ASHTON UNITED (1) 6 ALTRINCHAM (2) 2
Nationwide Conference Carthium Cup
Preliminary Round Match,
played on Monday, 4 October, 2004
Altrincham were without injured goalkeeper Stuart Coburn but otherwise fielded a strong side. They looked to be in control and led 2-1 as late as the 62nd minute. Then, the side which had conceded just 8 goals in almost 1000 minutes of league football this season let in 5 in the last 28 minutes of this game! Colin Little put Alty ahead with a great goal after 8 minutes before Carty headed home from close range to level after 34 minutes. Seconds after the miss of the season by Hardy when he airkicked from three yards, the Alty striker won a penalty which Aspinall hammered home to make it 2-1 (35 mins).
Ian Senior (44), keeping goal for Alty after a gap of four years, made a good save from a freekick but could not hold the ball and former Alty player Colin Alcide netted the rebound at the back post to make it 2-2 (62 mins). Rod Thornley came on as a sub after 63 minutes but Garvey made it 3-2 three minutes later, after Senior got stranded near the edge of his box. Then, Aspinall smashed the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear another Carty effort off the line (76 mins). Garvey netted again (82 mins) after Clee had got behind the square Alty defence. As the Alty defence fell apart, Clee then rounded Senior to make it six (90 mins). I think this was Alty's heaviest defeat since the 5-0 defeat at Hednesford (2000) and the most goals conceded since November 1996 (1-7 at Woking).
REFEREE: Mr A N Smith
The Carthium Cup is the new Nationwide Conference league cup competition. Altrincham were one of the four Nationwide North clubs to have to play a preliminary round which meant that they would have to win eight games if theye were to lift the trophy. The draw had already been made for the competition right through to the final so it was known at kick-off that tonight's winners would next be away at Droylsden, whose manager Dave Pace was in the crowd.
Rather than begin the game with some of the players who have not been regular starters this season, such as Stuart Wright, Kieran Lugsden and Ged Kielty, Alty opted for a line-up which included nine first-team regulars. The two exceptions were new signing Steve Torpey, from Prescot Cables, on the left wing and an enforced change in goal, where Stuart Coburn's knee injury obliged him to rest. With Richard Acton now at Bangor City, the plan had been for Kurt Edginton to make his fourth Alty appearance in goal in just over three years but, in the end, he was unable to get to the ground in time due to work commitments. So, Ian Senior, in his fourth spell at the club over the last 20 years or so, wore the number one jersey tonight. His last appearance for Alty was in 2000 in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final.
Colin Potts was on the bench after picking up a knock on Saturday, whilst Mark Maddox was also resting a knock. With Rod Thornley returning to the squad for the first time since March, there was no place in the squad for Ged Kielty or Barry Shuttleworth. Youth team coach Neil Thomason acted as physio. Despite his numbering, Peter Wright started up front with Niell Hardy, whilst Colin Little was in an unaccustomed central midfield position.
Ashton, too, fielded a strong side, as both managers treated the competition with respect.
ASHTON UNITED (Red & white halved shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Danny TRUEMAN, 2. Andy THACKERAY, 3. Colin ALCIDE, 4. Martin ALLISON, 5. Lincoln ADAMS, 6. Danny WHITE (capt), 7. Joseph WALSH, 8. Paul GARVEY, 9. Josh MITTEN, 10. Jason DORMER, 11. Peter CARTY. Subs: 12. Nick CLEE, 13. ASHLEY CONNOR (gk), 14. Lee CALVERT, 15. Dean JOHNSON, 17. Andy THACKERY (same name as no.2, but with variant spelling given on team sheet).
ALTRINCHAM (All yellow): 1. Ian SENIOR, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 3. Stephen ROSE, 4. Peter BAND (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Peter WRIGHT, 7. Gary SCOTT, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Niell HARDY, 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Steve TORPEY. Subs: 12. Kieran LUGSDEN, 14. Rod THORNLEY, 15. Marcus HALLOWS, 16. Colin POTTS, 17. Stuart WRIGHT.
After kick-off, Ian Senior got an early touch. Scott and Aspinall were soon impressing on the right and a couple of good crosses were put into the Ashton goalmouth. Next, Senior kicked clear and, after Hardy had chested the ball down, it came to Little who sent a superb left-footed shot into the top corner, to the keeper's right, to put Altrincham ahead (8 mins). It was a goal which alone made the admission price worthwhile and took Colin on to a total of ten goals for the season.
Ashton replied with a ball into the box for Mitten, who turned smartly and sent a shot at goal which Senior did well to tip round the post for the game's first corner. Following this Alty made a swift break to the other end but Scott's cross found no one on the end of it. Alty were playing well and a low shot from Little went narrowly wide (18 mins). After a quiet start, Torpey came into the game and, after neat work from Hardy, Aspinall found the debutant on the left. He whipped in a cross which Trueman did well to hold just as Peter Wright arrived in the box (23 mins). A second cross from Torpey soon afterwards won Alty's first corner of the night on the right, taken by Little (24 mins). Following this, Little headed over the bar but Ashton were now improving as Walsh headed narrowly over at the other end (26 mins).
