Pools Youth Team defeated Alfreton Town 2-1 in the first
game of their NLFA North Division season despite finishing with nine men at
First half goals from Jack Leonard and Coleby Shepherd had
put Pools firmly in the driving seat after an impressive start but some sloppy
play and ill discipline almost allowed the visitors to claim a share of thespoils.
There were just three minutes on the clock when Ian McGuckin's
youngsters hit the front as Leonard's shot from twenty yards following a shortfree-kick squirmed through the fingers of the Alfreton keeper to find the net.
Leonard came agonisingly close to doubling his tally when he
struck the bar with a wonderful curling effort from the left corner of thepenalty area a couple of minutes later.
However, Pools didn't have to wait long for their second
goal when Shepherd nipped in skilfully from the right before shooting low pastthe keeper at his front post to make it 2-0 on 14 minutes.
Brad Fox dragged a shot wide after a flowing Pools move and
it looked as though the hosts were on for a handsome victory at sunnyBlackhall.
But rather than kick-on, Pools' play became disjointed and
Alfreton began to get back in to the game, drawing a fine save from keeperGrant Lowerson down to his left.
Pools didn't heed the warning though and the visiting side
did have their goal back nine minutes before half-time when a long free-kick
found the striker on the edge of the box and he rifled a wonderful finish in tothe top left-hand corner of the net.
Things got worse on 40 minutes when Fox was shown a straight
red card for a terrible lunge on one of the Alfreton defenders, rightfully receivinghis marching orders from the referee.
The second half was a much scrappier affair and comprised of
fewer chances as Pools tried to grind out the result, though Lowerson wascalled upon once again to make an excellent save flying to his left.
Aaron Willoughby almost made it 3-1 after capitalising on
some poor defending to carve out an opening but shot just wide, before Shepherdhit a shot just over the bar as Pools threatened to rediscover their rhythm.
Centre-back Oliver Thompson was booked for a shirt pull in
the closing stages and that came back to bite him a few minutes later when somedissent at another decision against Pools earned him a second yellow.
However, Pools saw out some seven minutes of injury-time to
hold on for three points and secure a win on their debut in the inaugural NLFAcampaign.
Full Time: Pools 2 Alfreton Town 1
Pools: Lowerson, James, Pilling, Thompson, Webster, Shepher, Campbell, Fox, Willoughby (Chapman 81), Leonard, Grey.
Subs not used: Wilson, Gibson, Sturdy, Naisbett.