Alnwick Town 6-2 Darlington RA
Following a terrible period of games, Alnwick were back to their winning ways. It cannot be described as a good run as it’s only one after a succession of defeats against top half teams.
Darlington came into this game following a good show against Durham City, losing only 2-1. Alnwick had to rearrange the squad with Liam Brooks and Brent Nesbitt both out through injuries but brought Brad McClelland into the squad for his first appearance for some time due to a bad injury.
The game started at a cracking pace with Darlington forcing Alnwick back straight away and could have been two up in the first 10 minutes when Christopher Tarn missed two easy chances with open goals which Darlington were made to pay for later.
After 20 minutes, Darlington were reduced to 10 men when Andrew Longdale was given a straight red as he was last defender and tripped James Jackson as he was breaking clear. A few minutes later Alnwick took the lead when James Jackson crossed to Dominic Schiavetta when he headed it home. Darlington again missed another golden chance when Daniel Pigg hit the post. Yes, Alnwick was lucky but Lady Luck deserted them in the previous weeks with Alnwick stepping up their game they went 2-0 up when Dominic Schiavetta combined with Ross Gair out to Josh Hay who cut in from the right to hit a powerful ground shot past the outstretched keeper Callum Liddicott to find the net just inside the far post. Due to the Alnwick pressure Darlington player Jordan Hanratty headed into his own net under pressure at the far post to make it 3-0.
Alnwick did themselves no favour with slack marking allowing Daniel Pigg to hit a cross shot which went in off the post: 3-1.
Town kept the pressure on with Darlington playing some neat play to mid-field but the home defence tightened up to limit them to the odd half chance and it was a Tony Brown pile drive of a shot which forced the Darlington keeper Callum Liddicott to stretch to tip it past the post which was followed by terrific play down the Alnwick right for Matt Graham to cross from the by-line across the face of an empty goal but Alnwick forwards could not connect and Darlington’s Matthew Hughes was forced to clear with the ball about to go in.
Alnwick made it 4-1 when Matt Graham crossed for Gary Bailes to head in. Darlington hit back with a quick attack and slack marking allowed Daniel Pigg in for his second to end the half 4-2, but lapses in concentration made it tighter than it should have been.
Alnwick came out and immediately went on the attack when Tony Brown cut inside to let loose a shot only to see Callum Liddicott fumble as he saved and relieved to see a defender clear the line.
Darlington resorted to long balls to make up the loss of a player which meant most of the attempts came to nothing but Christopher Tarn had a half chance when he fired over the bar.
Alnwick brought on Brad McClelland for James Jackson on the hour and five minutes later he was on the score sheet when Joshua Hay floated a high ball from the left wing to the far post where he out-jumped the attention of the close marking of a defender to nod the ball in: 5-2.
He had another chance a few minutes later following a move via Tony Brown/Ross Gair found Brad in space, his ground shot had visiting keeper Callum Liddicott scrambling across the goal and push behind at full strength.
Darlington were far from finished and it took a fine save from Town keeper Dominic McMahon at full stretch to save the snap shot from Jordan Hanratty hoping to make up for his own goal earlier.
The visiting defence was pulled apart when Josh Hay started the move to Brad across to Tony Brown and his quick through ball allowed Josh Hay to slip the ball into the net past the stranded keeper to score his second, making it 6-2 to Alnwick.
Match Sponsor: Northern Structures Limited