ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC (0) 1
UniBond Premier League Match,
played on Saturday, 23 August, 2003 at 3p.m.
For the third time in three starts this season Alty squandered chances and then were finally grateful for a point. In almost a carbon copy of Tuesday's game against Marine, Alty fell behind after 63 minutes when a left-wing cross was tapped into the Golf Road net from close range - this time by Frickley's Morris. Alty finally got level eight minutes from the final whistle when Man of the Match, Peter Band, scored from close-range after Gary Talbot had got on the end of an Aspinall free-kick. The free-kick was for a handling offence outside the box by the Frickley keeper, Samways, which was only penalised by a yellow card. Alty remain unbeaten, but also without a win, and rise to 13th which would qualify them for the Alliance North.
REFEREE: Mr Douglas Stewart
Neither side had won a game this season, with Altrincham having two draws to their name and Frickley two defeats. Today's gate, of 469 was, I believe, the lowest for a Saturday league game at Moss Lane since well before our first relegation to the UniBond from the Conference in 1997, (though there was a crowd of just 444 for a 3pm kick-off at Moss Lane against Spennymoor on Easter Monday, 1998). Nevertheless, the gate was still the second highest in the Division today as attendances as a whole were disappointing.
Rod Thornley returned to the side to partner Mattie Hughes up front for the first time this season, but both Mark Maddox and Paul Robertson were unfit to start. With two Alty strikers starting a game together for the first time this season, midfielder/defender Neil Ryan displaced Steve Lunt from the bench whilst Peter Band started in an unaccustomed role on the left of midfield.
With Paul Marquis out, Frickley introduced new signing, 6ft 4in. Karl Colley at centre-back. Former Barnsley man Curtis Bernard and veteran Gary Hatto were familiar faces in the visitors' starting line-up. Frickley right-back Chris Kamara is the nephew of the former League player of the same name.
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. Dave GARDNER, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Mattie HUGHES, 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 11. Peter BAND. Subs: 12. Rob MATTHEWS, 14. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 15. Neil RYAN.
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC (All blue): 1. Mark SAMWAYS, 2. Chris KAMARA, 3. Gary HATTO, 4. Duncan RICHARDS, 5. Anthony JACKSON (capt.), 6. Karl COLLEY, 7. Steve ROBINSON, 8. Curtis BERNARD, 9. Lee MORRIS, 10. Paul HURRELL, 11. Phil LINDLEY. Subs: 12. Mark VICKERAGE, 14. Lee PUGH, 15. Mark LAFFERTY.
Attacking the Golf Road end, Alty kicked off in bright sunshine and soon Gardner did well, his cross from the right being headed by Thornley to Band, whose own header went over the bar. Hughes then dispossessed a hesitant Jackson and his ball for Band won an early corner (2 mins). Despite the small crowd, the Golf Road choir was making itself heard but for the next few minutes there was relatively little exciting action to cheer about. The nearest to a goal at this stage was a cross from the Frickley left which just evaded Morris as he attempted to get his head on the end of the pass, inside the center of the Alty box (12 mins). Alty replied with Scott and Band feeding Hughes but the Alty striker overhit his cross (15 mins). Then Thornley and Band combined to find Adams, whose cross gave Band a free header which he put wide (16 mins). Band was popping up all over the pitch in his customary hardworking style, whilst Gary Talbot was in good form at the back.
An Acton punched clearance then led to Gardner advancing up the right and finding Craney, who beat Jackson, but his shot was saved by Samways (18 mins). There was then a period of play devoid of goalmouth action before Rose conceded Frickley's first corner, on the right (25 mins). Following this Jackson shot from 25 yards but his effort cleared the bar. Then Morris got in an even longer-range shot which was also too high (27 mins). On the half-hour mark Gardner, Craney and Hughes combined for Craney to get in a shot which Samways saved well, low down to concede a corner. Talbot won a header from Aspinall's corner but Hughes could only put his resulting shot against the back of the side netting. Hughes got in another shot soon afterwards but Samways saved this comfortably as Altrincham laboured to impose themselves (32 mins).
Gardner picked up his second lecture of the afternoon for "mouthing" but the Alty wide man was proving as lively as anyone in the Alty side. Ian Craney was having a quiet game whilst Rod Thornley looked less than fully fit. A foul by Jackson on Band led to a free-kick which produced an Alty corner on their left, taken by Aspinall (38 mins). This was cleared, but soon Talbot got on the end of an Aspinall cross but directed his headed effort wide (38 mins). A foul by Hatto on Gardner gave Gardner himself a free-kick from 35 yards out on the right. From this, Thornley's header at the back post ran to Samways. In fact, it was Frickley who then came close to taking the lead when Morris did well on their right and found Hurrell, who controlled the ball and turned well to fire in a shot which flashed past Acton's left post (41 mins).
