Match Report

Match Reports, 2003-04

MARINE (0) 3

UniBond Premier League Match,
played on Tuesday, 19 August, 2003 at 7.45p.m.


After an hour of relatively routine action in which Alty had had the better chances but had also been repeatedly caught offside, the game exploded into an exciting final half hour. Marine took a two-goal lead through Bainbridge (62 mins) and former Alty player Neil Murphy (64 mins), both goals being virtual tap-ins after the Alty defence had frozen. However, Ian Craney was clearly tripped to earn a penalty which Steve Aspinall converted superbly (67 mins). Then, came as good a goal as you will see anywhere from Ian Craney, who lobbed the keeper, and made it 2-2 just 5 minutes later. Soon, the fifth goal in a 15-minute spell arrived when Mattie Hughes cantered down the left and Dave Gardner converted his low cross with a fine close-range finish (77 mins). But Marine responded well and, with four minutes to go, McNally volleyed home as for the third time the Alty defence seemed to hesitate.

  • 62 mins: Ricky BAINBRIDGE (Altrincham 0 Marine 1)
  • 64 mins: Neil MURPHY (Altrincham 0 Marine 2)
  • 67 mins: Steve ASPINALL (penalty) (Altrincham 1 Marine 2)
  • 72 mins: Ian CRANEY (Altrincham 2 Marine 2)
  • 77 mins: Dave GARDNER (Altrincham 3 Marine 2)
  • 86 mins: Paul McNALLY (Altrincham 3 Marine 3)

    REFEREE: Mr A.J. Martin

    Marine arrived having lost their opening match of the season at home to Spennymoor whilst Alty had taken a point at another promoted club, Alfreton Town.


    Alty were without their captain Rod Thornley, who was away acting as masseur for England, but Mattie Hughes was fit and made his first start of the season, partnering Ian Craney at the attacking end of the team. Centre-back and deputy captain Mark Maddox was sidelined by a heel injury so Stephen Rose moved to partner Gary Talbot at centre-back. Rob Matthews came in to occupy the right-midfield berth, so Steve Lunt was promoted to the bench. Ian Craney captained the side for the first time.

    Marine included former Alty defender Neil Murphy, who played in the Crosby side's midfield.


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

  • MARINE (Yellow shirts, green shorts and socks): 1. Peter CROOKES, 2. Paul CULSHAW, 3. Gary RANDLES (capt.), 4. Paul McNALLY, 5. James CONNOLLY, 6. Neil MURPHY, 7. Ricky BAINBRIDGE, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Steve WHITEHALL, 10. Tommy TAYLOR, 11. David NOLAN. Subs: 12. John STANNARD, 14. Paul PROCTOR, 15. Jon-Paul STANHOPE.


    Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road End but, within two minutes, play halted after Paul Robertson had twisted awkwardly whilst trying to shepherd a ball out of play. "Coco" resumed after treatment. In fact, he was fit enough two minutes later to get on the end of a fine ball up the middle from Craney and found himself one on one against the Marine keeper. However, Robertson's good effort to lift the ball over the advancing Crookes was thwarted by a fine save near the edge of the box (4 mins). This was to be one of the relatively few times that Alty had the guile to spring a heavily-used Marine offside trap. Alty continued to press and dithering in the centre of the Marine defence allowed Talbot to poke a shot over the bar from 12 yards. Aspinall started the game well and he and Hughes fed Craney to win Alty the match's first corner, on the right (11 mins). Band's effort from Aspinall's corner was cleared and soon Gary Talbot was having to be alert at the other end to head a left-wing cross to safety at the cost of a corner to Marine, on their right (12 mins).

    Alty fell victim to the Marine offside trap again before Rose cleared up a Marine advance. Then, from another Rose clearance, the ball came to Craney on the left. His diagonal shot-cum-cross found Matthews beyond the back post, from which a throw-in resulted. From Adams's throw the ball came back to Craney, via Robertson and Hughes, and the acting Alty captain's drive only narrowly cleared the Marine bar (15 mins). After treatment to Nolan, Aspinall won possession but Craney strayed offside once again, just before Hughes committed the same offence (18 mins). Marine now put together a good 10 or 12 pass movement which only ended when Rose dispossessed Neil Murphy. However, Marine's Culshaw soon got in a low drive from the right across the Alty box, which fortunately evaded his colleagues (21 mins).

    Alty created another chance themselves when Gary Scott's well judged ball over the defence fell for Hughes to lash an impressive volley from 22 yards which Crookes did well to tip over the bar (24 mins). The resulting corner from Robertson was cleared but led to an Alty free-kick which Robertson curled harmlessly wide of the goal from 20 yards (26 mins).

    Marine's Randles was then booked for a pretty innocuous challenge but referee Martin had a much better game than the match official on Saturday at Alfreton (31 mins). From Adams's free-kick, 40 yards out, Gary Talbot made a great header which the keeper did well to knock away but Marine survived a penalty appeal for handball as a defender completed the clearance. As at Alfreton on Saturday, Altrincham were creating chances but not converting them. Adams soon won his side another corner and again Talbot met Robertson's flag-kick but was penalised in the process. There was then a bit of confusion as the ref debated with his linesman whether a back-pass had been handled by the keeper and he eventually gave Alty a free-kick inside the box, in a central position 15 yards out. Craney laid this off for Hughes, whose shot rebounded off the wall to Adams whose shot was deflected over the bar for Alty's fourth corner of the game, on the left (35 mins). This came to nothing but soon afterwards Aspinall once again began a move from midfield from which Adams played a ball to Hughes who, with his back to goal, flicked the ball over his and McNally's head and let fly with his second brilliant volleyed shot of the evening. This time his effort narrowly cleared the bar from 20 yards or more (36 mins).

