Brandon 0-0 Alnwick Town
Alnwick drew a blank on their trip to Brandon on Saturday, their first 0-0 since October 2015.
It meant neither side managed to get the better of each other over their fixtures in 2016-17, as the sides had drawn 4-4 in a game at St James’ at the start of the season.
Alnwick included two new mid-week signings from Ashington: Luc Glasper (goalkeeper) and Reece Simpson (forward). Glasper started between the sticks and Simpson on the bench.
In the opening minutes play was even in a mid-field tussle but it was Alnwick that nearly drew first blood with a smooth move through Tony Brown to Joshua Hay on the left back to Jake Lowes to send over a high curling shot which made home keeper Thomas Orton jump full height to just collect the ball.
A long ball from Luc at the back controlled by Joshua Hay turned and closing on goal the home full-back Joseph Calvert just managed to push the ball wide with an outstretched leg. It was mostly Alnwick when the ball was laid back for Jake Lowes to cut in from the wing and sent a rising ball to the far post which again home keeper Thomas Orton had to be on top form to push over.
Brandon’s first real chance came after 20 minutes when Glasper in the Town goal had to save at point blank range from Kyle Wren. This was the start of 10 minutes of pressure from Brandon and Glasper was again called upon for a near post save when Luke Thompson had space and time to send a hard shot, forcing Glasper to make a tremendous save.
Brandon commanded the lion share of possession in this period but the Alnwick defence held them at bay most of the time.
Alnwick pushed Brandon back and had most of the play in the remaining 15 minutes as Hay combined with Riddell inside to Ross Gair hit a swerving, rising shot just wide. This was followed by a four man move which forced Brandon defence make a desperate clearance.
The half finished with Alnwick on attack with a left wing move into Joshua Hay to cut back to make space and hit a rising shot just over.
Halftime arrived with no score and on reflection was about correct although Alnwick edged it slightly on the better chances.
In the second half Brandon decided to change their set up straightaway when they were awarded a free kick just outside the Town penalty area and Luke Thomas stepped up to send a thunderous rising shot which Glasper had to jump up and tip over.
Brandon gained more possession for 10 minutes without penetrating the Town defence but then Alnwick broke quickly with Joshua Hay and Tony Brown from a move from the back via Danny Lowes combining with Jonathan Wilson which allowed Tony Brown time to hit a low shot, forcing Brandon keeper Thomas Orton to dive full length to push around the post.
Town manager Richie Mitchell decided to change the set-up towards the end, bringing on Matthew Graham and a few minutes later James Jackson and new signing Reece Simpson.
Brandon were still edging it and Daniel Quinn latched onto a poor clearance to send a shot just wide.
Alnwick ended on the attack when Ryan Douglas made a great run which home defender Joseph Calvert just deflected the effort for a corner, from the corner home keeper Thomas Orton had to tip a goal bound shot over.
The game ended all square and on reflection Alnwick edged it.
Next game is at home to Crook Town on Saturday, February 11 with a 3pm kickoff.