Match Report


Pre-Season Friendly Match,
played on Thursday, 29 July, 2004
at 7.45p.m.


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    In an entertaining and open game at the Irongate, Altrincham ran out 4-3 winners after twice falling behind. It was Colin Little who initally headed Alty in front from Chris Adams's well-taken free-kick from the left (25 mins). Brig rocked Alty with two goals in a minute, the first an excellent 30-yarder from Wane and the second a well-struck, low drive from the right by the unmarked Kent (31 mins). Niell Hardy equalised with another well-taken, low shot (40 mins). Cooper put Bamber Bridge 3-2 up with a good turn and low shot past Acton (53 mins). But in a second half riddled by substitutions, Alty finished the stronger. Barry Shuttleworth headed home a Hallows cross from the right (60 mins) and then Hallows himself powered home a header from an Aspinall corner (81 mins). Banks saved a couple of other good efforts from the visitors but the score remained at 4-3 to Altrincham. Alty's five pre-season games, all away, have now yielded four wins, a draw and 26 goals (F19 A7).


  • 25 mins: Colin LITTLE (Bamber Bridge 0 Altrincham 1)
  • 30 mins: Mark WANE (Bamber Bridge 1 Altrincham 1)
  • 31 mins: Danny KENT (Bamber Bridge 2 Altrincham 1)
  • 40 mins: Niell HARDY (Bamber Bridge 2 Altrincham 2)
  • 53 mins: Lee COOPER (Bamber Bridge 3 Altrincham 2)
  • 60 mins: Barry SHUTTLEWORTH (Bamber Bridge 3 Altrincham 3)
  • 81 mins: Marcus HALLOWS (Bamber Bridge 3 Altrincham 4)

    REFEREE: Mr Jim Parker


    Altrincham travelled to Bamber Bridge for their fifth successive away first-team friendly of pre-season. The sides last met on 3 April 2002 when a late Ian Craney own goal gave Brig a point in a 1-1 UniBond Premier draw at the Irongate. Steve Hawes's 25-yarder had put Alty ahead just after the interval. That was also the night when the Altrincham team arrived on time but their kit did not. Eventually the Alty kitman, who had got lost, arrived and kick-off was delayed by 16 minutes! The Brig team, which was relegated that season, included Cyril Sharrock and Lee Pryers who also played against us only last week at Chorley, as well as ex-Robins, Terry Bowker and Anthony Hargreaves. The Alty team was: 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Vernum ROWLAND, 3. Dave SWANICK, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Mark SERTORI, 6. Steve HAWES, 7. Kevin HULME (capt.), 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Lee POLAND, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Gareth STRANGE. Subs: 12. Keith MAIRS, 14. Lee THOMPSON, 15. Marc WHITEMAN. Of the Alty players, only Maddox was involved tonight, though Coburn and Thornley are, of course, both still with Altrincham as well and Rod was a specator tonight, as were Danny Murphy and Eddie Hussin. Danny now has a cracked rib but Eddie is expected to appear sometime in Alty's remaining friendlies, after his knee operation.


    Altrincham started with Band and Rose in the centre at the back, the likely formation for the start of the season, given the suspensions of Talbot and Maddox. Indeed, Band was the captain today. Sean Smith was included in the squad whilst Steve Aspinall was returning to one of his former clubs tonight. Alty started with Colin Little and Niell Hardy up front and Holt atacking on the right, with Stuart Wright on the left. Kielty and Aspinall were in central midfield as Scott reverted to right-back.

    Brig employed a 4-3-3 set-up in which former Warrington Town man Stuart Honor, who must be 6ft 4ins, featured up front, supported by Mark Wane and ex-Birmingham and Lancaster man Chris Ward. Indeed, Brig manager Paul Byron had several other ex-Lancaster City on display, too, including new signing Andy Banks and Stewart Clitheroe. Last week Brig reported that they "have offered terms to ex-Bury, Preston North End and Swansea left winger Lenny Johnrose. The Preston-born midfielder was released by Burnley at the end of last season, and Paul Byron is hoping he will sign on at the club to complement his other new signings with Football League experience, Steve Macauley and Chris Ward". But there was no sign of Johnrose in tonight's squad.


