Crook Town...1 Alnwick Town...1
STL Northern League, Division Two
A SECOND-HALF header from Tony Brown stole a share of the spoils for Alnwick Town as they came from behind to draw at Crook Town on Saturday.
The talented midfielder’s effort cancelled out a Gary Patterson own goal after 25 minutes.
It was a well-deserved result and restored some Alnwick pride following their painful 5-1 home loss to Crook earlier in the season.
The St James’ Park side’s battling away point was also their second in a row, following a draw at high-flying North Shields five days before on Bank Holiday Monday.
The match was played in tough conditions, with a strong down-field wind and on a pitch which could only be described as like rice pudding.
In the first half, Alnwick were kicking upfield against the gale and Crook took advantage of this – firstly Corey Barnes headed over before a Kevin Devine effort was blocked by visiting keeper Brian Brooks.
Alnwick started to come into the game more, with Ben Keenan having a half-chance after 15 minutes, but just losing out to the charging Crook stopper Graeme Pickering.
Shortly after, Pickering just managed to push a Neil Catlow free-kick around the post.
It proved to be a crucial stop, as Crook went in front moments later.
The hosts were gifted a dubious free-kick and Graham Liddle took it quickly, catching the Alnwick defence slightly off guard.
Patterson tried to save the situation by attempting to head the ball over the bar, but a combination of a soft pitch and wind resulted in an own-goal.
Clearly lifted by the goal, Crook almost increased the lead 10 minutes later, but Brooks once again foiled Devine, this time with a point-blank save.
The home side continued to use the conditions to their advantage and nearly grabbed a second when, with the aid of the wind, the ball was carried over the Alnwick defence, who were pushing up, and the lively Robert Bird ran clear.
But he decided to shoot, instead of chip the out-rushing Brooks and his effort was off target.
The start of the second half was delayed by 10 minutes following a floodlight failure.
After a discussion with both clubs, the referee decided to start the game with the assurance from Crook that the lights would come on shortly.
The match re-started in the receding light but the floodlights came on in fits and starts.
Alnwick started the second period with a lot of possession but their final pass was poor as the wind became stronger.
They drew level though in the 51st minute thanks to Brown, who finished a quality move. Jon Colley crossed the ball from the right into the path of Keenan who in turn chipped the ball forward for Brown to run through and planted a powerful header past Pickering.
Crook almost regained the lead four minutes later but Brooks, who was having a good game, denied Liddle.
Alnwick had more possession for the remainder of the match but the conditions and a very soft pitch made football difficult.
The Northumbrians did manage to carve out some half-chances but neither side could find a second goal, and the match petered out to end 1-1.
Alnwick now have two home league matches to look forward to. The first, on Saturday, is against Easington Colliery, kick-off 3pm, before they host Ryton & Crawcrook Albion on Tuesday, kick-off 7.30pm.
Alnwick Town: Brooks, Iredale, Catlow, Murray, McPherson (Hubbard), Patterson, McFarlane, Brown, Keenan, Newton, Colley (Hodge). Subs: Walton, Bamborough.