Match Report

Altrincham won 3-1 on penalties after extra-time.

UniBond League Challenge Cup Match,
2nd Round
played on Tuesday, 18 November, 2003 at 7.45p.m.


Over its duration of 120 minutes this match rarely reached great heights as the players battled with a stiff breeze blowing down the bobbly pitch. It was Workington who had the edge so far as attacking play was concerned for much of the game but, though corner-kicks were numerous, goalmouth incident was fairly scarce. Neverthless, Stuart Coburn had to produce a couple of good saves and Workington had to clear a Craney effort off the line. Indeed, it was Alty goalkeeper Coburn who became the night's hero with two fine saves in the penalty shoot-out as his team-mates Steve Aspinall, Ian Craney and Barry Shuttleworth all converted their spot-kicks expertly to give Altrincham a 3-1 win on penalties and a place in the last sixteen of the UniBond League Challenge Cup. Stuart has now conceded just one goal in eleven hours of action since returning to Altrincham from Leigh RMI and this was Altrincham's third successive goalless draw.


No scorers during normal and extra-time. Penalty shoot out takers:

  • Will VARTY (Workington)scored (Workington 1 Altrincham 0)
  • Steve ASPINALL (Altrincham) scored (Workington 1 Altrincham 1)
  • Mathew HENNEY (Workington) saved (Workington 1 Altrincham 1)
  • Ian CRANEY (Altrincham) scored (Workington 1 Altrincham 2)
  • Robert ENNIS (Workington) saved (Workington 1 Altrincham 2)
  • Barry SHUTTLEWORTH (Altrincham) scored (Workington 1 Altrincham 3)
  • Alan GRAY (Workington) missed (Workington 1 Altrincham 3)

    REFEREE: Mr C. Bainbridge


    For a round-trip of almost 300 miles on a Tuesday night in November, Altrincham brought a respectable number of supporters on their first visit to Borough Park for 25 years to meet their UniBond First Division opponents tonight. Though the weather was dry, there was a stiff breeze blowing down the pitch and the surface was a little bobbly.

    Founded in 1884, Workington entered the Football League in 1951 and were promoted to the old Division 3 in 1964. They were not re-elected to the League in 1977 and they made way for Wimbledon. In those pre-Conference days The Reds joined the NPL and met Altrincham for a couple of seasons in that league as well as meeting in the FA Trophy in 1977/78. The club's lowest ebb was probably in 1987 when, for safety reasons, they had to remove the roof of the main stand and reduce the height of their floodlights to meet stadium safety regulations. Today, the decapitated stand remains with the base serving as changing rooms and social club whilst the now roofless upper part is out of use. The opposite side of the pitch has a large covered stand and there is also spectator cover behind one of the goals.


    Altrincham were without captain Mark Maddox, whose early-season heel fracture is still causing him problems. Also missing were the injured duo of midfielder Stephen Rose and striker Niell Hardy. Nick Welton was also unavailable, due to work commitments. However, both Gary Scott and Rod Thornley were fit enough to play, with Scott once again playing in midfield as Steve Aspinall continued at right-back. Despite his no.6 shirt, Steve Lunt started up front alongside Rod, who was restored to the captaincy. On the bench with Michael Reynolds were the twins Kieran and Kelvin Lugsden, from the Alty Youth team, who were making their debuts with the first team squad. Both lads are also regulars for New Mills in the Air Miles Manchester League. Peter Band moved to defence to replace Mark Maddox.

    Workington keeper Steven Pape had recently been sidelined by a sore hip, so 37 year-old Kevin Wolfe, (ex-Whitby, Blyth Spartans and Harrogate), played only his second game of the season. Ex-Leigh man Neil Fitzhenry had left the club last week but the Workington team included Glenn Murray up front, who had recently returned to the club after a successful spell playing in the USA.


