Hebburn Town...4 Alnwick Town...1
STL Northern League, Division Two
FOUR first-half Hebburn Town goals sunk Alnwick Town on Saturday, as the Northumbrians surrendered their three-match unbeaten run.
A Ben Keenan goal on the hour proved nothing more than a consolation for the visiting St James’ Park side, after they endured a miserable opening 45 minutes.
The defeat was Alnwick’s first of 2012, following a successful start to the New Year, which had brought a victory over Easington Colliery and draws at Crook Town and North Shields.
But the visitors, who had to shuffle their pack prior to kick-off because of player unavailability, found themselves up against it almost immediately.
With only four minutes on the clock, Hebburn went in front when tall centre-half Daniel Kirkup headed in from a corner.
It was a poor start for Alnwick who were looking to avenge a 5-0 home thumping against Hebburn in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Things went from bad to worse soon after when Alnwick, who were kicking against the strong breeze, went further behind after 20 minutes.
Keeper Brian Brooks responded to a quick through-ball but brought down a Hebburn forward in the process, resulting in a penalty for the home side, which Liam McBryde duly converted.
Alnwick saw the game slip away from them at the end of the first half as Hebburn made it 3-0 after 42 minutes when Dean Nicholson headed in from a deep free-kick, and then Chris Jewels scored the home side’s fourth a minute before the break.
Alnwick gave a better account of themselves in the second half and dominated play from the kick-off and their good work was rewarded on 60 minutes when Keenan scored.
Kieran Hogg chipped the ball over the Hebburn defence for Keenan, who ran on to the pass and chipped over the out-coming Daniel Regan in the home goal to make it 4-1.
Alnwick’s Marc Nixon, who had been promoted from the U21 side, came on for the injured Luke Newton and he almost scored in the game’s dying minutes when he used his pace to cut inside and shoot towards goal, but his effort was saved.
Alnwick were left to rue that costly first-half performance, as they fell to their 12th league defeat of the season.
Alnwick: Brooks, Iredale, Catlow, Murray, Patterson, Hubbard, Hogg (Hodge), Brown, Newton (Nixon), Blakey, Keenan. Subs: Woodcock, Willis