went into the break with a deserved 2-1 lead.
Chekaine Steele warmed the hands of Alfreton keeper Fabian Spiess early in the second half before Heeley’s men were pegged back around the hour when a free kick into the box saw full-back Thomas Allan rise above Hutchinson and send a header past Ross to make it 2-2.
The introduction of Bishop from the bench on 66 minutes proved inspired as the young forward saw provided fresh impetus for Heeley’s front-line.
Steele’s run in the 70th minute saw him play the ball into the box and Bishop was on hand to take advantage of sloppy Alfreton defending to slot home and give City the lead again.
Two minutes later it was 4-2 when Weir’s long ball forward found Bishop on the right hand edge of the area and some trickery from the forward saw him twist and turn before firing a powerful shot into the corner of the net.
Assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis raised her flag as Hughes was offside when Bishop shot but after consultation with referee Darren Strain the goal was given as Hughes was deemed not to be interfering with play.
The nine minute massacre was complete when Bishop linked up with Hughes on the edge of the area and the 40-year-old finished beautifully to make it 5-2.
Heeley and assistant boss John Snape broke into Mourinho like runs down the touchline in celebration, deserved reward for a tough few months for the City boss.
Hughes was taken off minutes later to a deserved standing ovation from much of the faithful but City’s defensive dithering resurfaced in the third minute of injury time when Liam Hearn’s shot was well saved by Ross.
The ball should have been booted onto the Birmingham Road but City dithered and allowed a cross to be put in leaving Hearn with a simple header to make it 5-3.
A win is a win and City will be delighted to have their first three points on the board after a tricky start to the season.
The backline remains a concern but if City continue tearing defences apart like Alfreton’s then it will certainly be value for money at the Victoria Ground this season.