NORTHERN ALLIANCE, PREMIER LEAGUE
ALNWICK travelled to Durham side Murton for the second time in a fortnight, recording a victory which took them seven points clear at the top of the league.
The rearranged league fixture had been called off due to a frozen pitch after Alnwick had made the long journey south.
Alnwick started the brighter and could have taken an early lead. Dale Kennedy raced clear of his marker on five minutes but his shot from 20 yards out went over the crossbar. On 11 minutes, Alnwick went in front. A good move down the right saw a deep cross into the penalty area for Kennedy to head back in to the path of Tom Vickers to stroke the ball home from six yards out.
Murton enjoyed a good spell of pressure and were awarded a clear penalty on 25 minutes, Alnwick keeper Brian Brooks bringing down a Murton forward as he ran into the box.
The penalty was duly despatched by Karl Garside to level the game.
Alnwick stepped up play and could have taken an interval lead on 40 minutes, Stephan Hogg breaking clear on the left. With the keeper to beat, the forward elected to shoot from 20 yards out but his shot went narrowly wide of the post.
The visitors started the second period at a much higher tempo and on 55 minutes, Hogg’s run through the middle of the pitch saw the forward lay the ball into the path of Chris Moffat on the edge of the area.
The midfielder took one touch before firing wide of the keeper from 12 yards out.
Murton had their best chance of the game on 65 minutes after some dogged defending by Alnwick’s back four.
The ball fell into the path of a Murton striker who fired a powerful shot from 10 yards out only to be denied by Brooks, who pulled off a superb reflex save to deny the home team going level.
Alnwick sealed the win on 75 minutes. The introduction of Gary Patterson into midfield saw him latch onto a through-ball just over the halfway line with still plenty to do.
Under pressure from the Murton defender, he carried the ball to the edge of the area before hitting a left-foot shot across the keeper and into the back of the net and register his first goal of the season. Vickers came close to doubling his tally after he cut in from the right but his shot from a tight angle was well-saved at the near-post by the keeper.
Alnwick created a couple more half-chances before the finish of the game but were satisfied to come away with a hard-earned three points against a team who played far better than their lowly league position suggests.
Alnwick: B Brooks, N Catlow, D Lowes, G Bails, B Murray, D Davison, C Moffat, M Cockburn, D Kennedy, S Hogg, T Vickers, M Armstrong, G Patterson, B Keenan, K Lott, J Swordy. Pizza Royale man-of-the-match: Gary Bails.