Reds find the perfect response as they hand Cambridge lesson
ALFRETON Town, stung by the criticism of their manager Nicky Law after crashing to a home defeat at the weekend, hit back for a precious victory away to Cambridge United.
Law made two changes to the side beaten by Woking, with Daniel Meadows and Steven Hewitt replacing Scott Boden and Matty Harriott.
The Reds made a bright start, with Josh Law's free kick being held by home keeper Craig Ross.
Theo Streete fired wide and Nathan Arniold found the side netting – all inside the first quarter of an hour – but United soon rallied and Luke Berry shot wide after Leigh Franks partially cleared a Jamie Reed cross.
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A slip by Franks let in Reed but Darran Kempson managed to intercept and the Reds were relieved again after 19 minutes, when Liam Hughes put a clear header from six yards wide of the post.
When Kempson was booked for chopping down Reed on the half-hour, Joe Anderson's free kick was chested towards goal by Josh Coulson and it needed a flying save by Phil Barnes to prevent an opening goal.
Barnes then saved well from Reed after Franks attempted to halt his progress.
There was a major let-off for Alfreton after 42 minutes when Michael Gash smashed the ball against the post from eight yards with Luke Berry slicing the follow-up over the bar from a tight angle.
Three minutes into the second half, Hewitt latched on to a Kevin Roberts error to feed Clayton but his low drive was held by Ross.
A corner at the other end saw Barnes again having to save well from Reed.
But Cambridge were shaken in the 52nd minute when Law's corner found Franks unmarked at the near post and the defender's crisp header nestled into the net to break the deadlock.
The closest Cambridge came to an equaliser stemmed from a corner that Clayton headed on to the roof of his own net.
Reed tried to play Berry through 12 minutes from time, Dan Bradley keeping calm to work the ball clear, but the expected spell of home pressure never materialised.
The Reds had breathing space after 89 minutes when Arnold's volley from the right of the area flew past Ross.
In the third minute of added time, Clayton completed the rout by converting Meadows' cross from eight yards.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED: Ross, Roberts, Coulson, McAuley, Anderson, Jarvis (Shaw, 58), Wassmer (Brighton, 67), Hughes, Berry, Reed (Hudson, 80), Gash. Other subs: Hedge, Pugh.
ALFRETON TOWN: Barnes, Streete, Franks, Kempson, Franklin, Law, Bradley, Meadows, Hewitt, Clayton, Arnold. Subs: Taylor, Soares, Boden, Worsfold, Tomlinson.
REFEREE: K Johnson (Somerset).