Altrincham missed at least four good chances in the first half but reached the break trailing to Graham Fenton's 22 yard free-kick (6 mins). In a game of many free-kicks, Altrincham gave away a second goal five minutes after the break when a long ball went over Maddox and Woodhouse got in to beat Williams. Alty hemmed Blyth back for much of the second half and Maddox headed home an Adams freekick after 71 minutes. But, even though McAlindon was dismissed two minutes from the end of normal time for a foul on Adams, Alty could not level the scores and dropped to 18th and still have not won at Moss Lane this season.
Altrincham were looking for their first home win in their first match at Moss Lane after four consecutive away matches in the league. They had enjoyed a good win at Radcliffe on Tuesday, which had lifted them to 16th in the table. Blyth had started the season well before dropping down the league.
Alty were without Dave Gardner, so Michael Reynolds started his first game for the Robins, on the right. The only other change from midweek saw Steve Aspinall join the bench in place of Reynolds. Mark Maddox was the Alty captain despite the presence in the side of Rod Thornley.
Blyth had former Aston Villa star Graham Fenton in their side following his recent absence with injury.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Ben WILLIAMS, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Michael REYNOLDS, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Peter BAND, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Nick WELTON, 14. Jason van BLERK, 15. Steve ASPINALL.
BLYTH SPARTANS (Yellow shirts, green shorts & socks): 1. Craig TURNS, 2. Andrew LEESON, 3. Mark ATKINSON, 4. Michael LAWS, 5. Richard FORSTER (capt.), 6. Gareth McALINDON, 7. Gareth WILLIAMS, 8. Chris ROBERTSON, 9. Graham FENTON, 10. Anthony WOODHOUSE, 11. Ian CURTWELL. Subs: 12. Ian DIXON, 14. Chris BELL, 15. Chris ROBERTSON.
After changing ends, Altrincham attacked the 20/20 (Hale) End and, inside the first minute, a good pass from Craney gave Thornley a clear shooting chance but his shot was underhit at Turns in the Blyth goal. There was then a dreadful challenge by Leeson on Shuttleworth, near halfway, which left the Alty left-midfielder, already suffering with a bandaged arm, with a blow to the head (2 mins). Referee Waring surprisingly did not book the offender as Shuttleworth underwent lengthy treatment. Play was then very scrappy for a few minutes until Maddox fouled Woodhouse just outside the Alty box and was lectured by Mr Waring. The free-kick, from a central position 22 yards out, was taken by Fenton who found the corner of the net to beat Williams to his left (6 mins). After the re-start, Altrincham soon won a corner when Shuttleworth's well-struck 25 -yarder was tipped round his right post by Turns. Shuttleworth himself took the corner but struck it poorly. Blyth committed their second bad challenge of the game when Reynolds was needlessly bundled into the hoardings behind the Blyth goal but a goalkick was nevertheless awarded to the Spartans (10 mins). Soon, Craney was fouled by Atkinson but Adams's subsequent free-kick was cleared. There was then another harsh challenge, this time by Forster on Craney, who needed treatment just outside the centre circle in the Blyth half. Rose's freekick went for a goalkick to the visitors (17 mins).
A good move involving Scott, Band and Rose, who delivered a fine ball to Thornley, ended when Rod's shot hit the top of the bar from 15 yards when he should have scored (20 mins). The freekicks continued with regularity; next Craney was fouled. Following this, the keeper punched clear to Craney whose effort from 20 yards was just too high (21 mins). Then Alty went close again when Talbot cleared a Blyth free-kick to Craney and, from Band's cross, Atkinson headed against his own crossbar as Thornley closed in on him at the back post. An Alty corner resulted. From Shuttleworth's kick, from the right, Talbot made a back-header which Thornley headed over the bar from 12 yards when, again, he should have hit the target. This was the fourth time Alty had either hit the framework or gone close, so far.
Shuttleworth (far left) hits the bar.
There was yet another stoppage when Laws needed treatment after Turns had collected a Rose free-kick, awarded for a foul on Maddox, 40 yards out. Then a foul on Thornley yielded an indirect free-kick which saw Craney lay the ball short, to the right, for Shuttleworth whose rasping shot hit the crossbar for the third time in the game so far (31 mins). Next Craney's effort just cleared the bar from 25 yards as Alty did everything but score (32 mins). Another late tackle, by Atkinson, saw Reynolds need treatment off the side of the pitch (35 mins). Turns then saved a low effort from Craney from a pass by Shuttleworth (36 mins). But it was Blyth who, against the run of play, almost doubled their lead when Woodhouse, a danger throughout, got behind the defence into the box but could only strike the outside of Williams's left-hand post (37 mins).
Another attack by Blyth was seen off but Williams put the resulting goalkick into touch. Then Thornley did well to find Craney but his low cross from the left was well cut out by Turns (39 mins). A defensive error then let in Craney again but he mis-kicked badly to concede a goalkick (40 mins). A good Rose interception led to Thornley's ball from the left which rebounded out to Reynolds, who lifted his shot over the bar.
