Sun May 06, 2018 7:43 am
BILLINGHAM TOWN (4) 9 ALNWICK TOWN (1) 1
Blackburn 5,21,66,69 Brown 37
The league season began with an eight goal haul at Ryton & Crawcrook Albion, during a balmy summers evening and finished with nine against Alnwick Town on an afternoon, full of the rays of sunshine. Although the score-line was different, the number of goals scored by Ashley Lavan was the same - five! Jason Blackburn bagged four of his own to share the goal scoring spoils and even Clayton Macdonald came close to his first goal for the club but required Lavan’s finesse to finish off the move in the dying seconds! Billingham dominated from the first minute to the last while Alnwick scored from their only meaningful attempt on target. With relegation confirmed in midweek, the Northumbrians looked dejected throughout and if it wasn’t for goalkeeper Robert Hodgson, the score-line would have ended up in double figures. The manner of the victory did wonders for the end of season goal difference and if Tow Law only obtain one point from their final two games then Town will finish in eighth position. Lavan’s five goal haul to go with the five he got at Ryton meant he notched up twenty six strikes in the league; good going for his first season as an orthodox centre forward.
Town bossed the middle of the park with Gary Redman in control along with the imperious Jack Connor as they sprayed cross-field ball after ball. And the first goal came inside the opening five minutes when Jason BLACKBURN delicately looped the ball over Hodgson having benefited from Connors foresight. Town then had four headed attempts off target while Redman tested Hodgson with a strike from all of twenty yards. Fears that Town had dissipated their chances proved to be unfounded as they extended their lead on twenty one minutes when BLACKBURN rifled into the top netting after Stephen Oakley’s headed knockdown fell kindly for the forward. Town’s third came from a positive driving run from Connor who laid the ball across for LAVAN and Town’s top marksman found the bottom corner with a precise finish. At this point, Alnwick had posed no attacking threat whatsoever, so it came as a surprise when Tony BROWN pulled a goal back after his deflected effort wrong-footed Lewis Shaw. Still, there was no respite for the visitors -LAVAN finished from close range in an opportunist fashion but you had to feel sorry for Oakley who’s header rebounded off the crossbar junction. Just before half time, Hodgson managed to keep the score down by denying Blackburn a certain hat-trick with a low save to his left.
HT BILLINGHAM TOWN 4 ALNWICK TOWN 1
The beginning of the second half was a case of controlled possession without testing Hodgson any further but the phoney period soon ended when BLACKBURN earned his treble on sixty six minutes. Connor’s visionary through ball left the ex Hebburn man with the simple task of picking his spot. Three minutes later, BLACKBURN grabbed a fourth when he followed up on the rebound and then LAVAN had time to finish adroitly despite being surrounded by two opposing defenders. Inside the final ten minutes, Hodgson superbly kept out Glen Hargrave’s goal bound effort but could do nothing for Towns eighth - LAVAN with another cool finish after neat interchange play between Hargrave and Elliott Beddow. There was still time for a ninth and Macdonald looked sure to score an inaugural goal but shot straight at Hodgson, allowing LAVAN the simple task of tapping home from close range. In the end, Town closed the campaign five games unbeaten...As for Alnwick, the ‘door’ is always open for a return to the Northern League!
FT BILLINGHAM TOWN 9 ALNWICK TOWN 1
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