Match Report


UniBond Premier Division Match,
played on Saturday, 3 January, 2004
at 3p.m.


Altrincham ran out easy winners against a disappointing Whitby side which arrived at Moss Lane with only one defeat in their previous ten league and cup outings. Two wonderful goals from Ian Craney put Alty two ahead at the interval. His first was a left-foot curler into the top corner from 25 yards (34 mins), his second a fine right-foot free-kick, also from outside the box, which went in off the upright on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Lunt (55 mins) and Hallows (60 mins) wrapped things up. Sadly, Alty lost Barry Shuttleworth with a suspected broken ankle after just 14 minutes


  • 34 mins: Ian CRANEY (Altrincham 1 Whitby Town 0)
  • 45 mins: Ian CRANEY (Altrincham 2 Whitby Town 0)
  • 55 mins: Steve LUNT (Altrincham 3 Whitby Town 0)
  • 60 mins: Marcus HALLOWS (Altrincham 4 Whitby Town 0)

    REFEREE: Mr P. Varley


    After a draw and a defeat over Christmas, Altrincham were keen to record their first league win in five starts whilst Whitby arrived at Moss Lane having lost just once in their last eleven league and cup games. The pitch was in good condition despite a night and morning of incessant rain. Before the game, two banners were displayed by Altrincham supporters drawing attention to those major shareholders and former directors of the club who nowadays are not seen at Moss Lane and inviting them to give up their shares.

    Though this was one of Moss Lane's lower Saturday gates, it was nevertheless the highest crowd in the UniBond Premier Division today. It was good to see Rod Thornley fit enough to take part in the warm-up after his knee operation.


    Steve Aspinall returned after suspension so Gary Scott reverted to right-midfield and Peter Band moved from midfield to centre-back in the continuing absence of captain Mark Maddox, who is suffering from a bad ear infection. Chris Adams missed his first game of the season with his shoulder injury, so Barry Shuttleworth started at left-back and Stuart Wright came into the side in left-midfield. Ian Craney was back in central midfield, alongside Stephen Rose.


    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 4. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Gary SCOTT, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. David HOLT, 11. Stuart WRIGHT. Subs: 12. Niell HARDY, 14. Steve LUNT, 15. Kieran LUGSDEN.

    WHITBY TOWN (All blue, with black, white and red hoop on shirt): 1. David CAMPBELL, 2. Mark OBERN, 3. Alex GILDEA, 4. Adam REED, 5. Anthony HALL, 6. Ben DIXON, 7. Brian LINIGHAN, 8. Graham ROBINSON (capt.), 9. Anthony ORMEROD, 10. Scott NICHOLSON, 11. Craig VEART. Subs: 12. Mark SWALES, 14. David McTIERNAN, 15. Graham WILLIAMS.


    Altrincham kicked off towards Golf Road, where the home support was in good voice despite the indifferent results over Christmas. The first chance came to the home side when Shuttleworth got in a good cross from the left which came to Scott at the back post but he headed over the bar when he should have forced a save, at least (2 mins). At the other end, Talbot saw off Ormerod before a miscue from Obern saw a Whitby colleague shoot wide of Coburn's right post (4 mins). The even, but low-key, play continued until Craney fed Hallows, who delayed his shot just long enough for it to be blocked and loop up for Campbell to gather. However, the keeper dropped the ball under a challenge but it dropped into a "dead" patch in the goalmouth and was cleared (8 mins). When Aspinall was penalised, Veart's free-kick from 25 yards out, in a central position, drew a fine save from Coburn going to his left. Stuart could not hold the shot and a corner resulted to Whitby on their right, taken by Veart. Coburn punched this clear and Talbot helped the Alty keeper complete the clearance. Alty soon won a corner themselves when Holt got past Reed and his low cross was put behind the goal by Gildea. Shuttleworth's corner, from the left, was cleared to Aspinall, who shot wide (11 mins). Then, 10 yards inside the Alty half, Rose played a ball to his left which was too short for Shuttleworth. The Alty left back did his best to win the 50/50 challenge with Nicholson but came off worse. After lengthy treatment he was stretchered off and an ambulance had to be called to take him to hospital with a suspected fractured left ankle. Stuart Wright moved to left-back, as Steve Lunt came on for Shuttleworth and to replace Wright on the left of midfield (14 mins).

