South Shields 0 Alnwick Town 3
Alnwick Town took a massive stride towards preserving their Northern League, Division Two status with a convincing 3-0 win over South Shields on Saturday.
Goals from Tom Vickers, Keith Douglas and Kieran Hogg secured the vital victory, moving the St James’ Park side nine points clear of second-bottom Esh Winning – who they face this weekend.
The victory over Shields ended a run of two straight defeats for the Northumbrians, who sit 18th in the table, and was their first away win of 2014.
The black ‘n’ whites made two changes to the side which started the 6-2 midweek defeat to table-topping North Shields, with new boy Lee Waugh replacing Darren Riddell and Vickers coming in for Dale Kennedy.
South Shields had the game’s first chance. Chris Lock’s hard free-kick was saved by keeper Dan Mullen.
Town responded with a good move from Vickers, Douglas and Waugh which pulled the home defence apart, but Douglas’ shot went just wide with the home keeper scrambling across his goal.
Chris Fawcett and Waugh both went close for the Northumbrians soon afterwards.
Town’s period of pressure paid off on the half-hour mark with a fine effort from Vickers who collected the ball from a throw in, turned and hit a looping shot over the Shields keeper.
The black ‘n’ whites nearly extended their lead a few minutes later, but they hit the woodwork twice in quick succession during a goal-mouth melee. In the ensuing scramble, Town appealed for a penalty, claiming the defender had handled the ball on the line, but their shouts were waved away.
Shields nearly grabbed an undeserved equaliser just before the break when a corner to the near post was flicked on and the ball glanced off the cross-bar.
The hosts would pay for the miss. After the interval, Town extended their lead. Vickers was upended in the box and Douglas duly converted the penalty with a powerful effort.
Town completed the rout with five minutes to go, thanks to a fine strike from Hogg.
It was a convincing win for the St James’ Park side, who can start to look forward to another season in the Northern League.
Alnwick Town (v South Shields): D Mullen, G Mbiavanga, K Hogg, B Murray, T Macpherson, K Elliott, L Waugh (J Jackson), T Brown, T Vickers, K Douglas (A Makin), C Fawcett. Subs: B Brooks, D Atwell.