ABBEY HEY (1) 1
ALTRINCHAM (2) 4
Pre-Season Friendly Match,
played on Wednesday, 23 July, 2003 at 7.30p.m.
REFEREE: Mr G. Edgeley
Alty have visited Abbey Hey's ground in Gorton during at least the last three pre-seasons and this time Altrincham arrived unbeaten in their previous three games of the summer. The evening kick-off inevitably meant a much smaller crowd then for our previous Saturday afternoon visits to Goredale Avenue.
Altrincham started with an eleven who can all expect to be regular first-teamers in 2003-04.
Last season Abbey Hey lost their manager, Tony Hancock, and almost all of their players to fellow NW Counties' side, Woodley Sports, who were beaten 1-0 by the Robins last week. Their new manager is the well-known Jim Vince, aided by former Moss Lane favourite Paul Cuddy, and a host of ex-Alty players have been recruited including former keeper Andy Moore, ex-Youth teamers Mark Drew and Lee Shillito and former Alty reserves, Jason Anthony and Chris Phythian.
ABBEY HEY (All red): 1. TOWNS, 2. Greg BROWN (capt.), 3. Andy HARRIS, 4. Kieran DUFFY, 5. BROCLEHURST, 6. Matt JACKSON, 7. Danny BAILEY, 8. ROCKLEY? 9. Jason ANTHONY, 10. D. OHANJANIAN, 11. Chris PHYTHIAN. Subs: Lee SHILLITO and others.
ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, white shorts, black socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Stephen ROSE, 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. Jason GALLAGHER, 8. Peter BAND, 9. Mattie HUGHES, 10. Ian CRANEY, 11. Paul ROBERTSON. Subs: 12. Neil RYAN, 14. Steve LUNT, 15. Rob MATTHEWS, 16. Andy TUNNICLIFFE, 17. Paul GLYNN, 18. Jon McEVOY.
Although Altrincham took the initiative from the kick-off, there was little action of note until the Robins won a corner, following a fine cross by Paul Robertson (9 mins). Aspinall's flag-kick, from the left, found the incoming Mark Maddox at the back post but his header went narrowly wide. Then Ian Craney, operating up front, played a telling ball to his fellow-striker Peter Band whose chip was parried out for another Alty corner (12 mins). From the corner a melee followed at the end of which Hughes hooked the bouncing ball over the bar from six yards. The drizzle, which had started just before kick-off now became steady rain as more good skill from Craney set up a low, 20-yard effort from Hughes, which was only narrowly wide of the upright to the keeper's right (20 mins).
A foul on Craney led to Robertson's teasing free-kick which ran to the Abbey Hey keeper just before Mattie Hughes could get on the end of it. Next, Chris Adams played in an excellent ball which Peter Band hooked over the bar as the ball dropped down to him (22 mins). Another Alty corner saw the Abbey keeper punch well clear to Gallagher, about 22 yards out. From Jason, the ball came to Robertson on the right wing. A brilliant, curling cross from Robertson pinpointed Hughes at the back post and the new Alty striker had only to stoop to nod the ball home from close range (25 mins). A Hughes shot and a Band header, over the bar, soon followed as Richard Acton remained a virtual spectator at the other end behind his efficient back four (28 mins). Alty doubled their lead after an impressive move initiated by Ian Craney. From Craney, Aspinall played a well-judged pass forward to Hughes who, though driven wide to the right, to round the keeper, scored with great accuracy from a sharp angle, the ball going into the net, low, by the far post (30 mins).
The rain continued to lash down as a Band lay-off saw Hughes shoot too high from 25 yards or more (32 mins). Alty then stopped play to take off Paul Robertson but his replacement Rob Matthews chose this moment to disappear down the "tunnel" back to the changing rooms. So, Alty had to play on with ten men and in the minute or so that they were disorganised, Abbey Hey pulled back a goal, when Brown stretched to score from 12 yards or so, following an advance up the right (33 mins). Matthews soon did enter the fray but Abbey Hey were now heartened by their goal and it took some clever shielding by Adams to shepherd a ball back to Acton before Band headed over the bar at the other end as the rain continued. Gallagher then volleyed home a good cross from the left by Adams, but the effort was ruled out for offside (39 mins). Alty soon had another corner and a free-kick for a foul on Scott but half-time came with Alty leading by just a single goal.
|Half-Time: ABBEY HEY 1 ALTRINCHAM 2|
Perversely, the rain stopped for the half-time break only to resume as the players re-emerged for the second half. Abbey Hey made three interval changes with nos 12, 15 and 17 replacing nos 7, 8 and 9. After an early clip over the bar by Band (47 mins), the home side responded when no.17 got in a shot at Acton (49 mins). Abbey Hey now enjoyed a good spell as their subs gave them fresh impetus. Indeed, Alty had to scramble clear a free-kick conceded by Aspinall as the rain now stopped and the sun came out (56 mins). However, Alty increased their lead when Adams won possession and the ball came to Hughes who was "one on one" with the Abbey Hey keeper. Although the keeper made a fine parry, the force of Hughes's close-range effort took the ball into the net (62 mins).
Soon after this Alty brought on Lunt and Ryan for Aspinall and Gallagher. This allowed Craney to move back to midfield. Next, Abbey Hey won a corner, from which they headed wide. An Alty corner was then cleared before last season's Alty youth team captain Paul Glynn came on to replace Mattie Hughes (68 mins). Almost immediately Glynn was set in on goal by a great surge forward from Craney. However, Paul's shot went wide of the goal behind which a huge rainbow now appeared. Then Richard Acton made a superb 50 yard throw which set Glynn on the attack again and his fine cross from the right was parried out for an Altrincham corner on the left. The home keeper again parried clear soon afterwards, from Scott's cross, and then Scott set the impressive Glynn running up the right to threaten the Abbey Hey defence once more.
Two Alty corners followed in quick succession as the visitors remained in control. Another fine advance by Ian Craney was stopped by a trip from behind and a penalty was awarded, without much hesitation by the referee. Craney took it himself but the keeper saved well, diving to his left, only for Peter Band to knock home the rebound (83 mins). A seven or eight pass move ended with a good shot from Craney which the Abbey Hey keeper did well to tip over the bar for a corner. Alty continued to press, with Adams's cross being flicked goalwards by Lunt only for the ball to be cleared off the line (86 mins). Abbey Hey then brought Anthony back on before Mark Maddox made a fine tackle to see off the home side's late attack. In the final minute Alty brought on McEvoy and Tunnicliffe to replace Band and Craney.
This was a display from Altrincham which became increasingly impressive as the game wore on. The well-taken hat-trick from Hughes hopefully signals a good season ahead for our new striker. Ian Craney also had a fine game for Altrincham and substitute Paul Glynn made a good impression too. The Alty defence had another solid game, with keeper Acton rarely troubled. Considering their major loss of playing staff, Abbey Hey gave a very creditable performance and had they capitalised on some early second-half attacks when the score was 2-1 might have caused Altrincham more trouble. Alty continue their pre-season matches with a trip to another NW Counties' side, St Helens Town, this Saturday. Unbeaten, to date, in four pre-season games, there are grounds for optimism for the coming season.
|Full-Time: ABBEY HEY 1 ALTRINCHAM 4|