WHITBY TOWN (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM (2) 3
UniBond League Premier Division Match,
played on Saturday, 17 April, 2004
Altrincham secured a vital victory after taking a two-goal lead in 13 minutes. In a lively opening period, with Kieran Lugsden particularly impressive in his first start for Alty, the visitors took the lead from Aspinall’s penalty after Lugsden had been brought down by Whitby keeper Campbell (6 mins). Band added a second with a rising drive (13 mins). But Lugsden was then knocked into a concrete-backed advertising board and suffered a head injury and concussion. After he had been taken to hospital it emerged that, though his head and neck are not seriously damaged, he had fractured his forearm and so he joins the enormous casualty list at Moss Lane.
Whitby then came back into the game and pulled one back at the end of the first half when Nicholson headed home from Maddox’s misplaced header, though it needed the referee to over-rule the linesman’s flag for offside before the goal was awarded. Whitby levelled at 2-2 through Veart’s penalty following a foul on Johnson. Maddox made amends for his earlier lapse when he nodded on Aspinall’s free-kick from the left for Hallows to convert at the far post (59 mins). AIty held on reasonably comfortably till the last minute of normal time when Coburn and the framework of the goal contrived to keep out a backpost header, despite strong appeals from Whitby that the ball had crossed the line. Alty stay 13th.
REFEREE: Mr R J West
After the round-trip of 300 or more miles to Blyth on Wednesday night came another long journey for Altrincham, to Whitby. Indeed, it was longer than it should have been as the supporters' coach, not supplied by the usual firm, gave up the ghost 7 miles south of Scarborough. After a wait of almost an hour, the team coach arrived to ferry the supporters to the game, courtesy of Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin. (Had we been in a broken-down private car or van, waiting for a recovery firm, we would not have seen the game at all so, once again, the STAR Travel arrangements organised by Mark Eckersall came up trumps! Mark even provided relayed match commentary from the Turnbull Ground, via a mobile phone, as we followed the road from Scarborough to Whitby.) However, all this meant that the supporters' coach (and your reporter) arrived 25 minutes after kick-off and we missed the apparently exciting opening stages.
The game was important to both sides as they hovered around the automatic qualification places for Alliance North in 13th and 14th places in the league.
Kieran Lugsden, who turned 18 only a fortnight ago, made his first full start after 14 substitute appearances. He was alongside Peter Band up front. Stephen Rose was unfit but Gary Scott started once again after his surprise return from long-term injury in midweek. Gary Talbot returned to partner Mark Maddox but there was no place for Jamie Baguley or two other recent recruits, Ryan Hutchinson and Jamie Almond.
WHITBY TOWN (Blue shirts, with white, black and red hoop, blue shorts and socks): 1. David CAMPBELL, 2. Adam REED, 3. Craig VEART, 4. Brian LINIGHAN, 5. Liain GILDEA, 6. Ben DIXON (capt.), 7. David McTIERNAN, 8. Alex GILDEA, 9. Anthony ORMEROD, 10. Scott NICHOLSON, 11. Paul CAMPBELL. Subs: 12. Mark SHEERAN, 14. Steve JOHNSON, 15. Graeme WILKINSON.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Ged KIELTY, 7. Gary SCOTT, 8. Ian CRANEY (capt.), 9. Peter BAND, 10. Kieran LUGSDEN, 11. Stuart WRIGHT. Subs: 12. Marcus HALLOWS, 14. Matt BAILEY, 15. Steve LUNT.
For the account of (he first 25 minutes I am indebted both to Mark Eckersall and Brian Flynn for information. Altrincham got off to a good start with Gary Scott hitting the post in the opening seconds but the referee had blown his whistle for offside in any case. Scott went close again from a Wright cross after four minutes. After treatment to an injured Whitby player, Kieran Lugsden then got onto a Scott through-ball and was brought down by Campbell, the Whitby keeper, as he got round him to the right of goal. Campbell received a yellow card before Steve Aspinall converted his fifth spot-kick of the season (6 mins). The lively Lugsden continued to torment the Whitby defence but Ormerod went close for Whitby when he got behind the Ally defence (9 mins).
