Heart-warming performance on bitter day

PIN POINT RECRUITMENT JUNIOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE, U11 LEAGUE TWO

Blyth Town Inter...2 Alnwick Town...5

ALNWICK consolidated third place in the league with this enterprising win at Blyth Town.

Played on the first Sunday of ‘proper’ winter, Alnwick gave a performance to warm the hearts (if not the hands and feet) of watching parents.

The first period took place largely in the Blyth half, although it took 26 minutes for Alnwick to make the break-through their skill and persistence deserved.

An early free-kick from Brandon McCann tested the excellent Blyth goalkeeper Ellis Maddison, but it was Joe Threlfall who consistently caused problems on the left for the Blyth defence.

Three times in five minutes he had chances to open the scoring.

In the 18th minute, he fired in a sharp cross from the left which Maddison did well to gather. A minute later, Threlfall broke again at speed, firing a shot across the face of goal from just inside the penalty area. McCann only just failed to get on the end of it at the far-post.

In the 23rd minute, Threlfall was at it again. This time, he jinked his way past two defenders, advancing in a more central position, before shooting low and hard across the face of goal once more. And just as before, the ball just eluded McCann at the far post with the goalkeeper well beaten.

This capped a period of about 10 minutes when Blyth could not get out of their half. It was perhaps inevitable then that Threlfall should be the one to open the scoring in the 26th minute, slotting the ball home from a Leon McHale corner.

The goal gave Alnwick the confidence their all-round first-half display deserved. Elliot tested the Blyth keeper with a good shot before the game’s outstanding move gave Alnwick a two-goal cushion at half-time.

In a blaze of pace and movement, Alnwick turned defence into attack courtesy of two inch-perfect passes.

The first from midfielder Alex Law set Jack Elliot away down the right, before he, in turn, played what is becoming a trademark pinpoint pass through to McCann who shot into the bottom corner.

The second-half continued in the same vein, with Alnwick going 3-0 up after 33 minutes thanks to another goal from Threlfall.

Blyth showed spirit, however, immediately after falling three behind by going down the other end of the pitch and driving home a goal off the underside of the bar, leaving Jay Graham, the Alnwick keeper, who had been largely unemployed with little chance.

Joe Pickard came on in place of Jack Elliot and immediately began causing the same sorts of problems at inside-right as Threlfall had been causing on the left all game.

He came close to scoring twice, before finally adding to Alnwick’s lead in the 48th minute. Set free by an excellent ball from Josef Laverty, also on as substitute, Pickard used his electric pace to outstrip the Blyth defence before scoring off the post with a low shot.

Pickard’s predatory instincts were rewarded five minutes later when the Blyth keeper could only palm a rasping drive from Threlfall, who had broken with speed and skill into the Blyth penalty area from the left once again.

Pickard was left with a simple tap in with the Blyth defence nowhere in sight.

Although, Blyth pulled a goal back in the 55th minute to make the score 2-5, Alnwick’s victory was never in doubt. The defence, of Callum Robertson, Will Sibson, Gavin Hogg and Joe Harmison, was equal to most of what Blyth could throw at them. Raphael McCall, on as a substitute, did well at right-back in the closing minutes, twice preventing Blyth advances by clearing into touch.

Alnwick Town: Jay Graham, Callum Robertson, Raphael McCall, Jack Elliot, Travis Robinson, Joe Harmison, Brandon McCann, Joe Pickard, Leon McHale, Gavin Hogg, Alex Law, Will Sibson, Joe Threlfall, Josef Laverty, Jack Clements. Man-of-the-match: Leon McHale.