    Alty's next attack of note saw Scott's cross from the right met by Hallows but, under pressure, his header looped comfortably to Campbell, the much travelled Whitby keeper who has had previous spells at Gateshead and Spennymoor (18 mins). Soon afterwards, Wright's cross from the left yielded a corner off Hall, which Aspinall took, from the left side of goal. Talbot won the header from the flag-kick but Lunt was unable to connect with the ball at the back post and the chance went begging (19 mins). Talbot was also involved in Alty's next chance when a fine cross from Scott saw him rise well after a free-kick had been won by Holt. Talbot's header cleared the bar, however (22 mins). Talbot was soon in action again, clearing from Ormerod at the other end as the game lacked a goal to spark it into life. Next, Hallows had a shot blocked by Reed but from the rebound Craney cleverly made space for himself but shot over the bar (25 mins).

    Gildea then brought down Craney but the referee allowed play to continue, as the ball ran inside to Hallows, but his firm shot was comfortably wide of Campbell's left post from 20 yards (26 mins). With the siren of the ambulance sounding as it arrived to collect Barry Shuttleworth, who left for hospital with his father, Hallows beat the tall Linighan and fed Scott, but his cross was easily taken by Campbell (27 mins). A foul by Talbot on Gildea gave Veart a free-kick from which the ball was half-cleared back to Veart and from his second cross Nicholson netted but the flag had already gone up for off-side (28 mins). After Gildea had had his arms round Craney, it was the Alty man who was mysteriously penalised by referee Varley (32 mins). Robinson was then fortunate to get no more than a word from Mr Varley when he refused to hand over the ball to Alty but soon Coburn had to be alert to rush out and beat Ormerod to the ball inside his penalty area.

    ALtrincham took the lead when Talbot found Wright and his cross from the left was chested down by Scott, a couple of yards outside the box in a central position. It fell to Craney who curled a superb left-foot shot into the top left-hand corner as Campbell's dive to his right failed to get near it (34 mins). It was as good a goal as had been seen at Moss Lane this season. The game's next corner, however, went to Whitby when Nicholson's shot was deflected out of play on the Whitby right and a second corner soon followed (37 mins). This corner was wasted and the next goal effort was a 25 yard effort from Hallows which Campbell held comfortably, low down (38 mins). After Talbot had won possession, Craney and Scott then fed Hallows, but he was given offside. Three minutes of added time were signalled as Nicholson put in a disappointing cross from the right. Whitby then survived a handball appeal in their box when Holt's cross struck a defender after Hallows had advanced well from Rose's feed. Band soon made a good interception but Scott's final cross went disappointingly to Campbell. Gary Talbot continued to pop up all over the pitch, firstly making an important tackle on Nicholson who went down looking for a penalty and then heading clear. Just before the interval a foul on Craney by Veart, following a throw-in by Stuart Wright, gave Alty a free-kick some 20 yards out on the left, front-edge of the Whitby box. With the right-footed Aspinall and Ian Craney standing over the dead-ball, the Alty right-back seemed the more likely taker but it was Craney who fired a right foot shot into the net, off the bottom of the Whitby upright to the keeper's left (45 mins). Seconds later the half-time whistle went with the sides separated by two fine goals from the Alty captain, who is now the side's leading scorer with seven league goals.