Alty went two ahead when a freekick was flicked over his shoulder by Gary Talbot. The ball was cleared by Dixon to Band and the Alty man lashed a rising drive into the top of the net from 10 yards to double his side’s lead and his own league tally for the season (13 mins). But Lugsden’s promising debut was brought to an unhappy end when he was knocked into the perimeter wall near the dressing rooms and suffered concussion and injuries to his head and arm (15 mins). After some lengthy treatment, Kieran was stretchered off and taken to hospital where he was later found to have fractured his forearm. All Ally supporters will wish him a full recovery over the summer as he joins Thornley, Adams, Hardy and Rose in the Ally ‘sick bay’.
Marcus Hallows came on to replace Lugsden (18 mins) but as play resumed, Mark Maddox picked up his seventh yellow card of the season. The resulting freekick from the edge of the box hit the wall and the follow-up went over the Alty bar.
Alty's missing supporters now arrived, in the luxury of the team coach, just before Hallows was put clear to the right of goal. Unfortunately, Marcus made a bit of mess of his shot and ballooned it well over the bar (30 mins).
Marcus Hallows, far right, knocks this effort high over the bar (30 mins).
Whitby now brought on Steve Johnson up front and removed McTiernan (33 mins). The sub was soon looking lively as Whitby now enjoyed some pressure. Craney relieved the pressure with a surge up the middle but was fouled in the centre circle. Veart half-cleared the Alty freekick to Talbot and the big centre-back did well to keep his shot down, from just outside the box, but he could not get enough power behind it to beat Campbell, who saved, low to his right (40 mins). After a foul by Wright, Veart’s curling freekick from the right just cleared the waiting heads in the Alty box (43 mins). Five minutes of time were added to the first half, mostly for the Lugsden injury and in the first of these,Whitby pulled back a goal. Alex Gildea and Veart got the ball to Johnson whose cross from the left was mis-headed across his own box by Maddox where an alert Nicholson instantly responded with a firm header past Coburn, into the top corner of the net to the keeperts left (45 mins). The goal appeared to be ruled out as the linesman raised his flag but referee West over-ruled his assistant, tapping his own head to indicate that Maddox's touch had, in his opinion, played the Whitby scorer on-side. Alty got to half-time without further mishap but it now looked as if they would be in for a long, final 45 minutes.
|Half-Time: WHITBY TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 2|
Whitby kicked off as the afternoon turned dull and overcast and it was they who enjoyed the better of the early stages of the half Early on, Maddox was penalised on his right touchline but Coburn caught Ormerod’s free-kick well. Maddox then stuck out a leg to make an important interception after Ormerod, the former England Youth and Middlesbrough player, had got behind Shuttleworth. There was then a bit of a fracas when Alex Gildea jumped two-footed at AspinaIl, who took exception. Curiously, Whitby were given the freekick but both players were lectured (51 mins).
Ormerod then got past Maddox and after a bit of melee to the right, inside the box, Johnson went down under a challenge (possibly from Wright) and a penalty was awarded. After carefully re-spotting the ball, Veart, the former Spennymoor player, coolly scored. Coburn, diving to his left, almost got to the ball as it went into the net just inside his left-hand post.
Stuart Coburn almost gets to Craig Veart's penalty (53 mins).
From a well-taken freekick by Aspinall on the left, Campbell tipped the ball out for an Alty corner on their right. Campbell caught the corner and Whitby then put together a neat passing movement which ended with Alty scrambling the ball clear. Craney was then booked, presumably for a verbal offence, after a two-footed tackle on Kielty in midfield. Altrincham were on the back foot at this stage but then won a free-kick when Band was fouled on the Alty left some 40 yards from goal. Aspinall’s free-kick was nodded on by Maddox, from almost the same spot in the penalty area from which his misheader had led to Whitby's opening goal. This time Mark's header found Marcus Hallows, who had advanced unmarked to the back post where he controlled the ball, which arrived at an awkward height, and tucked it neatly into the net to give Alty a 3-2 lead (59 mins). It was Marcus’s 11th goal of the season, which put him level with Ian Craney at the top of the Alty goalscorers’ list for this season, but from exactly half as many starts (26+2) as his captain (52).
