ALNWICK TOWN 3
Alnwick welcomed back some of their players from injury but still had four missing from the squad.
Birtley came on the back of mixed results and Alnwick after two hard tussles with Billingham Synthonia, being the replay in the FA Vase during the week.
Play opened up with both sides showing some good touches and it was the visitors who showed first when Jack Pearson on the right cut in and tested Town keeper Callum Brooks.
It was Alnwick who broke the deadlock after 20 minutes when Josh Willis put a defence splitting ball for Brad McClelland to charge through, a defender closing in each side and the keeper charged out of his box the collision of the players found Brad still standing and ball in front to run the ball into an empty net.
Alnwick were having the major possession and made a few half chances which should have been capitalised on as their misses came back to haunt them in the second half.
Alnwick added a second after 25 minutes by Rob Baker scoring finishing a move from Jamie Dixon and Ross Gair.
Brad McClelland broke free soon after only to see visiting keeper Mark Fish fumble but managing to clear. There followed a host of chances as Alnwick prevented Birtley from making any serious chances. Mark Fish had to tip over a Brad McClelland shot. Then Ross Gair combined with Brad McClelland resulting in the Birtley keeper just managing to save with an outstretched foot.
As the second half commenced, Alnwick were well in control. After just a few minutes Alnwick added a third when a cross from Jamie Dixon found Brad McClelland at the far post to head in from a few yards.
Birtley seemed to pick up after this and got on the score sheet when Jonathan Yip on the left struck a fine shot.
Alnwick went on the attack again when Chris Glass hit a tremendous cross shot.
Straightaway Birtley’s Jonathan Yip again was only prevented from scoring at the last second by the home defence.
Birtley’s Andrew Clarkson was next to test Callum Brooks from a free kick when Brooks made a fine save. Birtley added to their score when an Alnwick defender was judged to handle. Matthew Soulsby stepped up to score and make it 3-2.
Alnwick tried to make the score more respectable when Ross Straughan over-lapped down the left to James Jackson (on for Ross Gair) on the edge of the box to hit a hard rising shot past the keeper but just over the bar.
Alnwick were denied a penalty in the 80th minute and a few minutes later Birtley completed an unexpected come back when Mark Bailes shot from close range through a ruck of players to make it 3-3.
Alnwick only had themselves to blame by not capitalising on the good chances they had in the first half. Birtley came back from 3-0 down as Alnwick lay too deep at times but still should of finished Birtley off.
Alnwick: C Brook, J Dixon, R Baker, J Willis, T McPherson (C), R Straughan, R Gair (J Jackson), K Willis, B McClelland, C Glass (J Briggs), D Riddle. Subs: A Laidlaw, R Moore, K Hogg