Alnwick Town 0-1 Billingham Synthonia
Alnwick entertained Billingham Synthonia, the second top team in the Ebac Northern League Division 2, and one of the favourites for promotion.
Samuel Perez made his home debut, but it was marked with a sending off just before half-time.
Perez was brought down in the visitors’ penalty area and when he was on the ground he was grabbed and dragged by an opposition defender.
Perez reacted and was immediately shown a red card by the referee.
The game started at a fast pace with the visitors, who had won ten in a row, pushing Alnwick back.
Alnwick slowly beat Billingham back and went close after 10 minutes when from a free kick the ball was sent to the far side of the box for Josh Hay to power in with a header which flew just wide.
james Jackson then shot wide, but Billingham always looked dangerous and Town keeper Luc Glasper had a hectic few minutes when the visitors forced three corners in succession, only to find the Alnwick defence resolute.
The whole Alnwick team was magnificent keeping the much vaunted Billingham attack at bay, but it was a simple slip by an Alnwick defender which allowed danger man McCauley Longstaff in and space to send a powerful ground shot past Town keeper Glasper: to make it 0-1 after 35 minutes.
A minute later Alnwick should have drawn level when a great through ball split the Billingham defence, allowing Jackson to run in the clear.
Bearing down on the Billingham penalty area, visitors ‘keeper Jack McLaren charged out to the edge of the box to deflect his effort wide.
The remaining of the last 15 minutes Alnwick had pushed the visitors back and restricted them to occasional attacks.
The first half ended on a controversial decision by the referee in not allowing a clear penalty and sending Sammy Perez off, as stated at the beginning of this report.
The second half was a fierce midfield battle with Alnwick denying Billingham any clear chances with their 10 men giving a fine display and the team deserved a draw.
As the game went on Billingham became more and more frustrated and with Josh Hay battling up front Alnwick did not give up and had the occasional half chance with Hay, Wilson and Gair being ably supported by the whole team.
In the closing minutes of the game the teams were even up in numbers when centre forward Conner Winter was sent off for elbowing an Alnwick player.
However, his dismissal came too late in the day to have any effect on proceedings.
As the full-time whistle blew, the whole Alnwick team and deserved a standing ovation for their efforts throughout what proved to be a difficult 90 minutes.
The Club later revealed it is appealing the red card given to Perez.
Next home game is against Northallerton on Saturday, March 18, with a kickoff of 3pm.