Alfreton Town’s vital win at Welling United on Saturday was helped on its way by two first half penalties converted by Bradley Wood.
Three priceless Vanarama Conference points have now given the Reds a chance of avoiding the drop, although they remain in the relegation zone just six points behind Welling with two games in hand.
Karl Hawley put Alfreton three goals to the good, an advantage they retained until the 87th minute, but late goals drew United closer than they deserved.
Debuts were handed to on-loan duo keeper Jason Mooney and central defender Callum Howe, whilst Joe lronside made a late cameo appearance having signed an 18-month contract following his successful loan spell earlier in the season.
John Johnston was as nippy as usual, causing all sorts of problems that saw him go close after two minutes, then the winger lured Jamal Fyfield into tripping him as he shot past him into the area seven minutes later.
Wood sent the spot-kick low into the far corner of the net, with keeper Jonathan Henly desperately close to reaching the ball, then Welling’s first opportunity fell to Charlie Penny after 12 minutes when he fired wide from 30 yards.
Tom Shaw’s back-pass nearly caught Mooney out, but the keeper recovered as Penny closed in, then after 28 minutes Alfreton were refused a second penalty when Fyfield brought down Wood just inside the area after Johnston’s by-line run had ended with a partially cleared shot.
Mooney held Aristide Bassele’s through-ball low down, then after a sequence of Welling attacks had been stifled by off-side decisions against Dominic Vose the referee once again pointed to the penalty spot in the 39th minute.
Darren Purse had fouled Anthony Howell as Lee Stevenson played him into the area, and this time Wood sent the keeper the wrong way with his fourth spot-kick success of the season.
The last occasion that Alfreton had been awarded two penalties in the first half of a game had seen Paul Clayton and Josh Law both fail in the Reds’ very first Conference Premier game away at Hayes & Yeading in August 2011 which they went on to lose.
Two minutes before the break Howe’s superb tackle prevented Penny from breaking through for the hosts, then 11 minutes into the second half Howe headed wide following a Shaw corner.
On the hour Andi Thanoj took a return pass from Hawley to test Henly from 16 yards, then Hawley’s shot deflected off Fyfield to almost deceive the keeper who clutched with difficulty.
Mooney confidently punched clear a deep Fyfield cross from the left in the 71st minute, but Alfreton had a three goal cushion three minutes later following an injection of pace and strength by Stevenson.
His pass picked out Hawley, whose initial shot was blocked by Henly, but the striker tucked home the rebound with aplomb from 12 yards.
Mooney pulled off an important save from Rowan Vine in the 78th minute, but fumbled Fyfield’s cross as the move unfolded, then Reece Harris squandered a clear chance for the Wings from a Vine cross.
Vose was deemed to have been brought down by Luke Graham three minutes from time, although it appeared to be a clean tackle, and Vine marked his home debut by stroking the ensuing penalty past Mooney to make the score 1-3.
Another good save by Mooney saw him tip over a blistering drive from Malachi Hudson, but Johnston almost secured a fourth goal for the Reds on a swift break instigated by Hawley - however Henly held his angled drive.
In the fourth minute of added time Fyfield’s free-kick was headed back into the box by Vine and Chris Bush headed firmly past Mooney, with the final whistle following immediately.
Alfreton Town boss Nicky Law said his side’s 3-2 win at Welling United has given the Reds a great chance of staying up this season.
“We’ve nine games (coming up) and six of them we’re playing teams in and around us and realistically we’ve got to be looking at six wins - if we do that we’ll take pressure off and we’re still confident that we can get out of trouble - that brings us six points behind them [Welling] with two games in hand and we’ve just got to keep going” he said.
“We still have 51 points to play for - we’re going to need seven, eight wins out of 17 games - win one lose one - and l’m sure if we get that, 21 points on top of 27 we have already, it’s going to be nearly there. Who knows ?
“It’s a funny old league, look at Telford winning 4-0 at Wrexham, anyone can beat anyone.”
He added: “We were comfortable at 3-0 and could have gone on and made it more.”
Alfreton: Mooney; Wood, Howe, Graham, Rowe-Turner, Johnston, Shaw, Thanoj, Stevenson (Ironside 90+1), Howell, Hawley. Subs not used: Sheridan, Keane, Willis.