    For Marine Eddie Hussin was playing well and Tommy Taylor was also looking useful. However, the next goal effort came again from Altrincham when Aspinall shot just wide from the edge of the box. Marine responded by winning a corner following a misplaced pass by Scott to Murphy, which Talbot had to clear up at the cost of the corner. Acton caught the corner and soon Craney was being caught offside again, just before the display of the two minutes of added time board. Just before the interval Scott's low cross ran across the face of the Marine goal but evaded Matthews at the back post (45 mins). Over half-time Alty fans still awaited their side's first goal of the season.

    Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MARINE 0

    The second half started with yet another offside as this time Hughes was the culprit. A few fairly scrappy minutes then passed in which Marine's Hussin volleyed wide. After Murphy had fouled Aspinall, Adams's free-kick was cleared and, yet again, Alty were caught offside. Marine then won a corner as Murphy's shot was deflected out on the left and three minutes later won another corner when Acton caught the ball but was adjudged to have been over the line (54 mins). Hughes was caught narrowly offside again a minute later. However, Hughes soon showed how to spring the offside trap when he got behind the Marine defence from Craney's astute pass but he was driven left by Randles and lifted his shot over the bar (59 mins). After Marine had appeared to put the ball into touch a Marine throw was ordered, to Graham Heathcote's annoyance and he earned a lecture from Mr Martin. As the hour-mark past Alty were offside yet again but things got worse when Taylor got to the by-line, left of goal, and his Alty markers seemed to stop, presumably thinking the ball had gone out of play. But the Marine man got possession and knocked the ball across the goalmouth to the unmarked Bainbridge who had a simple tap-in to put Marine ahead (62 mins). Immediately, Dave Gardner came on for Matthews. Soon Acton had to rush to the touchline to kick clear after an error by Gardner but Moss Lane was stunned moments later when Marine doubled their lead. Bainbridge planted a ball forward for Taylor and his cross from the left found Murphy unmarked for another simple close-range goal (64 mins).

    Momentarily rattled, Alty conceded two quick free-kicks after the restart through Talbot and then Scott. However, Gardner prompted a recovery when he clipped Talbot's clearance on to Craney who was clearly tripped from behind by Culshaw as he entered the left, front edge of the box. A penalty was awarded but Alty were without the four players who had taken all of their side's penalties last season - Rod Thornley, Mark Maddox, Barry Shuttleworth and Neil Ryan. Clearly Graham Heathcote had foreseen this problem for there was no hesitation in Steve Aspinall picking up the ball and placing it on the spot. Culshaw was not booked but after some delay for treatment to Craney, Aspinall showed how to take a good penalty when he smashed the ball high to the keeper's left as Crookes moved to his right (67 mins).

    The goal animated Altrincham and almost immediately Hughes fed Band but his shot from 30 yards was tame, A foul by Band then earned Gardner a lecture for a comment to the officials. When play resumed Gardner and Hughes were involved in getting the ball to Craney who was coming into the box from the left, on a diagonal run. Without breaking stride Craney clipped the ball with the side of his foot over the stranded keeper to score as well-taken a goal as will be seen at Moss Lane this season (72 mins)

    Immediately Marine took off Whitehall and Nolan and brought on Stanhope and Proctor, whilst Alty switched Robertson for Shuttleworth on the left. Play was now end to end and both sets of supporters were giving good vocal support. Hughes was once more offside before a Marine header hit Scott to win a corner. Soon, Rose cleared well to Hughes who raced up the left wing. His firm, low cross was met perfectly by the advancing Gardner at the back post and he thumped the ball home for another excellent goal to Altrincham (77 mins). There had been 5 goals in 15 minutes and the home side were now 3-2 up.

    To their credit Marine's heads did not drop and they responded by attacking. Alty then replaced Hughes by Lunt up front, where he joined Band (82 mins). Play continued from end to end but Marine survived a scare when Crookes dropped a high ball. The visitors were to have the last word, however, when McNally, in the heart of the penalty area, was allowed to chest the ball down despite the attentions of two Alty defenders, and he turned to beat Acton from close range with a neat volley (86 mins). Marine replaced Murphy by Stannard (87 mins) and after a minute of added time Alty won the game's last corner, which was cleared.

    Ian Craney was named Man of the Match; his wonderful goal alone deserved the award but the effect of substitute Dave Gardner on the course of the match was also notable. The Alty defence, so secure on Saturday and, indeed, for 90% of this match, will have been unhappy to have conceded three fairly soft goals and the frequency that the Alty strikers got themselves offside will also give Graham Heathcote something to work on in training. However, there were also quite a number of positives from the game over and above the performances of Craney and Gardner; Mattie Hughes produced two memorable volleys, Steve Aspinall played well again in central midfield and Gary Talbot and Stephen Rose dealt well with everything in the air. Richard Acton was relatively untested - he was left exposed for all three goals, whilst Gary Scott and Chris Adams performed as dependably as ever. Rob Matthews had a quiet debut and Peter Band was as tireless and hardworking as ever.

    Whilst Alty remain unbeaten this season they will be disappointed to have taken only two points so far this season when six could well have been theirs had their early dominance in each game been converted into first-half goals.

    Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 MARINE 3