NFA RANGERS U16 CUP, ROUND THREE
Newcastle East End...2
Alnwick Town Juniors...4
AFTER almost eight weeks of inaction, the young Alnwick side took to the pitch for an eagerly-anticipated cup tie against higher division opposition in the shape of Newcastle East End.
This was always going to be a test against one of the league’s most well-established outfits but Alnwick were well up for it. With a large squad to keep happy, each and every player was keen to be on the park and impress, making the coaches work hard to make their starting choices.
The Black and Whites were flying from the off. Aldred, Nixon and McClelland linked up well and caused problems for the home side, with neat interplay down the right side.
Anderson was his normal self, getting involved in everything possible, and with his central-midfield partner Brown in excellent form, it looked as if it was going to be Town’s day.
Parker stretched play down an unfamiliar left-hand side, doing anything he’s asked to do for this team and deserving all the praise he receives. Bell and Davison were once again rock-like in defence and, with Jefferson and Baillie willing to give it their all for the cause, the lads picked up where they’d left off way back in November.
Fuller was his normal self, marshalling from the back and anticipating the long ball well, clearing his lines with confidence. Chances aplenty were created and McClelland found himself in front of goal with enough time to put the clock back an hour, only to place his shot just wide.
Unperturbed, he kept at his game, resuming normal service by slamming home the opener, latching on to a fine pass from Aldred, after great work from Nixon at the back.
Under the towering Walker flats, East End responded straight away, raising their game and rising to the challenge as they hit the bar from long range. Tackles were flying in and no holds were barred as the battle ensued. A loose ball broke to the Newcastle outfit from a defensive clearance and, hitting it on the half-volley, Johnson lobbed the ball into the top corner of the net to make it 1-1 at half-time, leaving Fuller with no chance to react.
Smith entered the fray as a half-time substitute and immediately made his mark on the game. Shrugging off a pre-match injury, he came into the heart of midfield and, with his strength in the tackle, created chances for Brown.
The Shilbottle livewire was hungry for success, encouraged by the Hadston Dynamo – Anderson. The home side dug deep and a mean streak of aggression crept into the game. Tackles became more niggly and tempers frayed as both sides frustratingly looked to win the game.
After forcing a corner, the ball was launched in towards the goal-line. Heads rose in the box like baby birds looking for food, but there was only one winner as the East End centre forward nodded home to go 2-1 up.
Alnwick were down but not out and took the game straight back to the home side and, before long, they were level through a Jake Parker goal, latching on to a through-ball from Nixon (2-2).
McClelland was causing problems for the home side, his pace and direct play being difficult to handle. Following some great work between Anderson and Smith, the Alnwick front man was released to coolly put the visitors ahead once again 2-3.
Carr, Weightman, York and Wilkin were introduced into the game with immediate impact. Carr won another fine tackle and Weightman latched on to his through-ball to seal the victory with a great goal from just inside the box for 2-4.
Alnwick: Fuller, Parker, Davison, Bell, Lewney, Baillie, Convery, Carr, Nixon Aldred, Brown, Anderson, Weightman, Jefferson, Wilkin, York, Smith and Brad McClelland. Team sponsor: The Bamburgh Butcher. Match ball: Lilburn’s Restaurant. Man-of-the-match: Andy Baillie.