Alnwick youngsters warm up for new season with red-hot victories

Alnwick Town U11s...15 Killingworth...3

ALNWICK Town U11s continued their impressive pre-season with two thumping wins last weekend against Killingworth and North Shields Magpies.

The two friendly ties were played just one week ahead of Alnwick’s debut in the Pin Point Junior Football League Two, due to take place against Bedlington at home this Sunday.

Fresh from beating Pin Point League One side Walker Central 4-3 the previous week, the Town overwhelmed Killingworth from start to finish with strikers Joe Threlfall and Brandon McCann in dominant form.

McCann had Alnwick two goals to the good within three minutes following good work from Liam Cravagan and Joe Pickard.

The lead had doubled by the 10th minute following a brace from Threlfall, the second a fine individual effort to finish a weaving run through the Killingworth defence.

McCann took his personal tally to five by half-time, but perhaps the most eye-catching goal of the half was the sixth, a delightful chip from the edge of the penalty box by Leon McHale following a great lay-off from Alex Law, who had a fine game on the right side of midfield.

The Alnwick substitutes who came on either side of half-time might have been forgiven for not giving the match their all with their side already eight goals to the good, but the start of the second half brought no let-up in the pressure on the Killingworth goal in a game which was being played almost exclusively in the Killingworth half.

Pickard scored within two minutes of the restart, rounding off a sweeping move, which began with great work on the left by Joe Threlfall. He played the ball into the middle from where it was swept out to Raph McCall on the right-wing. He strode forward before driving a cross across the face of goal, which was turned in by Pickard.

Threlfall then completed his hat-trick two minutes later with an excellent shot from the left edge of the penalty area, with Pickard making it 11-0 a minute later when the Killingworth goalkeeper failed to hold a rasping shot from him, allowing Pickard to follow in and score.

Travis Robinson, one of the second-half substitutes made it 12-0 following great skill from McHale, who threaded a ball through a crowded penalty box for Robinson to score.

With 18 minutes of the match remaining, Alnwick stood 14-0 ahead after further goals from Threlfall (his fourth) and an excellent strike from the edge of the penalty area from Jack Elliott.

At this stage, Alnwick finally took their foot off the gas, allowing Killingworth to gain a measure of respectability with three goals of their own. But Town had the last say, with Robinson making it 15-3 two minutes from time with a good shot that left the Killingworth keeper with no chance.

Alnwick Town U11...7 North Shield Magpies...2

TWENTY-four hours later, Alnwick were piling up the goals once again but in very different conditions. If coach Paul Yeadon had been worried about how his side would cope with the gale in their face for the first half of the tie against Pin Point League Five side North Shields Magpies, he quickly had any fears laid to rest.

North Shields started brightly forcing Town keeper Jay Graham – a virtual spectator the day before – into an early action, tipping over a free-kick conceded by Cravagan just beyond the left-hand edge of the penalty box.

Alnwick faced more of a battle on Sunday and their first goal, scored by Brandon McCann after five minutes owed much to the industry of Callum Robertson playing intelligently in a central holding position.

Two minutes later, Alnwick scored an excellent goal on the break. Passes were interchanged at speed as Threlfall carried the ball into the danger area for North Shields.

With Pickard embarking on an excellent decoy run which dragged defenders out of position, it was left to McHale to chip the ball over the keeper (with a bit of help from the wind).

Threlfall ran half the length of the pitch to score an excellent third goal, sliding the ball under the North Shields keeper, before North Shields pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time to give a 3-1 scoreline that more accurately reflected the part they had played in an entertaining half of football.

The second half was a one-sided affair, which demonstrated how well Alnwick had done in the first half when the wind was in their faces. Until they scored with the last move of the game, North Shields barely got out of their own half as they struggled to come to terms with the wind.

Alnwick, meanwhile, now had the wind at their back and the North Shields keeper spent a large amount of time recovering the ball from halfway across the next pitch as shots rained in on his goal from Alnwick players looking to make the most of the wind assistance.

Town added four goals in the second half – two from McCann, who bagged his second hat-trick of the weekend, and one each from McHale and Threlfall. The sixth goal was the pick of the bunch. A quick throw taken by McCall on the right set McCann free down the right, racing into the penalty area before laying the ball back into the path of McHale to finish.

Alnwick Town: Jay Graham, Liam Jefferies, Raphael McCall, Jack Clements, Alex Law, Liam Cravagan, Travis Robinson, Joe Harmison, Brandon McCann, Leon McHale, Joe Threlfall, Joe Pickard, Gavin Hogg, Chad Frame, Will Sibson, Jack Elliot.