Alnwick Town 1-3 Billingham Town
Billingham came to Town third top with a high scoring front line led by Craig Hutchinson on 49 League goals and eight in cups, who went on to score and break Billingham Town’s club record of 50 League goals in a season.
Town’s line up had drastic changes at the back due to midweek injuries and work commitments so out of seven signed defenders, five were out which meant a complete reshuffle at the back.
Town included midweek signing Joseph Pickard, grandson of Tommy Pickard, one of the 70’s legends. Joseph became the youngest players for Town at Senior level.
The game was well attended with a crowd of 110, and was sponsored by Lionheart Garage and the ball sponsor was the Sumner Family and 472.
Billingham went straight on the attack and a move from left to right found Luke Hogan whose snap shot skimmed the bar.
Alnwick’s best attack came after 15 minutes when Jake Lowes cross to Chris Graham whose attempt was put behind for a corner with Billingham Town’s keeper Alexander Leeds struggling a bit. Sammy Perez took the corner and his hard cross screamed past the face of the goal but just too hard for two Alnwick forwards lurking.
The Billingham pressure paid off in the 22nd minute when Jake Lowes cleared off the line and it was chipped back into the box and there followed a melee of five players resulting in Mark Dixon’s toe poking it in from two yards.
Alnwick were slowly gaining more possession and creating more half chances when a move started by Josh Hay for Samuel Walton/Perez to Jake Lowes to send a good dipping cross without a result.
Towards the end of the half Billingham came on strong and Matthew Osmond broke clear on the left and only good defending stopped a certain goal.
Alnwick’s last attack of the half came when a combination of Chris Graham and Jonathan Wilson out to Jake Lowes overlapping and nearly found Sammy Perez near the far post.
The two Samuels (Walton and Perez) were causing real headaches without a result.
Halftime arrived with the visitors 1-0 up and they deserved their lead but the home side were still in it.
Hutchinson is an exceptional player and his goal scoring total speaks volumes and it’s expected that he and a number of other Billingham players will move on next season.
Sam Walton, James Jackson (on for injured Lee Dundas) to Ross Gair only resulted in one of a number of half chances early on.
What was hard to understand is why such a good football side resulted in so much moaning to the referee.
Alnwick went further behind when Luke Hogan broke clear to score with a hard ground shot which put Billingham 2-0 up.
Alnwick pulled one back when they were awarded a free kick 10 yards inside Billingham’s half near the right-hand touchline. Perez sent over a high cross to the far post where Walton was lurking to tap it in: 1-2
Billingham were still calling the tune but Alnwick never gave up and Gair netted with the linesman flagging offside, which seemed strange, but no goal.
Billingham secured the points in the 70th minute when Gair was judged to have brought Luke Hogan down. Penalty and up steps Hutchinson to score his 50th League goal.
Fulltime came with the third top team winning 3-1 and they deserved to win although Alnwick had their chances and never gave up which is a hallmark of this team with not many lucky breaks.
With all the changes the players must be congratulated with some coming straight from work and arriving just in time for the team sheets going in.
This weekend Alnwick are due to play away to Stockton Town.
Alnwick’s last home game of the season is against Thornaby on Easter Saturday (April 15) with a kick-off of 3pm. All supporters welcome.