HINCKLEY UNITED (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Nationwide Conference North Match,
played on Monday, 30 August, 2004
Stuart Coburn prepares a goalkick, as a Hucknall fan bangs his drum in front of the clubhouse - which has seen better days. Hinckley's new ground opens in December..
In a match ruined as a spectacle by a squally wind, Alty fell behind after just four minutes when Stuart Coburn rushed outside the box and was beaten to the ball by a Hinckley player. The ball was then played back across goal from the right where Lamey converted from close in, though Aspinall almost kept the ball out, on the line. Coburn redeemed himself with a quite magnificent save from Barnes (26 mins) but overall it was a below par first half performance from Altrincham. However, after the break, Alty equalised when Little expertly converted a low cross ball from Aspinall (58 mins). After this Alty looked the better side and only the referee's premature whistle for an Alty freekick denied them a goal after Potts had been fouled but, nevertheless, found Little in front of goal. Hinckley then snatched a late winner. This again came after Coburn had rushed to kick clear from the edge of his box, only to be clattered by the late-arriving Lewis after he had cleared the ball. After treatment to his leg, Coburn resumed but a Hinckley throw, rather than an Alty freekick, restarted the game. From this, a ball was played diagonally across the Alty box to Lewis at the back post in what appeared to be a clearly offside position. However, he knocked the ball in and the goal stood (83 mins). Alty are now 10th.
REFEREE: Mr S G Cooke (Mansfield Woodhouse)
This was Altrincham's first ever visit to Hinckley, the Leicestershire club, located a few miles east of Nuneaton. Hinckley had qualified for Nationwide North from the Dr Martens League. The clubhouse and main stand of their Middlefield Lane ground is in a run-down state but the club is set to move to a purpose built stadium in December so, presumably, there has been little recent investment in the facilities.
Altrincham made three changes to their starting line-up. One change was enforced; Gary Scott having been injured on Saturday. His right-back berth went to Steve Aspinall who moved from midfield. The other two changes were tactical as Graham Heathcote plotted to counter a physically tall Hinckley side who play a 3-5-2 system. Out of the starting line-up went midfielder Eddie Hussin and striker Niell Hardy, both of who were on the bench. Into the side came three midfielders, Stephen Rose, Ged Kielty and Barry Shuttleworth - the latter two making their first starts of the campaign. So Alty started with Peter Wright up front and Colin Little and Colin Potts in support. There was again no start for striker Marcus Hallows who has seen surprisingly little action this season. Mark Maddox returned to the bench after suspension had ruled him out of all the games to date this season. He was joined there by Kieran Lugsden, which meant no place for Stuart Wright.
Hinckley were without John Burns, so Sam McMahon came into the side. Up front was former Conference Golden Boot winner, Paul Barnes (ex-Doncaster Rovers). United named just four subs.
HINCKLEY UNITED (Red and blue stripes, blue shorts, red socks): 1. Tommy WHITTLE, 2. Neil CARTWRIGHT, 3. Jamie LENTON, 4. Richard LAVERY, 5. Adam WILLIS, 6. Tyrone MINTUS, 7. Stuart STORER (capt.), 8. Sam McMAHON, 9. Nathan LAMEY, 10. Paul BARNES, 11. Wayne DYER. Subs: 12. Leon JACKSON, 14. Matt LEWIS, 15. Danny PITHAM, 16. Luke BRADSHAW.
ALTRINCHAM (All yellow): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Peter BAND (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Ged KIELTY, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Stephen ROSE, 9. Peter WRIGHT, 10. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 11. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 12. Niell HARDY, 14. Eddie HUSSIN, 15. Marcus HALLOWS, 16. Mark MADDOX, 17. Kieran LUGSDEN.
Before kick off there had been a squally shower but the game started in bright sunshine but with a strong, gusty wind blowing behind Altrincham as they attacked the clubhouse end, well supported not only by their fans from Cheshire but also by the "London Alty" and supporters from the Midlands. The game kicked off more than two minutes early and it soon became clear that the wind would have a major influence, with Altrincham overhitting their passes forward and Hinckley's defence finding some of their clearances stopping in mid-air.
Peter Band (4) gets the better of three opponents.
With the unlikely duo of Rose and Potts taking the kick-off for Altrincham, the visitors won a corner immediately, on the right. Then, in the second minute, a centre from Aspinall eluded everyone until a Hinckley defender almost turned it into his own net. However, before anyone could really adjust to the conditions, Altrincham went behind. An error in the Alty midfield saw the ball heading up the centre of pitch towards the Alty penalty area. Goalkeeper Coburn rushed out to kick clear but was beaten to the ball by Dyer who, having got behind the keeper to the right of goal, crossed the ball into the goalmouth where Lamey got a less than perfect touch on the ball. Aspinall, racing back to the goal-line managed to get a boot on the ball but could only help it cross the line (4 mins).
Hinckley conceded quite a number of freekicks during the first half and from one of them Shuttleworth found Talbot but the centre-back had to stretch too far to be able to turn the ball home at the near post (8 mins). However, Alty's plans were soon disrupted when Shuttleworth had to limp off injured, just 13 minutes into his first start of the season. He was replaced by Maddox, also making his first start after a four-match suspension had ruled him out from all games this season to date. This prompted a positional switch with Band having to move into midfield as Maddox slotted in at the back. Although Alty won a corner soon after this, it took some time for Altrincham to settle into their revised formation. Two more free-kicks to Alty followed as the rain lashed down for just a few minutes (18 mins). Alty then won their third corner but once again nothing came of this one, taken by Potts.
