Vipers take their chances to grab victory

Alnwick Vipers...5 Rothbury...0

Glendale League, U10

THE final 0-5 scoreline did little credit to a Rothbury side who competed with a strong Alnwick side on a far more equal level than the score suggests.

Rothbury could only call on eight of their 16-man squad for this friendly match, which was the fourth time these two sides had met this season.

However, the two teams agreed to play eight-a-side for the duration which meant that no Rothbury players had to spend time on the touchline for a game played in very chilly conditions.

Such was the high wind-chill factor from a wind that cut across the Alnwick pitch throughout this match, that it was appropriate the Rothbury were caught cold by a strong Alnwick start to this match.

Alnwick’s first goal came inside the game’s first five minutes and was a complete fluke. The ball was played low into the Rothbury box and an advancing Alnwick player was unable to correct his run to meet the ball, however, despite stumbling over the intended pass, his trip inadvertently redirected the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the Rothbury net.

Rothbury seemed shocked by this unexpected turn of events and they were further stunned as Alnwick quickly scored a second. This time, the ball was smartly turned back from a corner to a midfielder who sweetly drove the ball through a crowd of players into the left-hand corner of the net.

Alnwick, now two goals to the good, were playing with confidence and quickly reached a three-goal lead with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

This time Alnwick worked the ball onto the right-hand side of the pitch. The Alnwick winger got to the by-line and played a neat ball past the Rothbury keeper. Unfortunately the ball was turned in for an own goal.

It looked like Rothbury were heading for a very heavy defeat yet credit must go to the team for the way they steadied the ship to take the game to Alnwick.

First of all, James Williams start to drive from defence with the ball. Looking to shoot whenever he had a chance he forced two corners for Rothbury in a row. From the second of these, Hugh Dennis was able to control the ball and send a viciously-hit cross-shot inches wide of the left hand post.

This chance seemed to give Rothbury confidence and they enjoyed another excellent chance just before the break. Dennis, who was working prodigiously hard in midfield, forced the ball into a wide left position.

His cross found Alex Wharrier free on the far post. He hit a thumping shot that just sailed wide of the Alnwick goal.

Rothbury started the second half very well. Adam Crane and David O’Dowd were tucking back into midfield and winning possession for Rothbury to spring excellent attacks into the Alnwick half.

Aidan Greaves twice narrowly failed to score due to well-timed Alnwick defensive tackles.

Not deterred, Greaves then controlled a long Williams pass and knocked it into the run of O’Dowd, who hit it first time but the shot was well blocked. It fell to Wharrier who equally shot with force. Yet once again the ball was deflected away from the Alnwick goal.

Rothbury’s renewed vigour with epitomised by Wharrier’s efforts. In one two-minute burst he first defended his own goal with a well-timed defensive block and clearance and then shot into the Alnwick side-netting after a strong run into the area.

Rothbury just couldn’t score and they were playing a side who took their chances well when they arrived.

Twice in the game’s final three minutes, Alnwick won possession on the edge of the Rothbury area and fired the ball into the same right-hand corner of the net to score.

So a 5-0 defeat but the goals came in the first five minutes and the last five minutes. Between these goal-bursts Rothbury were more than a match for their opponents, however they just never looked like scoring.

Rothbury man-of-the-match: Alex Kidd.

Great effort was shown by all the Rothbury players. Williams and Dennis were their usual committed selves and Wharrier played especially well in the second half. However, Alex Kidd really stood out, sometimes defending against three or four advancing Alnwick players.