Despite Alfreton Town’s emphatic 4-0 win over Barrow at the Impact Arena on Tuesday night, the Reds are still not sure of Blue Square Bet Premier safety.
Three of the bottom four teams, including Barrow, cannot now catch them but there is still one relegation spot to evade, although the 54 points and 15th spot Alfreton have attained is exactly the same as the final tally last season.
This was the Reds’ first double of the campaign and was achieved in style, with Paul Clayton and Nathan Arnold each netting a brace of goals in the second half.
An angled volley by Ben Tomlinson was tipped over by Barrow keeper Danny Hurst in the 12th minute, then Steven Hewitt’s through-ball bounced awkwardly and Hurst could only head the ball under pressure from Tomlinson.
Clayton had a header disallowed after Arnold was deemed to have run the ball out of play, then the striker headed wide from Josh Law’s 21st minute free-kick.
The visitors were unlucky four minutes later when Richie Baker’s accurate shot took a deflection to safety off Dan Bradley, then back at the other end Daniel Meadows’ shot was tipped over by Hurst from Arnold’s cross.
There was a moment of concern in the 34th minute when Gavin Skelton’s angled drive out of the blue almost caught Jordan Pickford unawares, but the agile keeper managed to claw the ball away with Law tidying up at the back post.
Just 65 seconds into the second half Meadows was upended by Danny Rowe and Law’s free-kick rebounded off the foot of the post before Clayton lashed in the loose ball from the closest of ranges to open the scoring.
Four minutes later a long clearance from Pickford bounced off a Barrow defender only for Clayton to scoop the ball into the keeper’s arms, but the top scorer soon put the record straight by rifling home from 12 yards in the 54th minute after turning to finish off Hewitt’s pass stylishly.
Tomlinson’s header was cleared off the line by Garry Hunter from Law’s 58th minute corner, then Arnold fired straight at Hurst from close range from Tomlinson’s cross.
Another neat move brought the third goal 21 minutes from time, Arnold thumping Bradley’s pass beyond Hurst from the edge of the area, then the busy Barrow keeper spilled an Arnold shot before Danny O’Donnell cleared.
O’Donnell then popped up at the other end to send a header just wide from Sean McConville’s free-kick, but O’Donnell was instrumental in Alfreton’s fourth goal on 81 minutes when his miskick set up Arnold to stab home from close range after Tomlinson and Clayton had mesmerised him on the by-line.
Hurst still needed to beat out sub Louie Soares’ powerful shot from 20 yards in the final moments, but the defeat has almost certainly condemned the Cumbrians to the Conference North for next season.
ALFRETON: Pickford; Law, Streete, Kempson, Rose, Meadows, Bradley, Hewitt, Arnold, Tomlinson [Soares 83], Clayton [Worsfold 83].
Subs not used: Taylor, Franks, Barnes.