    BAMBER BRIDGE (White shirts, black shorts & socks): 1. Andy BANKS, 2. Andy FARLEY, 3. Dave LEAVER (capt.), 4. Jamie SQUIRES, 5.Ross BAIN, 6. Stuart HONOR, 7. Danny KENT, 8. Lee COOPER, 9. Mark WANE, 10. Chris WARD, 11. Jimmy KING. Subs: 12. Stewart CLITHEROE, 14. Ashley McMANUS, 15. Grant ORMEROD, 16. Mark MELLING, 17. Adam LUCAS.

    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts and red socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Stephen ROSE, 5. Peter BAND (capt.), 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. David HOLT, 8. Ged KIELTY, 9. Niell HARDY, 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Stuart WRIGHT. Subs: 2* Sean SMITH, 5* Mark MADDOX, 12. Peter WRIGHT, 12* Kieran LUGSDEN, 14. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 15. Gary TALBOT, 15* Marcus HALLOWS.

    The game was played on an excellent playing surface on a warm night with light rain falling throughout the 90 minutes. Alty had an early chance when Wright did well on the left and found Hardy whose excellent ball found Holt racing into the right-hand side of the goalmouth but the former Stockport youngster clipped his effort over the bar from 10 yards (4 mins). The early stages set the pattern for the game with open, end-to-end football. Scott made a good early defensive interception for Alty before good work by Cooper saw the ball relayed by Honor to Wane who shot well wide of Acton's right post (10 mins). Colin Little, as ever, was impressive and after he had won the ball from Bain, Stuart Wright got in a diagonal ball from the left which just evaded the incoming Holt at the back post (11 mins). Holt's runs into the box from the right were a feature of the opening stages. Soon, a build up started by Wright and Kielty which progressed through Hardy, who did well to find Little, ended when Little's perceptive pass for Holt saw the youngster screw his shot across rather than at goal. Chances were coming but were not being converted (12 mins). Little was soon showing his class again when he found Hardy well and his cross won Alty's first corner. Kielty too was doing well and a good threaded ball forward only just evaded Holt who yet again had found some space in the right of the penalty area (14 mins).

    After Little had beaten his marker he was felled to win a free-kick on the front edge of the penalty "D". His left-foot curling freekick, however, went wide of the keeper’s right stick (20 mins). Brig for their part were using Honor up the middle as Ward and Wane supported from wider positions but the Alty defence was holding firm. At the other end a ball into the area from Wright produced a header from Hardy which went to Banks (24 mins). Good attacking play up the left flank by Adams ended when he was fouled after he had got a return pass from Hardy. From Adams's free-kick, some 30 yards out to the left of goal, the unmarked Little headed home from the centre of the box to put Alty one up (25 mins).

    After the restart David Holt tracked back well to block off the threatening King at the cost of a corner on the Brig left. The corner was cleared but a loose ball soon came to Wane who hit a superb 25-yard half volley into Acton's top-left hand corner (30 mins). Within a minute, Brig had taken the lead when good work near the penalty D by Chris Ward saw him hold off a challenge and get the ball, right, to the unmarked Kent who drove the ball firmly into the net, off the bottom of the post to Acton's right, from the edge of the box (31 mins).

    Hardy went close when his downward header from Scott’s cross from the right went just wide of Banks's right upright (36 mins). Acton then had to make a good stop, holding the ball at the second attempt from Wane after the Brig striker only half-hit a volley when in a goalscoring position. Brig soon rued this missed chance when a foul by Squires on Little yielded a freekick some 40 yards out. Little took this quickly and short to Aspinall before getting the ball back and feeding a precision pass to Hardy who had made an intelligent run into the box to the left of goal. Niell calmly picked his spot and slid the ball, low, past the keeper's left hand into the net for the equaliser (40 mins).

    After Gary Scott had ended up on the deck in an attacking position, a fine run forward by Farley exploited the resulting midfield space but was finally halted by a good covering tackle from Rose. As half-time approached Chris Adams was limping but he nevertheless did well to track over to the right front edge of the box to stop an advance by Ward. The ball ran loose to Honor who lifted the ball well over the bar from 20 yards out (45 mins).


    Bamber Bridge replaced Kent by Clitheroe at the break but Alty made four changes. Maddox (wearing 5), Talbot, Shuttleworth and Peter Wright were all brought on instead of Holt, Kielty, Stephen Wright and Band. Both sides employed substitutes wearing different numbers from those on the team sheet and Alty made things even worse by going on to use duplicate shirts (two no.12s and no.15s) and to give some subs shirts (nos. 5 and 2) previously worn by withdrawn colleagues. Nevertheless, the Bamber Bridge announcer did an excellent job to track down all of the correct identities in the end.