Reynolds's effort (shown by yellow line) clears the bar as the Blyth defence is left sprawling (41 mins)
Despite their dominance Alty were vulnerable on the break and when a long punt upfield seemed to be heading for the advancing Williams, Woodhouse got in first to hook the ball across the goalmouth where it was cleared by a defender. Shuttleworth saw off another Blyth attack before half-time arrived with the home fans still awaiting their first first-half goal of the season at Moss Lane from Altrincham.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BLYTH SPARTANS 1|
Blyth came out early for the second half but as eventually Altrincham followed them, Rod Thornley was hobbling badly. However Rod soon combined with Reynolds to set up Craney who mishit his shot (47 mins). Having failed to book a couple of Blyth players for crude challenges in the first half, it was a surprise to see Mr Waring caution Shuttleworth for a fairly routine transgression after 48 minutes. Soon, from an Adams free-kick, Turns had to chest the ball outside his area as Thornley closed in. Out of the blue, an aerial ball forward saw Maddox misjudge it and, with Williams slow off his line, Woodhouse got in to lob the ball into the net for a soft goal (50 mins). Altrincham were paying dearly for their own wasted chances.
A ball from Fenton then found Whitehouse breaching the offside trap and, from his cross from the right, Maddox miskicked clear (53 mins). Thornley and Forster then had a spat as the ball ran out of play but Blyth were given the free-kick. Woodhouse again sprang the offside trap but this time the ball ran out for a goalkick to Altrincham but a couple of minutes later, when Woodhouse repeated his trick, he got in a shot which Williams saved (59 mins). After a Blyth free-kick from 25 yards left of goal, Fenton sent in the tamest of balls into the Alty box which Williams fumbled alarmingly but which he re-gathered at the second attempt. The errors continued as Talbot misheaded a clearance and the covering Adams missed his kick to concede a corner on the Blyth right. Blyth joined in the errors by taking a short corner straight to Altrincham's Shuttleworth! From a Reynolds cross at the other end Band did well to nod the ball back into the box but there was no team-mate to latch onto it (61 mins).
Alty now brought on van Blerk for Shuttleworth (64 mins) and adopted a back three with Adams and Scott pushing forward as wing backs. Van Blerk went into the centre of the back line with Talbot on the left and Maddox on the right. But yet again Woodhouse got behind the Alty back line as the home defence once again looked less than secure. Tthen, after a Craney 25 yarder had been routinely saved, a fine ball from Craney saw Thornley felled by Fenton, who was arguably the last man. However the ref showed only the yellow card to the Blyth man. Justice was done, however, when Adams's freekick from 25 yards, to the left of goal, for once evaded the Blyth centre-backs and Maddox rose unchallenged to head the ball behind him into the net from 12 yards or so (71 mins).
Alty won a corner soon after play resumed as Alty continued to keep Blyth on the defensive. Next Craney and Reynolds fed Band who advanced on goal into the box to the right of goal but his shot went narrowly wide of Turns's right post (75 mins). Still Blyth were dangerous on the break and when a through ball saw Woodhouse outpace van Blerk up the centre, Altrincham were relieved to see the Blyth man pull his shot narrowly wide of Williams's right-hand post (76 mins). Soon Craney was impressing again at the other end, as he cut into the left side of the box, went past two defenders, but delivered a disappointing right-foot shot high and wide of the target (78 mins). Then, following a throw on their right, Gareth Williams was allowed to get to the by-line before Richardson forced a good save from Ben Williams, low down, at the second attempt. After Craney had been clearly tripped by Forster, the ref allowed Alty advantage, only for Band to shoot wide (84 mins).
Alty now replaced the quiet Reynolds by Welton, who went into a three man front line (84 mins). Immediately, van Blerk got the ball to Scott, whose hooked shot was saved by Turns at his near post (85 mins). Then, as Adams broke forward some 30 yards out, he was tackled firmly but late by McAlindon. Mr Waring produced a straight red card for what was a foul but not the worst of the game (88 mins). Just after Chris Adams had been announced as Altrincham's Man of the Match, he lifted a shot into the Golf Road. Altrincham lumped several aerial balls into the box in the four minutes of added time, all of which were comfortably cleared by Blyth. The final whistle signalled Altrincham's fifth successive home game without a win. They last won a competitive game at Moss Lane on 19 April against Colwyn Bay.
This was a game which Altrincham should have won as they created half a dozen reasonable chances, penned back Blyth for most of the second half and saw the Blyth crossbar struck three times. Having said that, the number of occasions on which Blyth and Woodhouse, in particular, breached the Alty back line meant that it could have been even worse for Altrincham. Alty's second half pressure too often ended in an aerial ball which the Blyth defenders saw off with relative comfort. Whilst Chris Adams was a worthy Man of the Match, Stephen Rose was also a player to emerge with credit from the game. Altrincham dropped to 18th as Blyth were one of the teams to overtake the Robins today.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 BLYTH SPARTANS 2|