Match Report


UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Tuesday, 16 March, 2004
at 7.45p.m.


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    Another impressive away performance from Altrincham gave them their third win in a week, this time against a disappointing Runcorn side. Ian Craney put Alty ahead with a superb effort from 30 yards after keeper McMillan had cleared the ball to him and was unable to get back to his line before the ball entered the net (23 mins). Alty's second was an even bigger gift when Bailey failed to connect with Rose's low cross but Ellis played the ball back to the Alty striker to score from close range (36 mins). Alty wrapped things up when McMillan failed to hold Baguley's low shot from the left and Hallows tapped the ball into the empty net (48 mins).


  • 23 mins: Ian CRANEY (Runcorn FC Halton 0 Altrincham 1)
  • 36 mins: Matthew BAILEY (Runcorn FC Halton 0 Altrincham 2)
  • 48 mins: Marcus HALLOWS (Runcorn FC Halton 0 Altrincham 3)

    REFEREE: Mr J. Collin


    Runcorn had won their first home league game last Saturday; their previous last home league win being at the end of last season - against Altrincham. In the crowd was Lancaster City boss Phil Wilson.


    Five first-team regulars (Adams, Scott, Thornley, Talbot and Hardy) were again missing for Alty who made one change from their last game. Ryan Hutchinson moved to the bench and Steve Aspinall started instead, after recovering from injury.


    RUNCORN FC HALTON (Yellow shirts with green trim, green shorts, yellow socks): 1. Tony McMILLAN, 2. Mike GARRITY, 3. Matty McGINN, 4. Ged NOLAN, 5. Peter ELLIS, 6. Tom SPEARITT, 7. David NESS, 8. Dominic MORLEY (capt.), 9. Lee KISSOCK, 10. Ged COURTNEY, 11. Carl RENDELL. Subs: 12. Chris LIGHTFOOT, 14. Paul ALDRIDGE, 15. Neil LARKIN.

    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3.Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Peter BAND, 6. Ged KIELTY, 7. Stephen ROSE, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. Matthew BAILEY, 11. Jamie BAGULEY. Subs: 12. Stuart WRIGHT, 14. Kieran LUGSDEN, 15. Ryan HUTCHINSON.


    The spectators were all housed in the opposite half of the main Halton Stadium stand from that used in previous Alty games at this venue and for the first half this meant they were alongside the half into which Altrincham were attacking. Unlike Stockport's Edgeley Park, where the playing surface has been ruined by sharing the ground with rugby, the pitch at the Halton Stadium was in excellent condition, though the clear presence of all the rugby pitch markings as well as the football ones made it a slightly unusual spectacle.

    Altrincham kicked off and within a minute Bailey had prompted Runcorn to concede a corner on the Alty left. From Baguley's corner, Maddox arrived late and from about 12 yards out got his foot to the ball to knock it onto the top of the Runcorn crossbar and out for a goalkick. With only a small number of ball boys available the game soon stopped as Stuart Coburn had to come 50 yards to the side of the pitch and then clamber into the cordoned off and unoccupied half of the main stand to retrieve the ball.

    Runcorn then won a corner, off Band, which was headed clear but it was Altrincham who had started the game the better and soon Craney fed Aspinall on the right. His fierce drive from 30 yards, wide on the right, saw McMillan keep the ball out but only hold it at the second attempt (9 mins). The next shot was from Runcorn's Nolan but was far too high (13 mins). A good Alty move then led to Rose's corner producing a corner for the Robins, which McMillan punched clear. Aspinall then had another long-range effort from the right but this time the ball sailed into the empty seats behind the goal (16 mins). Both Aspinall and Shuttleworth were getting forward well but the next Alty chance came when Ellis jumped all over Hallows just outside the box in a central position. Though Baguley's freekick hit the wall, the ball came out to Kielty whose fine 20 yard shot was beaten out by McMillan for a corner on the right. This came to nothing.

    But Altrincham soon took the lead when Hallows chased the ball to McMillan, left of his goal, towards the edge of his box. The Runcorn keeper initially appeared to have done well, as he lifted the ball past Hallows and cleared it. However, the ball only reached Craney in centre-field about 30 yards out. As McMillan attempted to get back to his goal-line, Craney curled a superb lob into the top corner of the net which evaded the keeper's despairing lunge towards his right-hand post (23 mins). It was a finely judged piece of quick thinking and execution by the Alty captain, which brought him his 10th goal of the league campaign.

    Altrincham continued to have the better of the play until Maddox was penalised for a stretching tackle just outside the box. But McGinn lifted the free-kick over the bar (28 mins). Alty gave away another freekick when Craney unnecessarily offended, 45 yards out. Nolan's freekick led to a corner off Band which McGinn whipped in but which Coburn caught well (32 mins). Though Runcorn put together some neat passing to feet they were not getting through the Alty lines for a clear sight of Coburn's goal. Maddox and Band continued to perform well at the back and the return to availability of centre-back Gary Talbot on Saturday, after suspension, may cause manager Heathcote some serious thought.