Adams then did well to see off Lamey before the same Hinckley player's header dropped comfortably for Coburn to gather (20 mins). With the rain now stopped, Talbot had to give Hinckley their first corner of the match. The defences remained on top until a good Alty move involving Little, Adams and Potts saw Wright chase a 50/50 ball which the Hinckley keeper half smothered but the ball ran out to Kielty, 8 yards out to the left of goal. Ged tried to control rather than hit the ball first time and the chance disappeared as Whittle recovered his goal line position. Hinckley immediately went up to the other end where Maddox missed the ball and a resulting cross from the right saw Barnes's goalbound header from 10 yards out brilliantly pushed out by Coburn (26 mins).
Hinckley were now on top as Alty were kept back in their own half but no serious threat to either goal occurred during this period as Band and Talbot saw off the home side's probes. Alty were having trouble linking to their front men and Little and Potts slipped over three times between them as they attempted to turn on the slightly damp surface. At last Adams prompted a response as, via Rose, the ball came to Aspinall whose cross from the right was won by the tireless Band in the air. The ball dropped for Little, who missed a sitter, but fortunately for him he was ruled offside (34 mins).
Potts was being kept quiet on the right and was spending much of his time in a deep position as Hinckley's physically big side kept the lid on any Alty attacking ideas. Wright was running willingly but Hinckley were quick to close down their opponents. Manager Graham Heathcote was getting irate with the linesman on his side of the pitch after he judged that the officials had missed a foul. Half-time approached with Altrincham still over-hitting their forward passes and conceding possession too frequently. Just before the break, after Rose and Maddox had collided, Barnes and Lenton combined on the left to feed McMahon for a pile driver which hit a defender before it could trouble Coburn (45 mins). Half time arrived with Altrincham still looking for a first-half goal this season, after five attempts.
|Half-Time: HINCKLEY UNITED 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
During the interval only Hallows and Lugsden remained on the pitch for Alty suggesting that the other two unused subs, Hardy and Hussin, would be employed as subs in the second half. However, play initially resumed with the same personnel as before. Adams and then Talbot made important clearances as Hinckley again pushed forward - Alty went into and emerged from this match with the tightest defence in the division, a tile now jointly held with Hinckley. When Adams took a curling freekick, it evaded all his team-mates but a defensive header only just cleared the Hinckley goal, for an Alty corner (51 mins). Potts's kick was caught easily by Whittle. Alty now remained on the back foot and it looked as if they needed a substitution to change the pattern of play. But before this could be implemented, Altrincham scored. Little, then Potts, fed Aspinall on the right. Little kept running in the inside left channel and Aspinall's low diagonal ball forward from the right found Little unmarked near the back post some 12 yards out. Colin coolly drove the ball low into the net to level the scores (58 mins).
Ged Kielty in action.
Altrincham now began to get the upper hand and were very unlucky not to go ahead when Potts rode two foul challenges on the right and found Little in the centre. Little put the ball in the net but the whistle had been blown prematurely by Mr Cooke, who had failed to allow Altrincham the advantage. As ever in these situations, the resulting freekick to Altrincham came to nothing; in fact Potts will rarely have hit as bad a freekick as he did on this occasion, knocking the ball far too high and too strongly.
Soon Alty did make a change, with Hardy replacing Wright up front (66 mins). There was then a bizarre moment when a Hinckley back pass from left of their goal was missed by keeper Whittle as he casually tried to kick clear and the ball only just rolled wide of his far post for a corner. However, Hinckley relieved the pressure after Adams had been penalised 25 yards out. The ball was half cleared but came back into the unmarked Willis whose close range header prompted Coburn's second superb save of the game and from the rebound the big number five could only steer the ball wide (68 mins). Soon Alty replied with Little heading Adams cross goalwards but Whittle saved (71 mins). Not longer after this Little hit the post from Potts's feed, but offside was given (73 mins).
Hinckley now made a substitution with Lewis replacing Lamey, (Hinckley's shortest player), up front to add yet more height to the Knitters' line-up (75 mins). Play was now fairly evenly balanced but with little goalmouth action until an error by Cartwright allowed Little to fire in a good shot which the keeper knocked out for yet another Alty corner (80 mins). It looked at this stage as if Alty, if anyone, would be the more likely to nick a winning goal as Hinckley's midfield were driven deeper.
But the game turned on a double refereeing decision. As at the start of the game, Coburn dashed out and successfully kicked clear, just outside his box. However, he was caught late by the incoming Lewis. The Alty keeper went down and needed treatment to his leg from stand-in physio, Alty striker Rod Thornley, before he could continue (82 mins). Mr Cooke allowed play to resume with a Hinckley throw and not an Alty freekick. Following a long throw the ball was half cleared before being played back onto the box from the right by Cartwright. It travelled diagonally across the box, possibly helped on by Barnes, to Lewis, almost on the by-line beyond the back post in a seemingly offside position. However, the substitute knocked the ball past Coburn and the goal stood despite vehement protests led by Adams (83 mins).
The highlight of the remaining minutes was a superb bit of dribbling skill by Coburn as he wrong footed a Hinckley player who had chased down a back pass inside the Alty box (88 mins). Hinckley wound down the clock successfully as four minutes of added time were played out and Alty suffered their first defeat of this season.
After an indifferent first half performance by Altrincham in difficult conditions, they had looked possible winners after Little's equaliser. Whilst the manner of the winning goal was disappointing, overall Alty probably did not do enough to deserve to win but they also did not deserve to lose. Neither team looked championship material on a day when the wind was such a major factor.
|Full-Time: HINCKLEY UNITED 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|