The sides traded attacking moves in a generally entertaining spell before Garvey advanced on the right and put in a good cross. Carty managed to get in front of Aspinall towards the back post and headed past Senior from close range to level the scores (34 mins). From the restart Scott got to the byline to the right of the Ashton goal and laid a low ball across the face of goal. Hardy, with the undefended goal at his mercy somehow made an airshot, completely missing the ball from only a yard or two out. But within seconds, the ball was played back into the box and as Hardy went for it he was pushed over to earn a penalty. For the third time this season Aspinall converted confidently from the spot to restore Alty's lead (35 mins). A fine flick from Hardy then set Wright in on goal but he was marginally offside. Alty continued to have slightly the better of the game up to the interval.
|Half-Time: ASHTON UNITED 1 ALTRINCHAM 2|
In the first minute after the break the ball dropped to Torpey, 20 yards out left of goal and he sent in a fine first-time volley which only just missed the far, bottom-corner of the net. But then Ashton won two corners in quick succession, the second of which was headed off the Alty line. However, Alty then won a corner of their own. Taken by Little, the ball came out of the box and was then relayed towards the back post where both Talbot and Hussin tried to turn it in from an acute angle but to no avail (51 mins). Alty's dominance continued when Hardy advanced well, to the right of goal, and sent in a looping and dipping shot which cleared the bar (54 mins).
An uncharacteristically bad foul by Little, from behind on Mitten, earned him a lecture but he escaped any booking (56 mins). Alty then won another corner as the game seemed to be drifting along comfortably from Altrincham's viewpoint. When Little was penalised again, for another foul on Mitten, almost 25 yards out, it was the start of the game's total transformation. Dormer fired in a strong freekick towards Senior's right upright and the keeper dived well to keep the ball out but was unable to hold it. Alcide was the quickest to react and he put the ball into the net from a position near the back post to make it 2-2 (62 mins). Alty boss Graham Heathcote was angry with his team, telling them that "Not one of you followed the ball in" after the freekick. Rod Thornley now came on for his first game for Alty since March; he replaced Torpey on the left.
After the re-start, Ashton won a corner and soon they went close when Dormer's 30-yard freekick just cleared the bar. Graham Heathcote again attempted to raise his team, reminding them that they were not winning but drawing. But disaster struck after 66 minutes when Senior and a defender both went unconvincingly for a ball into the front corner of the box and Garvey found himself with the ball at this feet and a totally unguarded goal. He slid the ball home to make it 3-2 to Ashton. Colin Potts immediately came on in place of Gary Scott (67 mins).
Potts showed some early sparkle and soon set up Hardy for a useful first-time shot which Trueman saved (69 mins). But errors were creeping into the Alty game and possession was being lost in midfield. After Wright, Aspinall and Hardy had all lost possession in quick succession, Ashton got another corner, followed by another - their seventh of the night. Following this, each side made a change; Clee for Carty for Ashton and, for Alty, Hallows for Wright (73 mins).
Ashton were now on top and another corner followed Garvey's long throw. This was cleared and Hussin got in a very high shot at the Ashton goal. Alty now spurned two chances to clear the ball in the middle of the pitch before Garvey was allowed a clear shot past Senior from the right front of the box. Aspinall dashed back to clear the ball off the line but only succeeded in hammering the ball into his own net - 4-2 to Ashton (76 mins).
After a very high effort from Hallows, Ashton brought on Calvert for Allison (79 mins). A sliced pass from Thornley which went sideways and backwards 20 yards across the width of the pitch, into touch summed up the Altrincham showing at this stage. Ashton now had Alty penned back and soon their fifth goal arrived. Calvert got Clee in, behind the square Alty defence, and he selflessly rolled the ball across the goal area to his right to Mitten to tap into the empty net (82 mins). The Altrincham fans ironically chanted "We're going out!" as play resumed. Soon Ashton got in another shot, which Senior saved but the midfield and defence had gone to pieces as even the normally dependable Gary Talbot was making errors.
Ashton brought on their no.17 for Walsh (84 mins). At last, Alty got to the other end but Little mishit his effort and it rolled to Trueman (86 mins). Potts then shot over the bar before Little got in a good shot which went narrowly wide as Alty sought a consolation goal (88 mins). But Ashton had the last word when Mitten fed Clee, who rounded Senior, before tapping the ball - yet again- into an empty Altrincham net (90 mins). All six of the Ashton goals were either rolled into an empty net or very close-range efforts. The final whistle came as a mercy to Altrincham and their fans were left hoping that when league action resumes next Tuesday, their normally solid defence will have been restored.
|Full-Time: ASHTON UNITED 6 ALTRINCHAM 2|