CAMMELL LAIRD (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
Pre-Season Friendly Match,
played on Thursday, 31 July, 2003 at 7.30p.m.
REFEREE: Mr John STOKES .
Alty had previously played at Cammell Laird's Rock Ferry ground a couple of times in the late 1970s in the Cheshire Senior Cup. However, a more recent link is that our former striker Carl Furlong spent part of his early career at Lairds, where he was top scorer.
Alty fielded a strong side, with former Youth team captain Paul Glynn the only squad member, (apart from new faces Steve Aspinall and Rob Matthews), not to have played for the first team last season. With Gary Scott injured, Neil Ryan played at right-back, whilst Stephen Rose took over from Gary Talbot at centre-back. Up front, there was no recognised striker in the absence of Thornley and Hughes, so Peter Band and Ian Craney were the stand-in strike force.
CAMMELL LAIRD (All Blue): From: John GANN, Matty HOGG, Anthony LYNCH, Phil STAFFORD, Paul HOLLIFIELD, Ryan NALL, Carl DALE, Paul TOSNEY, Graham PORTER, Craig NALL, John COUCH, Paul HUGHES, Ronnie MORGAN, Phil GREENHALGH, Paul McDONNELL, Kevin DAVIES, Brian McILROY, Jamie KENYON.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Neil RYAN, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Stephen ROSE, 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. Jason GALLAGHER, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Peter BAND, 10. Steve LUNT, 11. Paul ROBERTSON. Subs: 12. Rob MATTHEWS, 14. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 15. Paul GLYNN, 16. Andy TUNNICLIFFE.
The Cammell Laird ground is opposite a large and impressive social club. However, Lairds were deprived of promotion from the West Cheshire League last season because of their ground grading. The pitch itself was in excellent condition and the ground is well maintained with new-looking floodlights and a small snack bar but, although it has two small covered areas, it lacks sufficient seating to qualify for higher leagues. The club officials gave Altrincham fans a friendly welcome and their programme helped to boost Altrincham's egos by describing the Robins as "one of the top non-League clubs in England". The ground is adjacent to the First Bus depot so when the ball goes out of play there is plenty to watch in the busy automated bus-washing bay! The other side of the ground has a backdrop of a picturesque church spire and trees.
Altrincham kicked off and from a Paul Robertson cross from the left they soon won a corner, on the right. This was cleared as was an early free-kick from Neil Ryan. A good ball forward from Aspinall then obliged the Laird keeper to rush out of his box to clear but the ball fell to Lunt whose snap shot back at goal was well held by the keeper at short range, just inside the front edge of his box (6 mins). Play soon became end to end with the Laird numbers 7 and 11 proving a handful. However, Chris Adams and Neil Ryan were still finding opportunities to push forward. The next goal chance came when, from another Robertson cross from the left, the Laird no.4 dived full length, facing his own net, and his goalbound header forced a magnificent full-length save from his keeper.
After Robertson had been dispossessed in central midfield, the Laird no.7's lob from half way was only just over Acton's crossbar (16 mins). A punt from Acton soon found Band who fed Craney, which resulted in a corner. Robertson's corner came off Lunt to Gallagher who sliced a shot well wide (17 mins). The burly Laird no.9 then shot over the bar after intercepting up a pass from Rose. Then Ryan fouled the same Laird player but the no.7 drove the free-kick, from just outside the box, narrowly wide of Acton's right upright. Next Laird strung together a quick move up the right, prompted by no.10, from whom no.7 crossed fast and low to the no.9 whose fine volley only just cleared the bar as he got to the ball marginally ahead of the covering Maddox (25 mins). The end to end play continued until Robertson was chopped down by a crude challenge near the left touchline. Alty extracted the full price for this offence when, after a stoppage for treatment to Robertson, Aspinall looped in a superb free-kick from 25 yards out on the left touchline which the keeper did well to scoop out from under his crossbar. However, the ball fell for Band who nodded it home from close range at the near post to give Alty the lead (32 mins).
A foul on Gallagher then gave Robertson the opportunity to curl in a free-kick from the right which was cleared off the line by a home defender (36 mins). A foul on Band then gave Robertson another free-kick from 30 yards out from which Band won the ball well at the back post and found Craney. However, Craney's sidefooted effort went wide when he should have hit the target (37 mins). Alty were now on top, and following another free-kick, which Aspinall whipped in, the Laird keeper tipped the ball out for a corner on the right. Taken by Aspinall, the corner was cleared and half time came with Alty one-up.
|Half-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Altrincham brought on Andy Tunnicliffe at half-time in place of Neil Ryan and this meant that Jason Gallagher moved to right-back. As in the first half Alty won an early corner, this time through Andy Tunnicliffe, as he pursued a ball from Aspinall. Following the corner the ball was crossed back in by Aspinall and came to Maddox beyond the back post but he could only direct the ball narrowly wide of the target (47 mins). Things now got confusing as Cammell Laird started to use substitutes wearing numbers already in use on the pitch. So, a new no.1 (goalkeeper) and number 2 emerged to replace nos. 1 and 5 (48 mins). Soon the no.8 got in a good low shot which Acton tipped out, low down, for a corner on the right. Alty next brought on Matthews for Lunt (49 mins) before an Adams cross just evaded the incoming Tunnicliffe. Lairds then did well at the other end with no.11 advancing on the left and shooting across goal where no.7 picked it up well and drove the ball back just wide of Acton's right post (52 mins). The play continued to be end to end and, next, a Craney chip from 25 yards just cleared the bar (54 mins) before a Cammell Laird corner was caught by Acton at the second attempt. Lairds brought on another no.9 for no.8 on the hour mark before Shuttleworth replaced Aspinall (63 mins) and Glynn came on for Gallagher (65 mins). Rose now moved to right back and Band went to centre-back to accommodate the changes.
Glynn soon got on the end of a good cross from the left by Adams but under pressure his header cleared the bar. Robertson had the misfortune to suffer the two worst challenges of the game, the second being by no.9 which left him flattened and unable to continue. He hobbled to the dugout where he applied an icepack to his right knee. Robertson's departure led to Aspinall having to return to the fray (70 mins). Tunnicliffe won another corner (72 mins) before Lairds brought on nos. 5 and 12 for nos. 3 and 9 (73 mins). Richard Acton ended two attacks by Cammell Laird before a Shuttleworth cross was met by Adams's header which was blocked and ran out to Matthews. For the second time in successive games Matthews drove a firm shot from the edge of the area which came back off the crossbar but, somehow, a corner was awarded to Altrincham (81 mins). Lairds continue to give a good account of themselves and, following a free-kick, their no.8 got in a strong left-footed shot which went narrowly wide (83 mins).
Alty had a chance to score when a ball through the middle bounced over a defender and let in Tunnicliffe. However, the keeper advanced and Tunnicliffe's shot struck him and the Alty man could only knock the rebound into the side netting (86 mins). Then Matthews put in a fine cross which was half-cleared to Craney whose shot was deflected for a corner on the left (87 mins). There was stil time for the Laird no.7 to send in a 25 yarder which Maddox did very well to knock out for a corner. This came out to no.2 who shot over the bar in the final seconds. So, Alty secured their third 1-0 away win of pre-season, which has seen them concede just one away goal in five trips - a testimony to Mark Maddox and his defensive colleagues. This was also Alty's seventh successive game without defeat and their seventh in which they have scored at least one goal.
|Full-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|