ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
WAKEFIELD & EMLEY (0) 2
UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Tuesday, 2 March, 2004
An Altrincham side, which more or less selected itself from the only remaining fit players at the club, went down to bottom-placed Wakefield & Emley after conceding twice in the last quarter of an hour. Once again Alty won the corner count by a large margin (9-1) but lacked the bite and guile to get themselves into many goalscoring situations as balls into the box were seen off repeatedly by the Emley defenders. Just after Peter Band went off injured, the Robins went behind when an underhit backpass from stand-in substitute left-back Stuart Wright allowed Prasher to go round Coburn and score (78 mins). Four minutes later Emley netted the second after Thorpe had won a ball in the air and fed Prasher who, in turn, presented Kenworthy with an open goal. Just as last Saturday, Alty pulled one back when it was far too late as Stephen Rose scored direct from a touchline freekick in the third minute of injury time. It was Rose's first-ever Alty goal and rounded off his Man of the Match performance but, overall, few Alty players performed to their full capabilities. Alty remain in the qualifying places for the new Alliance, lying 11th in the table.
REFEREE: Mr B Tattan (Liverpool)
Alty had beaten Emley 7-1 at Moss Lane in 1998 and then clinched the UniBond title 1-0 in the home game in 1999. But since then Alty had failed to take a point against the Yorkshiremen home or away as the following record shows:
But Wakefield & Emley arrived at Moss Lane tonight, bottom of the table, with no league win in 12 games and 6 straight defeats so Altrincham had the ideal opportunity to improve on that record. However, the Robins themselves had just lost two consecutive league games for the first time this season and were hit by a string of injuries so the outcome was far from certain.
Altrincham were without the injured trio of Adams, Hardy and Scott. Ged Kielty partnered Craney in central midfield which meant that Rose moved out to the right. Shuttleworth replaced Adams at left-back, whilst Lunt was preferred to Wright on the left flank.
Wakefield were without goalkeeper Paul Cuss (suspended) and another player who has impressed against Altrincham previously, Mark Smith. Such has been the turmoil at the club that only three players (Selby, Tonks and Day) from the side which beat Alty in September were in their starting eleven today and their managership has changed as well.
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. Ged KIELTY, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Steve LUNT. Subs: 12. Mark MADDOX, 14. Stuart WRIGHT, 15. Kieran LUGSDEN.
WAKEFIELD & EMLEY (Pale green and grey shirts, grey shorts & socks): 1. Lee WILSON, 2. Robert TONKS, 3. Callum SELBY, 4. Max JOICE, 5. Nicky WOOD, 6. Dean FEARON, 7. Scott CLARKE, 8. Miles THORPE (capt.), 9.Chris PRASHER, 10. Danny DAY, 11. Steve KENWORTHY. Subs: 12. John FLYNN, 14. Gareth O'REILLY, 15. Daryl BROOK.
After changing ends, Altrincham kicked off defending the Golf Road end on a pitch which had been heavily sanded but nevertheless was in very good condition for the time of year. Wakefield had an early scare when Craney's feed for Thornley forced Wilson to rush out of his box to chest clear. The keeper ended up some 10 yards outside his area but from Rose's ensuing cross from the right, a defender headed clear to give Alty the game's first corner. Shuttleworth took this, on the right, laying the ball along the ground to the incoming Aspinall. His shot cum cross found Hallows unmarked six yard out to the left-centre of goal from where the Alty striker put the ball into the net, However, he was judged offside (2 mins). Soon afterwards Craney got in a good shot and then an effort from Hallows had Wilson scrambling as the ball passed his right upright (8 mins). Talbot and Craney then fed Thornley who won his side another corner (10 mins) as the visitors remained on the back foot. But Wakefield then created a good chance after they had won a freekick against Band for holding the lively Kenworthy on the visitors' left, 45 yards out. Following the freekick, a ball from Tonks found Kenworthy free near the penalty spot but he failed to get in telling shot, though he did win his side a corner. From a Lunt feed Craney soon won a corner at the other end when his shot hit Fearon (15 mins).
Next, after a Band volley had been blocked, the Wakefield keeper dropped the ball but recovered it before Thornley could pounce. But Wakefield now started getting into the game a bit more as Alty's initial impetus slackened. Craney, sporting a new pair of silver boots, then shot very wide from 25 yards after good work from Hallows. The next goal chance was a good shot from Kielty from Selby's half clearance but Wilson twisted well in the air to save the ball to his left (27 mins). Alty then won another corner but, again, nothing came of this. Altrincham were now labouring and a series of hopeful balls forward were comfortably dealt with by the competent Wakefield back line.