Ally now brought on Matt Bailey, up front, in place of midfielder Ged Kielty. Kielty looked unwell as he remained slumped in the dugout for several minutes but was also suffering from the effects of the tackle mentioned above (62 mins). Band now dropped back into Kielty's midfield slot. A neat turn and advance out of defence by Craney was halted when the whistle went to allow treatment to the prostrate Alex Gildea. The third Altrincham goal seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of Whitby and it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the game till the closing minutes. Soon, Scott and Bailey did well to feed Hallows but he shot wide of Campbell's left stick (70 mins). Then a punt forward saw Bailey just beaten to the ball by Campbell but the Alty striker hurt the base of his back in the process and limped off for treatment behind the goal. With Alty down to ten men, Band was then flattened by Nicholson and physio Gary Thompson had to rush from treating Bailey to attend to Band.
Whitby then brought on Sheeran for Liam Gildea. Altrincham threatened again when Aspinall fed Craney, whose shot hit a Whitby foot but Campbell reacted well to make a good one-handed save to his right, at the cost of a corner (76 mins). Craney then did well to jink up the right touchline evading a couple of challenges before finding Bailey to the left of goal with his cross. Bailey's first-time pass, to the right, gave Hallows a snap-shot which he put well over the bar from close range (77 mins).
However, two successive Ally free-kicks maintained the visitors’ upper hand. Bailey, who was working hard, almost made an interception as Whitby played a dangerous ball across the centre line. Whitby raised themselves for the final ten minutes and when Dixon advanced 35 yards up the middle, dodging challenges, he won a corner via Johnson. Coburn caught Veart’s corner but when Dixon again got forward, a melee produced another Whitby corner. This was cleared back to Veart by Talbot, then half-cleared again by Hallows, before a Whitby player threaded it diagonally across the box to the left where Nicholson only just failed to make contact with an attempted scissor kick (86 mins). Shuttleworth then made an important interception to see off another attack and won a freekick. Aspinall hit this high over the Whitby goal (88 mins).
Alty almost sealed the game a minute later when Aspinall, Hallows and Wright combined. Wright found Bailey inside the box and the striker gathered the ball, turned and shot but the ball struck the crossbar with Campbell motionless.
Above, Matt Bailey (on ground) sees his shot hit the crossbar (89 mins,).
Whitby then all but scored at the other end. A cross from the right found Sheeran and Nicholson unmarked. In a confused piece of action, Coburn and/or the goal framework kept the ball out at the back post from Sheeran’s header but Whitby claimed that the ball had crossed the line. The linesman with the yellow flag was consulted by the referee but, unlike at the end of the first half, this time the decision went in Ally’s favour (90 mins). As normal time ended Steve Lunt replaced Marcus Hallows up front. In the last of the three added minutes, Lunt was put clear up the middle by Craney but the ball got under his feet and the young striker could only muster a half-hit shot at the keeper, which Campbell saved comfortably.
This was an excellent performance from an Altrincham side again forced to make changes by injuries suffered both before kick off and during the game. It now seems almost obligatory for Altrincham to lose a couple of players injured in every game. For Kieran Lugsden to see his season ended after barely a quarter of an hour of his full debut was especially disappointing. Results elsewhere mean that Ally still need at least another win to qualify automatically for Alliance North. They have two chances to gain the necessary points, at home to Worksop on Tuesday and to fellow challengers, Runcorn FC Halton, on Saturday.
|Full-Time: WHITBY TOWN 2 ALTRINCHAM 3|