ALTRINCHAM (0) 3
HARROGATE TOWN (0) 0
Nationwide Conference North Match,
played on Saturday, 4 September, 2004
Above: Niell Hardy emerges from the net after the first goal, credited to Colin Little. Little is seen taking the applause, to the right of goal, whilst Colin Potts is in the centre of the picture and the ball is in the bottom corner of the net.
As in the opening game of the season at home to Gainsborough, you would have got long odds on this final score at half time after an opening 45 minutes in which Harrogate were the better side and only a couple of excellent saves by Coburn kept the game goalless. After Alty survived an early penalty appeal against Coburn, it was a much different story in the second half as Alty improved. Altrincham's first goal came when Little got the ball past keeper Pettinger, though Harrogate fans felt he had used his hands to do so. As the ball went across goal, Hardy appeared to help it over the line from close range but Little was credited with the goal (63 mins). Little then scored a superb goal with a perfect overhead kick from well right of goal, after 71 minutes. Finally, Hardy slid in the third after good work by Little and Potts (76 mins).
REFEREE: Mr A. McGEE
Before today's game Altrincham had never beaten Harrogate and, indeed, had never scored against them in four attempts since Town were promoted to the UniBond Premier for 2002-03.
Alty were sporting their new home kit for the first time this season.
Gary Scott and Barry Shuttleworth were out injured and Ged Kielty dropped to the bench, allowing Niell Hardy and Eddie Hussin to come back into the side which lost at Hinckley last Monday.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Peter BAND (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Niell HARDY, 10. Peter WRIGHT, 11. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 12. Mark MADDOX, 14. Marcus HALLOWS, 15. Ged KIELTY, 16. Kieran LUGSDEN, 17. Stuart WRIGHT.
HARROGATE TOWN (All white, with black trim): 1. Paul PETTINGER (capt.), 2. Paul SHEPHERD, 3. Mark BARNARD, 4. Simon STURDY, 5. Leigh WOOD, 6. Richard DUNNING, 7. James TURLEY, 8. Dominic KRIEF, 9. Marc SMITH, 10. Lee MORRIS, 11. Colin HUNTER. Subs: 12. Michael ORD, 14. Gavin BLACK, 15. Mark ATKINS, 16. Andy WRIGHT, 17. Nick BUXTON.
After changing ends, Alty kicked off, defending the Golf Road End with the sun behind them on a bright and warm afternoon. The opening stages were pretty nondescript but Harrogate were enjoying more of the possession and were passing the ball about the better of the two sides. The tall Marc Smith, the man involved in the collision at Harrogate last August which sidelined Richard Acton for much of that season, was causing Gary Talbot some early problems but the Alty centre-back stuck to his task well. The former Frickley man, Lee Morris, Smith's strike partner and Harrogate's record signing, was also looking lively for the visitors.
Alty's first shot of any note came when Aspinall's cross was met by Hardy but the shot was comfortably saved by Pettinger, the former Hucknall goalkeeper, who is now Harrogate's captain. (13 mins). Hardy also had Alty's next chance, heading wide from Wright's cross from the right by-line, after a feed by Little (15 mins). Aspinall then did well inside the Alty box to dispossess Colin Hunter and get the ball back to Coburn (17 mins). Hunter soon threatened again, but volleyed wide from Band's clearing header (19 mins). Pettinger then dropped Aspinall's cross twice but got away with it before Harrogate almost took the lead. This chance came when Morris got the better of Band but Coburn took the sting out of his shot with a fine save and as the ball headed on towards goal, Aspinall intercepted it and cleared (23 mins). Moments later Coburn did even better when, after build-up work from Turley and Morris, Smith's stretching shot prompted a magnificent save from the Alty number one (23 mins).
Play was now largely in the Alty half as Harrogate moved the ball about well whilst Altrincham were having trouble stringing together more than two or three consecutive passes. After a sliced cross by Dunning, Smith committed a gratuitous challenge on Coburn which went unpunished, to Stuart's annoyance.
