Match Report


UniBond Premier League Match,
played on Saturday, 13 September, 2003 at 3p.m.


Altrincham gave their worst performance of the season today and went down to an Emley side which itself was fairly unspectacular and which, indeed, had started the game second bottom of the league. After a lacklustre start, Altrincham adjusted their forward formation mid-way through the first half but it did little to spark any sustained threat to the Emley goal. Only Dave Gardner showed any serious menace to the Emley defence as Rod Thornley continued to look short of full match fitness. It was the Alty captain who unluckily deflected Selby's free-kick past his own keeper (39 mins) to give Emley the lead before the home side's substitute, Mark Wilson, wrapped the game up after 69 minutes when he sprang the offside trap. Alty's afternoon of woe was compounded by an injury to Stephen Rose which saw him substituted and hobbling from the dugout at the end of the game. Alty dropped to 19th in the table.


  • 39 mins: Calum SELBY (Wakefield & Emley 1 Altrincham 0)
  • 69 mins: Mark WILSON (Wakefield & Emley 2 Altrincham 0)

    REFEREE: Mr Ronnie McNaughton

    Distribution problems meant that no matchday programme was available to the small crowd of 254, which was considerably less than half the size of the attendance when we last visited Wakefield on a Saturday (2000-01) and also significantly lower than for our midweek evening visits in the last two seasons. Alty had lost all three visits to Belle Vue but with Wakefield and Emnley languishing in second bottom position this looked to be a chance to improve on that sad record.


    Alty included three recent signings in their squad. One of last week's signings, Danny Hooper, started in midfield, last night's signing Michael Reynolds was on the bench alongside Nick Welton who, like Hooper, had made his Alty debut only last Tuesday. Dave McCarthy, our loan keeper from Worksop, had made a quick recovery from his groin strain and resumed in place of teenager Ashley Timms.

    Barry Shuttleworth was not fit to play and Rob Matthews was omitted from the squad for the first time this season. Rod Thornley was back from his masseur duties with England to lead the attack, partnered by Dave Gardner. Mattie Hughes had cried off with illness which means that he and Thornley have only started together twice this season. Ian Craney and Peter Band started on the left and right of midfield respectively with Hooper and Aspinall in the centre.

    Emley, under the new management of Ian Banks following Ronnie Glavin's move to Barnsley, had lost several players over the summer including Alty's new signing Michael Reynolds and striker Simeon Bambrook. Chris Dolby and Adam Muller, recently loaned players from Alfreton Town and Worksop Town respectively, started today. Dolby had played the last 9 minutes against us for Alfreton on the opening day of this season.


    WAKEFIELD & EMLEY (Claret and sky blue shirts, sky blue shorts, claret socks): 1. Paul CUSS, 2. Steve NICHOLSON (capt.), 3. Adam FOWLER, 4. Scott BAIRSTOW, 5. Calum SELBY, 6. Paul DAVID, 7. Robert TONKS, 8. Adam MULLER, 9. Darren DAY, 10. Chris DOLBY, 11. Kris BOWLER. Subs: 12. Scott CLARK, 14. Sean HAZELDEN, 15. Mark WILSON.

    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, black socks): 1. Dave McCARTHY, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Stephen ROSE, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. Dave GARDNER, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Peter BAND, 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 11. Danny HOOPER. Subs: 12. Paul ROBERTSON, 14. Nick WELTON, 15. Michael REYNOLDS.


    Altrincham kicked off on a warm sunny afternoon and had the first shot of note when Hooper gained possession well and had his firm drive saved by Cuss at the second attempt (2 mins). A weak pass from Aspinall left Talbot struggling and he fouled his opponent. Selby struck the free-kick well but McCarthy held it comfortably from 25 yards. McCarthy had to make a better save a few minutes later when Muller fed Tonks for a shot and it needed an alert Gary Scott to clear the lines for a corner when his keeper could not hold the shot (6 mins).

    After some inconsequential moves by both sides, Day curled a shot well over the bar (10 mins). The home side were enjoying more of the ball and of the attacking pressure, such as it was. However, Gardner then cut in well from the wing and fed Aspinall for a 20 yard effort which rose just over the bar (13 mins). The pairing of Thornley and Gardner was having little joy against the big Emley central defenders, David and Bairstow. After Gardner had been fouled, Adams's free-kick from 35 yards evaded everyone in the box as the low-key play continued (22 mins). More promising was Ian Craney's evasion of a tackle and skilful chip which just cleared the bar (23 mins). Day then headed well over for Emley before a stoppage ensued for treatment to Bowler who seemed to have hurt his neck when he fell after a foul by Aspinall on half-way.

    By now Graham Heathcote had switched his formation, with Gardner reverting to his more customary right-flank position and Band going up front to try and unsettle the big defenders. Soon it was Gardner who again soon showed some welcome skill as he went past two defenders and evaded a tackle from Bairstow before shooting over the bar from 25 yards (32 mins). Bowler then received a lecture for a foul on Gardner before an Aspinall cross from a Gardner feed saw Gary Talbot penalised for a challenge on Cuss (36 mins). After a few minutes of Alty pressure, Talbot obstructed Bowler to give Emley a freekick 25 yards out in a central position. Dolby's freekick found Day unmarked but the striker headed over the bar - to Alty's relief (37 mins). However, the respite was short lived for, as Dolby took possession from Bowler on the front edge of the Alty box, Gardner committed a high challenge which gave Emley a free-kick and saw the Alty man booked. The Alty wall was lined up with a gap to its left to be covered by goalkeeper McCarthy. Selby aimed his free-kick, low, into this gap but Rod Thornley, who was to the left of the wall half-turned as the kick came in and it struck his boot and diverted into the corner of the Alty net, to McCarthy's left, to give Emley the lead (39 mins).