    With the drizzle continuing on a grey, almost misty afternoon Rose made an early interception which allowed Holt to advance and make a good cross, which was cleared. After a Scott heading error, Whitby then threatened inside the Alty box but the ball was scrambled clear. Holt then did well to find Wright but again the danger was cleared (49 mins). Talbot continued his good work with Band at the back to see off Ormerod before a Linighan header ran to Coburn. A cross from the left was then missed by Holt from a goalscoring position before a Scott effort was blocked and a 20 yarder from Aspinall went wide of Campbell's left post (51 mins). Next, after Campbell had got to the ball just before Hallows, Veart tried an ambitious 35 yarder which went very high over the target (53 mins). A trademark Craney surge then won Altrincham a corner on the right which Apsinall took and Band won. Via Holt, the ball came back to Craney on the left and his cross led to a stabbed shot from Holt which flashed across goal from left to right where Hallows retrieved it, beyond the back post towards the by-line. He played a low cross back into the goalmouth where Lunt poked the ball home at the second attempt at the near post for his first league goal of the season (55 mins).

    Alty were now well on top with Scott doing well on the right and Wright also performing capably as stand-in left-back. Soon Holt turned well but his cross was cleared before Veart had a shot at the other end which went past the post (58 mins). Alty then won a corner before Scott made a fine defensive tackle. Scott was soon involved again prompting a cross from the right by Hallows which was cleared, only for Craney to feed Holt who found Hallows to the right of goal. He beat Campbell at the near post with a firm, low shot from 12 yards or so to make it 4-0 (60 mins). After the restart Craney was soon racing forward again and from his pass Hallows's well-struck shot from the edge of the box was superbly tipped round the post, to his right, by Campbell (62 mins). Campbell then also fielded Aspinall's resulting corner. Whitby then replaced Nicholson by Swales shortly after a move which ended with a Veart cross. Hallows then fed Holt, who won Alty a corner, but it was only the fact that all the players stayed in position for a corner which induced the referee to change his mind from his original mistaken award of a goal-kick. Altrincham continued to threaten but Hallows was caught offside after Craney had turned and advanced past two opponents (66 mins)

    Whitby replied when Veart, their most impressive player, got in a 30 yarder which Coburn stopped at the second attempt (67 mins). After Holt had been obstructed by Linighan, Hallows nodded Aspinall's free-kick over the bar as another goal looked likely. Lingihan was then very late in tackling Scott and got the game's first booking. Craney struck the free-kick from 22 yards into the wall. From the resulting breakaway Robinson hurt himself in a challenge with Scott and had to be replaced by McTiernan (70 mins). Lunt soon won his side a corner, which was cleared, but soon afterwards Holt got in a shot which went wide just before Hardy surprisingly replaced the impressive Hallows up front (74 mins). Rose then did very well and advanced up the centre before feeding Hardy whose shot from a central position 15 yards or so out was too close to Campbell to beat the Whitby keeper (75 mins). At the other end, Reed shot very wide from 20 yards as the flowing second half continued. Then, after Hardy had won the ball, Holt failed to make any contact at all when in a good scoring position (76 mins).

    After Wright had had a shot blocked, Reed became the second Whitby player to be booked when he clattered Holt from behind (80 mins). Whitby soon won a corner through Ormerod, off Band, and at this point Williams replaced Obern for the visitors (82 mins). This corner was wasted and soon Rose won Altrincham a corner when his fine cross was headed over his own goal by Reed (84 mins). Ormerod then went down optimistically in the Alty box, to no avail, before Alty brought on Kieran Lugsden for Holt (86 mins). Whitby won a corner soon afterwards and again after the two minutes of added time had been signalled, won another flag-kick as Alty held on to what they had. It came as no surprise when Ian Craney was announced as Man of the Match at the end of the game.

    This was Altrincham's biggest win of the season and took them into the qualifying places for Alliance North for the first time since early September 2003. Though it took two magnificent first-half goals to break Whitby, manager Graham Heathcote will also have been delighted by the clean-sheet, all the more so for being achieved by a make-shift back four lacking the regulars, Maddox and Adams, from the kick-off and also without Shuttleworth for most of the game. After a season of many missed chances, it was also pleasing to see four goal chances converted today. There is now a fortnight's break from the league before the trip to Marine. A win there could take Altrincham to the top of the bunch chasing the top seven, who are currently 8 points clear of the middle-placed teams.