Ryton & Crawcrook Albion 2 Alnwick Town 2
Northern League, Division Two
Gloire Mbiavanga was Alnwick Town’s last-gasp hero on Saturday as his first club goal snatched a late point for the St James’ Park side.
The defender hit a thunderbolt from almost 30 yards out in the game’s dying seconds, sparking wild celebrations.
The draw extended Alnwick’s unbeaten run to two matches, following their 4-1 victory over Birtley Town the previous week.
The Northumbrians started the Albion match in the same vein of form as they had ended the Birtley bashing, taking a 10-minute lead through Tony Brown.
The midfielder cut in from the right before hitting a low shot, which home keeper Connor Gillespie made a complete hash of as the ball went under him at the near post.
Alnwick were in the ascendency, putting a lot of pressure on the home defence and a Stephen Hogg shot went over the cross-bar.
The home team was on the back foot, but nearly drew level when a cross from Joshua Holland found Will Forsyth coming in on the blind side, but he wasted his chance, heading well over.
A minute later, Holland combined with Forsyth, but Alnwick keeper Luc Glasper was up to the challenge.
At the other end, Gillespie had to make scrambled saves from Jon Colley and Stephen Hogg.
Alnwick led 0-1 at the break, but Albion came out stronger in the second half.
Leigh Shiekle’s cross hit the Alnwick bar, before Holland’s follow-up shot went over.
But the home side’s pressure paid off when a left-wing cross was not cleared and Forsyth was on hand to stab it home to make it 1-1.
Soon after, an unmarked Forsyth scored his second to put Albion in the lead.
Things looked to get worse for Alnwick when keeper Glasper had to have extensive treatment by Alnwick physio Joanne Chisholm following a high-studded challenge from an Albion player.
Despite this, Glasper was on hand to make a fine full-length, one-handed save to keep Alnwick in the contest.
With the match edging towards its climax, Alnwick stepped up their game to put pressure on the home defence and in the dying seconds the ball came out to Mbiavanga some 10 yards outside the home penalty area.
He took an almighty shot which cleared the home defence and the keeper to fly into the roof of the net.
It was Mbiavanga’s first goal – and a very memorable one at that – and he was immediately buried by his team-mates.
Alnwick will be aiming to extend their run of points when they host Stokesley Sports Club on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.
Alnwick (v Ryton and Crawcrook Albion): L Glasper, K Egan, G Mbiavanga, R Straughan, K Hogg, D Schiavetta, T Brown (Capt), A Shanks, S Hogg (D Riddell), J Colley. Sub: D Atwell, B Brooks.