WORKSOP TOWN 0
UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Saturday, 8 November, 2003 at 3p.m.
Altrincham extended their unbeaten run to five games with a well deserved point at Worksop. In an entertaining game both sides had their chances. For Altrincham, Lunt almost scored early on, a Hardy header went close and Craney prompted home keeper McCarthy to a magnificent save whilst, for Worksop, Steve Hawes hit the post, Maddox had to clear a Tigers' effort off the line and Coburn produced a fine tip over the bar.
REFEREE: Mr A. Page
Both teams had enjoyed good results recently and these had seen Worksop rise to 5th whilst Altrincham were 16th. Altrincham had won the last three league encounters at Sandy Lane, all 2-1. Last year this fixture occurred almost exactly a year ago to the day (on 2 November) and today, as then, the match was Alty's 17th league game of the season. Before the 2002 game, we lay 18th with 17 points compared to the 20 points already won this season.
Niell Hardy was back in action after a hip injury had ruled him out at Gateshead last weekend. Both Rod Thornley and Chris Adams had overcome flu to play but Gary Talbot was unable to take part due to the same virus and missed his first league game of the season. Gary Scott is nearing fitness but was not risked today. 18 year-old striker Steve Lunt started his first league game of the season and only the third of his career but this time started on the left, a position he has occupied recently as a substitute. Despite scoring two goals at Gateshead, Nick Welton again started on the bench. Ian Craney played on the right whilst Barry Shuttleworth moved to central midfield, alongside Stephen Rose. It was good to see injured goalkeeper Richard Acton fit enough once again to give Stuart Coburn some warm-up practice.
Worksop were without a number of regulars including goalkeeper Ian Bowling, Matty Caudwell, Ryan Davis and Ryan Ludlam. They did include in their squad a number of faces familiar to Altrincham fans. These included former Alty skipper Steve Hawes, who operated today at right-back, and goalkeeper Dave McCarthy, who was recently on loan at Moss Lane. Other well-known faces included those of former Northwich and Droylsden striker Robert Pell, Neil Glasser (ex-Burton Albion) and the ex-Emley front-man, Simeon Bambrook. On the bench was a name familiar to Alty fans - Mark Ward - however, it was not Altrincham's former manager but a Worksop player recently arrived from Belper Town.
WORKSOP TOWN (All yellow): 1. Dave McCARTHY, 2. Steve WARNE, 3. Kevin DAVIES, 4. Steve HAWES, 5. Mark HARAN, 6. Paul SYKES, 7. Neil GLASSER, 8. Linden WHITEHEAD (capt.), 9. Simeon BAMBROOK, 10. Gary TOWNSEND, 11. Andy TODD. Subs: 12. Robert PELL, 14. Mark WARD, 15. Gavin SMITH.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Peter BAND, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Steve LUNT, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Niell HARDY, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Nick WELTON, 14. Dave GARDNER, 15. Michael REYNOLDS.
Altrincham kicked off on a very dull but dry afternoon at a Sandy Lane ground which had acquired an impressive, wooden-clad clubhouse since our last visit. After a first-minute mix-up between Band and Coburn, it was Altrincham who had the first glimpse of goal when Aspinall fed Lunt but Steve shot well wide from the left of goal (2 mins). Steve Hawes was soon involved for Worksop, his new streaked hairstyle having drawn numerous unflattering comments before the match from his former Altrincham team-mates, which Steve took in good spirit. Firstly Mark Maddox and then a superb tackle from Steve Aspinall saw off two of Worksop's early advances but it was Altrincham who were getting the better early sights of goal with Craney's blocked 22-yard shot from a Hardy feed the next worthwhile attempt to score (9 mins). Lunt then did well to get past Warne before Whitehead covered but at the cost of a free-kick, (12 mins). The free-kick, from some 35 yards out, was taken by Adams and came off Band to Lunt (pictured right), to the left of goal. Lunt's flicked shot was saved by the keeper at the near post (13 mins). Coburn, at the other end, had little to do at this stage.
However, Worksop soon won the game's first corner, from a Shuttleworth clearance. The corner was cleared back to its taker, Hawes, whose second cross found Sykes, who miskicked tamely to Coburn (14 mins). The sides then traded attacks before Band cleared well when Bambrook delayed his shot too long from a good opening (23 mins). Hawes then blocked a Lunt effort at the other end. After Rose and Maddox had cleared two more attacks, Craney did well to wriggle past two opponents and, though Lunt rose to get a touch on his resulting cross, a goalkick resulted. Craney soon dispossessed Glasser and after a couple of passes Hardy got in a shot from 30 yards which went wide of McCarthy's left post (27 mins). Adams and Craney then prompted a good Altrincham move which ended with a cross from the right by Hardy, which fell behind the crossbar (29 mins).
Worksop now began to assert some pressure and Townsend's turn and shot from Hawes's pass won his side a corner on their left. Hawes's corner was scrambled clear from the goalmouth as the flodlights came on to lighten the gloom (31 mins). Following a Worksop freekick the ball came out to Hawes who, from 22 yards, thumped a superb shot against the inside, lower section of Coburn's left upright as the keeper dived vainly to his left. The ball rebounded to safety (32 mins). Last season a Hawes effort rattled the crossbar against the club he used to captain, so history was repeating itself. Band then blocked a Bambrook effort as the home side asserted themselves again, with Hawes prominent in their attacks on the right.
