Battling performance but no joy for Alnwick in FA Vase clash

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Alnwick 1-2 Charnock Richard

Paul Yeadon’s young Alnwick side put up the bravest of battles in their FA Vase encounter at home to NW Counties side, Charnock Richard, on Saturday in front of a healthy, three figure crowd.

Town, who have reached the Second Round Proper just twice in their history, the last being in 2015 when they fell to St Helens Town 5-4, opposed a side two tiers higher in the footballing pyramid and Yeadon’s boys held their own throughout falling to pretty much just the last kick of the game.

Prior to kick-off Yeadon was already missing his captain, Jake Lowes as well as a few others; that number increased in the 24 hours prior to kick-off meaning the Town supremo was reliant on more of the club’s increasingly established Reserves/Junior set-up.

“We have quite a young squad as it is and on Saturday, Brendan Balmbra was the oldest at 27 with the majority of the side being in their late teens and early twenties,” began a reflective Yeadon.

“There was a few late pull-outs which meant putting myself on the bench and a few from the development squad into the starting line-up.”

The bold, but need move from Yeadon could easily have paid off as well when from the off, the young Town weathered any storms Charnock Richard presented.

After a possession-dominant opening twenty minutes from the visitors, the Bay Plastics Northern Alliance Premier Division side took the lead midway through the first half courtesy of midfielder Ross Moore following a cross from Max Clark.

The hosts however struck a decisive equaliser a few minutes before the break courtesy of an Ashley Stott header following Dan Regan’s cross, the sides going in level at half-time.

Manager Paul Yeadon, who named himself as a substitute, brought on youngster Paul Muers for Liam Cravagan however they nearly fell behind on the restart, Charnock captain, Carl Grimshaw firing over for the visitors as both sides pushed for the advantage.

The hosts survived a few scares throughout the second half including Nathan Fairhurst hitting the post on 70 minutes and Joseph Noblet blazing over from a free-kick on 77 whilst Brad McClelland also puts one wide.

Jonathyn Quinn and Joshua Briggs both picked up what Yeadon described as being ‘lame bookings’ in the second half as both sides looked to take advantage.

Grimshaw then had an effort in stoppage time for the visitors but home keeper, Callum Brooks clears his lines before the same player breaks home sides hearts with a last minute, stoppage-time winner for Charnock, they now travelling to Penrith in the next round.

“It was a great day and the lads were well up for it,” added Yeadon.

“We knew what was expected of us and put up a great performance.

“They played to their strengths though and we were caught at the death, but that came after we could have won it ourselves.

“In all honesty it was just down to tired legs at the end, if that situation happened at the beginning of the game it would have been a different outcome.

“Our change in formation did work though and both Brad (McClelland) and Paul (Muers) worked hard and caused problems, even young Harry Millham, on his debut, showed what this club is about is about moving forward.”

Millham, who is Alnwick through-and through, added after the game that: “Today was literally my best day on a football pitch, to play in the FA Vase for the town I grew up in and the team I’ve supported all my life was amazing.

“Heartbreak to lose in the 93rd minute but everyone put a shift in, unreal day.”

Alnwick Town – Brooks, Milham, Clark, Cravagan (Muers), Balmbra, Burns, Moore, Briggs, McClelland, Quinn, Threlfall (Donohoe) Subs: Slack, Dixon, Yeadon

Charnock Richard – Cheetham, Noblet, O’Farrell, Schofield, Sanders, Woods (Westwell), Regan, Fairhurst, Grimshaw, Stott (Oxley), Higham (Darcy)