    Then, following a freekick taken by Runcorn keeper McMillan, Band started a movement via Hallows and Baguley, who swept the ball across to Aspinall on the right. In turn, he found Rose in plenty of space on the right and his low cross came across the Runcorn box. Bailey's attempted flick at the ball failed to connect and the danger seemed to be over until Ellis prodded the ball back to Bailey, rather than his keeper, and the on-loan Stockport striker scored a simple, close-range goal, his first for Altrincham (36 mins).

    Soon a Craney surge forward yielded a freekick when he was fouled by former Alty man, Garrity. Shuttleworth's freekick from 35 yards found Maddox's head but the ball went for a goalkick (39 mins). Ness then conceded an unnecessary corner as Runcorn's faltering display continued. After Baguley had retrieved the ball from an unpopulated corner of the ground, the corner came to Band beyond the back post but was eventually cleared. Alty almost got a third goal when good work by Kielty led to Rose advancing up the middle. He laid the ball, right, for Bailey who wound himself up for a clear shot at goal only to see the ball bobble over his boot for a goalkick (42 mins). Just before the interval Alty had another chance when Shuttleworth found Bailey and, via Hallows, the ball came to Craney. His well-hit right-foot shot from 25 yards was well saved by McMillan (45 mins). Half-time arrived after a minute of added time with Altrincham comfortably in control.


    Runcorn kicked off, having brought on Neil Larkin for Ged Courtney at the interval. The new man soon earned a freekick from a foul by Kielty which led to a lecture from Mr Collin. It was Bailey, deep in his own box, who cleared the freekick from in front of Coburn. Runcorn were now enjoying plenty of possession which led Alty manager Graham Heathcote to tell his troops, "We've started doing wrong things straightaway". The response was immediate as an error by McGinn saw Craney gain possession in centre-field and play a fine ball, left, to Baguley. He raced up the left and fired in a low shot from 20 yards or more which McMillan saved but did not hold, to his left. As the spilt ball trickled towards the goal-line, Marcus Hallows tapped it home to make it 3-0 (48 mins). Baguley, who had scored two similar goals from the left in the previous two games will have been disappointed that his effort did not quite reach the line of its own accord.

    From the re-start a foul on Kielty by Garrity earned him the game's only booking (49 mins). The Alty manager continued to demand more from his team despite the three-goal lead, no doubt having in mind last week's encounter at Gainsborough where a comfortable 3-0 lead had become a nailbiting 3-2 win.

    Runcorn won a corner off Maddox but then, at the other end, an error by the combative Morley gave Bailey an opening, His shot at McMillan led to the keeper dropping the ball like a hot potato (58 mins). Then Alty put together an incisive, flowing movement out of defence which saw Bailey feed Craney who played a fine ball to Rose, as he advanced up the right. His low diagonal pass to the back post found the unmarked Hallows who rolled his shot just wide of the upright (59 mins).

    Runcorn's Spearitt then got in a good shot from the right which Coburn held very well, low down (60 mins). But soon Rose was doing well again on the right though Hallows could only nod his cross comfortably wide of goal, where McMillan came out to collect it (63 mins). Kielty was having a good game in midfield and he prompted an attack by Craney as the visitors continued on top. Soon, however, Runcorn won two corners in quick succession, the first arising when a 30-yard shot hit an Alty back and flew over the bar. The second came when Coburn blocked Kissock well as the burly striker turned to shoot from close range. "It's not good enough. We're going to let them back in" shouted the Alty manager at this stage.

    Runcorn now made a change, with Ellis being replaced by the player-manager, Chris Lightfoot (69 mins). The sides traded attacks, without any clear shots resulting, till Morley blazed so wide that the ball went nearer to the corner flag than goal. Aspinall then made two excellent headed clearances before his side made a substitution, with Bailey giving way to Wright. Wright took up the left flank position with Baguley joining Hallows up front (72 mins).

    Runcorn won another corner on the left, which ended up with Coburn. The Alty keeper then came over towards the occupied part of the stand to retrieve a ball for a free-kick for offside and received a chorus of "England's Number One" from the Altrincham supporters which caused Coburn to grin broadly and wave back to his admirers. Paul Aldridge now joined the game in place of Kissock (79 mins). After a very high shot from Garrity, Alty now brought on Kieran Lugsden instead of Marcus Hallows, who left the pitch to loud applause (81 mins). Although there was not a single stoppage throughout the game for a trainer to come on, Mr Collin somehow found three minutes of added time in the second half. Despite the fact that Runcorn won a corner, just as this additional time began, Altrincham held on comfortably to record their third win in eight days and consolidate their eleventh position in the table, with only goal difference separating them now from Gainsborough, who are tenth. Once again Altrincham had put in an excellent team performance, away from home and will be looking to give second-place Droylsden a run for their money at Moss Lane on Saturday, having beaten the Bloods 4-1 at the Butcher's Arms earlier this season.