ALTRINCHAM (1) 3
VAUXHALL MOTORS (1) 1
UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Tuesday, 17 February, 2004
Altrincham recorded their first-ever league win over the Motormen thanks to a strong second-half performance. With a changed back four (Adams at right-back and Shuttleworth at left-back), Alty laboured in the first period after a bright start and they fell behind to Fearns's close-range effort (33 mins). But a twisting header from Hallows levelled the scores four minutes later. Mark Maddox headed Alty ahead with his first touch after coming on as a sub seconds earlier (71 mins) and a cracking 25-yard shot from Steve Aspinall made it 3-1 with four minutes of normal time remaining.
REFEREE: Mr I. D. Knee
After playing in front of 1,758 spectators at Moss Lane last Saturday, tonight's crowd was rather more sparse but nevertheless respectable for a cold Tuesday night. Alty had yet to defeat Vauxhall in a league game and after a poor run under ex-Alty Director of Football, Owen Brown, the Motormen's form had improved recently with a win over 10-man Southport.
With Rod Thornley on England duty and Niell Hardy out injured, David Holt started up-front alongside Marcus Hallows. Whilst this was David's last game of his loan spell from Stockport, Marcus will hopefully sign with Altrincham on a permanent basis during this week. The unavailability of Gary Scott prompted a surprise change to the back four where Chris Adams was switched to right-back and Barry Shuttleworth came in at left-back. This meant that Steve Aspinall, the regular right-back over recent months, was played in right-midfield, the position to which he had been moved during the first-half against Shrewsbury last Saturday. On that occasion, the change had been prompted by a need to control the Shrews' left-winger and, tonight, with the lively Peter Cumiskey wearing the Vauxhall no.11 shirt, presumably Graham Heathcote's tactical thinking was along similar lines.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. David HOLT, 11. Stuart WRIGHT. Subs: 12. Mark MADDOX, 14. Stephen LUNT, 15. Ged KIELTY.
VAUXHALL MOTORS (All yellow): 1. Tim DITTMAR, 2. Tom BETTS, 3. Wayne McDERMOTT, 4. Craig ROBINSON, 5. Mark ROBERTS, 6. Kevin LYNCH (capt.), 7. Carl NESBITT, 8. Robbie LAWTON, 9. Terry FEARNS, 10. Carl MACAULEY, 11. Peter CUMISKEY. Subs: 12. Alan GRIFFITHS, 14. Carl SPELLMAN, 15. James PARRY.
Altrincham kicked off on a cold but dry night, attacking the Golf Road end. When linesman Brownley slipped and fell there was a loud cheer followed by an early, brief stoppage to ensure that he was fit to continue (1 min). Alty captain Ian Craney executed an impressive drag-back before feeding Holt, who beat his marker, but slightly overhit his cross from the right. Though Stuart Wright got the ball, the move petered out. Alty then put together an impressive eight-pass move, starting with Shuttleworth and ending with Craney, who beat Lynch and Betts before firing in a low shot from the left front-edge of the box, which a defender managed to block as it arrowed towards the far corner of the net (3 mins). Alty's good start continued when Holt won a corner on the right. Talbot rose well to nod Aspinall's flag-kick over the bar (6 mins). But there was then a scare for Alty when Cumiskey's 25 yarder bounced back off Coburn's chest but a surprised Fearns put the rebound over the bar from 12 yards or so (7 mins).
The lively opening continued when Aspinall gained control of a loose ball and played it left for Hallows, who just managed to get to it before reaching the by-line. However, Marcus's shot went wide and high from this acute angle (9 mins). After Stephen Rose had taken away the feet of Lawton to concede a free-kick, 20 yards out in a fairly central position, Cumiskey's free-kick hit the wall to give Vauxhall a corner on the right. This, in turn, led to a second corner, this time on the left, taken by Lynch and from this the ball came off a visitor's head and flashed wide of the far post.
The game was now on a fairly even keel as Altrincham's bright early play began to falter and Vauxhall settled down. However, Talbot was in solid form at the back for Alty and the next goalmouth incident of note came at the other end when a Hallows header, from a Shuttleworth cross, forced Dittmar to tip over the bar but the whistle had gone for a Vauxhall free-kick in any case (19 mins). For their part Vauxhall were getting forward quickly but not getting clear sight of Coburn's goal until Cumiskey got in a shot from an unmarked position, following a pass by Nesbitt (23 mins). Next, Shuttleworth delayed a clearance and lost possession but, in trying to regain it, he fouled Cumiskey and was booked (24 mins).
Ian Craney continued his good first-half performance when he showed impressive control in gathering Hallows's pass before firing in a low shot which whistled past the post to the keeper's right (25 mins). Then Aspinall almost found Holt with an angled pass directed deep into the box but Dittmar was out smartly to intercept. The Vauxhall keeper injured himself in the process but continued after treatment (26 mins).
