Alnwick Town 3-2 Ryton & Crawcrook
Despite having to ring the changes, Alnwick managed to record a welcome 3-2 home win over Ryton & Crawcrook on Saturday.
Manager Richard Mitchell, having seen top scorer Liam Brooks sign for Whitley Bay in midweek, also had four others unavailable.
Brooks scored 16 goals for the club this season and will be a miss to the St James’ Park side, but everyone at the club wishes him well following his switch to Bay, where he joins former Alnwick striker Adam Shanks.
Prior to kick-off both teams observed a minute’s silence in respect of the Brazilian football side who were killed in the air crash in Colombia.
Ryton & Crawcrook went into the game after a 5-0 drilling midweek by Billingham and hoping to end their long losing streak of seven games. Alnwick, meanwhile, went into the game on the back of three good displays including an unfortunate 2-0 defeat by Durham City
Alnwick attacked from the start and in the first few minutes Darren Riddle wentr close with a vicious cross-shot.
Town limited the visitors to the odd foray into their half and Lee Brown made good progress down their left to send in a great cross, only to see his effort wasted as the Town defence easily took care of it and no Ryton forward had made it as far as the penalty area.
At the other end Alnwick went close again when James Jackson saw his shot hit the post and run across the goal, just missing the outstretched foot of Josh Hay.
Hay then combined with Dundas to set up Christopher Graham, but his half volley went just over the top of the crossbar.
.A Ross Gair strike was then blocked by a defender and Ryton were still trying to break the strangle hold by Alnwick when their best chance fell to Liam Anderson as he cut in, but his shot was just wide.
The Alnwick pressure finally paid off in the 40th minute when a corner was floated over to the back post where Tom McPherson rose up and headed down near the goal line, enebling Hay to open the sacoring by back-heeling the ball into the net.
The visitors were not totally dominated and made good progress with some approach work but good defence and some poor passing in the final third resulted in the rare half chance.
Alnwick deserved the halftime and after the break they picked up where they left off when a four man cross field move culminated in Hay hitting a rising shot just over.
A few minjutes later Jackson also went close, but it was Ryton who drew level when Lee Brown scrambled the ball home following a cross into the box.
Town regained the initiative when Gair hammered the ball from close range into the roof of the net following good play down the right.
Ryton were not out of it, showing a more positive approach, and as a consequence Town’s keeper Dominic McMahon had to be at his best to tip over a terrific 20 yard shot by Ryan Bell.
The post came to Ryton’s rescue again when Hay hit the woodwork for a second time.
But their pressure was rewarded when Riddle cut into the box and laid the ball off for Tony Brown to hit it first time and which gave Alnwick some breathing space at 3-1.
Ryton made the last ten minutes interesting when they were awarded a penalty for a push at the far post and Callum Turnbull pulled a goal back from the spot.
For a few minutes Alnwick lost their impetus and fell back in defence and Jake Morrison had to withstand three crude challenges in quick succession.
However, they manager to hang on for the win which secured manager Mitchell his first three points in charge, a feat he will be hoping to repeat when they take on Willington at home on Saturday (December 10) with a 3pm kickoff.