An Acton punt then found Thornley on the left and his good, low shot across goal was only narrowly wide of Samways's left post (42 mins). Then Craney made some good space for a shot, which Samways saved from 20 yards as Alty improved towards the interval (43 mins). The half ended just after Thornley had found Craney whose resulting shot cleared the crossbar (45 mins). Once again, Alty had enjoyed the better of a first half but had for the third game running arrived at the interval with the score sheet level and blank.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 0|
Early in the second half, Rose's feed gave Hughes a shot which went just wide of Samways's right upright before a neat back heel from Hughes to Gardner led to a return pass which Hughes expertly volleyed, but just too high, from the edge of the box (48 mins). Another chance came soon afterwards when Thornley also aimed slightly too high from the edge of the box. Gardner continued to be on the end of a number of minor fouls but it was Frickley who got in the next shot of note which forced Acton to a one-handed save (53 mins) and a minute later the Alty keeper had to be off his line to kick clear after Aspinall had lost possession. Gardner picked up his third lecture of the afternoon from a tolerant referee before the Alty right-winger fed Thornley whose shot from the left produced a good save from Samways, who tipped the shot out for a corner on the Alty right, which was cleared. Hurrell then got in a routine shot at Acton before Acton was again called into action to clear the ball with his feet and complete his clearance from well outside the box (59 mins).
A Rose "up and under" then caused Samways to miss his catch as Hughes jostled him but only a home throw resulted. Frickley then began to enjoy some pressure when Rose was harshly penalised on the edge of the box for a foul on Morris (59 mins). After three minutes or so of being penned in their own half, Gardner conceded a free-kick near half-way on the Frickley left. Hatto's free-kick found Lindley, whose cross from the left found Morris unmarked inside the six-yard box from where he had a simple task of putting the ball into the net in what was virtually a replica of the first two goals at the same stage (62 and 64 mins), at the same end, scored by Marine on Tuesday night.
From the kick off Hughes got in a shot which Samways fielded easily. Soon, Frickley brought on new signing Mark Vickerage for Paul Hurrell (67 mins) as Chris Adams attempted to inspire his team-mates to greater effort. Scott then fed Craney whose lay off set up Thornley for a curler which went well wide (70 mins). Alty then took off Thornley and brought on Shuttleworth on the left. Band moved inside whilst Craney simultaneously adopted the captain's armband and moved further forward to support Hughes. Frickley now began to spin out time before Craney got in a disappointing low shot, which went wide (72 mins). Gardner was then felled by Lindley but this and the following few minutes of action produced no threat to either goal. Things did improve when a Hughes shot was blocked to give Alty a corner on the left which came out to Craney whose shot was diverted for a second flag-kick on the left (80 mins). From Aspinall's corner Talbot got in a downward header which Samways helped over the bar as it bounced upwards. The third corner inside a minute went straight from Aspinall to Samways's arms (81 mins).
Controversy arose a minute later when Samways fielded another alty "up and under" just outside the right edge of his box. Mr Stewart, lenient throughout, showed the keeper only a yellow card which was probably dictated by the accidental rather than calculated nature of the offence as the keeper's momentum carried him beyond the penalty area marking. However, Alty extracted full punishment for, from Aspinall's free-kick from the left, Talbot rose well at the back post and knocked the ball back into the centre where Band converted comfortably from close range (82 mins). Frickley's captain Jackson had a fine chance to restore his side's lead immediately after the equaliser but missed his kick after a Rose header had spun upwards rather than clear of the Alty defensive lines (83 mins). Alty now pressed for a late winner with Adams and Shuttleworth especially active on the left. Nevertheless, Acton soon had to kick clear from a Frickley breakaway. Despite Alty's efforts they were unable to grab a late winner and had to settle, for the third time in a row, for a draw.
Once again, Altrincham had had chances earlier in the game to build a lead but had failed to take them before once again, falling behind after a goalless first half. Alty now travel to Droylsden, not a happy hunting ground in recent seasons, with Mattie Hughes suspended but hoping to put their first win on the board. Despite the disappointing result today, Alty rose one place to 13th and are therefore in the automatic qualifying places for the new Conference feeder division, assuming they meet all the other off-field criteria.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 1|