NORTHERN ALLIANCE LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP, SEMI-FINAL
Alnwick Town...3 Blyth Town...2
ALNWICK finally resumed their season after an enforced winter break of 63 days since their last competitive match against Murton in November in the same cup.
Alnwick welcomed Blyth Town, who were in good form coming into the match, winning their last seven matches.
The was a reporter’s nightmare due to the numerous incidents from as early as the third minute when Vickers headed into the path of Dale Kennedy for the youngster to shoot across the Blyth keeper Earle and into the corner of the net from eight yards out to give Alnwick the lead.
Blyth were back on level terms on 10 minutes after good play saw the ball played into the path of Fuller who calmly placed it wide of Brooks in the Alnwick goal.
Alnwick were awarded a free-kick just outside the area on 20 minutes from a wide position. Up stepped full-back Neil Catlow, who thundered in a quality free-kick into the top corner, giving the keeper no chance.
The game was end-to-end in a typical cup tie fashion, Blyth picking up three bookings to Craig, Heath and Barnes.
After some good possession, Blyth levelled the scores. Yet another good through-ball found Blades, who slotted the ball wide of Brooks.
Just before the interval, Brooks pulled off a point blank save from Blades to keep it level going in to the half-time interval.
No one could have predicted the outcome of the game as the second half got under way and Blyth came closest to scoring, Fuller’s header hitting the bar from close range.
Blyth then had their keeper to thank as Ben Keenan pulled the ball back into the path of Vickers, whose volley from 12 yards out hit Earls’ legs and rebounded to safety.
Blyth had a couple of calls for penalties, which were waved away by referee Tom Davie.
This seemed to light the fuse as Fuller, Heath and Earle found their way into the referee’s book.
Vickers was denied by the bar as he got on the end of a Catlow cross.
The game was heating up with most of the frustration being taken out by the Blyth team on the referee and it was only a matter of time before a red card was shown and it was to captain Barns for dissent.
Alnwick went in front on 78 minutes – a mistimed tackle from Iverson on Vickers in the area saw the midfielder being awarded a penalty. Vickers picked himself up and placed it wide of Earle.
With 10 minutes to go, Waugh and Atkinson were sent off for dissent, leaving Blyth an uphill battle.
Alnwick’s Stephan Hogg hit the post and saw another effort go just wide of the post.
Blyth had nothing to lose and could have still grasped a late equaliser as they threw caution to the wind but it was the home side who won through for an encounter against Seaton Delaval in the final.
The game itself, for all the cards awarded, never had a bad challenge in it, but dwindled as frustrations were taken out on the officials. For the record, one of the Blyth backroom staff was sent off too and Cockburn for Alnwick also found himself in the book to round the day off.