Match Report


Pre-Season Friendly Match,
played on Tuesday, 29 July, 2003 at 7.30p.m.

  • 40 mins: Carl FROST (Altrincham 0 Crewe Alexandra XI 1)
  • 80 mins: Gary TALBOT (Altrincham 1 Crewe Alexandra XI 1)

    REFEREE: Mr A. Taylor .

    This was only Alty's second home game of the pre-season. They were seeking to extend their unbeaten summer run to six games, after away wins against Woodley Sports, St Helens Town, Abbey Hey and West Didsbury & Chorlton and their home draw with a Manchester United XI.


    Alty fielded a strong starting line-up against a young Crewe side, which included James Robinson, who had a brief spell on loan to Altrincham last season before a blow to his mouth in our match at Marine ended his brief stay with us.


    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Stephen ROSE, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. Rob MATTHEWS, 8. Peter BAND, 9. Mattie HUGHES, 10. Ian CRANEY, 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Steve LUNT, 14. Paul ROBERTSON, 15. Jason GALLAGHER, 16. Neil RYAN.

  • CREWE ALEXANDRA XI (Blue shirts, white shorts and socks): 1. Stuart TOMLINSON, 2. Adam YATES, 3. Alec BROWN, 4. Mark ROBERTS, 5. Matt GARNER, 6. Rob HAWTHORNE, 7. Lee BELL, 8. Luke VARNEY, 9. Paul EDWARDS, 10. James ROBINSON, 11. Matthew PLATT. Subs: 14. Kyle WILSON, 15. Carl FROST, 16. James FLETCHER.


    As at Abbey Hey last week, rain started to fall just before kick-off but the playing surface was immaculate, thanks to the hard work of groundsman Peter Barry and the input of Manchester United groundstaff. The stadium itself also looked smart after the work done by a band of volunteers over the summer with the only defect being the tannoy system which, in the main stand at least, is not working properly.

    Crewe kicked off, defending the Golf Road end, against an Alty side utilising Ian Craney once more in a forward position, alongside Mattie Hughes. The versatile Stephen Rose was at right-back, his third different starting position of pre-season. There was an early scare for Alty as Robinson fed Brown on the left and via Edwards the ball came across the face of the Alty goal, only to be cleared by a defender who was a couple yards off the line (1 min). Shuttleworth started the game well and his fine pass for Craney allowed the Alty no.10 a low shot which ran comfortably to Tomlinson. Craney than chased down the keeper, well to the right of his goal, as he received a back pass and forced him to kick clear to Hughes who, from 35 yards, tried an instant volley back towards the empty net but his effort curled well wide. Alty continued to apply pressure and they immediately won a free-kick some 25 yards out but Craney drove his kick into the wall and from the rebound Hughes sliced his shot very wide to concede a throw-in (5 mins). Altrincham were now settling well with Adams and Shuttleworth on the left getting forward particularly well. With the floodlights having to be switched on as the rain continued, Alty put together another good move involving Adams, Shuttleworth, Hughes and Band which set up Matthews for a firm shot on target which was deflected over the bar for a corner on the Alty right (8 mins). Altrincham continued to play fluent football with Craney looking lively but play came to a halt when Edwards was injured and, after prolonged treatment, had to be stretchered off with his leg in a splint (14 mins). It later emerged that he had suffered ligament damage.

    Frost came on for Edwards in the Crewe attack and almost immediately found himself on the end of a well directed through ball, inside the Alty area. His shot flashed just wide of Acton's left post and into the side netting (15 mins). Matthews was showing his experience on the Alty right but from his useful pass, Band slipped on the wet surface on the edge of the box. The Alty midfield was battling well with Aspinall tackling well. Crewe for their part were playing the ball about well but making the occasional misdirected pass. Alty won another corner when Adams fed Craney on the left. Tomlinson dropped Aspinall's corner and the incoming Talbot bundled the ball into the net but the goal was ruled out for an apparent foul on the keeper as he came for the corner (23 mins). Yates then caught Shuttleworth after the ball had gone and the Alty man needed treatment to his right ankle from Gary Thompson. Shuttleworth recovered to take the free-kick himself and Tomlinson again lost the ball, under a challenge from Band, and again was awarded a free-kick (24 mins).

