LEIGH RMI'S high hopes have been wrecked - by a relegated team.

Ironically, the Unibond Premier Division's shock of the day came exactly 24 hours after the Conference Ground Committee had awarded Hilton Park a prestigious A Grade.

That means if RMI finish in a promotion position there would be no problem joining the Conference.

But all those hopes were pushed aside on Saturday as Alfreton beat them 3-2.

Yet the Derbyshire side finished the game with only nine men having had goalkeeper Gareth Bough and Martin Connelly sent off.

"The grading completely justifies and vindicates the football club's move from Horwich three years ago," said chairman Chris Healey.

"Conference chief executive Peter Hunter was impressed with the stadium, especially the crowd capacity and the installation of CCTV."

Unfortunately, Saturday's performance on the field spoiled the news of the previous day.

And RMI remain in fourth place, having lost three games in eight days.

They fell behind three minutes after the break. Simon Motyka picked out Craig Weston with a deep cross and he volleyed past goalkeeper Andy Furnival who was deputising for the injured Dave Felgate.

Weston turned provider when he released Glynn Stacey, who turned Simon Kay to score in the corner.

Connelly was sent off for a second bookable offence a minute later for a reckless challenge on Ian Brady, before Peter McCrae, on for Mick Wallace, scored his first goal for RMI after relentless pressure.

Bough then received his marching orders for handling the ball outside the box and stand-in keeper Neil Pickering was beaten by an acrobatic shot from Graham Hill.

With Leigh pushing forward in search of the winner Alfreton caught them out at the back, snatching the winner 10 seconds from time.

PETER SMYTH is rarely on the scoresheet for Leigh RMI.

But he scored with a memorable strike in the 2-0 win over Lancaster City.

From Ian Barker's pass 20 yards from goal he hit a thunderous left-foot drive that found the top corner - his first goal of the season.

"It was long overdue," said the former Manchester United midfield starlet.

The second goal came from striker Keith Evans, who headed his 14th goal of the season.

LEIGH RMI slumped to their heaviest league defeat of the season, 3-0 at Gainsborough, as the hectic Easter schedule of four matches in eight days finally took its toll against the UniBond Premier Division's Team of the Month.

It was only the sixth time they had failed to score in 38 league matches.

But the biggest blow came when ever-present goalkeeper Dave Felgate limped out of the game - and possibly the season.

"We are all gutted," said striker Eric Rostron. "But at this level you must take your chances and I was the guilty party tonight. Our second half performance was inept."

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