Heaton Stannington 1-2 Alnwick Town
It was almost four months since Alnwick Town had that winning feeling, and they experienced it at Grounsell Park with a thoroughly deserved win against promotion chasers Heaton Stannington on Saturday.
Alnwick travelled to Heaton Stannington on Saturday down to the bare bones. A squad of 12, with manager Stu Purvis including himself on the bench just in case to add to the numbers. There were also starting places for Laviers and Danny Lowes, along with the returning Phil Bright.
It was a cagey opening few minutes, with the players adapting to the low sunlight and breezy conditions. Heaton had the better of the opening chances, but efforts went into into the side netting and over the bar.
The tone of the game was set early for Alnwick. They were had joy down the wings, with the fullbacks struggling to cope with Bright and Laviers when they pushed forward.
Darren Riddell hadAlnwick’s first chance of the game, but his curling effort from distance was easily gathered by the keeper at his near post.
The game came to life in the 33rd minute. A ball into the box was chested down by Tony Brown, who fired a half volley inches over the bar.
Straight from that effort, Heaton took the lead. Down their left hand side, a cross by Sayer was headed home at the far post by Wetherspoon, for 1-0 to the hosts.
Alnwick refused to buckle though, and continued to press, especially down the left side through Jake Lowes and Phil Bright.
Just five minutes later, Alnwick were back in the game. Another counter attack, and with the ball played across the box, it was controlled by Westphal, who was then brought down.A penalty was awarded and the ever reliable Tony Brown stepped up to slot it into the bottom corner for 1-1.
Rob Hodgson ensured that Alnwick went in level at half time producing a fine save from Hall.
In the second half Alnwick came out showing even more fight. A break again down the left, and Jake Lowes played in Phil Bright, who crossed for Darren Riddell to head home and give the away side a 1-2 lead.
Rob Hodgson produced his best save of the game in the 53rd minute, getting a solid hand to Jon Wright’s effort.
Alnwick defended well. Straughan, Scott and the Lowes’ brothers proving difficult to breach.
The home side were given little time on the ball thanks to the pressuring and chasing of Riddell, Westphal, Laidlaw and Brown who all put in a shift in the middle of the park.
Heaton were then left with a mountain to climb 10 minutes from time.
Jon Wright went down in the box claiming a penalty, but the referee waved away his claims. Obviously not happy with the decision, his words to the referee were less than favourable, and he was shown a straight red card, despite being warned about dissent earlier in the game.
Heaton, down to ten men, tried to push on, but Alnwick found themselves in the opposition final third more often than not in the final few minutes, and secured a vital three points on the road.
Tghis was a brilliant performance from the lads. The reaction of the players at the final whistle showed just how much the result meant, and that the club will not be going anywhere without a fight.