ABBEY HEY (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM (4) 8
Pre-Season Friendly Match,
played on Saturday, 17 July, 2004
This annual pre-season game at Gorton was won last year by a hat-trick from Mattie Hughes which formed the basis of a 4-1 win. Mattie was to flicker briefly for Altrincham before leaving the club to pursue his non-football career. This year's 8-0 win was about as good a start to the pre-season as Alty supporters could wish for and Colin Little's impressive debut and two goals will hopefully lead to a more lasting career at Moss Lane than was the case with Mattie.
Alty dominated the game from start to finish with the Robins' goalkeeper Richard Acton having very little to do, but he did what he had to very well. Alty's last season was founded on a solid defence and again, today, the back four did little wrong and up-front today there was plenty of promise. Teenager Kieran Lugsden, back in action after breaking his arm at Whitby last season, had an impressive game and, whilst new signing Peter Wright failed to score, he did win two penalties. But it was Colin Little whose movement and application most excited the spectators; manager Graham Heathcote seems to have done a great bit of business in tempting the former Macclesfield and Halifax man to join Altrincham.
Alty scored four goals in each half with two each coming from Lugsden, Little, Stuart Wright and Band, whilst Peter Wright also had a penalty saved. The nine subs all played their part and Graham Heathcote will be hoping that the club's limited finances allow him to retain most if not all of the 20 players on display today in addition to the absent Coburn, Thornley, Hussin, Smith and Murphy.
Torrential overnight and morning rain had by lunchtime led Abbey Hey to announce that this game had been cancelled, only for Alty manager Graham Heathcote to persuade the hosts to go ahead once the downpours had stopped around 1.45pm. In the end, the pitch held up very well to the dousing it had suffered and the rain held off for the entire ninety minutes.
The Abbey Stadium has an impressive clubhouse but the stand has been the target of vandals in recent years. The club has refused to give in and this season has installed new vandal-proof seating - having three times lost the previous seating to arson. The pitch itself is an excellent surface and will be used this season by Altrincham Reserves and Manchester City Ladies, as well as by Abbey Hey. As ever, Alty fans received a friendly welcome.
Alty were without Stuart Coburn who was getting married and Ged Kielty and Danny Murphy, who were guests at his wedding. Rod Thornley and new signing Eddie Hussin were not fit for selection. The squad included trialists Gareth Feeney (ex-Bolton W., Flixton, Trafford and Old Alts) and Mark Rawlinson, aged 29, who played at Bournemeouth for five years as well as at Exeter City then Weymouth and Dorchester Town. Born in Bolton, Mark is returning to his roots. Returning to Altrincham was David Holt, who played... games for Alty last season on loan from Stockport County. Also on the bench was Jamie Almond, who made one brief but very promising substitute appearance towards the end of last season. In addition to looking at a number of prospective players for next season, Alty boss Graham Heathcote would also have in mind that three of his defenders are suspended for the start of the season (Maddox, Talbot and Shutttleworth) and one of his objectives will have been to test out back-four alternatives.
Abbey Hey are rebuilding after a change of manager, with Chris Bailey the new incumbent. His squad was apparently largely made up of new players.
The Abbey Hey team was not announced so what follows is the squad as listed in the programme. For their part Alty used some players who appeared in differently numbered shirts for different parts of the game and also, at some stages, had two players on the pitch wearing the same number on their back! Hopefully the following report identifies everyone correctly.
ABBEY HEY (Yellow shirts, blue shorts & socks): Squad as named in progamme: James MOTTERSHED, Rob ACTON, Barry LOMAS, Andy JONES, Rob MCLARNON, Craig BROWN, David BROCKLEHURST, Beni NAIM, Wayne CAHILL, CArlos DILEBRIO, Justin TUIPP, Andy MOSS, Tim BAILEY, Rick WATSON, Andy SIMPSON, Dave SWINDELLS, Darren GREEN, Anthony FRANCIS.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts and black socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Gary SCOTT, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Peter BAND, 7. Mark MADDOX, 8. Stephen ROSE, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Peter WRIGHT, 11. Kieran LUGSDEN. Subs: 2*. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 10*. Niell HARDY, 12. Stuart WRIGHT, 12*. David HOLT, 14*. Mark RAWLINSON, 15. Gareth FEENEY, Stephen LUNT, 15. Marcus HALLOWS, 16. Jamie ALMOND.
Colin Little nets his penalty.
Altrincham dominated the game from the start with Lugsden's shot from a Little lay-off their first strike at goal (2 mins). Soon Wright had shot over the bar and Mark Maddox had risen well to nod a corner at goal which was cleared off the line (6 mins). After a defensive error, Little won a corner, which was soon followed by a good header from Lugsden which just cleared the bar. With Little and Wright, supported by Lugsden on the left, Altrincham were looking a lively attacking force. It came as no surprise when Alty took the lead; the ball rebounded off Band to Little who drove the ball home from a central position inside the box (15 mins).