    WORKINGTON (All red with black trim): 1. Kevin WOLFE, 2. Alan GRAY, 3. John WHARTON, 4. Will VARTY (capt.), 5. Mathew HENNEY, 6. Craig LEWIS, 7. Robert ENNIS, 8. Tony HOPPER, 9. Glenn MURRAY, 10. Chris THORNTON, 11. David HEWSON. Subs: 12. Stuart MOFFAT, 14. Andrew COYLES, 15. Stephen ARCHIBOLD.

    ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, white shorts, blue socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen LUNT, 7. Dave GARDNER, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Gary SCOTT, 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Kelvin LUGSDEN, 14. Michael REYNOLDS, 15. Kieran LUGSDEN.


    Altrincham played into the stiff breeze in the first half as they defended the uncovered end of Borough Park but play soon stopped for treatment to Workington's Hewson (1 min). The home side set the early pace as Altrincham struggled to come to terms with the wind and the bobbly surface. There was an early alarm when Coburn's delayed kick clear almost led to his clearance being charged down (7 mins). Although Murray was impressing with his forward play, there was no serious threat to Alty's goal in the early stages, whilst, at the other end, Wolfe was underemployed. It took more than 20 minutes for the home side to force the game's first corner when a long punt forward evaded Band and Glenn's flick on to Hewson led to the flag-kick on the Workington left. Coburn caught Ennis's corner superbly in the swirling wind.

    However, Coburn was finding his goal-kicks held up in the wind as Workington continued to enjoy most of the attacking play with some neat football. After Craney had lost possession to Henney, Thornton found himself behind the defence but as he waited for the advancing and exposed Coburn to commit himself with a dive, the Altrincham keeper seized on his opponents' hesitation to smother the ball (27 mins). Workington at this stage seemed to be winning most of the 50/50 balls as they played in front of a supportive crowd. However, Altrincham won a corner when their best move to date saw Craney, Aspinall, Gardner and Thornley involved and Adams's shot was blocked for a corner on the left (30 mins). There were stoppages for treatment to Varty and then Thornton, who came off worse when he backed into Talbot. Indeed, the game as a whole was littered with stoppages for injury which led to more than 50 minutes being played in each half of the game.

    Though Altrincham were improving they were still prone to launching aerial balls forward which, in the swirling conditions, were not productive as Thornley and Lunt had to make allowances for the ball "dying" in the air. In contrast Workington used passes to feet more consistently. Alty did, however, put together a good move when a loose pass from The Reds went to Thornley. He advanced and fed Craney to his right, inside the box. Though the keeper was out of his goal trying to deal with Thornley, Craney's shot from right centre did not have enough power and was cleared off the line by a defender (41 mins). A further Alty attack, involving Scott and Lunt, was then seen off (43 mins)before another injury to Thornton saw him replaced just before the interval by Archibold, who had scored a hat-trick for the Reserves last Saturday (44 mins). Half time arrived with the game goalless and Altrincham not at their best.


    After a shorter than normal interval, play resumed after a 13 minute break but any thoughts that the officials may have had of an early night were soon to be quashed. Workington started the second half, like the first, as the more attacking side. But, the sequence of injury stoppages continued with early treatment to Band's face. The only serious shot at this time was a 25 yarder from Hewson which went wide (53 mins). Workington then made their second change when Glenn Murray limped off to be replaced by Moffat (54 mins).

    Though Lunt got past a defender in the left corner of the Alty attack, it was Workington who were soon back at the other end with Talbot performing one of his many good clearances to end the danger (57 mins). The next injury was to Craney who resumed after treatment. With the stoppages and lack of fluid play there was little to amuse the crowd in the stand at this point except for linesman Mr Ivison's remarkable stepped haircut. Play stuttered on with the Altrincham back four proving as resolute as it has been in recent weeks. Things finally improved after 66 minutes when Alty won the first of what were to be seven corner kicks in the final 25 minutes. Firstly Shuttleworth won one on the left from which Talbot got his head to Aspinall's kick but could not get power on his effort. Then, Adams won a corner which again came off Talbot's head to Wolfe from Aspinall's kick (67 mins). Despite the corners, the greater danger arose at the other end when Craney lost possession and Moffat got behind Talbot, to the right of goal. His firm drive from an angle to the right of goal produced a magnificent block from the advancing Coburn, to give Workington a corner (68 mins). Play once again switched to the other end as Altrincham won another corner from Scott, after Thornley's pass (69 mins).

