Alnwick Town...1 Killingworth Sporting YPC...2
NFA Senior Benevolent Bowl, Quarter-Final
A FINE long-range strike from Alnwick Town captain Bryan Murray could not stop the black ’n’ whites from crashing out of the NFA Senior Benevolent Bowl, writes James Willoughby.
The St James’ Park outfit were humbled by lower-league opposition as they fell at the competition’s quarter-final stage.
Much to the Northern League Division Two side’s anguish, the magic of the cup prevailed, as they were defeated by Killingworth Sporting YPC of the Northern Alliance Premier Division – one rung down from Town on the footballing ladder – who left it late to claim the scalp.
The 2-1 loss ended Alnwick’s dreams of winning the Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
It also meant that Alliance Division One league leaders Amble United are now the only north Northumberland-based side left in the competition, after they booked their place in the tournament’s last four – ironically pulling off a higher-league giant-killing themselves, defeating Alliance top-tier side Blyth Town 4-2 (full report on Page 27).
But more significantly for Alnwick, this cup upset heralded their fourth straight defeat in all competitions.
And for the second game in a row, they were left to lick their wounds after conceding a late goal.
Okay, Killingworth’s winner wasn’t as last-gasp as West Allotment Celtic’s 97th minute clincher at the end of January.
But losing to an 80th minute goal – an own-goal at that – is still a bitter pill to swallow – especially when it knocks you out of the cup.
In truth though, nobody could deny Killingworth their win, with one Alnwick club official describing Town’s luke-warm showing as a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance.
Saturday’s match went ahead after the St James’ Park turf was given the all-clear that morning.
Alnwick probably wished it had met a different fate – a fate which saw the majority of grass-roots matches postponed throughout the region – after this loss left them still searching for their first win since the middle of January.
Both sides had their chances, with Jon Colley, Marc Nixon and Dan Iredale having efforts for Alnwick while Killingworth’s Jorge Bollado looked lively, forcing Alnwick keeper Brian Brooks to be on his guard.
The visitors broke the deadlock in the 57th minute by an unmarked Paul Baird, who hit a rising ball into the far corner from about 12-yards out.
Alnwick levelled the contest in the 74th minute thanks to that Murray screamer.
The skipper pounced on a loose Killingworth clearance, controlling the ball, taking a couple of touches and smashing it into the far corner from the edge of the area, leaving Killingworth keeper John Mordey with no chance.
But his spectacular leveller proved to be in vain, as just six minutes later Killingworth scored the winner.
A shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Gary Patterson, leaving Brooks rooted to the spot as the ball flew into the net.
It was very cruel on Patterson, but it perhaps summed up Alnwick’s afternoon as they bowed out of the Bowl.
Alnwick play Esh Winning at home on Saturday in Northern League Division Two, kick-off 3pm.
Alnwick Town (v Killingworth): Brooks, Iredale, Catlow, Murray, Patterson, McPherson, Blakey (Cockburn), Brown, Colley, Nixon (Keenan), Willis (Bamborough). Subs: Woodcock, Hodge.