HUCKNALL TOWN (0) 1 ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round Replay,
played on Tuesday, 19 October, 2004
In another competitive FA Cup encounter with Hucknall, Altrincham lost to an 86th minute headed goal from Gary Ricketts after it had looked as if the visitors had weathered the second-half Hucknall pressure. After an even first-half, Hucknall asserted themselves in the middle of the second period and led the corner-count 10-0 by the 70th minute. But Altrincham then looked the stronger side as, first, Peter Band headed against the crossbar and then Colin Little and Rod Thornley had successive shots cleared off the line. Just as Altrincham looked the more likely to snatch a late winner, Smith broke up the right for Hucknall and delivered a fine cross for the unmarked Ricketts to power home a header. So, sadly, the £5,000 prize money was not won by Altrincham and Hucknall go forward for a tilt at Morecambe for £10,000 in the next round.
REFEREE: Mr D Bryant (Stamford)
After Altrincham had allowed their two-goal lead to slip on Saturday, an away replay against a fast improving Hucknall Town was always going to be a difficult task for them. Following their poor start to the season, Town were unbeaten in seven games under new player-manager Dean Barrick. The Watnall Road pitch was in excellent condition and the ground facilities continue to improve following the building of an impressive clubhouse last year. Today's gate was comfortably Hucknall's biggest of the season, all the more impressive for being on a damp Tuesday night. A sizeable contingent had travelled over from Altrincham and gave their team good vocal support as they sought to improve their away form which has produced just one win away from Moss Lane this campaign.
For the fourth consecutive game Altrincham made a change in goal as injured first-choice keeper Stuart Coburn resumed, though he is clearly not fully recovered - Steve Aspinall had to take the goalkicks tonight. As a precaution, Dave Cummins provided goalkeeping cover on the bench which meant no place for Kieran Lugsden. The changes to the starting line-up saw Adams restored to left-back as Potts, normally employed on the right, switched to the left flank. Rose lost his place in the starting line-up as Scott came in to play on the right side of midfield. Barry Shuttleworth remained sidelined by injury whilst Steve Torpey is cup-tied.
Hucknall's only change to the starting eleven saw Mark Smith come in at no.7 in place of Warne.
HUCKNALL TOWN (Yellow shirts, black shorts, yellow socks): 1. Matt TAYLOR, 2. Alistair ASHER, 3. Dean BARRICK, 4. Roy HUNTER, 5. Mike HEATHCOTE (capt.), 6. Chris TIMONS, 7. Mark SMITH, 8. Steven PALMER, 9. Gary RICKETTS, 10. Danny BACON, 11. Andy TODD. Subs: 12. Mark WARD, 14. Steve WARNE, 15. Frazer McHUGH, 16. Simon BROWN, 17. Michael PLUMMER (gk).
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts, red socks): 1.Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Peter BAND (capt.), 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Marcus HALLOWS, 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Stephen ROSE, 13. Dave CUMMINS (gk), 14. Rod THORNLEY, 15. Peter WRIGHT, 16. Stuart WRIGHT.
Altrincham kicked off, as their fans chanted their support, but after just 30 seconds a strong challenge by Hussin on Bacon in midfield led to a lengthy injury stoppage. The Hucknall player eventually went off with a head wound and was to return with a new, unnumbered shirt and a bandage round his head which looked to be almost over his eyes! Hussin was lucky to escape without admonishment. When play resumed Coburn punched unconvincingly clear from the freekick but the follow up shot was lashed over the Alty bar (3 mins). Hucknall's first corner arrived after 4 minutes. However, the clearest chance of the game so far fell to Alty's Gary Scott when he steered the ball wide of goal from the right (8 mins). In the early stages both sides were showing great commitment as the cup tie atmosphere carried on from Saturday's encounter. The game's second head injury arrived when Bacon fell on top of Scott as Alty cleared their lines. After treatment to his face, Scott continued (13 mins).
Alty got another crack at goal when Talbot found Little, whose good turn set up Band for a 25-yard shot which went just too high (17 mins). Altrincham now enjoyed a good spell before a Hucknall freekick from 25 yards gave Todd a crack at goal but he put the freekick well over the top (22 mins). Soon after this Little relayed a ball to his right across goal but it just evaded the incoming Scott towards the back post (24 mins). Altrincham continued to enjoy some pressure midway through the half and upto the half-hour mark but then Hucknall won the game's and their second corner, but this was poorly taken (32 mins). Alty then had a clear chance at the other end when Potts's ball from the left found Little in space but, apparently disorientated, with his back initially to goal, Little could only twist and head over the top (33 mins).
After the referee had failed to see an elbow catch Hallows in the air, the Alty striker was booked for protesting (34 mins). Mr Bryant also gave him a long lecture as the booking took an inordinate amount of time to complete. More Alty pressure saw Hussin and Little set up a shot for Aspinall which was sliced so badly it turned into a good pass to the right to Scott. Then a Hallows effort prompted a couple of ricochets in the Town box before the ball was cleared.
The speedy Bacon then went down under a challenge in the Alty box but the former Mansfield Town man won no more than a corner, which Coburn punched away to Todd, whose shot was blocked. A foul on the speedy ex-Worksop left winger, Todd, produced a freekick, but Barrick's kick was cleared (41 mins). Soon Todd got past Aspinall but Ricketts mishit his shot from the winger's cross. When play stopped for treatment to Hunter, the referee curiously restarted play with a bounce up when the ball had already gone out for a throw in before the injury stoppage (44 mins). As the game went into the third minute of added time, Hucknall won their fourth corner which Scott cleared.
