ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
BARROW (0) 1
UniBond Premier League Match,
played on Tuesday, 2 September, 2003 at 7.45p.m.
Alty won the corner count 10-5 against Barrow but a draw was probably a fair result in an entertaining game at Moss Lane. Altrincham took the lead through Steve Aspinall, who hammered home a penalty after Hughes had been brought down (65 mins). Barrow equalised through Kewley ten minutes later. Barrow then survived a much clearer penalty incident than the one that gained the spot-kick when Hughes was tripped inside the box (82 mins) but Barrow's impressive play was well worth a point. Alty's debutant keeper Dave McCarthy made several fine saves in the first half but had little to do after the break when his Barrow counterpart was more involved.
REFEREE: Mr D. Kellett
Once again our home encounter with Barrow was played on a midweek evening but a respectable crowd of 683 turned out anyway, including a fair number from Cumbria. The spectators included Manchester United's Gary Neville and Rod Thornley's footballing brother, Ben, now with Bury FC.
With three of the regular back-five missing (Acton, Scott, Maddox), Alty moved Rose to right-back and Adams, who kept goal for 50 minutes on Saturday, was shifted from left-back to partner Gary Talbot in central defence. Gary Scott was forced to sit on the bench with a groin injury. Midfielder Paul Robertson was missing from the squad altogether but Dave McCarthy, loaned from Worksop Town, made his debut in goal. Up front, Alty had Mattie Hughes back from suspension to partner Rod Thornley, whilst Dave Gardner returned to play on the right and Barry Shuttleworth made his first start of the season, at left-back. Skipper Rod Thornley was playing in his 100th game for the Robins.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & whits striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Dave McCARTHY, 2. Stephen ROSE, 3. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 4. Chris ADAMS, 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. Neil RYAN, 15. Gary SCOTT.
BARROW (White shirts with blue trim, blue shorts and socks): 1. Simon BISHOP, 2. Steve RIDLEY, 3. Scott MAXFIELD, 4. Mark HUME (capt.), 5. James COTTERILL, 6. Lee WARREN, 7. Michael OLIVER, 8. Steve GAUGHAN, 9. Gavin KNIGHT, 10. Wayne BULLIMORE, 11. Michael RANKINE. Subs: 12. Graham ANTHONY, 14. Andy HILL, 15. Michael KEWLEY.
Barrow kicked off defending the Golf Road end but play soon stopped for treatment to Rod Thornley's right leg after a tackle on the left of the Alty attack (1 min.). Altrincham enjoyed the better of the opening minutes and when Gardner went past two opponents his cross came to Hughes on the left, whose strong volley across goal was cleared for a corner (5 mins). Aspinall's corner came to Bishop who then produced a prodigious long kick upfield. But when Hume found Knight on-side behind the Alty defence, Gary Talbot had to concede a corner at the other end. From the corner, McCarthy was impeded and won a free-kick (6 mins). The resulting ball up the middle from Altrincham set Thornley running at goal but the ball ran on to Bishop's arms. Bullimore then put a 22 yard free-kick well over the bar after an Aspinall foul on the lively Rankine (8 mins). Gardner then did well, advancing from halfway but his shot, from the edge of the box, went to Bishop once more (9 mins).
Barrow now played the ball about well, switching play from wing to wing. When Talbot miskicked over on the right of the Alty defence, Knight got into the box but McCarthy produced a fine save, beating the ball out with his body, to the right of his goal. Soon an offside decision relieved the pressure on Altrincham (14 mins). They responded through a Craney header, wide of the target, when he bravely put his end into a challenge from which his Barrow opponent came off worse. The next Barrow attack was broken up by Rose and Gardner, who had tracked back well to assist. Aspinall then cleared well from Gaughan as danger threatened the Alty goal once more, before a push on Hughes as he advanced from the centre-spot earned Alty a free-kick, 30 yards out in a fairly central position. Craney curled this kick over the wall but won a corner off Cotterill on the left. Thornley expertly volleyed Gardner's corner at the back post but his shot went wide (19 mins). After a Barrow attack on the left had been ended, Craney surged past Gaughan and executed a fine chipped shot, which just cleared the bar (21 mins), and soon afterwards a glancing header from Hughes ran to Bishop. Knight then needed treatment off the pitch before Band earned a lecture for throwing the ball down in anger at a refereeing decision (28 mins).
The lame Knight now had to give way to Anthony (28 mins) just before Alty won two free-kicks in short time. From the second, Aspinall contrived to win a corner off Cotterill. When Gaughan advanced into the Alty half soon afterwards it was Mattie Hughes who had tracked back well to dispossess the Barrow man. Following a throw by Warren, Gaughan then won his side a corner on the right. Bullimore's corner was met by a firm header from Cotterill which prompted a superb one-handed save from McCarthy as the ball headed for his top left corner. This gave Barrow another corner and, from this, Hume headed over the bar, having once again been given too much space for the Alty manager's liking.