Alty's next chance came when Rose won the ball well but Hardy's shot, from the edge of the box, went wide. After 37 minutes, Krief found Turley in oceans of space on the Harrogate right. His firm shot prompted another superb save from Coburn, pushing the ball over the bar for a corner. Following this, Morris got in a header which Coburn saved. The Alty defence continued to see off Harrogate until a good Alty move finally threatened the opposition goal. Hussin and Potts set up Wright for a shot which he lifted badly over the bar (42 mins). Next, Hardy tried a speculative shot from 25 yards, which went wide (43 mins) before Hunter made a meal of an obstruction offence by Aspinall which ended with the Alty man getting a harsh booking from Mr McGee (45 mins). In the one minute of added time, Potts advanced in the inside-left channel and drove in an excellent rising shot from 25 yards which beat Pettinger but cannoned back into play off the cross bar.
Half time arrived moments later with Harrogate having played the better football but Altrincham having come nearer to a goal. But, for the sixth time in six games this season, Alty had failed to score in the first half.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 HARROGATE TOWN 0|
Above: Colin Little, on haunches, far right, sees his overhead kick enter the far corner of the net.
In the first minute of the second half Hussin conceded a freekick following which Coburn survived an appeal for a penalty as he dived for the ball at the feet of Turley near the by-line. Soon afterwards, Altrincham won their first corner and not long after this, Harrogate also won a flag-kick (50 mins). This was cleared and, shortly afterwards, Turley went down in a tussle with Rose which ended with the Harrogate man being booked, presumably for "diving" (51 mins).
Right: Colin Little leaves with his Man of the Match award.
After 55 minutes Alty brought on Mark Maddox at centre-back, as Peter Wright was withdrawn. Band moved into midfield and Little went up front with Hardy. After Rose's fine ball had set Little in behind the visitors' defence, the linesman raised his flag for offside, much to the annoyance of Graham Heathcote and most of the crowd (58 mins).
Altrincham were playing better now than in the first period and it was Harrogate who were now confined mostly to their own half. However, Harrogate missed a good chance when Smith powered a free header wide of goal from 12 yards. At this point, Rose gave way to Kielty in Alty's midfield (61 mins). After a quiet first half out on the left, Little was now more involved and from his pass Hardy headed onto the roof of the net (62 mins).
Alty eventually took the lead when Little got behind the defence and knocked the ball goalwards, from right of the target, past the advancing Pettinger. Harrogate appealed for handball against Little but to no avail. As the ball drifted towards the back post, Hardy stretched and appeared to knock the ball into the bottom corner but Little was credited with the goal. Soon after this Kieran Lugsden began to prepare to come on but his entrance was not immediate. Morris had a shot blocked for Harrogate before Hussin was tripped by Dunning, 30 yards out on the Alty left. Potts took the freekick but the ball went behind Little, on the outer fringes of the box, to the right of goal. However, Little adjusted magnificently and executed a perfect overhead kick which sent the ball across the penalty area and into the far, top corner of the net past the keeper and defenders in the goalmouth. It was as good a goal as will be seen at Moss Lane this season (71 mins).
Altrincham were now well in charge but when Hardy was felled in the box, nothing was given. Harrogate now brought on Ord for the former Northwich defender, Mark Barnard. Ord strengthened the Harrogate attack as they sought a way back into the game (73 mins). But Alty wrapped up the points soon afterwards when Little's clever pass from the centre circle found Potts ahead of him. Potts sent in a low cross from the right which Hardy sidefooted low into the net to make it 3-0 (76 mins). Coburn had been largely a spectator for the previous half hour but Smith did get in a wide header at his goal after 80 minutes. When Hardy and then Little had shots blocked in quick succession, Alty won a corner on the left. Before this was taken, Kieran Lugsden finally came on, replacing Eddy Hussin, whilst Black came on for Harrogate's Morris (83 mins). Potts's corner from the left led to another corner, this time on the right.
There was a late scare for Alty when Adams made an important aerial challenge at the front edge of the Alty box but was injured in the process, after colliding with an opponent. After treatment from Dave Mitten he continued, though not fully fit. A surprisingly long five minutes of added time was announced, during which Smith again headed well over the bar. Alty then had a good chance when Little fed Lugsden. The Alty teenager ran on into the box but a good tackle from Sturdy stopped his progress. The final whistle followed soon afterwards.
Alty broke two jinxes today, scoring their first-ever goals and first-ever win against Harrogate Town. Their win took them up to seventh position but as Graham Heathcote's programme notes said, their performances this season have been patchy - and this match was no different. They did not look likely winners in the first half, never mind the comfortable victors that they finally turned out to be. Colin Little was a deserved Man of the Match, though even he had had a quiet first half, but his second goal in particular will be long remembered at Moss Lane.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 HARROGATE TOWN 0|