FRICKLEY ATHLETIC (0) 1
ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Saturday, 27 March, 2004
In a scrappy game, Craney wasted an early chance before Frickley twice went close in the first half. Alty took the lead when Hallows blasted home after good work from Craney and Baguley (56 mins) but the lead lasted only five minutes before a blunder by Coburn saw a long punt forward bounce over his head. Despite taking some time to compose himself, Rimmington had an easy task of putting the ball into the empty net. Craney then failed to convert a good chance late in the game, his attempted chip being saved at the second attempt by goalkeeper Shackleton. The keeper arguably should have been dismissed minutes earlier when he brought down Lugsden outside his box as the Alty sub raced clear of the defence.
REFEREE: Mr S G Cooke
After a few days dominated by national press and media-calls about the streaker at Wednesday's Cheshire Senior Cup Final at Moss Lane, manager Graham Heathcote will have been relieved to return to the matter of football today. Altrincham arrived on the back of four successive wins, whilst Frickley had recorded just one win in their last 12 league games and had only netted in two of their last 8 league matches. Neverthless, their home record was decent and they were fighting to avoid the three 'relegation' places which would prevent them from competing in the play-offs for the Alliance North next season.
The long-term Alty injured (Adams, Scott, Thornley and Hardy) were again missing, as expected, but there was a surprise in that Stephen Rose failed to start for only the second league game this season although he was on the subs' bench. Matthew Bailey, on loan from Stockport, was recalled to start up front with Marcus Hallows.
Frickley had former Bradford PA man, Wayne Benn, as well as Dan Sheriffe suspended. Dominique Krief was out injured but Paul Marquis, who had been doubtful, did actually start and Duncan Richards returned after suspension.
FRICKLEY ATHLETIC (All blue): 1. Marc SHACKLETON, 2. Duncan RICHARDS, 3. Gary HATTO, 4. Phil LINDLEY, 5. Simon BROOKER, 6. Paul MARQUIS, 7. Steve ROBINSON, 8. Lee PUGH, 9. Lee MORRIS (capt.), 10. Nick RICHARDSON, 11. Mark SMITH. Subs: 12. Dale RIMMINGTON, 14. Remo NESA, 15. Michael BLYTHEN.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3.Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Ged KIELTY, 7. Peter BAND, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. Matthew BAILEY, 11. Jamie BAGULEY. Subs: 12. Stephen ROSE, 14. Stuart WRIGHT, 15. Kieran LUGSDEN.
After changing ends, Frickley kicked off. The first incident of note was when Shackleton picked up a back-pass to concede a free-kick only 12 yards from goal, as Hallows advanced on him in a central position. Craney's laid-off free-kick led to Aspinall driving into the defensive wall (2 mins). Alty had another excellent chance soon afterwards when, from Shuttleworth's free-kick, Craney got clear of the defence but badly lifted his shot well over the bar (5 mins).
Play then went through a scrappy spell as the players tried to come to terms with a bobbly pitch. The next good shot came from Hallows, who turned well, but his effort just cleared the bar from 20 yards (9 mins). However, it was Frickley who won the game's first corner when Talbot saw off Morris's attack. Frickley were now coming more into the game but their next effort, from Robinson, was a shot which soared well over the bar from 20 yards (12 mins). Soon afterwards, Coburn rushed from his line to the left fringes of the box but failed to get to the ball. However, luckily for him, Morris's resulting shot only found the side netting from 16 yards (13 mins).
The Altrincham supporters were giving their side good vocal support though, in truth, the standard of play on the pitch was nothing to get excited about. Frickley soon won another corner. Following Hatto's in-swinging corner kick, Morris forced a magnificent one-handed save from Coburn from close range to the right of goal and, from the follow up, one of the Alty defenders cleared well off the line. However, a goalmouth melee immediately followed before Alty cleared the danger completely.
At the other end, Craney advanced inside the box, with his shirt clearly being tugged by a defender but, as his shot rose over from 12 yards, no penalty resulted (17 mins). After some unexceptional play, the next goalmouth action came when Baguley's freekick from the right found Hallows, who headed over the bar (21 mins). Alty were regularly getting caught offside, which further disrupted the flow of the game.