Hughes then did well on the left as he and a defender chased the same ball. The Alty striker managed to shoot firmly across the face of goal and Hume completed a clearance at the cost of a corner on the Alty right. Shuttleworth rather wasted this and Barrow went up to the other end where McCarthy produced a fine point-blank stop from Rankine (38 mins). The entertainment continued as Barrow won another corner but soon after this Adams became the first player to be booked when he dived into a tackle after Rankine had got past Shuttleworth on the Alty left (41 mins). Just before the interval Hughes found Thornley whose fine shot was well saved by Bishop, diving to his left (44 mins). Once again Alty had failed to find the net in the first 45 minutes but there had been plenty of entertainment provided by the two sides.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BARROW 0|
Alty started the second half strongly winning four corners in the first six minutes. The first three were all conceded by the impressive Hume but Alty did not seriously threaten from any of these flag-kicks. Barrow now had Ridley supporting Rankine up front and, having weathered the early pressure, the visitors began to exert some of their own with crisp passing movements. For a side which trains rarely together because of its geographical location, Barrow showed a remarkable awareness of each other's movements.
However, Alty won their fifth corner of the half, yet again off Hume as the hour mark arrived. Curiously, Adams was taking the Alty corners on the right despite playing at centre-back tonight. Soon Alty threatened when Aspinall, who played well again tonight, Shuttleworth and Talbot got the ball to Hughes whose left-foot effort went wide as he was challenged (61 mins). Barrow then won themselves a corner which Band cleared. Rose soon initiated a move and having got the ball back from Gardner, the Alty full-back fed Thornley. Rod, in turn, found Hughes advancing diagonally across the box from left to right. Hughes went down under a challenge just inside the area and the referee awarded a penalty after a moment's hesitation. It was the sort of challenge which often does not get punished with a spot-kick but after Mr Kellett had lectured a Barrow defender, Aspinall strode up to smash the ball into the upper right of the net, past the diving Bishop (65 mins).
Barrow now brought on Kewley for Ridley up front (66 mins). The next goal threat came when Gardner was played in by Hughes and advanced into the right side of the box. His first effort was well saved by Bishop but rebounded to Gardner who executed a neat cross-footed flick to which Bishop was once again equal. Barrow then broke away but shot over the Alty bar (70 mins). The end to end action continued as Shuttleworth fed Gardner and his pass set Thornley dashing into the left front edge of the box where he was tackled, arguably from behind, and went down injured as his blocked shot won a corner on the left. Barrow's reply was a sustained passing movement which ended with a shot from the right which was only narrowly wide. Immediately however, Barrow advanced again on the right and from Oliver's pass, Kewley took a straightforward chance to fire pass the unprotected McCarthy from close range (75 mins). Otherwise McCarthy had had a quiet half.
Next, Aspinall got in a firm shot which was blocked by a defender before Dave Gardner limped off with cramp (77 mins). He was soon replaced by Matthews (78 mins). Matthews soon fed Hughes, who was clearly tripped in a similar position to where he had been fouled for the first penalty. This time Mr Kellett waved play on (82 mins). Barrow soon replaced Bullimore by Hill (84 mins) as the sides continued to trade attacking movements. A Craney shot was blocked and then a Thornley header went to Bishop. Then, Aspinall was booked for foot-up when he accidentally caught Rankine in the chest as he went for a bouncing ball near half-way (87 mins).
Chris Adams was named Man of the Match, and though he played well, his award may also have been partly a delayed but deserved reward for bravely keeping goal for nearly 50 minutes at Harrogate last Saturday. Aspinall, Rose and Talbot were also solid performers tonight, whilst Craney, Thornley, Hughes and Gardner all had good moments. Dave McCarthy did not put a foot wrong on his debut and made a couple of excellent saves to underline that he is a very useful acquisition, albeit temporary. Once again Altrincham proved difficult to beat but once again they also proved unable to secure three points as they gained their fourth draw in six outings this season. Injuries have hit the side hard with Murphy and Smith out of action before a ball was kicked and now Acton and Maddox sidelined for many weeks. The matchday programme also confirmed that both Band and Scott are carrying injuries, the latter accounting for the regular Alty right-back's absence from the starting line-up tonight. On Saturday Alty meet Gainsborough Trinity a game for which Rod Thornley may also be absent, given England's involvement with Macedonia and Rod's role as the national team's masseur.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 BARROW 1|