    When play restarted Craney did well up the left but the ball came to Cuss. Then Muller got past Talbot to feed Dolby whose shot went just over the bar (41 mins). Next, Rose lost possession near half-way but tracked back well and made a fine recovery tackle as Day was about to shoot at the exposed McCarthy from 12 yards out in a central position. The resulting Emley corner was cleared and half-time soon arrived with Altrincham looking out of sorts and for the eighth time in nine league games, having failed to score in the first 45 minutes.


    There were no changes made at half-time. McCarthy was soon down to make a save after an Emley incursion up the left. Rose then hobbled off the pitch to receive treatment to his left leg and Alty continued with ten men. Scott had to make a smart clearance, as Aspinall dropped back to help his weakened defence. Gardner then surged upfield and Cuss only just reached his cross before Band. Rose now returned to the fray but there was then a comedy of errors as Band lost possession, Adams fell over, and Hooper slipped but things got a bit better when a move involving Adams, Aspinall, Band and Gardner gave Thornley the opportunity to cross but he overhit his effort. Alty were now, at least, enjoying some possession and hopes of a second-half revival, as at Vauxhall last Tuesday, came to mind. Indeed Hooper now got in a good 20 yard shot at Cuss from Thornley's lay off (54 mins). Band and Gardner then linked to give Craney the ball in a lot of space to the left of goal but Ian's shot was poor and cleared the bar comfortably (55 mins). Talbot was having a good game at the back and he cleared Emley's next attack and when Rose, Band and Gardner combined for the last named to surge forward and chip a shot narrowly over the bar, there was hope that Alty could still take something from the game (59 mins).

    Then from a Talbot header, Dolby got in a shot which deflected off Rose for a corner on the right. Following this, David shot wide. Next, Aspinall fed Thornley on the left and from Craney's resulting shot an unsuccessful appeal went up for handball. Alty now made two changes, with Welton and Robertson replacing Hooper and the limping Rose. This led to Band going into the back-line, (his third position of the game), and Craney moving inside to accommodate Robertson on the left. Welton joined Thornley up front, to replace Band (64 mins). A minute later Day was replaced by Wilson for Emley. Soon afterwards Talbot cleared a Dolby free-kick before Welton won a header, a rare Altrincham success against the Emley defence. The ball ran on and Welton got one-on-one with keeper Cuss but struck his shot at the keeper, who had quickly closed him down. Emley immediately broke away and a ball through the middle found Wilson in space behind the Alty defence. No offside decision was forthcoming and Wilson went on to beat McCarthy comfortably and double his side's lead (69 mins).

    Michael Reynolds, who had been waiting to come on, now did so, replacing Aspinall for Altrincham (70 mins). With Reynolds now on the left, Robertson had to move inside in yet another change of Alty's team formation. Soon, a good cross from Adams found Thornley but David cleared the danger (71 mins). Then Emley won a corner, followed soon afterwards by a good shot at the other end from Reynolds which gained Alty a rare corner on their right, which unfortunately the otherwise hardworking Adams did not take very well (74 mins). Wilson again almost sprang the Alty offside trap before David went off and Hazelden came on (75 mins). After the lively Reynolds and Adams had combined to find Craney, Hazelden was pulled up for hand-ball right on the very edge of the Emley box, though the referee needed the linesman to convince him that any offence had taken place at all. Robertson's resulting freekick came to naught. Alty were now enjoying possession as Emley held onto their lead but it took a bad fumble by Cuss under no pressure at all to give Alty their next corner (78 mins). Welton, Alty's tallest man, took the corner which was cleared. Reynolds then won the ball well and fed Thornley who delayed too long to get in a shot. Then a fine ball forward from inside the Emley half set Wilson in on goal but he shot narrowly wide of McCarthy's left post. Soon, Emley brought on Clark for Muller (80 mins). Tonks then had a good shot which was well stopped by McCarthy, who beat it out (82 mins) before Reynolds won Alty a corner on the left (83 mins). Despite four minutes of additional time, Altrincham could not get back into the game in the closing stages.

    After the spirited second half at Vauxhall on Tuesday, this was an extremely disappointing team performance against a side which was down on its own luck before kick-off. Apart from Gardner, Alty offered little forward punch in the first half and it took the arrival on the pitch of Reynolds and Welton to spark a belated but ultimately unproductive improvement. Throughout the game there was a lack of passing movements and the absence of an aerial presence for much of the match made life easy for the Emley defence. Injuries have made life difficult for Alty and captain Rod Thornley is clearly not yet back to full fitness after his summer lay off and absences due to work commitments. New players have been drafted in and obviously will need time to knit together. Alty have no league game this Tuesday or next Saturday so having dropped to 19th they could find themselves in an even more worrying position come their next league match. It is still fairly early days however, and we are just one point worse off than at the same point last season.


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    Compiled by John Laidlar