ALTRINCHAM (2) 4
RADCLIFFE BOROUGH (0) 1
UniBond Premier Division Match, played on Saturday, 6 December, 2003 at 3p.m.
Altrincham went up to 13th with this entertaining win. Marcus Hallows scored the first, finishing well after good work from Aspinall and Scott (7 mins). Man of the match Ian Craney scored a fine second (39 mins) after earlier striking the upright with a superb chip. Radcliffe made a triple substitution in the second half and pressed forward before a late flurry of goals saw Alty home. Substitute Nick Welton drove a fine third (86 mins) before Danny Luker pulled one back for Radcliffe moments later. Ian Craney scored a brilliant fourth goal for Alty after getting to the by-line (88 mins).
REFEREE: Mr J.D. Stokes
Altrincham were looking to extend their good recent run against a side which they had beaten 3-1 in the reverse fixture at the end of September. In contrast, Radcliffe had not won in their last few games and had sold leading scorer Jody Banim to Shrewsbury in midweek.
With former Radcliffe striker Niell Hardy still injured, Altrincham kept the side which had won against Southport in the Trophy last week. On the bench today were the former Vauxhall duo of Stuart Wright and Nick Welton, alongside Barry Shuttleworth. So, Marcus Hallows, on loan from Chorley, started his first league match for the Robins alongside Rod Thornley who goes into hospital for a knee operation on Tuesday.
Radcliffe were without Jody Banim's replacement Steve Foster, signed from Stalybridge, but former Manchester City favourite Ian Bishop was in the Borough side and on their bench was Steve Spencer. Spencer came to Altrincham from Leigh RMI in December 2001 but left Moss Lane without ever playing. Radcliffe's Danny Hooper was, of course, at Moss Lane earlier this season.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red 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. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. Rod THORNLEY 11. Peter BAND. Subs: 12. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 14. Stuart WRIGHT, 15. Nick WELTON.
RADCLIFFE BOROUGH (All blue): 1. Danny HIRST, 2. Richard BATTERSBY, 3. Tony WHEALING, 4. Simon KELLY, 5. Davy LUKER, 6. Danny HOOPER, 7. Ian BISHOP, 8. Simon CARDEN, 9. Chris DENHAM, 10. Karl MARGINSON, 11. James PRICE. Subs: 12. Gary SAMPSON, 14. David BEAN, 15. Steve SPENCER.
After changing ends, Alty defended the Golf Road end on a dry but cloudy afternoon with the floodlights switched on from the kick-off. Alty won an early corner from Craney's deflected shot from the edge of the box, after a good pass from Aspinall (3 mins). Hurst caught Aspinall's corner but Alty continued to press forward in the opening stages. Shortly after Radcliffe had seen off an Alty free-kick, awarded for a foul on Craney by Luker, 25 yards out, the hosts took the lead. On the right, Aspinall found Thornley whose pass was met by Hallows advancing, left to right, across the outer part of the penalty area. Hallows took the ball beyond keeper Hurst before finishing cleanly from 10 yards or so (7 mins).
Soon after this, Scott fed Thornley and, though his cross from the right was beaten out, the ball came to Band who fired a rasping, rising shot over the bar from the edge of the box (8 mins). Band, playing left-midfield once more, was soon in defensive action making a good tackle on Denham, who had just returned to the side after an absence with injury. With both sets of fans in good voice, Bishop picked up a stray Alty pass but his 20-yard shot was easily held by Coburn. Adams then blocked Battersby's advance twice in quick succession before a superb sliding tackle from Maddox stopped Hooper (11 mins), Denham then did well to tee up a shot for himself from the left but it went across the face of goal (12 mins).
The next shot at goal again came from Borough when Denham got on the end of a punt from Hurst, which had eluded Maddox, but Denham shot across the goal and wide of the target (17 mins). Craney was looking in good form for Altrincham and he almost scored an exquisite goal after 20 minutes. Rose, Scott and Hallows got the ball to him and after making himself some space he chipped Hurst from the right front of the box only to see his precise shot come back off the face of the far post.
Play was now end to end, with Coburn having to come out to head clear before more Craney skill set up Rose for a shot that was blocked. After Coburn had fielded a Denham effort, Hallows headed Aspinall's cross wide at the other end before Carden won his side a corner on the right, an in-swinger, which Band cleared well. Following a foul by Talbot, 35 yards out, Coburn claimed Bishop's free-kick impressively. Hurst then did equally well to take Adams's free-kick, (awarded for Luker's trip on Band), off the head of Talbot (34 mins).
