On the same day his brother extended Newcastle United’s stay in the premier League by another year, with a hat-trick, Samuel Perez’s away debut was capped off with a brace for himself, but not a result to match. Newcastle University returned to the top of the league as Niza Chilufya improved his chances of becoming the league’s golden boot winner.
The University, and Chilufya, were made to wait 25 minutes before taking the lead. Jack Henderson had dealt with Chilufya very well up to this point, covering every run in behind by the University man, restricting him to just a single effort on goal up until this point, and the forward hit high and wide from the edge of the box.
But the forward’s 36th goal of the season must have been one of his easiest. Noah Neill’s corner from the left wasn’t dealt with by the Alnwick defence. After a scramble in the box, the ball fell kindly to Chilufya who was just yards out. Actually facing away from goal, the forward back-heeled the ball to score the game’s opening goal.
The heat was so much, rising as high as 30 degrees, the ref called for a drinks break after half an hour played. Alexander Zantis, in the University goal, was soon put back to action and he was level to the onslaught on his goal by producing a double-save. Perez was denied space to run forward into the opposition box so instead cut the ball right to Jonathyn Quinn in the middle of the opposition half. His first time pass found Ross Moore in plenty of space. He took one touch inside the box to steady himself and then tested Zantis with a fierce low shot which the goalkeeper could only parry back out into his area. Jake Morrison wasn’t given much time and had to take his effort first time which was also denied by Zantis, this time pushed round the post by a quick reaction save.
Jake Morrison saw this effort saved. Despite Kieran Hogg proving much of an attacking threat since moving from left full back into the middle of midfield to partner Quinn, Alnwick entered the break still 1-0 down.
The pair did link up to pull Alnwick level just moments after the restart. With many fans still inside the bar, Perez grabbed his first of the game Hogg moved the ball to his left, along the middle of midfield, to Quinn, who continued the ball on its course left and clearing it out of danger, finding Perez. Jake Morrison was returning to the side since his double in the victory over Wallington, and the forward played an important one-two with Perez, on the edge of the area, to play the latter in one-on-one with the goalkeeper. All that was left to do was roll the ball under the goalkeeper as he dived but he was unable to stop Alnwick levelling the score.
Samuel Perez on the attack for the visitors. Chilufya then began the move which quickly restored University’s lead. His ball down the left wing found Conrad Zylko, who then crossed the ball all the way to the back post finding Timmy Browne. His mishit shot at close range almost wasted the chance for the hosts but the ball kindly sliced straight to Ben McCarthy who’s right-footed effort was harder to miss and made it 2-1.
Shortly into the last 15 minutes of the game and Perez drew Alnwick level for a second time in the match with his second goal. Quinn had plenty of time in the opposition’s half and found a pass towards Cameron Cunningham who had switched from the left wing now to the right. His change of direction, cutting back onto his left, gave him more space to chip a forward pass behind the University defence and towards Perez. Guiding the ball ahead of his own run using his chest, Perez kept the chasing defender behind him and powered his shot across the keeper and into the net.
But just as they had done twice previously in this match and all too often in recent game, Alnwick gave up their lead once more and Chilufya probably couldn’t believe his luck. A mirror image of his first goal, Neill’s hard and low corner found Chilufya in the middle of the goal, just yards out, who left Alnwick keeper, Thomas Slack, with no chance as the forward smashed home a first-time strike.
An Alnwick corner tipped over the bar. More misery was to be added for Alnwick in added time. Jonathyn Quinn was to fault for giving away an penalty after a late challenge and the spot-kick was converted by Browne as the last kick off the game before the final whistle was blown. Alnwick return to St James’ Park when they host FC United of Newcastle next Saturday, 27th April.
Newcastle University: Zantis, Taylor (McCarthy ’50), Blanch, Neill, Robinson, Zylko, Pedford, Scott, Chilufya, Browne, Ferguson
Alnwick Town: Slack, Henderson, Dundas, Balmbra, Lowes (Threlfall ’89), Moore (Muter ’76), Hogg (Maddison ’89), Quinn, Cunningham, Perez, Morrison (Colley ’60)
Photos by Jason Sumner.
Cover photo - Jonny Colley battles for the ball.