Alnwick Town 3 v 4 Crook Town
Christian Holliday scored in the dying minutes of the game to end an entertaining contest between 2 struggling Northern League sides, as Alnwick Town's 2017 came to a disappointing end.
|Alnwick Town||3 - 4||Crook Town|
|Jackson J (36)||Morris K (16, 24, 66)|
|Laidlaw C (43)||Holliday C (88)|
|Brown T (69)|
It was another changed squad for the final home game of the year, with various holidays, work, injuries and other absentees reducing the squad down to the bare bones right down to kick off.
The game saw Kevin Westphal make his home debut for the club following his signing from Shankhouse, and Adam Shanks started upfront following his transfer from Jarrow Roofing BCA.
In blustery conditions, it was difficult for both sides to get going, as the ball flew all over the place when it was in the air. Tony Brown had Alnwick's opening chance after 4 minutes, but his free-kick from 25 yards out was just wide.
9 minutes on the clock and a let-off for the home side, as Crook attacked and made their way through the Alnwick defence, but the effort was agonisingly wide.
As the game was going end to end, Crook took advantage after 16 minutes. A corner wasn't cleared at the near post, and Kyle Morris was able to shoot through a crowd of players around the 6 yard box. (0-1)
Less than 10 minutes later, the away side doubled their lead. A simple long ball through the middle of the park was not dealt with by defender or goalkeeper, allowing Morris the simplest of goals into an empty net. (0-2)
Strangely, the 2nd goal spurred Alnwick back into life. From the resulting kick off, Adam Shanks just put an effort wide from a Tony Brown cross. As the home side continued to press, their pressure finally paid off.
36 minutes on the clock, and a bit of magic arrived at St James' Park. A cross into the box came awkwardly to James Jackson, who lifted the ball into the air and struck an overhead kick into the back of the net. No chance for the keeper, and Alnwick back in the game. (1-2).
The home side were on the up, and got a deserved equaliser right before half time.
Adam Shanks beat the full back, and played in a cross along the 6 yard box. Chris Laidlaw stretched and appeared to get the ball stuck under his body, but he was able to adjust and stab the ball into the near post. All square at half time (2-2).
Alnwick's momentum wasn't at the same tempo as the 2nd half began, as both sides tried to get a grip of the game. Half chances came and went, but nothing to really trouble either keeper.
58 minutes and Crook Town's David Paul was awarded a penalty following contact by defender Ross Straughan. For such a big lad he went down very easily. From the resulting penalty, Rob Hodgson went the right way to keep the scores level. Perhaps justice was done.
Kyle Morris would finally get his hat-trick in the 66th minute. Another simple ball through the middle of the defence wasn't dealt with, and he slotted past Hodgson to make it 2-3.
Game over? Not likely. Adam Shanks weaved through the left side of the Crook defence, despite attempts to bring him down. His shot in the box was handled by the defender, and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Harsh? Probably, but it evened up the dubious penalty decisions.
Tony Brown (whose better half is due to give birth any day now) stepped up and saw his penalty saved, but he was there to tap the rebound in. 3-3 and game on yet again with 20 minutes still to play.
Alnwick pressed, but the final touch / ball just wasn't there. Although a point would have ended a run of defeats, in the current situation wins are needed.
In the 88th minute, that point vanished. A ball in the box wasn't cleared again, and Christian Holliday shot at keeper Hodgson, but the ball somehow went through his hands and crept over the line. Players slumped to the ground, heartbreak in the dying moments for the home side, jubilant scenes from the away players and dugout. (3-4)
The goal knocked the stuffing out of the home side, as Crook played out the final couple of minutes to secure themselves 3 vital points in the fight against relegation. For Alnwick Town, it leaves them bottom of the table at Christmas with 18 games to play. With much uncertainty surrounding promotion / relegation places come the end of the season due to FA restructuring of leagues at this level, Alnwick need to hope that 2018 will bring a turnaround in form to move them away from the bottom of the table.
Team: Hodgson R, Fearns Kennedy B, Brotherick S, Sands K, Straughan R, Westphal K, Robson L, Brown T, Shanks A, Jackson J (Riddell D), Laidlaw C
Unused: Pickard J, Cravagan L
Match Sponsor: Northern Structures Limited
Next up: Jarrow (away) Wednesday 27th December, 7:45pm KO