Albion welcomed Alnwick to Kingsley Park still crippled with key injuries, but buoyed by the midweek win over Stokesley, while the Northumbrians were on a high following last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Birtley.
The game started slowly & early action was thin on the ground. Phil Hodges headed wide on seven minutes from a Ryton free kick, then Alnwick keeper Lun Glasper had to be on his toes when another Albion free kick was taken quickly, the ball being played forward to Leigh Shickle who’d ran round the back of napping defenders, but Glasper, alert to the move, slid out to smother the ball before Shickle could get to it.
Then out of the blue Alnwick took the lead on 9 minutes. Tony BROWN found himself with the ball midway inside the RACA half & with limited options, struck a fairly tame shot towards goal. Keeper Conor Gillespie dived down to make what looked a routine save, but somehow the ball bounced past him & into the net much to Brown’s delight.
If the Albion fans were expecting an immediate response, they were to be disappointed as the home side looked lethargic & disjointed. They were lucky not to fall further behind on 22 minutes when Stephen Hogg received the ball when unmarked in the Ryton box, but he fired in an awful shot that went badly wide & Albion were let off the hook.
That still didn’t spark them into life & a tame Callum Turnbull header into Glasper’s hands was about all the hosts offered in the following quarter of an hour.
It was Gillespie who was next called into action on 40 minutes when Hogg just beat Chrostowski to a loose ball, rounding the defender but found his shot blocked by the Ryton keeper.
There was a glimmer of a chance for Ryton on 44 minutes when Hodges made a great run down the left wing, then chipped a ball into the box that Josh Holland, with the attentions of two defenders could only nod wide.
And so ended a drab first half in which Sunderland’s capitulation to Aston Villa was more of a topic of amusing conversation among many of the home fans.
HT RACA 0 ALNWICKTOWN 1
Whatever was said in the home dressing room at half time seemed to work the oracle as Ryton looked a completely different outfit in the second half. Within three minutes of the re-start both Chrostowski and Shickle caused alarm in the Alnwick area with dangerous moves, then Shickle hit the cross bar on 57 minutes, quickly followed by Turnbull dragging a shot across the danger area.
From being totally comfortable in the first half, Alnwick were being over-ran by Ryton & the inevitable goal came from Will Forsyth on 61 minutes when Hodges squared a ball to him, & he slotted past Glasper to level the scores.
Alnwick had barely contemplated being on level pegging, when they were behind. Holland & Forsyth bypassed an Alnwick off-side trap & when Holland squared to Forsyth, the Albion number ten scored his second tap in past the exposed Glasper within a minute to turn the game on its head.
The avalanche of goals that some predicted didn’t materialise as Alnwick composed themselves, absorbing the pressure the home side were pouring on them, then gradually beginning to get more possession as they probed for a leveller.
However following a failed Town attack in the 78th minute, Forsyth had a
Deep into stoppage time Town were awarded a throw deep into Ryton territory. The Alnwick bench urged defender Gloire Mbiavanga, who was hovering on the half way line, up into the action & what a masterstoke that proved to be. The ball was cleared from the box, out towards MBIAVANGA, & the Frenchman let rip with a shot that seemed to come more off his shin than his foot. The ball looked to be going for all money both high & wide, but amazingly dipped into the top corner to give Alnwick a surprise equalizer & prompting disproportionally jubilant scenes as the players & management dived upon one another as if they’d won the FA Vase, not got an end of season draw against RACA.
Barely had the heap of bodies disentangled themselves when the full time whistle was blown & Albion were left to rue another late points giveaway.
FT RACA 2 ALNWICKTOWN 2
ALBION – Gillespie, Stoddart, Shickle, McMeekin, L Barker, Chrostowski, Holland, Backhouse, Turnbull, Forsyth, Hodges. Subs- Burnyeat, C Barker, Upperton, Wilkinson, Emmerson
ALNWICK – Glasper, Egan, Mbiavanga, Straughan, McPherson, K Hogg, Schiavetta, Brown, Shanks, S Hogg (Atwell 75), Colley. Subs- Riddell, Atwell, Brooks
Referee – Kevin McKitterick
Attendance – 45