Alnwick Town 3 v 2 Gateshead Reserves
A hat-trick from in form striker Phil Airey, and a string of fine saves from Callum Brooks ensured Alnwick Town would secure 3 points in a hard fought contest at St James' Park.
|Alnwick Town||3-2||Gateshead Reserves|
|Airey P||L McGeoch|
|(7, 52, 88m)||(23, 62m)|
They say the league table doesn't lie, but Gateshead Reserves gave Alnwick Town an almighty scare at St James' Park, with their performance not reflecting their current position in the Northern Alliance.
Ross Moore returned to the starting 11, along with Kyle Burns taking a place on the bench following long term injuries received away at Bedlington Terriers in the Senior Cup. New signing Tyler Scarth would also start from the bench.
On a cold and blustery day, Alnwick had the opening chances on the game, the first being from Airey, who following a cross from Eastlake saw his header tipped over the bar by Ugochukwu in the Gateshead goal.
7 minutes on the clock and the opening goal, with Airey not to be denied this time. The striker fired a half volley from inside the box low under the goalkeeper to give the home side the lead. (1-0)
Jonny Colley almost made it 2, following an Airey flick on, but saw his chance saved.
Gateshead began to come more into the game, and were looking for through balls for their pacey centre forwards. In the 23rd minute, it paid off as good build up play found McGeoch who fired left footed into the corner of the net from around 15 yards out, a good finish. (1-1)
McGeoch, who recently made his debut for Gateshead's first team, almost gave the visitors the lead, but would fine Brooks in fine form to deny him.
The final chance of the half fell to Quinn, but following quick build up play his effort was comfortably saved.
Half Time, 1-1, and Alnwick weren't getting into full flow.
2nd half saw Dundas replaced by Drummond due to a thigh injury, and this was shortly followed by Colley going off for Scarth due to an ankle injury.
52nd minute and Alnwick were back in front. A break down the right saw Douglas get to the byline and whip in a cross that was perfectly placed for Airey to power home with his head. The keeper got a touch but couldn't keep it out. (2-1)
Almost immediately after the restart Gateshead should have been level, but after the ball came along the 6 yard box, Dingley could only send the ball straight across the face of goal, somehow failing to score.
62 minutes and Gateshead were back level once again. A pre-planned corner routine was drilled low to the edge of the box, dummied by one player, with McGeoch waiting to smash the ball through the crowd of players into the net. (2-2)
Callum Brooks would then produce two fine saves to deny substitute Warriner and once again McGeoch as Gateshead pushed for a winner.
The game was end to end in the closing stages, and the games big moment came in the 88th minute. A short back pass allowed Airey a chance, and as he nudged the ball past the keeper he was brought down. Penalty to Alnwick despite the complaints. Airey would step up and send the keeper the wrong way to complete his hat-trick. (3-2)
The drama wasn't quite over yet, as Gateshead once again had the ball in the back of the net in injury time, but the goal was ruled out for handball.
Full Time and Alnwick somehow got 3 points out of the game. Swings and roundabouts as their previous game against Killingworth they didn't deserve to come away with nothing.
Team: Brooks C, Henderson J, Pickard J, Quinn J, Balmbra B, Dundas L (Drummond A), Moore R (Threlfall J), Douglas R (Muter C), Airey P (Burns K), Colley J (Scarth T), Eastlake D
Thanks to today's match sponsor - John Anderson of Alnwick Memories
Thanks to Jonny Mason for today's photographs.