Alnwick Town 1 Darlington RA 0
Northern League Division Two
Alnwick Town won their first league match since the start of September on Saturday, thanks to a first-half goal from new signing Keith Douglas.
The victory, which was manager Derek Atwell’s second game in charge, was a fine recovery from the last-gasp defeat to Jarrow Roofing four days before.
It continued the St James’ Park side’s recent recovery, as they have now taken five points from their last four matches – following seven straight Division Two defeats.
And in Douglas, the black ‘n’ whites have a proven goalscorer at this level.
The hitman built on his two goals on debut last Saturday, plus the effort he was credited with in midweek, to add to his tally for the season.
He scored the game’s only goal in the 10th minute, spinning and volleying in after visiting keeper Mathew Calvert mistimed a clearance.
This stung Darlington, who went into Saturday’s clash on the back of two league victories, into action, with three chances in the next 20 minutes.
The first, a few minutes after going behind, was cleared off the line by Tom Macpherson.
The second and third involved Aaron Ramsbottom, as the visitors hit the cross bar twice.
Town came back into the game on the half-hour mark when Tom Vickers laid off the ball to Douglas, who shot just wide.
The hosts had another chance to extend their lead when a Tony Brown free-kick caused chaos in the visitors’ box. The ball bounced around in the resulting scramble, but home players were unable to make the decisive touch.
The rest of the first half was fast and hard-tackling.
The frantic pace continued in the second period, with neither side giving an inch.
Home keeper Daniel Mullen continued with a couple of fine saves in the 60th and 65th minutes as Town kept their shape well and continued to force the visiting team to shoot from distance.
The hosts had to make a change midway through the second half when Jake Lowes was injured and Stu Sullivan came on.
Towards the end of the match, Town nearly made the game safe.
Kieran Hogg made space to set Dale Kennedy free, but his shot went wide.
Then in the dying minutes, a neat pass from the left saw Vickers spin and outpace the defender, allowing space for his shot, again just missing the post.
In the five minutes of injury time, Darlington threw everything at Town, but their defence held strong.
The battling victory saw Town 18th in the table.
They travel to Whitehaven on Saturday before hosting North Shields on Tuesday in the League Cup second round.
Alnwick: D Mullen, B Murray, K Hogg, D Lowes, T McPherson, K Elliott, D Kennedy (J Jackson), T Brown, T Vickers, K Douglas, J Lowes (S Sullivan). Subs: B Brooks, A Makin, D Hills.