Town lack that finishing touch

Alnwick Town...1 Ryton & Crawcrook Albion...2

STL Northern League, Division Two

ALNWICK Town fell to their second defeat in four days as they lost 2-1 to Ryton & Crawcrook Albion on Tuesday night, writes James Willoughby.

The Northumbrians were undone by two goals in 10 first-half minutes, which ultimately proved decisive.

While Jon Colley gave the St James’ Park side a lifeline with a tap-in from close range at the start of the second half, the black ’n’ whites could not find that all-important equaliser.

The scoreline was harsh on Alnwick who played well, with some nice passing moves and decent spells of possession.

But for all their endeavour, Town struggled to carve out many clear-cut opportunities and a lack of bite in the final third restricted them to half-chances and shots from distance on too many occasions.

Alnwick did have their moments though – moments which could have changed the game’s complexion.

Had Dan Iredale’s stunning shot hit the net instead of fizzing agonisingly wide, Alnwick would have grabbed a quick-fire leveller having trailed 1-0.

Had an Alnwick player managed to make contact with the ball after it was flicked across goal in the game’s closing stages, they would have grabbed that crucial second goal to snatch a draw.

No one could have denied them that. But it wasn’t to be.

However, despite Alnwick slipping to a second defeat in a row – after a 4-1 loss at Hebburn Town on Saturday – they can take away some positives, not least the way they moved the ball around and controlled the game for large periods.

And this against an accomplished and experienced Albion side which has picked up away wins at high-flying Team Northumbria and Esh Winning since the end of December.

Alnwick started this re-arranged game well, but for all the possession, they never really tested Albion keeper Kyle Barlow. They also looked solid at the back.

But this was undone on 33 minutes when Albion went ahead. For the first time in the match, Alnwick’s back-four was stretched and Daniel Streibelt found himself free on the edge of the area and placed his shot neatly into the corner.

Alnwick nearly levelled immediately when Iredale found himself free just inside the Albion box and used the angle to hit a half-volley towards the far corner, but it went just wide with the keeper beaten – desperately unlucky.

In what proved to be a devastating 10-minute spell at the end of the first period, the hosts went two-down on the stroke of half-time when Albion capitalised on a loose Alnwick pass. An unmarked Luke Sullivan headed home from a left-flank cross.

Soon after the break, Iredale nearly scored, but his effort, created by a Neil Catlow cross, was superbly saved by Barlow.

Alnwick did get their goal soon after.

The lively Iredale was once again involved, racing to the by-line before passing across goal for Colley to tap-in to an empty net.

Tony Brown and Catlow had efforts from distance, to no avail, while Gary Patterson had a low header bravely saved.

At the other end, Alnwick keeper Henry Woodcock came to the hosts’ rescue on two occasions – a brave one-on-one stop from John Ludlow before coming out of his area to clear the danger as the same player bore down on goal.

Alnwick did find the net for the second time but it was disallowed for a clear shoulder-barge on the keeper.

Colley had efforts to level for the hosts – the first from distance after a flowing Alnwick move, while the second was blocked by two Albion defenders for a corner.

It was from this set-piece, with just minutes to go, that Alnwick could have levelled.

The ball was flicked into the danger area but it eluded everyone as it flew across goal. Just the simplest of touches would have done.

That was the closest Alnwick came to finding an equaliser as the game ended soon after.

Alnwick: H Woodcock, D Iredale, N Catlow, B Murray, G Patterson, D Hubbard, P Blakey (S Bamborough), T Brown, J Colley, K Hogg (M Cockburn), M Nixon (K Willis). Subs: P Hodge, T McPherson. Match and ball sponsor: Stuart Convery.

Alnwick are away at West Allotment Celtic on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.