    After Thornley's 22 yarder had ended in Wolfe's arms, another corner came for Alty when Lunt's flick just evaded Thornley but Rod's presence seemed to distract Wolfe, who let the ball through his arms for a flag-kick to Altrincham on the left. Aspinall put the corner behind the cross bar (71 mins) and then Lunt went off to be replaced by Reynolds. Reynolds went on the left, with Shuttleworth moving to central midfield whilst Craney moved further forward (71 mins).

    Altrincham were now playing better than earlier in the game but Craney's high and wide effort from outside the box was their best effort at this stage (76 mins). Nevertheless, soon afterwards, a good move involving Shuttleworth and Gardner led to Thornley's first time shot going narrowly over the bar, via a deflection, for a corner (80 mins), Aspinall's corner curled into the box where Wolfe fumbled it just over the bar for another corner, which was Alty's sixth in a quarter of an hour. Thornley won yet another corner two minutes later. Workington responded with a mis-hit shot from Archibold which went wide before Adams needed treatment to the back of his leg. After 5 minutes of added time the game ended goalless and extra-time beckoned.


    Workington introduced their final sub, Coyles, at the start of extra time, with Lewis being taken off (91 mins). Alty were again facing into the wind as Workington won a corner on their right but, from this, the ball eventually ended up with Coburn. However, Alty's keeper then committed a howler as his attempt to kick clear rebounded off Archibold but the Reds' sub hesitated just enough for Coburn to throw himself down and induce the Workington man to shoot wide (94 mins). There was then yet another injury stoppage, with Wharton the victim. When play resumed Moffat got in a good shot which was deflected for a Workington corner on the left.

    Kieran Lugsden now came on for his first-team debut, replacing Dave Gardner (98 mins) and joining Rod Thornley up front. Reynolds moved to the right flank in place of Gardner. Workington continued to press and won their third corner of this half of extra time. A fourth corner followed just before the extra-time break before Altrincham responded with two corners of their own but there was no time to take the latter of these as the whistle went for the teams to change ends for the final 15 minutes.

    Two more Alty corners came early in the second period of extra time and from the first Craney chipped an effort narrowly over the bar (107 mins). From a cross from the right, Archibold then seemed to attempt a "hand of God" goal but his hand-ball only directed the ball wide (109 mins). Coburn then had to make an excellent save, low to his left at the foot of the post, from a well-hit drive by Ennis. The referee awarded a corner though Stuart felt he had kept the ball in when he gathered it at the second attempt (112 mins). The corner was wasted but as Workington continued to press, Kelvin Lugsden came on to replace Gary Scott, his arrival being delayed by yet another injury stop, this time for treatment to Ian Craney (117 mins). The final whistle came with Altrincham having achieved their third successive goalless draw and keeper Stuart Coburn having conceded just one goal in eleven hours of football since he rejoined Altrincham.

    Stuart Coburn has a good penalty-saving record so Altrincham fans were reasonably optimistic about the spot-kick shoot-out. However, Coburn could do nothing as the Reds' captain Varty drove the first penalty home confidently. Steve Aspinall equalised with another well-struck spot-kick before Coburn produced a fine save, to his left, to tip Henney's kick past the post, to leave the score at 1-1. Craney then stepped up and scored with a well-taken drive to make it 2-1 to Altrincham before Coburn made another fine save, tipping the ball round his right-hand post from Ennis's penalty. Next, Shuttleworth drove his penalty high into the net to make it 3-1 and leave Gray with the task of converting to keep his side in the competition. However, the Workington no.2 lifted his effort over the bar to leave Altrincham the winners by three penalties to one. So, Coburn was once more an Altrincham hero.

    After Extra-Time: WORKINGTON 0 ALTRINCHAM 0
    Altrincham won 3-1 on penalties.