Hallows then got in a shot with the outside of his foot which went wide (33 mins) but there was little else to enthuse the spectators as the game drifted towards half-time. Wilson continued to annoy the Alty contingent with his slow movements whenever the ball went out for a goalkick but, apart from a shot over the bar by Craney from 22 yards (38 mins) and a wild hack wide by Rose from a similar distance (39 mins), shots at goal were at a premium. Alty's movements were predictable and often too deliberate in their build-up, with too many safe, sideways or backwards passes rather than defence-splitting balls to the forwards.
Half-time came with Altrincham looking a shadow of the side which had performed so well in January in both league and FA Trophy, whilst Wakefield will have been happier for having reached the break goalless after showing relatively little ambition in the first 45 minutes.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 WAKEFIELD & EMLEY 0|
After a foul on Shuttleworth by Joice, Rose's well struck free-kick from the left unfortunately found no Alty player to convert it at the back post (47 mins). It was Rose who also won Alty's next corner and though this was cleared it was soon followed by another corner. Following this, a Lunt effort rolled wide from 20 yards. Despite the disappointing fare on the pitch, the Alty supporters continued to chant their support for their side as Hallows tried to set Thornley free (52 mins).
Following a mistake by Aspinall, Kenworthy got along the by-line to the left of the Alty goal but from his feed Prasher shot over the bar (57 mins). Wakefield now began to enjoy more possession and, after a slip by Shuttleworth, Kenworthy volleyed narrowly wide on the hour mark. At this point, Graham Heathcote attempted to shake his side up with a double substitution. Wright replaced Shuttleworth at left-back and Maddox came on in place of Lunt. This meant that the versatile Band moved into left midfield (60 mins). However, Wakefield continued to enjoy more than their share of possession.
Alty continued to be ill at ease, as was epitomised when Wright and Craney misunderstood each other's intentions resulting in the substitute sending a throw-in straight into touch near the corner flag. But Craney did soon win his side a corner. Though this was cleared, there was soon a goalmouth melee at the Emley end. This was followed by Kenworthy getting behind Wright on the visitors' right but Coburn saved.
Thornley then got in a fine cross from the right but Hallows, in space, mis-directed his free header and sent it badly wide (73 mins). Then, after a clash of heads between Joice and Band, the Alty man needed lengthy treatment and eventually had to leave the pitch. As Band, who had been one of his side's better players in this under-par team performance, was substituted by Kieran Lugsden, an ice pack was applied to his head (77 mins). Proving that misfortunes arrive in threes, after Hallows's miss and Band's injury, Wakefield took the lead. An error by Maddox saw Wright in a position to get the ball back safely to Coburn from somewhere just to the left of the penalty spot. However, the Alty substitute underhit his pass which allowed the lurking Prasher to get the ball, take it wide of the advancing Coburn and knock it into the empty net. Though Wright had got back to the goal line he was unable to stop the ball passing him as it entered the net (78 mins).
Almost immediately from the restart a cross from Craney found Lugsden on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected for an Alty corner on their right. From this a Thornley effort was blocked. Soon afterwards Hallows got the ball to Lugsden who cleverly got past Tonks and Joice but then shot wildly over the bar (81 mins).The misfortune continued when Thorpe won the ball in the air on the right and found Prasher. He got the ball to his left to the unmarked Kenworthy who scored comfortably to make it 2-0 to the visitors (82 mins).
Though Alty laboured to retrieve something from the game, the next goal effort again came from the visitors when Prasher forced a good save from Coburn from a Kenworthy feed (87 mins). Three minutes of added time started but, in the last of them, Alty won a free-kick 35 yards out, for a foul on Lugsden, near the left touchline. Rose's firmly hit freekick sailed over everyone in the box and with the keeper motionless entered the far corner of the net to replicate the late consolation goal against Ashton in Alty's last home game, which also ended in a 1-2 defeat. It was Rose's first ever goal for Alty (in 88[+3] games) and the midfielder was also named as the game's Alty Man of the Match. Moments later referee Tattan blew for full time and the Robins had lost their third successive league match, after a previous run of four successive victories.
So the curse of Emley continued with the Yorkshire side securing its eighth successive win against Altrincham. There was widescale disappointment at Moss Lane at the final whistle as another opportunity to cement a top 13 position against a team from lower down the league table had been wasted. However, Alty remain 11th and can still get their show back onto the winning road it was on, so successfully, in January. Though the team has lost important players such as Adams, Scott and Hardy in recent weeks, a collective effort from those who remain fit should still be able to achieve the Alliance qualifying target, especially if, as Graham Heathcote's programme notes suggest, the squad is to be reinforced for the run-in to the season's end.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 WAKEFIELD & EMLEY 2|