Alnwick Town 4 Norton & Stockton Ancients 3
Northern League, Division Two
A stunning second-half fightback saw Alnwick Town overhaul a two-goal deficit to beat high-flying Norton and Stockton Ancients 4-3, on what was a poignant day for the Northumbrians.
Both teams observed a minute’s silence prior to Saturday’s Northern League, Division Two match, to pay tribute to one of Alnwick’s finest ever full-backs, Eric Hately, who passed away earlier this month, aged 70.
And Alnwick would put on a show befitting of the former defender’s memory, by grabbing their first win of 2015.
Fittingly, Eric’s son, Peter, was in the crowd to see the amazing fightback, which came about thanks to an Adam Shanks double, a Jon Colley effort and a Stephen Hogg winner.
Things had looked bleak for Alnwick, who had found themselves 2-0 down, before being 3-1 behind. But they were not to be denied.
What made the result even more remarkable was the fact that Norton had started the day in second place, while Alnwick sat sixth-bottom and winless in five matches.
Alnwick began the game on the attack and in the first minute, Colley crossed for Shanks, who headed just over. A few minutes later, Darren Riddell sent a powerful shot just wide.
It was the visitors who went ahead though when Michael Jamieson collected a pass at the far post to slot home.
Alnwick were still pushing but Norton went two-up thanks to John Seaton in the 20th minute.
Five minutes later, Alnwick grabbed a lifeline, scoring the best goal of the game. Riddell hit a superb long, high ball over to Shanks who rose above the defence to power home a header.
Shanks then used his pace to beat the full-back but his powerful shot went just wide.
Norton went 3-1 up when Seaton hit a swerving, dipping shot which gave Alnwick keeper Luc Glasper no chance.
Alnwick made a three-man move with Riddell, Shanks and Stephen Hogg with no result as visiting keeper David Knight made a fine save.
While the first half was Norton’s, the second period was definitely Alnwick’s.
The home side made it 2-3 when a high cross into the Norton box was not collected by keeper Knight and the ball dropped among a group of players and Colley was first to react to score. With Alnwick in full cry and Norton pushed well back, Alnwick drew level when Shanks beat the defender and the advancing keeper to score his second.
Things got even better for Alnwick when they went ahead. A free-kick was put into the box and Stephen Hogg spun and fired home to make it 4-3. A few minutes later, Norton’s Seaton was dismissed.
Tempers became frayed and a fracas erupted in front of the Norton dug-out, leading to an Alnwick substitute being sent off.
Alnwick continued to be dominant with efforts by Shanks and Stephen Hogg.
They had a nervous 10 minutes at the end when Norton gambled everything but the home defence held out and Alnwick could have added to their score in the dying seconds of the game. It was a fine win for Alnwick, who travel to Ryhope CW on Saturday.
Alnwick: L Glasper, D Lowes, J Lowes, K Egan, T Macpherson, K Hogg, D Riddell (G Mbvianga), T Brown, A Shanks, S Hogg, J Colley. Subs: R Straughan, S Straker, K Douglas, B Murray. Hotspur 1364 man-of-the-match: Kieran Egan. Match sponsor: ADS, George White.