BRADFORD PARK AVENUE (1) 1
ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
UniBond League Premier Division Match, played on Saturday, 22 November, 2003 at 3p.m.
After a poor first half performance, Altrincham had much the better of the second period. BPA had taken the lead after 38 minutes when, following an Adams slip, Coburn came for a cross which Maddox seemed to have covered, but failed to get to the ball before Bradford's Maxwell who nodded the ball past him into the net. Alty's equaliser, after 63 minutes, followed a throw-in on the right which led to Craney crossing from the by-line to the right of goal to Shuttleworth, who tapped the ball home at the back post. Alty gave substituting debuts to Marcus Hallows and Stuart Wright but lost Mark Maddox, who limped off early in the second half. Alty dropped to 15th in the table.
REFEREE: Mr C L Pawson
Altrincham went into the game undefeated in their last 7 league and cup games but had failed to score in their last three outings. BPA had had a traumatic week which had seen their squad hit by flu and lose 1-6 at home to Bishop Auckland. Then, on Thursday, four senior players, Graham Mitchell, Richard Tracey, Nicky Wood and Robbie Painter, were released.
In the warm up it was good to see Alty's Sean Smith involved for the first time since his bad car accident in February.
Altrincham welcomed back captain Mark Maddox and Stephen Rose who missed Tuesday's game but striker Niell Hardy was still missing as was Nick Welton. New signings Stuart Wright and Marcus Hallows were both named on the bench. Ian Craney supported Rod Thornley up front.
BPA included Gavin Smith, their on-loan defender from Worksop. In goal was former Colwyn Bay keeper, Matthew Boswell. Graham Mitchell, Richard Tracey and Nicky Wood had recently left the club but Wayne Benn, Gavin Smith, Carl Serrant, Ryan Crossley and Andy Hayward were fit to return after missing the midweek defeat.
BRADFORD PARK AVENUE (All white, with green band on shirts): 1. Matthew BOSWELL, 2. Gavin SMITH, 3. Carl SERRANT, 4. Andy QUINN, 5. James STANSFIELD, 6. Ryan CROSSLEY, 7. Danny WALSH, 8. Wayne BENN (capt.), 9. Andy HAYWARD, 10. Jason MAXWELL, 11. Steve OLEKSEWYCZ. Subs: 12. Andy WRIGHT, 14. Jason RUSSELL, 15. Paul HELLIWELL.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, black socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Gary SCOTT, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Peter BAND, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH. Subs: 12. Dave GARDNER, 14. Stuart WRIGHT, 15. Marcus HALLOWS.
Bradford kicked off on a very dull afternoon trying to improve on their home record of just one league win this season. The first goalmouth incident saw Peter Band head wide from a Craney cross (4 mins). However, Bradford won the game's first corner, which was won and taken by Walsh but caught by Coburn (6 mins). Soon, a great forward pass from Aspinall set Thornley in on goal towards the right corner of the pitch where he won a corner for Altrincham (8 mins). This was cleared but then Scott crossed from the right into the left of the box where Thornley slid in but his first time, stretching effort went narrowly wide of Boswell's left-hand post (9 mins).
The early stages had been fairly even but now the game went through a scrappy phase, with neither side able to create sustained movements and the play punctuated by aerial balls and throw-ins. Indeed, the next goalmouth action of note was Aspinall's cross from the right which was just caught by Boswell as Shuttleworth stole in, unmarked, just behind the BPA keeper (20 mins).
Then followed a fine tackle by Maddox on Hayward for which he was penalised, much to his annoyance. From the freekick, Crossley headed over the bar (21 mins). Next, from a Maddox clearance, Craney launched a ball for Thornley to chase but Boswell raced out to kick clear just in time (25 mins). Alty then won two corners in succession, the first from a blocked shot by Craney. Altrincham were looking the more threatening but without impressing greatly as the Bradford defence was dealing comfortably with all that came its way, especially in the air.
Then a blocked shot from Hayward won his side a corner on their right. Coburn caught the resulting in-swinging corner (32 mins). Now, BPA were beginning to settle but Benn's wide shot from 30 yards was their best effort at this stage. Next, Stansfield earned a lecture for clattering Band from behind. From the freekick by Adams, Talbot forced Boswell into a good save, low down near his left upright (36 mins).
