Another win to entertain St. James’
Alnwick won their third game on the spin with a rather nervy affair as the home side threw away a two goal lead but managed to fight back for all three points writes Media Officer Mark Craggs.
Alnwick Town 3-2 Brandon United
Brown 28’, 37’; Jackson 85’- Ellis 73’, Clarkson 74’
Breaking the pattern of slow starts, this one saw Brandon litter the opening minutes with chances. Adam Smith crossed for Andrew Clarkson in the first minute as the visitors looked for the earliest of goals but Alnwick’s keeper Callum Brooks was out to collect. The next opportunity came from a strange corner decision in Brandon’s favour with a free kick from near the halfway line seeming to clear everyone but the referee saw different awarding Brandon the set play. The corner found Daniel Pearson whose shot was not far away from finding the net.
Alnwick’s first near miss came with 10 minutes on the clock. Kieran Hogg curled a left footed free kick from the right goal wards with Darren Riddell jumping highest of the crowd of players. His header was close enough to panic Jack Wilson but not close enough to open the scoring. Brandon were next to go close as skipper James Ellis was played through. However Brooks was off his line quickly to knock the ball clear of danger.
Brandon kept the pressure on, a corner was swung into a dangerous area at the front post but Alnwick defender Tom MacPherson was on hand to clear with a commanding diving header. The clearance sent Alnwick on a counter attack. Jamie Dixon played the ball to Tony Brown who carried the ball forward over the halfway line. Brown had options in Dom Schiavetta to his left and Darren Riddell to his right but instead decided to shoot from distance, pulling the shot wide to the keeper's right.
But Brown’s next shot found it intended target. The right sided players Ryan Douglas and Lewis Robson linked up well with the former crossing in. The ball was headed down to the edge of the area where Brown waited. He struck the ball on a side footed, half volley as it floated perfectly into the top corner past Wilson at full stretch to his right. 1-0 to Alnwick with 28 minutes played.
This saw a real turn in momentum as Alnwick pressed for a second. Only five minutes later Douglas almost found the head of Schiavetta, with only Wilson, who claimed well under pressure, denying him. A minute later, Tony Brown took a corner from the right, directing it towards the back post for the head of Tom MacPherson. The centre half’s header was blocked from the line by a defender as the keeper was beaten.
However the second was added with 37 minutes gone. Another Ryan Douglas cross from a deep position caused problems, despite it not being as sweetly struck as the right back may perhaps had hoped. The dragged cross ended up on the edge of the area where it was met by the arm of a Brandon defender, who was adjudged to have his arm in an unnatural position. This gave Brown a chance to double his tally from the spot, which of course he took. Ryan Wilson lost the mind game, going to his right as Brown slotted left. 2-0 at halftime with Alnwick looking like they were cruising.
However, after the second half got underway it became apparent that they weren’t. Eight minutes after the restart Callum Brooks made a great stop to maintain the two goal cushion, Ellis latched onto the ball through leaving Douglas helpless as any tackle would have likely been a foul. However the Alnwick stopper was off his line to close down the angle and block the shot away. Brandon’s next attempt was also matched by Brooks as Clarkson got two goes at pulling one back. The first shot was blocked away by one of the crowd in front of him but he had a better look for his second, drilling the ball hard and low however finding no luck again, Brooks got down to turn it away.
The goal everyone saw coming arrived in the 73rd minute, but in controversial fashion. A second penalty for handball was awarded by the referee whoever Douglas looked to be struck on the shoulder by the ball as well as outside the box. A poor decision by the ref saw Alnwick concede their first goal in 253 minutes as skipper Ellis took responsibility and just found a way past Brooks who guessed right.
The equaliser followed almost instantly, Brooks was challenged as a corner came in, getting to the ball but not doing anything with it other than to put it on a plate for Clarkson. He had the easiest job to tap into an empty net. 2-2 and it looked as if Alnwick had thrown it away.
However, 5 minutes from time Alnwick launched another attack. Douglas played the ball towards Schiavetta who let the ball run for super sub James Jackson. Jackson hit the ball sweetly first time, catching the shot perfectly, curling it pinpoint into the bottom corner around a helpless Wilson, and in turn putting Alnwick back in front.
Brandon had one last go, Anthony Phillipson crossed into the crowded penalty area. Brooks caught the cross but was barged by Ellis. The keeper dropped the ball to the feet of Ellis who tapped in. But celebrations were short lived as the ref awarded Alnwick a free kick for the barge. And that was that as Alnwick saw out the remaining two minutes to claim another three points and to pull closer to league safety. 3-2 the final score.
Alnwick- C. Brooks, Douglas, Baker, K. Hogg, MacPherson, Gair ©, Robson, Brown, Riddell (Jackson 68’), Schiavetta, Dixon
Subs Not Used- B. Brooks, Lowes, S. Hogg
Hotspur 1364 Man of the Match - Tom Macpherson
Photos copyright of Steve Miller