Seaton Delaval 1-4 Alnwick Town
It was a debut to remember for Phil Airey who completed a first half hat-trick to set Alnwick Town on their way to a convincing 4-1 away win at Seaton Delaval AFC on Saturday.
Many changes were made to the squad following the disappointing defeat to Cullercoats in the cup before Christmas. Notably there was a debut for Airey, who has signed from Red Row Welfare, and a place on the bench for Kieran Hogg, making his long awaited comeback from injury, having missed over a year of action.
It was a first half dominated by the visitors, and the early warning signs were there for the home side, Ryan Douglas having the first effort of the game drilled wide, followed by Jonny Colley being unlucky with a chipped effort just wide of the post.
Just six minutes in and Alnwick took the lead. Colley played a through ball to strike partner Airey, who saw his effort saved, but the rebound came straight back to him and he made no mistake with the second attempt.
After 21 minutes Alnwick doubled their lead. Another through ball to Airey, who was causing the defence all sorts of problems, and he side-footed past the keeper for 0-2.
Airey had further chances to complete his hat-trick, but he had two efforts well saved by the keeper.
However, with 35 minutes on the clock, he completed his treble. Jonathyn Quinn’s inch perfect ball over the top found Airey in acres of space and made no mistake.
He almost got a fourth before half time but headed just wide.
Into the second half, and although Alnwick seemed to take their foot off the pedal, further chances continued to go their way. Douglas twice went close, the first a volley wide, and the second an effort cleared off the line.
Airey was substituted before the hour mark for Leon Migely - the record books to be checked for the last time a hat-trick was scored on a players’ debut.
Although the home side were coming into the game more, they were being frustrated by an Alnwick back line determined to keep a clean sheet, Balmbra and Lowes in the centre controlling the defence.
With 72 minutes gone the game was sealed. Joe Threlfall picked up the ball outside of the area and curled a left footed shot into the top corner. This was a brilliant strike from the young lad to make it 0-4.
The game was won, but Town were denied their clean sheet when Delaval were awarded a penalty in the 80th minute, which was converted, to give the home side some small consolation.
There was an added bonus for Alnwick in that they were able to give Evan McEwan further first team minutes, whilst Hogg got a run-out in the final five minutes.
This was a very positive start to 2019. Next up is a trip away to AFC Killingworth.