    The end to end play continued with Honor driving a shot at Acton soon after the re-start and then a good ball from Maddox found Peter Wright advancing up the right, who laid the ball off to the left where Hardy's full-blooded shot was well saved (48 mins). Brig now replaced Wane by Ormerod. Soon another shot from Hardy was blocked and gave Alty a corner on the right, taken by Aspinall (52 mins). This was cleared and after a Brig throw-in a good ball forward found Cooper in the box, left of goal. He gathered the ball and turned well to drive the ball, low, into the far corner and put Brig 3-2 up (53 mins). Brig now brought on McManus for King as the light began to fade but the floodlights remained off.

    Good work from Hardy than set up a fine shot by Little which was well saved by Banks, going to his right to tip the ball out for a corner. Following this, Banks punched clear a cross from Aspinall and Bain went down injured. Referee Parker gave three dramatic trills on his whistle before summoning Hardy and requiring him to be substituted, presumably for fouling the injured Brig man. Marcus Hallows came on instead of Hardy (56 mins). Within four minutes Hallows got to the by-line on the right and his firm cross was met by the incoming Barry Shuttleworth who threw himself at the ball to head it off a defender and into the net (60 mins)- 3-3.

    Another change came as Lucas came on for Cooper for Brig (62 mins) just before a good shot from Aspinall was beaten out by Banks. Rose's cross to Wright, whose improvised backheel-shot went wide, was his last contribution to the game as he was replaced by Kieran Lugsden, wearing number 12, the same number as sported by Marcus Hallows. Kieran slotted in on the right flank, with Little on the left (63 mins). Alty were now on top but when Talbot found Hallows, the ball ran off the striker to Banks. Another change came as Melling replaced Ward for Brig (66 mins).

    Next, from an Aspinall and Hallows build-up, Little turned well to drive a shot just over the bar from the edge of the box (66 mins). Richard Acton was not taking goalkicks in the second half, with Maddox and Aspinall sharing this duty. Shuttleworth and Scott were now the central midfield pairing as the Alty formation bore little resemblance to the one that had started the game after so many personnel changes. Bamber Bridge then won a corner from which Melling's shot went for a goalkick (69 mins). Kent then came back onto the pitch to replace Bain for the home side (71 mins).

    From an Alty corner Maddox rose well but powered a header high over the bar and out of the ground (75 mins) but an overhit cross from Wright soon produced another Alty corner, this time on the left. After this had been cleared, there was a welcome return to action for Sean Smith, 17 months after a bad road accident put him out of action (77 mins). He slotted into left midfield, with Adams going off. Smith wore a no.2 shirt, the same as Scott, whilst Hallows and Talbot both wore 15 and Peter Wright and Kieran Lugsden were both no.12! Unfortunately this cunning ploy to confuse the opposition will not be possible in Conference North.

    Lugsden then got past Leaver before the move broke down but soon afterwards, a slice by Squires following an effort by Wright gave Alty a fortunate corner. Before the corner was taken, King came back on to replace Honor for Brig. From the corner, Aspinall found Hallows whose header dipped under the bar where Banks pushed it over for another corner. Again Hallows met Aspinall’s corner kick and this time powered a header into the net to make it 4-3 to Altrincham (81 mins). Soon afterwards, Scott got forward well only to see his effort cleared off the line as Acton remained relatively untroubled at the other end in the closing stages. More Alty pressure produced a 25 yarder from Lugsden which went well wide (86 mins) and then from Shuttleworth’s feed, Hallows's superb looping shot went just wide (87 mins). Just before the final whistle Smith, Lugsden and Scott combined before Hallows nodded the ball to Wright whose stretching effort went narrowly wide (90 mins).

    Altrincham had again showed good character to come from behind twice. With so many changes of personnel and positions in the second half it will have been difficult for Graham Heathcote to draw too many conclusions from it other than he has many players in his squad who can turn their hand to playing in a variety of positions. However, Hallows did make a second half impact and the impressive Colin Little again played a full 90 minutes and must have clocked up more pre-season time on the pitch than anyone else in the squad.

    The next test for the first team is against Old Alts on Wednesday night (7pm) when a mixture of first teamers and Reserves is expected to play.