Aspinall was again putting some good balls into the box and from one of these the ball skimmed off the top of Hallows's head, wide of the target. Radcliffe went to the other end and won a corner when Denham's shot hit Talbot (38 mins). A Kelly shot went wide after the corner. But then Scott blocked a Radcliffe pass and the ball looped to Craney just outside the box in a central position. He controlled the ball and slipped his marker to enter the box in its left corner, from where he fired in a very accurately placed low shot which beat Hurst and entered the net near the far post (39 mins)
After a foul on Hallows by Kelly, over on the left touchline, the Alty man reacted angrily and referee Stokes, who had a fine game, gave both a brief lecture. From Aspinall's resulting free-kick, floated into the Radcliffe box, Hurst dropped the ball but he fell onto it just as Hallows was about to pounce (42 mins). Rose was harshly penalised for what looked a good tackle just outside the Alty box but Bishop's free-kick just cleared the bar with Coburn covering it convincingly (44 mins). An unnecessary barge by Denham on Coburn, after the Alty keeper had shepherded the ball out for a goalkick, led to a lecture for the Radcliffe striker but, as a whole, the game was played in an excellent spirit. For the first time this season at Moss Lane the half time whistle saw Altrincham two goals ahead at the break.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 RADCLIFFE BOROUGH 0|
Rod Thornley's persistence won Altrincham an early corner on the right (46 mins), which Hurst caught from Aspinall's kick. Alty were pressing well in the early stages but Radcliffe soon came back into the game. However, they could not get a clear sight of Coburn's goal as the Alty defence covered well. On the break, a fine long pass from Aspinall put Thornley into a dangerous position but, for once, Rod's control let him down. Soon Thornley did much better to get in a shot as he and Kelly reached the ball at the same time. Both men needed treatment before resuming (53 mins).
Kevin Glendon then made a bold triple substitution, throwing on Sampson, Bean and Spencer for Hooper, Marginson and captain Whealing (60 mins). With three men up front, Borough pressed forward but on the break Thornley's effort was well blocked by Price who had now assumed the captaincy for Borough (64 mins). With Altrincham not now creating much up front, the injured Thornley went off to be replaced by Nick Welton (66 mins). Soon Scott got in a good effort at Hurst but Radcliffe continued to go forward as might be expected from a team which had scored 48 and conceded 47 league goals in 23 games before this match. However, Alty won a freekick when Aspinall was flattened and had to be treated by Gary Thompson. As ever, Talbot got onto the end of Adams's free-kick but Hurst saved well at the foot of his right post (71 mins). Denham, who remained his side's best hope of a goal, shot wide before a Carden effort hit Maddox to win a corner on the left. Battersby's deeply hit corner came back into the goalmouth where Coburn grabbed the ball and held it despite a Radcliffe challenge which caused Craney to have a spat with a Radcliffe player (75 mins).
Alty now replaced Aspinall, who had been hurt a few minutes earlier, with Barry Shuttleworth. Scott went to right-back, Shuttleworth to left-midfield and Band moved into the centre. Radcliffe continued to press forward but the Alty defence still held firm. The Robins gained some relief when Kelly slipped and Craney surged forward past Bean and Denham to win a corner (82 mins). Radcliffe came back to the other end but, just after Coburn had caught a ball on the very edge of his penalty area, Altrincham replaced Hallows up front by Stuart Wright (85 mins). After Bsttersby's intended pass had been intecepted well by Peter Band, the Alty no.11 found Welton who hammered the ball, low, into the bottom corner with a diagonal shot from right of goal (86 mins). Four minutes of added time were then announced but Radcliffe refused to lie down. Good work by Denham set up Luker who mis-kicked his first attempt from 15 yards but his second, firmly-struck effort from slightly closer-in appeared to take a deflection as it beat Coburn, who was not pleased with his defence, which appeared to have switched off for a moment after an otherwise excellent display (87 mins).
Before Alty could be too disappointed they had restored their three-goal lead with another piece of great play by Craney. Welton found Wright on the left and his ball to the right was received by Craney who jinked almost to the by-line before crashing the ball into the net from an acute angle (88 mins). Band cleared a late cross from Spencer and Hurst then caught an Adams cross at the other end but the final whistle soon came with Altrincham having deservedly recorded what was only their third home league win in ten attempts this season. Craney's performance won him a deserved Man of the Match award and his two goals took him to the head of the Altrincham scoring charts with five goals. However, the team as a whole had put in a good performance to extend their unbeaten league run to six games, currently the best in the Premier Division. It is also now ten league and cup games without defeat for the Robins. The win also meant that it was ten games without defeat since Stuart Coburn arrived in goal and Steve Aspinall was converted to right-back.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 4 RADCLIFFE BOROUGH 1|