Brandon United...2 Alnwick Town...1
STL Northern League, Division Two
A BATTLING performance from 10-man Alnwick Town was undone late on, as Brandon United cruelly snatched all three points in the game’s closing stages.
Neil Catlow was sent off in the first-half but an equaliser from club colleague Chris Moffet 14 minutes from time looked like the St James’ Park side would take something from Saturday’s Northern League, Division Two clash.
But Mark Ferguson pounced in the 80th minute to hand United an undeserved victory, condemning Town to their first defeat in four matches.
It was tough on the Northumbrians, whose brave display merited at least a share of the spoils.
Town went in to the game without suspended club skipper Bryan Murray and the injured Mark Cockburn.
Things got worse for the visitors when David Hills pulled up in the warm-up and then seven minutes in to the match, they lost Tony Brown, who had to be helped off the pitch after he was scythed down.
Town’s injury woes continued in the second-half when substitute Ben Keenan, who replaced Brown, needed extensive treatment after being taken out with a two-footed challenge.
United looked lively in the match’s opening exchanges, with Michael Nichol heading over before Marc Costello saw his first-time shot hit the bar.
Town came back into the contest and Jon Colley headed over with 25 minutes on the clock.
The Northumbrians found themselves down to 10 men shortly after, when, in the 37th minute, Catlow was shown his marching orders for a high tackle, although both players had put their feet up for a bouncing ball.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the visitors had the last chance of the first period, but Keenan shot just wide.
Town found themselves behind five minutes into the second half, when Nichol broke the deadlock with a fine long-range effort.
United nearly doubled their lead two minutes later when Ryan Readman broke clear but his cross-shot went wide of the far post.
At the other end, Keenan was causing the home defence problems, but was twice foiled by keeper Rhys Jobling.
First the stopper smothered at the feet of Keenan before denying the Town hitman with a stunning reflex save.
Brian Brooks in the visiting goal proved he was equally capable between the sticks, palming over a rising shot from Nichol before pulling off a fine save from a dubiously-given penalty.
His stop from the spot meant justice was done in this instance.
A big talking point followed in the 75th minute.
The lively Keenan broke into the United box but was knocked flat by a two-footed Jobling challenge, but no penalty was given.
To make matters worse, the Town player had to leave the field for treatment, before returning to the action later.
However, with the visitors down to nine men – while Keenan was being patched up – they grabbed the equaliser, when Moffet used his pace to break away and fire past Jobling.
But the St James’ Park outfit found themselves behind soon after, when United struck lucky 10 minutes from time.
A right-wing cross to the far post found an out-stretched Ferguson foot, which pushed the ball over the line to wrap up the points for the hosts.
It was gutting for Town who had pushed so hard throughout.
The bruising encounter has also left the club with a number of possible absentees for this Saturday’s home match against Whitehaven, kick-off 3pm.
Town are then away to Horden CW on Tuesday, kick-off 7.30pm.
Alnwick Town (v Brandon United): Brooks, Lowes, Catlow, Tait, Patterson, McPherson, Nixon (Hodge), Colley, Moffet (Baston), Brown (Keenan), Hogg. Sub: Dundas.
l Alnwick Town is holding a car boot sale on Sunday, to raise funds for the club.
It will be the first of weekly car boot sale events, taking place every Sunday at Town’s St James’ Park home from 10am to 2pm.
Admission is free, refreshments will be available and the clubhouse bar will be open.
Sellers are to arrive at 9am and cars cost £10, vans £12.
Inquiries and bookings to Alan Lingwood on 01665 720395.