Alnwick Town manager Derek Atwell praised his side for a ‘brilliant’ performance after seeing them smash Brandon United in a relegation six-pointer on Tuesday night.
A Tom Vickers hat-trick and a brace from Keith Douglas inspired the lowly black ‘n’ whites to a 5-1 win at a snow-covered St James’ Park.
The comprehensive triumph was the Northumbrians’ first victory in 2014 and halted a five-game losing streak.
They moved level on points with Whitehaven in Northern League, Division Two, but remain fourth-from-bottom on goal difference.
However, Town pulled seven points clear of their beaten opponents, who stay one place below Atwell’s side.
And the St James’ Park boss said the midweek victory was the best footballing performance he had seen from his side since taking over in November.
“We were brilliant, from start to finish,” he said.
“We kept the ball well and controlled the game.”
Town were indeed impressive, especially in the second-half.
They were defensively sound throughout and looked dangerous going forward.
And Atwell was keen to stress the importance of the victory.
He said: “We had to win. It was a big six-pointer and the win has lifted everyone at the club.”
An influx of new players, such as Chris Fawcett, Gloire Mbiavanga, Darren Riddell, Chris Graham and Douglas, have added extra steel to the St James’ Park ranks – which was very much evident in the Brandon bashing.
Ironically though, it was Vickers, a more experienced Town campaigner, who got the evening off to a good start for the hosts, opening the scoring after just three minutes.
United levelled 13 minutes later when Stephen Moody was played through and he slotted past Daniel Mullen in the Town goal.
The home side didn’t have to wait long to regain the lead, although it came in freak fashion.
Vickers whipped a free-kick into the danger area and the ball hit the legs of United keeper Chris Sawyer, who redirected the ball into the net.
United came close to equalising, but Mullen made a fine one-on-one save from Moody.
Douglas made it three for Town on the stroke of half-time. Fawcett, who caused United trouble all evening, broke into the box and unleashed a shot which hit the post. The rebound fell to Douglas who tapped in.
Town nearly extended their lead when Tony Brown’s fine effort from distance crashed against the bar.
The host’s grabbed a deserved fourth in the 67th minute, with Douglas smashing in from just inside the box, before Vickers completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute.
Alnwick: D Mullen, G Mbiavanga (D Hills), K Hogg, D Lowes, T Macpherson, K Douglas (J Jackson), D Riddell (B Murray), T Brown, T Vickers, C Fawcett, C Graham. Subs: B Brooks, L Dundas.