Chester le Street 5-1 Alnwick Town
In the battle of the basement, Chester-le-Street came out on top. It was never a 5-1 game but, as goals count and chances don’t, it does reflect the reality.
There was the usual ringing of the changes for Alnwick with five missing and one long-term injury which meant a new line-up and different positions.
Saying that, Alnwick were equal in effort on a very soft pitch and an icy breeze.
The home team went one up in the first two minutes from a corner hit along the ground to the near post where two Chester-le-Street players were standing together, allowing Michael Hepplewhite to clip it home, the first of his two goals.
The game was played at a fast pace for the next 15 minutes in which Alnwick had the best chance with a Town attack down the left, a long high ball out to the right from Bright to Chris Laidlaw, only to see his header flash across the face of the goal and past the far post.
Town drew level with a fast attack from defence with a ball through midfield for Laidlaw who saw Young’s defence-splitting run and he went on to hit a low shot into the far corner of the net.
Chester-le-Street put on some pressure and hit the woodwork twice in quick succession, but Alnwick hit back with a ball down the line by Darren Riddle into Dan Thompson and his pace left the defender but his effort was blocked and cleared.
There then followed a pivotal incident when again Thompson used his pace to beat the home defenders. His shot beat the keeper, hit the post and clearly went over the line. The referee looked to his linesman who flagged no goal but he was clearly not up with play and was not even level with the penalty area.
Chester-le-Street had more possession but Alnwick were hitting them on the break with a Riddell cross to Young and Thompson for the latter to send a powerful header for the home keeper to grasp.
It was Young with the next chance, hitting a terrific 30-yard dipping shot with the home keeper just managing to save under the bar.
It was then the turn of the Alnwick keeper to make a first-class save, pushing around the post a hard-rising shot from the dangerous Clarkson.
Alnwick were made to pay for missed chances in the last five minutes of the first half when Chester-le-Street scored twice; the first from open play by White and a penalty in the dying second as Town keeper Hodgson was adjusted to have brought down a player, for which he received a yellow card, and Hepplewhite scored from the spot to make it 3-1 at the break.
Alnwick were again caught straight after the restart when Mole made it 4-1.
The rest of the half was a ding-dong affair with Alnwick not giving up, but the damage had been done in the first half .
Chester-le-Street dominated play with the Town defence blocking them for the first 20 minutes but Chester le Street gained the upper hand without managing to put the ball away.
Alnwick kept playing good football but as the pitch started to cut up, the home side added a fifth goal through White to give the final scoreline a rather flattering look.
Alnwick can still hold their heads high. They played decent football, had some chances and were denied what looked like a legitimate goal.
One can be critical but the team still needs support in what is a difficult period.