    Alty's Matt Hughes then went off to be replaced by Paul Robertson. Hughes is believed to have had a groin strain. With Robertson on the left, Band moved up front to join Craney whilst Shuttleworth moved into central midfield. Alty then won two corners in succession to bring their tally to four. Their next goal effort was an overhead effort from Band which ran to Tomlinson (33 mins). The home side continued to have the better of things as Craney and Adams soon combined for Matthews to get in a fine cross which was headed clear by Crewe. However, Crewe responded, after a foul by Aspinall on Robinson when the impressive Bell's free-kick gave Robinson a header which was well held by Acton as the ball flew at him at speed (37 mins). Maddox and Talbot then scrambled away another Crewe attack as manager Graham Heathcote began to express some anger at his defence. The danger signs continued when from a free-kick, 35 yards out, Garner's header went narrowly wide. Then, after Alty lost possession the ball came through the centre for Frost who finished well, the ball going low into Acton's right-hand corner to give Crewe the lead (40 mins).

    Band then got in a high shot at the other end before Robertson sliced a cross badly following good work by Craney (43 mins). Crewe were now playing the ball around well once more but Alty almost equalised just before the break. Robertson and Craney got the ball to Shuttleworth whose cross from the left was deflected towards Band. His quick reactions saw him volley the ball firmly at goal but Tomlinson produced a spectacular save to keep the ball out at the cost of a corner. Robertson curled this onto the roof of the net and half-time came with Alty trailing 0-1 despite having played some good football in the first half.


    A Hawthorne shot over the bar and a blocked effort from Aspinall started the second half before Crewe won a corner off a shot which was deflected out by Maddox (53 mins). This was cleared but Crewe were looking now to have things under control and after a Platt shot had been blocked he blasted a low, left-footed shot against the base of Acton's right-hand post from the rebound (56 mins). However, Alty then went to the other end and, after Talbot and Aspinall had combined, Band and Aspinall fed Matthews whose fine shot, as he stretched, cannoned off the Crewe crossbar to safety (57 mins). Alty now brought on Steve Lunt for Barry Shuttleworth so Ian Craney moved into midfield (59 mins). Then Gallagher came on for Matthews (63 mins) in a straight swap on the right of midfield. Both sides were now playing some neat passing football before play stopped for treatment for Crewe's Bell after a lunge by Lunt (68 mins). Bell recovered but was almost immediately replaced by Wilson for Crewe. Frost continued to look dangerous for the visitors and he drove a shot wide (72 mins) as Crewe looked to be capable of holding onto their lead.

    The rain now started to lash down very hard as Platt got in a 30 yard effort which Acton saved well (74 mins). Graham Heathcote encouraged his team to put in a final effort over the last quarter of an hour and they responded well. Craney advanced on the left and Robertson got in a shot which came out to Lunt, whose effort was also blocked by a defender. In the torrential rain, Gallagher conceded a corner on the Crewe left and after this was cleared Ian Craney was able to escape the downpour and Neil Ryan had to come off the dry subs' bench to replace him (77 mins). After a Crewe freekick had hit the Alty wall, Aspinall got the ball to Gallagher and after four or more passes, Ryan fired in a goalbound shot from the edge of the box which the keeper saved well. Lunt was in on the rebound but the keeper recovered possession (78 mins). Crewe soon conceded a corner which was cleared but then Rose pumped a high ball forward from just inside his own half. Talbot kept his eye on the towering ball and rose well to nod the ball over the keeper to equalise (80 mins).

    Alty continued to press forward as the rain lashed down. Lunt then did well to the left of goal and sent in a shot which was deflected across the face of goal for a corner. After Talbot had seen off a Crewe breakaway by Frost the rain eased off. Robertson then put in a cross which Band headed across the keeper but Tomlinson stretched to make a fine save to tip the ball away (86 mins). Despite continuing pressure Alty could not get a winner but they were very good value for their draw. They have now gone six pre-season games without defeat and the next opponents will be Cammell Laird, away, on Thursday.