Chester-le-Street Town...4 Alnwick Town...3
STL Northern League, Division Two
ALNWICK Town threw away a 2-0 lead as they ended their Northern League Division Two season with a 4-3 defeat against Chester-le-Street Town on Saturday.
Goals from Danny Lowes and Jon Colley put the St James’ Park side into the driving seat, but a hat-trick from Chester-le-Street’s Scott Swanston and a Callum Patton strike turned the game on its head, as the hosts went 4-2 in front.
A late Tony Brown goal gave Alnwick a glimmer of hope, but it proved no more than a consolation for the Northumbrians.
The defeat left Alnwick just shy of the 50-point mark, as they ended the campaign in 16th place.
Despite finishing the season with a loss, Alnwick can reflect on their first year back in the Northern League with pride and satisfaction.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing though – having parted company with the managerial duos of Dougie McEwan and Stephen Gibbard, followed by Danny Olson and Rob Marshall.
But positive performances on the pitch saw the club secure their Division Two survival many weeks ago – while fellow newly-promoted side Easington Colliery were relegated.
Off the pitch, a dramatic transformation of St James’ Park ensured Alnwick met the required ground criteria – helping them retain their league status and allowing them entry into a series of prestigious cup competitions next season, including the FA Vase.
Going into the final game of the campaign, Alnwick were looking to complete a league double over Chester-le-Street, following a 2-1 victory in December’s reverse fixture.
The visitors made a great start and took the lead after 10 minutes, as Lowes headed in from a Brown cross.
Alnwick went two-up just before the half-hour. Brad McClelland and Colley combined before the latter shot calmly past Christopher Rookes in the Chester-le-Street goal.
The hosts got themselves back into the contest a minute later, when Swanston capitalised on a defensive mix-up to score his first of the afternoon.
He grabbed his and Chester-le-Street’s second moments before the break, once again taking advantage of an Alnwick mistake.
It was frustrating for Alnwick, who had dominated play but self-destructed in the final 15 minutes of the first-half to let Chester-le-Street back into the game.
Things got worse for Alnwick two minutes after the interval when Swanston grabbed his hat-trick, scoring from a corner, to put the hosts in front.
Despite the blow, Alnwick kept going and had a number of chances to draw level.
A Colley chip went wide and a Chris Moffet effort was saved – although it looked as though he should have had a penalty after being pushed in the back.
Alnwick were awarded a spot-kick shortly after when Colley was flattened in the box. But Jordan Trotter’s penalty was well-saved from the home keeper.
Eight minutes later, Chester-le-Street increased their lead, when Patton converted from a right-wing cross on 80 minutes.
Alnwick set up a tense finale, when Brown slotted past the keeper after 85 minutes. But there was to be no last-gasp heroics, as Alnwick were unable to find a late leveller, and ended the season with a defeat.
Alnwick Town (v Chester-le-Street): Brooks, Trotter (Tate), Lowes, Murray (C), McPherson, Patterson (Hills), Brown, Moffet, McClelland, Colley, Baston. Subs: Nixon, Woodcock.
l THE club has thanked its sponsors, the Duke of Northumberland, and their fans for their help and support over the season.
More information on the club can be found at www.alnwicktownfc.co.uk or on Twitter @AlnwickTownAFC.
The club holds its AGM on Sunday, May 20, at 6.30pm.
The end-of-season evening takes place on Saturday, May 26.
Contact club officials for more information.