What a game! Another pulsating 90 minutes at Moss Lane for the third consecutive match saw Alty come back from 0-2 at half-time in a game featuring six goals, a confrontation between the management teams and some questionable decisions from the officials. In the first half, Kettering looked the best side seen this season at Moss Lane, with the pace of Burgess, Lynch and Roberts causing problems. Lynch headed Kettering ahead after 38 minutes when Coburn came to punch but was beaten to a corner-ball. The corner had come after Adams had been left injured in the Kettering half and Roberts had advanced upfield, despite Altrincham claims of offside, to win the flag-kick. Roberts appeared to have wrapped up the game when he put Kettering two-up from close range after Lynch had won an aerial ball for him (45 mins).
But Alty got back into the game just 45 seconds after the break when Potts made himself some space on the edge of the box and shot, low into the net. Just eight minutes later Hallows levelled the score following a blocked shot from Little. Another controversial failure to give offside allowed Lynch to advance and seemingly miscue a shot, which turned into a pass for Roberts to complete the formalities of making it 3-2 to the Poppies (63 mins). With Alty's substitute debutant Val Owen playing well, Alty got their deserved equaliser when Hussin rose well to nod back Potts's freekick across goal to Thornley, who headed home (86 mins). The game ended with Alty camped in the Kettering half.
REFEREE: Mr Hughes
Altrincham were seeking to end a run of five league and cup games without a win, whilst Kettering arrived from defeat at Barrow.
Altrincham included new signing Val Owen in their squad, whilst in the starting line-up the only change was the inclusion of Torpey at the expense of Scott.
For Kettering, Jamie Paterson, newly signed from Barrow, started in place of French. Also, Kearns replaced the injured Solkhon.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4.Peter BAND (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, Colin POTTS, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Marcus HALLOWS , 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Steve TORPEY. Subs: 12. Gary SCOTT, 14. Peter WRIGHT, 15. Rod THORNLEY, 16. Kieran LUGSDEN, 17. Val OWEN.
KETTERING TOWN (Blue shirts & shorts, white socks) 1. Steve CORRY, 2. Wayne DIUK, 3. Scott McCAFFERTY, 4.Liam FOLDS, 5. Craig McILWAIN, 6.Derek BROWN, 7. Ollie BURGESS, 8. Jamie KEARNS, 9. Darren LYNCH, 10. Drew ROBERTS, 11. Jamie PATERSON. Subs: 12. Rob GOULD, 14.Neil LAZARUS, 15. Daniel FRENCH, 16. Martin MATTHEWS, 17. Chris DIFANTE.
In front of a pretty decent crowd for a night game against a team from more than 100 miles away, there was a bizarre start to the evening when Kettering ran out onto the pitch only to turn round immediately and run off again - presumably deciding that they had come out too early.
When play really started, Alty kicked off towards the Golf Road end on a pitch softened by the recent prolonged rain but, thankfully repaired after vandalism to the centre spot the previous night.
McCafferty got in a good, early shot which went just wide of Coburn's left post (1 min). Aspinall took the goalkick for the still injured Coburn but Kettering continued their bright start when the impressive Burgess got past Talbot on halfway and was tripped by the Alty centre-back, who was promptly booked (2 mins).
But Talbot soon made amends with a great tackle on former Bedford man, Roberts, as he threatened to get clear. Alty then had a chance as Hallows laid the ball off for Torpey but a defender blocked his shot from 20 yards. The bright and pacey start to the game continued with Talbot again doing well to stop Burgess, after he had got past Adams (6 mins).
A Lynch header dropped to Coburn before Hussin headed over an Aspinall cross (10 mins). Kettering were looking fast and dangerous whenever they attacked but Alty were also doing well, with Hussin again impressively industrious in midfield.
When goalkeeper Corry sliced a clearance, Torpey tried a first-time shot from 25 yards which went well wide (20 mins). Then Rose fed Little, who found Potts but his well-struck effort from 20 yards was well beaten out by Corry (23 mins).
After Band had been harshly penalised as he won the ball in the air, Potts was booked for a verbal comment (24 mins). Then, when Burgess's shot had been deflected for the game's first corner, the Poppies' bench instructed their players to 'Get three on the keeper'. As three Kettering players duly surrounded Coburn on the line, Graham Heathcote cannily advised the referee to look out for fouls on the keeper.
Alty were then annoyed as Hallows was given offside when he did not look it. Soon, Little played a fine ball for Hallows but it was just cut out by a defender. Rose was having a good game in central midfield but the next action saw Kettering's Roberts put the ball in the net. However, there had been a foul on Talbot in the process, which ruled the 'goal' out (27 mins). But Kettering soon threatened again when good work from Lynch set up Burgessfor a low shot at goal which went narrowly wide from 20 yards (28 mins).
