Team Northumbria...2 Alnwick Town...1
STL Northern League, Division Two
A CONTROVERSIAL second-half goal condemned Alnwick Town to their sixth defeat in a row – but it was a game they did not deserve to lose, writes James Willoughby.
A double from Peter Watling secured maximum points for table-topping Team Northumbria.
But his clincher, which came in the 65th minute, was dubious to say the least, with Alnwick players certain it was offside.
One disgruntled club official described it as a contender for the most offside goal of the season.
It was a harsh outcome on what proved to be a frustrating afternoon for Alnwick, who had a penalty shout turned down, an effort saved on the line and created numerous chances against their high-flying opponents.
But new boss Paul Yeadon, who was in the managerial seat following the departure of Danny Olson and Rob Marshall last week, would no doubt be pleased with the performance.
It was an encouraging display against league-leading Team Northumbria who have added five new players, all from professional club backgrounds, to their ranks as part of their scholarship programme.
Alnwick, in contrast, recently lost the services of Dan Iredale and Paul Blakey who were transferred to Ryton & Crawcrook Albion at their own request, and instead brought in nine former club Juniors for the match.
Team Northumbria broke the deadlock in the 14th minute when the ball was played through to Watling who shot past keeper Brian Brooks.
But Alnwick levelled the contest on the half-hour.
Chris Moffet controlled a good through-ball and kept his composure to slot home.
Despite the hosts having most of the possession, Alnwick nearly took the lead just before the break when Tony Brown clipped the ball into Jon Colley but his header at the far post was saved on the line.
At the other end though, Brooks had to dive at the feet of Watling to keep out Team Northumbria.
After the break, Alnwick created a number of early chances – Moffet shooting wide while Keenan went close with a snap-shot outside the box.
Things could have got better for Alnwick when Northumbria’s centre-half Robert Story handled in the box, but the referee ignored Alnwick’s protests.
To rub salt in the wound, Team Northumbria regained the lead nine minutes later. Against the run of play, Watling scored that dubious goal, to the amazement of the Alnwick players who couldn’t believe the linesman had kept his flag down.
Soon after, Gary Patterson made a fine clearance to keep Alnwick in the game.
Alnwick pressed for an equaliser, with Kieran Hogg going close, first shooting wide before his cross-come-shot was palmed over by home stopper Andrew Jennison, who then denied Colley from the resulting corner.
But Alnwick were unable to find the equaliser they deserved and sunk to their sixth defeat in a row.
Alnwick’s next match is on Tuesday evening, when they host Washington. The Northern League Division Two clash kicks off at 7.30pm.
Alnwick Town (v Team Northumbria): Brooks, Murray, Catlow, Moffet, Patterson, Hills (Dundas), Brown, Cockburn, Keenan (Nixon), Colley, Hogg. Subs: Hodge, Baston.