Though Hucknall had enjoyed plenty of possession and, in Bacon and the speedy wingers Smith and the occasionally theatrical Todd, they had looked a real threat going forward, it was Altrincham who had had the better chances in an entertaining first half.
|Half-Time: HUCKNALL TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
In the first minute after the break Bacon supplied the ball to Smith for a firm, low shot across the Alty goalmouth. Indeed, the home side enjoyed the better of the opening stages of the half and it took a fine tackle from Maddox to stop the big striker, Ricketts. At other end, however, an almost suicidal back-pass from Heathcote was just kicked clear by keeper Taylor as Hallows closed in (50 mins) before play went through a stalemate period in midfield, mostly on the Hucknall left and Alty right. Hucknall did put the ball in the net when a shot came back off the post and was "converted" by Todd but the whistle had clearly sounded for offside before the shot was made (56 mins).
A foul by Palmer on Band earned him a booking, the game's second, and again it took a long time for the referee to complete the caution (57 mins). End to end play included a surge up the middle by Band and then a good shot from the left by Potts, after a build-up by Hussin and Little. Next, Taylor made a good save from Potts's low effort, the first clear Alty shot of the half (59 mins).
After Timons had brought down Little from behind, Adams's freekick found Talbot in the air but, from his knock-down, Band screwed his shot well wide of the left post. There then began a period of intense Hucknall pressure which yielded six corners in a ten-minute spell. The second of these corners came after Smith had fed an unmarked Todd, whose low shot was well beaten out by the advancing Coburn (63 mins). From the third corner, Hucknall's seventh of the game, Potts cleared off the line. Soon a cross from Todd was well nodded down at the back post by Ricketts but Bacon could not quite hook it in from an awkward height (67 mins). Following the last of this sequence of six corners, Hallows finally relieved the pressure with a shot which Taylor fielded easily (71 mins).
Aspinall was then booked for a foul on Todd, 40 yards from goal (71 mins), quickly followed by a caution for Bacon for fouling Potts from behind (72 mins). A one-two between Aspinall and Little saw the Alty right back fire a shot from 30 yards which only just cleared the crossbar (73 mins). A superb bit of skill by Bacon saw him gather the ball in the inside left channel, glide past two Alty players and approach the edge of the box before a desperate challenge from Maddox conceded a freekick just outside the area. Maddox picked up a deserved booking for this (72 mins). From the freekick by Barrick, a team-mate managed to shoot at almost 90 degrees to his left to concede a throw-in! Hucknall pressed again before an ambitious effort from 30 yards by Smith cleared the bar (78 mins)
Just as it looked as if the incessant pressure of the previous 20 minutes would inevitably produce a Hucknall goal, Alty showed their resilience and came back to dominate the next period. Their recovery began when they won their first corner of the game as Band's long-range shot was deflected (79 mins). From Adams's corner on the right Band rose well to head firmly against the crossbar. Soon after this Rod Thornley came on up front to replace Marcus Hallows (82 mins). Adams, Potts and Thornley then won Alty's second corner, on the left (84 mins). This produced a Hucknall clearance off the line. Further Alty pressure saw efforts from Little, Potts and Thornley desperately blocked in quick succession near the goal line as Altrincham put in a rousing finish (85 mins). But just as it looked as if the visitors, if anyone, would be the likely winners inside the statutory ninety minutes, Hucknall broke away up the right from keeper Taylor's clearance. The pacy Smith advanced on the right touchline and sent in an excellent cross to the unmarked Ricketts who met the ball with a firm header past Coburn from somewhere near the penalty spot (86 mins).
Alty fans could not deny that Hucknall had enjoyed the better of the second half but after Altrincham had withstood so much pressure in the middle of the half and then gone so close to scoring themselves, three times or more in a five-minute period, they were gutted by the timing of the breakaway, winning goal.
As play resumed, Hussin fed Potts for a volley which Taylor saved at the near post (87 mins). With Band now pushed up front with Thornley and Little, Alty continued to press. Hucknall made a late substitution of Smith by Warne on the right (90 mins). An Adams cross, two minutes into added time, was punched clear but that was about as near as Alty got to a leveller in the final moments.
Once again the two sides had produced a good cup tie. Hucknall are clearly regaining their championship-winning form of last season after their managerial change. In Danny Bacon they have a skilful and speedy striker to partner the physical presence of Ricketts. Their wing men, Smith and Todd are also a handful and it will be no surprise if Hucknall both give Morecambe a very good run for their money and also climb, at least into the play-off places, in the league. Altrincham must now regroup and seek to consolidate their fine start to the league season when they entertain Droylsden on Saturday. With home ties in the FA Trophy and the Cheshire Senior Cup on the horizon, they also still have some cup silverware to pursue. It is to be hoped that Stuart Coburn soon recovers fully - he was clearly hampered by his knee injury tonight, but in Dave Cummins Alty have a more than capable understudy. It is good to see Rod Thornley continuing his return to fitness and with the two-footed Steve Torpey winning praise from the Leigh RMI website after Alty reserves' draw last weekend and young Kieran Lugsden also waiting in the wings, manager Grahan Heathcote still has some potential aces up his sleeve for the coming weeks.
|Full-Time: HUCKNALL TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|