Soon, Torpey needed treatment to his right foot but, not long afterwards, Alty won their first corner (32 mins). Potts took this poorly and Kettering broke up field, where Adams did a great job to hold up Roberts and allow Coburn to smother the ball. Another good Kettering move saw Folds find Roberts who shot wide.
At the other end, a good run from Little was halted. But, soon a foul on Little gave Alty a freekick, 30 yards out. Adams took this but was soon down, hurt, as Kettering cleared their lines. With Adams still prostrate, deep in the Kettering half, play continued and an offside-looking Roberts advanced to win a corner on the left. As the corner came over, Coburn came to punch but was beaten to the ball by an unchallenged Lynch who headed firmly into the net (39 mins). Graham Heathcote protested to the linesman that play had not been stopped in the build-up to the corner.
Kettering won another corner, off Band, which Coburn caught well. At the other end,, Corry produced a good save from Little's 25-yarder (42 mins). As halftime neared, Coburn blocked Roberts's toe poke well (44 mins). Soon, Potts advanced before Little went on to feed Torpey but the winger fired high and wide (45 mins). In the first of two minutes of added time, Lynch nodded down a freekick from the left to Roberts, who drove the ball past Coburn from around the penalty mark. Alty's misery was compounded when Hussin was booked for a foul on Burgess, who not for the first time, made the most of an offence against him.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 KETTERING TOWN 2|
Alty brought on veteran midfielder Val Owen for his debut, at the interval. He replaced Torpey. Hussin moved left to accommodate Owen in central midfield. Within 45 seconds of Kettering restarting the game, Alty had scored. Potts got the Ball in the D of the Poppies' box and skillfully made space, as two opponents challenged him, before driving the ball, low, into the net (46 mins).
Kettering replied with two corners in the next five minutes. Coburn gathered the second but then saw the ball dislodged from his possession by Brown who was lucky not to be booked by the inconsistent referee (51 mins). For reasons that were not very clear at the time the Kettering bench erupted. Later it emerged that they believed that Peter Band had punched Lynch.
Alty then made progress up the right before Adams found Little in the outer left of the box His shot was blocked but came to Hallows who, at the second attempt, drove the ball home for the equaliser (53 mins).
Next, a great shot from 25 yards by Little was brilliantly tipped over by Corry (55 mins). The rich entertainment continued as Alty now enjoyed the upper hand. Referee Hughes then failed to book McCafferty for a trip on Potts, who had gone past two men. From Adams's freekick, Band lashed a shot over the bar from 10 yards (62 mins).
Against the run of play, Kettering went ahead when a ball forward set Lynch free in an offside-looking position. Lynch seemed to miskick a shot, but it turned into a perfect pass to his right to Roberts, who scored easily from 10 yards, again looking offside (63 mins).
Referee Hughes finally booked a Kettering player when Kearns committed a foul on Hussin. From Adams's freekick Band almost got to Talbot's flick on. As Folds was treated for an injury, Coburn remonstrated with the linesman who had not flagged for offside when Kettering scored their third.
Rose then advanced and his effort seemed to strike an opponent's arm in the box. Then Alty had a close shave as Kearns's deflected shot just evaded Paterson at the back post before going for a corner (70 mins).
Kettering's Roberts lashed a shot just wide from a throw-in before Band collapsed, injured, as he stretched to make a clearance. But physio Sean Riley soon had Band up and running again.
Lynch then fed Paterson for a shot which Coburn saved well but the flag was up anyway. Owen's strength in midfield continued to impress as the keenly fought contest continued. Corry now held a Little header, just before Thornley came on for Adams to underline Alty's attacking intent (80 mins). Rose moved into defence in a 4-3-3 formation.
But, next, Coburn had to save well from Roberts and moments later a cross from McCafferty saw Lynch head wide (84 mins). Alty responded with a corner, which Potts took poorly but he was lucky enough to gain a second corner. From this, Owen's effort was cleared off the line with the keeper beaten. But Alty won a freekick, left of goal near the by-line. Potts sent this deep, across the box, where Hussin rose well at the back post to arc a header back to the near post, where Thornley stretched to head home. After his long lay-off with injury, Rod celebrated with his trademark cartwheel (86 mins).
Kieran Lugsden now replaced Hallows (87 mins). As play went into four minutes of added time, Kettering were penned back in their own half. After 3 of the added minutes had elapsed, Kettering brought on Difante for Roberts. Then good cover kept Lugsden at bay to give Alty a late corner but their sustained late pressure could not produce a goal.
This game was a great advert for Nationwide North football. Marcus Hallows was named Man of the Match but new man Val Owen also impressed.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 KETTERING TOWN 3|