However an Alty freekick from Aspinall then saw McCarthy drop the ball, as Band challenged, but the keeper reclaimed the ball at the second attempt (35 mins). Lunt then dispossessed Whitehead and ran forward but despite an almost Ronaldo-like stepover, he lost possession! Soon, Coburn claimed a Hawes freekick well following a foul by Craney on Todd (37 mins). Next, Bambrook scuffed a decent chance after Craney had lost out to Glasser. But Aspinall soon fed Craney; however, his shot was sliced badly wide from 25 yards (40 mins). An eight-pass Alty move yielded only a throw-in before a late, but fairly innocuous, challenge from Todd on Coburn, earned the Worksop man a booking (41 mins). Maddox and Lunt then fed Thornley, whose lay off to Shutttleworth saw the Alty midfielder curl a good shot just wide from the edge of the box (44 mins). Aspinall then cleared well for Altrincham as the end of an entertaining first half arrived with the sides deservedly level. Though Worksop had gradually started to impose themselves in the latter part of the half, Altrincham had more than enjoyed parity in terms of shots on goal.
|Half-Time: WORKSOP TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
After a fairly quiet opening to the second period, Whitehead shot wide following a free-kick (50 mins). Altrincham were being penned back in their own half until Hardy and Craney advanced and prompted Haran to concede an unnecessary throw, deep in the Worksop half. However, this led to nothing and Bambrook's gentle 25 yarder to Coburn was the nearest to a goal from either side (52 mins). A Mark Maddox header found Adams who, in turn, found Hardy. His pass led to a Craney advance and a pass to Thornley whose return pass prompted Craney to deliver a superb drive from just outside the box which somehow McCarthy managed to tip round the post at full stretch to his left, to give Altrincham a corner on their right (55 mins). Aspinall's corner was half cleared but from his follow-up cross, from the right, Hardy got in front of his marker and his stooping header only just cleared the bar (56 mins).
Steve Lunt was pulled up for a tackle which won the ball but which the referee judged to have been from behind and the Alty man received an unfortunate booking (60 mins). This was followed in quick succession by a Worksop free-kick for a push by Thornley and then another free-kick, conceded by Maddox, 22 yards out (61 mins). A well-worked free-kick routine led to a Worksop player getting to the by-line, right of goal and from Townsend's resulting shot, Maddox had to clear off the line from Whitehead (62 mins). Alty were now on the back foot but when Craney surged forward and found Thornley on a breakaway, Rod lost his footing and the ball. At this point Niell Hardy went down off the ball and had to hobble off with what looked like a groin strain. Alty then took a freekick with only ten men on the pitch and Craney's good shot forced McCarthy to make a great one-fisted save to punch the ball upwards as he started to go the wrong way. From the resulting corner, with Nick Welton now up-front in place of Hardy, the ball was cleared (65 mins).
Aspinall, who had a fine game at right-back, then found Thornley but the Alty striker lost possession as play switched from end to end. A Townsend effort then struck his own player, Todd, before a Bambrook shot produced a Worksop corner, taken by Hawes. This was cleared but, with Altrincham's midfield sitting deep, Worksop were soon back again. Two more Worksop shots were blocked in quick succession but it was Altrincham who came closer to scoring when Shuttleworth sent Welton up the right channel but Thornley couldn't convert the pass into a goal. Worksop now replaced Townsend by Ward (72 mins). After another Worksop attack, Thornley almost got onto another forward pass but McCarthy reached it first. Worksop now made another switch, with Smith replacing Glasser. Smith went to right-back, obliging Hawes to move into midfield (75 mins). A Ward mis-hit then gave Alty a goalkick before Bambrook shot well over the bar from a subsequent attack (76 mins). Worksop made their final change when Pell came on for Bambrook, who did not seem as sharp as in his Emley days (81 mins). Worksop almost made the breakthrough when the ball came to Ward, to the left of goal, but Coburn made a magnificent leap to tip his shot over the bar for a corner (83 mins).
Altrincham then subbed Thornley with Dave Gardner (84 mins) and Dave was soon involved in a move which saw Rose's shot blocked before Lunt won a corner on the left, which Gardner struck poorly. As the game entered its closing stages, Alty got forward when Lunt advanced up the left but lost the ball twice before regaining it and conceding possession for a last time. The final whistle came with Altrincham extending their unbeaten run to five games in which they have conceded just one goal. Though Worksop enjoyed a lot of possession in the Alty half in the second period, they had no more clear goal chances than Altrincham. Steve Hawes was deservedly made the Worksop man of the match but for Altrincham the honour, had there been one, would have probably gone to a defender, with Steve Aspinall and Mark Maddox leading candidates.
Altrincham moved back up to 15th but the injury to Niell Hardy will raise some concern as his strike partner Rod Thornley is still labouring with a knee injury. However, both Steve Lunt and Nick Welton produced enough to show that manager Graham Heathcote still has attacking options if his first-choice pairing is sidelined.
|Full-Time: WORKSOP TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|