After a late challenge from Aspinall had left the Abbey number 8 injured, the referee escorted the Alty man from the pitch and asked for him to be substituted. It was Barry Shuttleworth, a scheduled half-time substitute, who made an earlier entrance than expected to replace Aspinall (16 mins). Alty soon had a chance to double the lead when Peter Wright was brought down in the box. Wright himself took the spot-kick but the keeper saved well, diving low to his left (20 mins). A corner followed, but this was cleared. Next a fine 25 yard effort from Little came back off the bar as the one-way traffic continued (23 mins).
Alty did double the lead after 28 minutes when Little won the ball well and from Band's resulting cross, the keeper missed the ball and Lugsden, arriving at the back post, headed firmly home. Moments later Lugsden put in a telling cross from the left which Band almost connected with as he dived full length at the back post (30 mins). With physio Gary Thompson having left the club, kitman Dave Mitten acted as physio today, tending to the injured Peter Wright. Following this a freekick by Adams from the right touchline was nodded to Lugsden by Talbot and the teenager once again found the net with a firm header to make it 3-0 to the visitors (33 mins).
With Alty continuing to look lively as they attacked, Little fed Wright who, once again, was brought down inside the box. This time, Little took the penalty kick and left the keeper rooted to the spot as he found the bottom corner to the keeper's right (35 mins). A neat chip from Talbot almost let in Lugsden again but the Abbey keeper came out well to gather the ball (40 mins). Then a Talbot header found Little whose shot from 20 yards came back off the keeper's right upright (41 mins). Richard Acton saw some rare action when the Abbey no.16's shot forced him to make a save, low to his right (42 mins). But half-time came with the score 4-0 to Alty.
|Half-Time: ABBEY HEY 0 ALTRINCHAM 4|
At the break Alty made three changes with Marcus Hallows and Niell Hardy taking over up front and Steve Aspinall returning in defence. Lugsden, Talbot and Maddox made way for them. Peter Wright confusingly reappeared for the second half wearing the no.5 shirt and Little dropped into left midfield. For their part Abbey Hey made several changes, including the arrival of a new keeper.
Alty now had the back-four which is likely to start the season, given the suspensions of Maddox, Talbot and Shuttleworth. This comprised Aspinall, Band, Rose and Adams. Alty continued to attack, with Wright going close (51 mins) Then a Wright shot was diverted for a corner. However, the Abbey no.6 did get in a shot which hit Band before a Hallows shot produced an Alty corner (54 mins). After Wright had been felled, Shuttleworth's well struck freekick was well saved (56 mins). Then Alty brought on Lunt, sporting a new blond hair colour, to replace Peter Wright (57 mins).
With Lunt's arrival on the left, Little switched to the right. Soon Hardy shot over the bar as Alty continued to press (59 mins). Moments later Hardy again aimed too high after an Aspinall- Scott build-up. Following treatment to Rose for a facial injury Lunt's cross from the left found Hallows, whose glancing header was saved (62 mins). Next Adams gave way to Stuart Wright, wearing a no.12 shirt. Alty went five up when Hallows's cross from the right was neatly converted by Stuart Wright (64 mins).
Mark Rawlinson then made his Alty debut, replacing Gary Scott in midfield (65 mins). A minute or so later David Holt came on for Little on the Alty right. After Hardy had been held by the Abbey no.5, Shuttleworth's freekick found Band who rose impressively to head home and make it 6-0 (67 mins). But Abbey Hey did not give up and the no.3 got free on the left and won a corner (69 mins). Acton then caught well under pressure before Hallows drove a freekick into the wall at the other end after a foul on the advancing Lunt (73 mins)
Steve Aspinall, who assumed Mark Maddox's no.7 shirt in the second half, watches as Mark Rawlinson (14) awaits the next move from Gareth Feeney (on the ball).
An excellent Rose tackle saw off another Abbey Hey probe before a Lunt cross from the left was well held by the keeper. Holt was showing some pace on the right before Alty made another change, with Gareth Feeney (no.14) and Jamie Almond (no.16) entering the fray instead of Hallows and Lunt. Hardy soon shot wide before a freekick from just inside the Abbey half by Aspinall came out to Stuart Wright who scored to make it 7-0 (81 mins). A Feeney shot was then saved by the busy keeper before the Abbey no.3 again made progress on the left but the final shot by no.14 was too high. After Almond had been felled, Aspinall's freekick was well saved (86 mins). Hardy then almost turned in a good cross by Holt from the right. Hardy then gathered the ball well and advanced to feed Almond whose cross almost induced an own goal from a defender, but a corner resulted on the left. Following this Aspinall's low drive was turned into the net by Peter Band to make it 8-0. Seconds later, after an Almond 25-yarder had gone wide, the referee blew for full-time.
Altrincham could not have asked for a better start but they will obviously face sterner tests as the pre-season progresses. The newcomers all had their moments whilst the returning injured players, such as Adams and Hardy also looked to have regained their form. The Alty defence was not sorely tested but looked solid once again, despite the various changes of personnel as substitutions were made. With the likes of Thornley, Smith and Hussin yet to figure, Graham Heathcote appears to have a promising squad, though how many of the players on show today will be within his budget remains to be seen.
|Full-Time: ABBEY HEY 0 ALTRINCHAM 8|