Jamie Brown’s well-taken second half goal decided a closely contested game as hosts Shirebrook Town grabbed all three NCEL Division One points with a 2-1 win over visitors AFC Emley at Langwith Road on Saturday.
That was just what Shirebrook manager Kevin Gee would have been hoping for after last Saturday’s frustrating 1-1 home draw against North Lincolnshire side Grimsby Borough.
Boosted by their 4-0 midweek away win against Central Midlands League South Division outfit Pinxton in the Second Round of the Derbyshire Senior Cup, Shirebrook began the game well, almost taking the lead inside the first minute through newly-signed Bruno Holden, an experienced striker of proven goalscoring ability from Evo-Stik First Division South side Loughborough Dynamo.
Nevertheless, midfielder Danny Booth put the home side in front from 18 yards on 15 minutes, despite having to stretch to get his shot away off Brown’s ball along the edge of the box from the right.
It was a great strike from Booth, but it woke Emley up and they immediately upped their game, Doran Jordan forcing a save out of Shirebrook keeper Gavin Saxby as the visitors attacked quickly down the right straight from the restart.
Emley kept the pressure up, their reward coming just before the half-hour when skipper Paul Sykes levelled the score from the penalty spot after full back Danny Claridge was harshly adjudged to have tripped Jordan in the box.
Shirebrook would have been happy to go in still level at half-time when the visitors continued to pile on the pressure after that, Claridge needing to defend at his best when Jordan threatened the home goal again right on the stroke of half-time.
The home side certainly looked better for the break, despite initially having to readjust when top-scorer Aaron Moxam failed to appear for the second half after he picked up a knock earlier in the game.
That was a blow for Shirebrook, but Holden looked likely to mark his club debut with a goal from the penalty spot after he was brought down in the box just after the hour, but Emley keeper Adam Lawlor denied him with a fine diving save to his left.
Soon after that the home side were almost left cursing their bad luck when a defensive slip let Emley substitute Liam Schofield in with only Shirebrook keeper Gavin Saxby to beat, but the big man did just enough to prevent the diminutive striker becoming an instant hero for the visitors with his very first touch of the ball on 67 minutes.
That save proved to be crucial when Brown snatched the winner for Shirebrook nine minutes later, Danny Bacon’s through ball unlocking the stubborn Emley defence, and Brown made no mistake from 16 yards on the right, slotting the ball into the back of the net between Lawlor and the near post.
The margin of the win might have been greater when Booth picked out Bacon with nine minutes to go, but Lawlor was quickly off his line to deny the former Stags’ striker at the edge of his box to keep the hard-working visitors still in with a very real shout before the final whistle came after four minutes of time added on at the end of the game.
Shirebrook Town remain unbeaten in November and, with no midweek game this week, Gee’s men are next in action on Saturday when they will be looking forward to the short trip to league newcomers Dronfield Town (3pm).
That is followed next Tuesday when Shirebrook stay on the road and travel to Doncaster for a 7.45pm kick-off against Rossington Main.
SHIREBROOK: Saxby, Witcombe, Claridge, Diuk (Wankiewicz 76), Henshaw, Booth, Brown, Getliff, Moxam (Thompson HT), Holden, Bacon. Subs not used: Shepherd, Wiltshire.
AFC EMLEY: Lawlor, Brown, Brook, Ingham, Jerome, Sykes, Tunnacliffe, Jordan (Schofield 67), Kenworthy, Brown, Hallam, Subs not used: Senior, Steers, Leech.
REFEREE: Michael Brownsett of West Yorkshire.