Frickley's next shot came after Talbot and Shuttleworth got in a tangle left of goal, but Richardson shot well wide (24 mins). Coburn had a much narrower escape aftewards when Richardson got the ball past him only for Maddox to execute an overhead kick to clear it off the line (26 mins). This was Alty's second close shave and Frickley now had them on the back foot. They responded when Band's pass forced Shackleton to come out smartly to smother the ball at the feet of Bailey (27 mins). After an unremarkable few minutes of play, the next sniff of a goal was when a Frickley backpass was played short but Bailey's attempt to intercept the ball lacked conviction and Shackleton got to it first (30 mins). Alty's only threats at this stage came from two appeals inside a minute for Frickley handball inside their penalty area, neither of which brought a response from Mr Cooke.
Neither side was playing fluid football and both sets of central defenders were keeping the respective strikers under control, especially in the air. Play stuttered on towards the interval with Frickley coming the nearer to scoring when Richardson turned well in the clear, but shot badly wide (42 mins). Alty posed little threat in the final quarter of an hour of the half despite several attempts by Shuttleworth to prompt attacks up the left. The half ended in suitably downbeat mode just after Craney had been caught offside.
|Half-Time: FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Altrincham seemed to have had a wake-up call from Graham Heathcote during the interval as they started the second half with a bit more purpose than previously. They won their first corner of the game (47 mins) but even so, the crowd on both sides was now rather muted, with little to excite them on the pitch. Defences continued to dominate as Maddox headed clear for a Frickley corner soon afterwards (49 mins). Rose now came on for Bailey, assuming a position on the right of midfield as Baguley moved up front and Craney moved left (49 mins). Hallows continued to be caught offside but when Rose's good ball set him running, on-side, into the left of the box, his miscontrol led to his falling over the ball (53 mins). But Hallows did not give up and following good work from Craney, Baguley laid the ball into the striker's path, to his left. Marcus went on to blast the ball past Shackleton into the net from 12 yards or so, left-centre of goal (56 mins). Soon after this, Craney shot well from 22 yards before Frickley brought on Rimmington for Smith (57 mins).
Just as it looked as if Altrincham might consolidate their lead, a dreadful mistake by Coburn allowed Frickley to equalise. The normally reliable Alty keeper totally misjudged a long punt forward and the ball bounced over his head after he had rushed out to collect it. This error left the ball with the recently arrived substitute Rimmington, to the left of goal. He took some time to control the ball before finding the net just before the retreating Band could cover the line (61 mins). Coburn beat the ground in frustration as the ball nestled in the net. Immediately, Alty introduced Wright for Baguley, leaving Craney to move forward as Wright settled on the left flank.
Craney soon got in a good shot from the right but a Frickley defender stopped the ball. However, as the ball got under the Frickley man's feet, he was thankful to see it roll out for a corner rather than an own goal (63 mins). A long throw from the right by Robinson then caused anxiety in the Alty box before being cleared. With Alty still getting caught offside, Rose did win them a corner, which was quickly taken by Craney to Aspinall. The ball was half cleared before coming to Hallows who advanced but failed to control the pass from Shuttleworth and a goalkick resulted (72 mins).
After 75 minutes Alty brought on Kieran Lugsden up front for Marcus Hallows and Alty now assumed their fourth attacking pairing in half an hour, with Craney and Lugsden now being paired in that role. At the same time Blythen replaced Brooker for Frickley. Almost immediately, Craney set up Lugsden for an attempt from 18 yards but the teenager did not fully get hold of his shot and it ran to the keeper (76 mins). But moments later Kieran got into another good position, racing in on the keeper who came out of his box and brought him down, some 20 yards from goal. Mr Cooke only produced a yellow card as play stopped for treatment to Lugsden. Many a ref would have dismissed the Frickley keeper as he seemed to be the last man between Lugsden and goal. The resulting freekick from Aspinall was cleared.
Alty soon won a corner from which Aspinall found Band beyond the back post (82 mins) and another corner came Alty's way a couple of minutes later as they finished the stronger. Alty had a golden chance to take all of the points in the last minute of normal time when Band found Lugsden, who laid the ball off neatly to Craney. The Alty captain tried to chip the keeper but Shackleton managed to take the pace off the shot and push it up and backwards before turning to gather the ball. A more firmly hit, rather than placed, shot might have been a better option in retrospect.
After a couple of minutes of added time, the game ended with a draw perhaps a fair outcome in a contest which rarely set the pulse racing. Frickley had come closer in the first half whilst Alty had had the better of the second period. Alty dropped a place to tenth but Frickley retained their position just above the relegation slots. It was Alty's first draw in 2004 but their 14th of the season. More pleasingly, it was the twelfth consecutive league game in which they have scored.
|Full-Time: FRICKLEY ATHLETIC 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|