Soon, however, Adams slipped as he made a pass and gave away possession some 25 yards out from his own goal. As the resulting cross came from the right, Maddox appeared to be capable of dealing with Maxwell, the target for the cross. However, goalkeeper Coburn rushed from his line but failed to reach the ball and left Maxwell with an easy header over him into the net (38 mins). It was the first league goal conceded by Coburn since his return to Altrincham some 398 playing minutes earlier.
The goal did not alter the generally mediocre pattern of the game with neither side looking fluent as it went forward and both defences seeming to be in control. Despite the fact that no trainer had been on the pitch, Mr Pawson, who otherwise had a good game, managed to find two minutes of added time before blowing the half-time whistle.
|Half-Time: BRADFORD PARK AVENUE 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Alty started the second half with Band up front with Thornley and Craney withdrawn to midfield. Almost immediately, Thornley won a corner on the right (46 mins). The corner ended with a Maddox shot which ran to Boswell but BPA were awarded a freekick in any case. Soon, Alty brought on Marcus Hallows up front, for his Alty debut, after he had signed for the club only some seven hours earlier. He replaced the limping Maddox, whose heel injury had led to a scan during last week. Band moved to centre-back in his place and Thornley assumed the captaincy (49 mins).
Altrincham were penning Bradford back and won another corner when Rose, Hallows and Shuttleworth combined and the last named's cross went out of play off Smith. Aspinall's corner was headed clear to Shuttleworth whose effort from 22 yards was only just wide of goal (52 mins). After treatment to Scott, Stansfield committed a bad foul on Thornley and was booked (54 mins). Altrincham's travelling support sang them forward as the visitors looked much improved compared with their lacklustre first-half performance. Bradford, for their part, were hemmed back into their own half.
A rare Bradford attack saw Maxwell go down theatrically in the Alty box but to no avail (56 mins). Finally Altrincham got their deserved equaliser but it came from unpromising circumstances. Scott and Thornley combined to win a corner near the right-side corner flag. From this, the ball came to Craney who got to the by-line, right of goal. He turned well and sent a low cross across the goal mouth where he found the unmarked Shuttleworth near the back post,who had no trouble in turning the ball into the vacant net from very close range (63 mins).
Altrincham continued to enjoy the better of play despite Maxwell's attempt to create a fracas with Band in a breakway into the Alty box (66 mins). After a foul by Oleksewycz, the Bradford no.11 suffered the double indignity of a booking and immediate substitution in favour of Andy Wright (67 mins). Soon Shuttleworth won the ball well and, via Adams, Hallows and Thornley a corner was won on the left. Aspinall's kick was just too firm for Band to direct his header at goal from beyond the back post. Bradford's Walsh then got the ball to Hayward and from his pass Quinn won his side their first corner of the half on the right. Serrant's corner was cleared by Band.
Hallows then had a shot blocked but was given offside anyway (74 mins) and Thornley suffered the same fate soon afterwards. Then Scott got in an underpowered shot as Altrincham looked the more likely to snatch a winner. Alty then replaced Thornley by Stuart Wright, their second debutant of the game, the ex-Vauxhall man only having signed yesterday (77 mins). Ian Craney assumed the captaincy. Wright soon advanced into the box and elicited a strong handball appeal which went unanswered as Coburn, at the other end, remained a spectator for most of the second half. From a Talbot clearance, Wright chased the ball but Boswell got to it just first, catching Wright in the process and he needed treatment before resuming (83 mins).
Belatedly Bradford came to life in the closing minutes which included four minutes of added time during which Coburn caught a cross from Benn, but otherwise his goal was not seriously threatened before the game ended in Altrincham's eleventh league draw in 19 starts this season. After their poor first half Altrincham might have settled for a draw but having been the better side in the second half they may well ultimately have felt that this was two points lost in their quest to reach 13th place and qualification for the new Conference feeder division. Altrincham extended their unbeaten run to eight games, five of which have been in the league but they dropped a place in the league to fifteenth and still have not recorded a league win at the Horsfall Stadium.
|Full-Time: BRADFORD PARK AVENUE 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|