Injury Time Equaliser Leaves Alnwick In Trouble
Ryton & Crawcrook Albion grabbed a dramatic injury time equaliser, to leave Alnwick Town at the bottom of the table with only 2 games remaining.
Goals from Chris Laidlaw right before half time and Kevin Westphal shortly after the restart had Alnwick in control of the game, and in with a great chance of climbing off the foot of the table. Ryton's late fightback however leaves the club 3 points adrift of Darlington RA and 5 off Brandon United with a worse goal difference. The club face difficult away trips to Bedlington Terriers (Thursday) and Billingham Town (Saturday) to complete the season.
The home side should have been home and dry before the half time whistle was even blown, but former Alnwick goalkeeper Dom McMahon was in fine form, producing a number of brilliant saves to keep Ryton in the game.
At the other end, Hodgson was barely troubled, and Joe Pickard, who moved into centre half alongside Ross Straughan was keeping the away team frustrated in their efforts to get into the game.
Laidlaw's dink over McMahon in the 44th minute was the least Alnwick deserved to lead at the break. Westphal was eventually given the 2nd goal courtesy of the linesman's flag as he bundled the ball over at the 2nd attempt in the 50th minute.
Further chances came and went, and it wasn't until the 82nd minute that Ryton would get back into the game, Stephenson cutting inside at the back post and somehow firing through defender and keeper into the bottom corner.
The nerves and tension began to creep in. Alnwick's early dominance started to fade as Ryton pushed for an equaliser. The turning point came shortly before the 2nd goal. Keeper McMahon and Laidlaw challenged for a mid-air ball well outside of the area, with both players colliding and Laidlaw coming worse off. Unbelievably a freekick was awarded to the goalkeeper, and from the resulting freekick Ryton got their equaliser. The ball was only cleared to the corner of the 18 yard box, where Hedley swung a left foot cross / shot that looped into the far corner giving Hodgson no chance. Despair amongst the Alnwick players and supporters who were so close to a first win at St James' Park since August 2017.
A frustrating, disappointing and heartbreaking end to a game that Alnwick should have won comfortably. Again the commitment of the players on show could not be questioned. The lads have given their all in the closing stages of the season, and a large number of games in a short period of time simply caught up with them at the end.
Team: Hodgson R, Laviers A, Lowes J, Brown T, Pickard J, Straughan R, Westphal K,Wilson J, Riddell D (Robson L), Laidlaw C, Bright P
Unused: Threlfall J, Cravagan L, Jackson J, Purvis S
Hostpur 1364 Man of the Match: Joe Pickard