Alnwick Town survived an almighty scare to progress in the Team Valley Carpets Challenge Cup on Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 4-3 victory at St James’ Park.
Kick off was delayed at St James’ Park by 30 minutes due to the A1 being closed at Morpeth, which disrupted the visitors warm-up, with some arriving only minutes before kick off at 14:30. No complaints from the visitors though, a credit to them.
On what started as a warm sunny day at St James’ Park, it took the home side only six minutes to open the scoring. Paul Muers played in Scott Maddison, who dispatched with his left foot to put Alnwick 1-0 ahead.
McEvoy almost brought the away side level, but his effort was well blocked by Kyle Burns in defence.
Paul Muers was causing all sorts of problems for the away defence. First of all a header from a Jake Lowes cross was saved by Maughan, and then a great chance on 29 minutes was fired over as the young striker leaned back whilst taking the shot.
With 30 minutes on the clock, Muers made no mistake. A deep corner by Moore reached Muers at the backpost to head Alnwick into a 2-0 lead. The smallest lad on the pitch finding gaps in the box.
Alnwick were 2-0 up and cruising, but they let United back into the game only a couple of minutes later. The ball was given away on the edge of the box close to the byline, and Gary Winter stepped inside to drill an effort at the near post, no chance for Brooks (2-1).
Muers was to have Alnwick’s final effort of the half, but again taking his chance he leaned back to see his effort go harmlessly over the bar. Half time, 2-1 to the home side.
In the second half, and Muers was not to be denied his second of the game. As the ball fell kindly at the edge of the area, the striker struck a right foot shot into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper rooted to his spot and Alnwick were 3-1 ahead.
Connor Graham fired just wide for the visitors as they tried to find a way back into the game, and in the 64th minute it should have been all but game over. Substitute Daniel Donohoe skipped through in the box, taking a left foot shot at the keeper that was parried into the path of Ross Moore who has the simplest of finishes. 4-1 to the home side.
As Brooks saved well from McEvoy in the 75th minute, Alnwick were comfortable, but with six minutes to go, Anthony Brown was allowed time and space to smash home a consolation for the visitors. (4-2). Josh Briggs almost put the game to bed a minute later, but his effort couldn’t secure the victory for the home side.
As the seconds ticked away, two minutes to play and the visitors were right back in it, Thomas Bainbridge swiping home a third for United who were in a hurry to try and force extra time.
And they thought they had it. As stoppage time drew to a close, a through ball found the United forward who drilled home.
There was a pitch invasion from the technical area and despair from the home side, but luckily for Alnwick the assistant referee had already flagged for offside, and the goal was ruled out. Alnwick then held on for a narrow victory.
Whitley Bay SC 0
Reds striker Michael Old staked a claim on the match ball with a hat-trick as Rothbury went into the quarter-finals of the Amateur Cup following a convincing win over Whitley Bay Sporting.
But, unlike the professional game, he didn’t get to keep it as a trophy as the side need it for their next match!
“The last time I scored a hat-trick was the beginning of last season,” said Old, before modestly stating that his goals were relatively straight forward and joking that: “I was disappointed I didn’t get the opportunity to take the match ball back to the Newcy House.”
Old, however, was impressed with the performance of the team and delighted that the Reds had progressed in the competition.
“Everyone worked hard to book a place into the next round. There was no evidence of any hangover from the week before playing against a strong Whitley Bay side that moved the ball well but ultimately struggled to break us down,” he said.
Brothers Ben and Sam Proudlock and Tom Macpherson were all in Rothbury’s starting line-up for the game and may have played themselves into the record books as it is not believed that three brothers have all turned out for the Reds at the same time in the club’s long history.
“We all started against Cramlington together a few weeks back and that’s the first competitive match we all started for Rothbury,” said Ben.
“We all know each other’s ability from watching and playing with one another when we were younger, and the competitive and winning mentality will always be in us on the pitch.”
He was also full of praise for the graft that the Reds had put in during the tie and said: “The performance on a whole was good, everyone worked hard and the goals soon started to go in after the second goal and that killed the game - we controlled it from start to finish”
“We have had a tremendous start to the season and I think many people wrote us off before the first ball got kicked. We have a strong squad and we all believe we can go far in the League and Cups this season, which is a good mentality to have.”
Joint-player boss Dan Herron felt that the performance was one of the best that the side have produced so far this season and that having the three brothers playing together was ‘class for the Reds.’
“To be honest, Whitley Bay were one of – if not the best - side we’ve played so far technically, maybe just weren’t physical enough.”
“We played some good one-twos with good hold up play from Dan Thompson and Michael Old. James Jackson and Tony Brown were quality in midfield and drove us forward really well. All in all, it was a solid performance against a very strong side.”
The powerful Thompson continued his rich vein of form with another goal – his ninth of the season – and the silky-skilled ball-player Brown also found the back of the net.