Town rue missed chances in stalemate

STL NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION TWO

Washington...0 Alnwick Town...0

ALNWICK will look at Saturday’s game at Washington as two points dropped.

They dominated the game and should have scored three or four.

Their hosts were restricted to long shots and a couple of defensive lapses by Alnwick gifting them chances.

Town were hit with five changes on Saturday, some as late as the morning of the match, which resulted in Stephen Gillard being in the line-up for kick-off.

Paul Hodges was also called up from the Reserves and recently re-signed Gary Bailes was also on the sub’s bench. Paul Vickers came into the team after completing his cricketing commitments. Washington came into the game with three wins and two draws out of six. The pitch at the Nissan Sports ground was in fine condition with a breeze blowing down it.

Prior to the game a Washington committee member had to go over the pitch with a bag, picking up animal faeces, which the club was told were from foxes.

Alnwick kicked off against the breeze but early pressure by Washington forced two corners in the first two minutes. A minute later, it was Alnwick who nearly went ahead after a move down the Alnwick left. The ball was cleared off the line from a Gibbard shot.

Play was pretty even and Alnwick came close again in the 15th minute when Ron MacKenly crossed for Gibbard to head just wide.

Alnwick were now calling the tune, with a good move down the right resulting in Danny Lowes cutting into the box, his cross-shot beating the keeper and the post. In the 23rd minute, Washington’s first real shot by Carter was pushed away by Brooks. The resulting corner forced a melee five yards out and a foul by Latimer saved a dangerous situation for Alnwick.

Lowes and Ron MacKenly gave the Washington defence a headache with their speed and, in the 35th minute, Lowes cut inside the full-back to cross to Gibbard, whose header at the far-post just went wide. Five minutes later, Gibbard and MacFarlane dispossessed the home defender for Gibbard to run on but his shot just scraped past the post.

Vickers, playing a deeper role, beat the defence and the home keeper had to be quick off his line to close down Gibbard and block his shot.

Washington were being restricted to long-range shots and, just before the break, a 30-yarder from Richardson scraped over the bar.

Half-time arrived with the score at 0-0, Alnwick having the edge but not putting their chances away.

The second half started, as did the rain, with the breeze picking up. Alnwick started where they left off, with Gibbard crossing to Vickers, who was steaming in but the ball zipped past his outstretched foot.

At this stage, the only way Washington would score would be if Alnwick gifted them something and, in the 50th minute, a poor defensive clearance allowed Richardson in but poor finishing saved Alnwick.

Wear forced a good save by Brooks at the near post in the 65th minute.

Paul Hodges came on for Ross MacKenley and, soon after, Hodges was in action when in the 80th minute his tremendous shot was just deflected by a defender for a corner, which they cleared.

Alnwick had a second defensive relapse when a cross to Young found him clear and unmarked and Brooks saved the resulting header.

In the dying minutes, Kristopher Willis came on for Lowes and James Davidson replaced Gibbard. Willis managed to find Tom Vickers steaming in at the far-post but the keeper and defender just managed to keep it out.

The return of players missing through injury or holidays will result in a pretty good squad, particularly with the Reserves stepping up to the First team showing their potential.

Alnwick Town: Brooks, Murray, Catlow, Lowes, MacPherson, Patterson, Brown, Vickers, Gibbard, MacKenley, MacFarlane. Subs: Hodges, Bailes, Willis, Davidson, Woodcock.