Alty soon won a corner on the left when Aspinall's cross was put out by Macauley but the next goal danger came at the other end when a slip by Band allowed a cross to be made from left of goal but Shuttleworth did well to block Fearns, five yards from goal, and as the defender fell the ball struck his arm but referee Knee waved away claims for a penalty. Alty's respite was short, however, as the Motormen took the lead soon afterwards. Following a Nesbitt free-kick the ball was not fully cleared and Cumiskey got in a cross/shot from the right by-line which came to Fearns, who converted from close range (33 mins).
Alty responded with a neat move by Adams, Wright and Holt which ended with Hallows shooting wide from a good position. When Lynch fouled Shuttleworth, referee Knee lectured the Vauxhall captain. Aspinall took the resulting free-kick, which was some 40 yards out on the left. His high ball towards the centre of the box found Hallows who rose, with his back to goal, but twisted well to loop the ball into the far corner past the keeper who had been flat-footed by the Alty striker's aerial change of direction (37 mins).
Alty soon won a corner and Talbot headed Aspinall's flag-kick onto the roof of the net (39 mins) from it. The Robins soon had a scare when a swift Vauxhall move saw Cumiskey's cross find Lynch unmarked at the near post but the Vauxhall man headed narrowly wide (40 mins). With the left-footed Adams playing on the right, he was forced to check back rather than cross but from his pass Craney's well-hit shot from 20 yards was held by Dittmar (43 mins). After three minutes of added time, half-time arrived with 1-1 a fair reflection of the play. Altrincham had started brightly but, with enforced changes to their line-up, they had then failed to recapture the impressive form that had been shown over the last few weeks in both Trophy and league matches.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 VAUXHALL MOTORS 1|
The second half started on a low key with a series of throw-ins on the Popular Side before Alty won a corner when Hallows's cross was deflected. After a stoppage for treatment to Robinson, play continued in a fairly uneventful fashion until Altrincham won another corner (54 mins). This came when Shuttleworth fired in a superb shot from 30 yards which Dittmar did well to parry away. After the corner had been cleared, Craney fed Aspinall for a 20 yarder which went well over the bar (55 mins). Then, after Holt had lost the ball, he tackled back well to regain possession and prompt Aspinall to feed Hallows, to the left of goal. Hallows had two shots, which were both blocked by Robinson but which signalled an upturn in Altrincham's second-half performance (59 mins).
Altrincham now took off Wright, who appeared to have taken a knock, and brought on Steve Lunt to replace him on the left (60 mins). The home side continued to press and Craney's shot from 22 yards was soon deflected narrowly wide for a corner (62 mins). The Alty captain came even closer just afterwards when Shuttleworth's pass set him up for a low shot which came back off the far upright as the Alty captain fired his shot from left of centre (65 mins). Altrincham were now on top with Craney leading the way once more, riding two tackles with expert close control and firing in a shot from 30 yards which came back off Dittmar's chest.
Band had to tackle well to see off a Vauxhall thrust and the visitors gained a corner from this, which Coburn palmed away (68 mins). After Altrincham had been awarded a free-kick for a foul by Betts on Holt, there was then a three-way substitution with Vauxhall taking off Robinson and bringing on Griffiths, whilst Alty made a double swap with Shuttleworth and Holt leaving the fray and Maddox and Kielty joining it. It proved an inspired swap for when Aspinall finally took the free-kick from the right, some 40 yards out, a Vauxhall defender missed the ball somewhere near the penalty spot and Maddox came across on a diagonal run behind him to nod the ball past Dittmar. The Alty sub had only been on the pitch for 20 seconds or so (71 mins).
The substitutions led to Adams moving to his customary left-back position, Band moving to midfield to accommodate Maddox and Aspinall going to right-back. Kielty slotted into right midfield. Maddox was soon penalised for a foul but from Griffiths's freekick, Roberts's nod ran to Coburn, wide of the goal. Vauxhall now pressed forward and won two corners in succession and then a Kielty foul gave them a free-kick to sustain their impetus. Cumiskey drove this free-kick narrowly wide from 20 yards (77 mins). Alty remained on the back foot as Maddox was booked for tripping an opponent on the very edge of the box in a central position. Griffiths's free-kick curled against the junction of upright and crossbar to Coburn's left, the keeper seeming to be unsighted by his wall.
When Alty did get forward, Kielty shot comfortably wide of the left post from 20 yards (80 mins). However, Vauxhall continued to push forward until a low cross from the left by Lunt found Band, on the outer edge of the box and his lay off to Aspinall saw the Alty man smash a superb shot into the top corner of the net, to the keeper's right, from 25 yards (86 mins). Cumiskey soon shot wide at the other end as a surprisingly long period of added time was announced - four minutes. Alty won a corner in added time before Vauxhall replaced the injured Nesbitt by James Parry, son of Rick Parry of Liverpool FC. Three minutes into added time a Craney mishit from the edge of the box came to the left to Peter Band who netted from close range but was given offside.
In the end, Altrincham achieved a comfortable margin of victory but, for much of the first half especially, they looked as if they might not take the three points. However, a strong second-half performance saw them through to their fourth successive league win and their sixth win in seven games in all competitions. Ian Craney was named Man of the Match, though at the back the dependable Gary Talbot must also have been in the running for the award.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 VAUXHALL MOTORS 1|