By Andrew McDonnell (@AndrewSJourno)
Venue: St. James’ Park, Weavers Way, Alnwick, NE66 1BG
Date: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Morpeth Town kicked off their pre-season campaign at the weekend with a goalless draw with Scottish League Two side, Berwick Rangers. They now turn their attention to the game with Alnwick Town.
Alnwick kicked off their pre-season with a 2-1 win over local side Shankhouse, with Jonny Wilson and Connor Powell helping the Magpies come from behind.
Richie Mitchell’s side are in Division Two of the Northern League and finished 15th last season.
The last time the two sides met in a competitive match was back in 2013, where Morpeth won 4-1 at Craik Park in Division Two. In the reverse fixture, in August 2012, Morpeth had their scoring boots on once more during a 4-0 win at St. James’ Park.
Full-back Stephen Forster returns to the squad for the trip up to Alnwick, while Liam Henderson and Mark Davison aren’t available.
David Hiftle makes his return for the first time in a year-and-a-half, while midfielders Ben Sayer and Jordan Fry won’t be travelling up to St. James’ Park on Wednesday evening.
The Manager’s Views
Co-manager Nick Gray said: “It’ll be another good exercise. It’ll be a tough game. I know the manager, Richie, and he’s started this season after working from March/April last season.
“He’s put a lot of hard work in, they started earlier than a lot of teams, so it’ll be a tough game. It’s a bit of a local derby, with pride at stake, and it’s another good exercise in pre-season.
“I think they (the squad) will be looking to get their passing right, their movement better. We’re probably looking for, no disrespect to Alnwick, but we should have the lively share of the ball.
“That’s what we’ll look at and obviously getting our fitness levels up again.”
Alnwick play in Division Two and will be looking to improve on their 15th-placed finish last term, and the Magpies will provide stern competition on Wednesday evening.
Mitchell’s men ended a winless run of 14 games after beating Thornaby 1-0 on the final day of the 2016-17 season and they’ve added the signing of highly-rated midfielder Jay Hornsby this summer.
Stephen Young, who has won the FA Vase and Northern League during his career, has joined the clubs playing and management staff for the new season.
Supporters will be able to pay what they want for entry, donation buckets will be around the ground at St. James’ Park for entry fees.