WORCESTER CITY (0) 2 ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
Nationwide North League Match,
played on Saturday, 30 October, 2004
Altrincham dropped striker Marcus Hallows on the bench as they sought to tighten up defensively after recent lapses. After a fairly routine start, the game erupted after 16 minutes when City's assistant player-manager, John Snape was sent off after putting his hand in the face of the prostrate Hussin. Then Stephen Rose suffered a suspected broken leg after a tackle by Colley but, even worse, one of the stewards who had stretchered him off, suffered a heart attack in the dressing room area and died. Our condolences go to his family.
Alty finally made the extra man count when Little hooked the ball home at the second attempt (45 mins). Alty started the second half well and Little saw an effort come off the inside of the post. But Worcester's 10 men fought back and hit Alty with two quick goals. First, Coburn did well to beat out Webster's shot only for Owen to convert the rebound (74 mins). Then an error by Talbot let in Owen for a second goal (76 mins). Alty created several chances and came close to a late leveller but keeper Coates made a fine double-save from Little and Band in added time. Alty fans left St George's Lane stunned at defeat in a game in which they had a man advantage and most of the shots at goal but had come away with nothing.
After the game came more grim news, a 71 year-old Worcester spectator collapsed and died on leaving the stadium. Again, all at Altrincham are very sad to hear this news.
REFEREE: Mr Stephen WHITEHURST (Stoke on Trent)
This was Alty's first league game at St George's Lane for 20 seasons. Both sides were in need of a win. The hosts had failed to win in their last eight league and cup games whilst Alty were also without a win in six matches.
For Alty, Steve Torpey was out injured and Marcus Hallows was surprisingly dropped to the bench as manager Graham Heathcote sought a tighter defensive performance away from home. Rose moved to left back with Adams moving to left midfield. In midfield, Val Owen was given his first start. Alty had four strikers on the bench with defender Mark Maddox.
Worcester had Welsh under-21 keeper James Coates, from Leigh RMI Reserves, in goal for his third game after losing two other keepers this season to serious injuries.
WORCESTER CITY (Blue shirts, with white stripes, white shorts, blue socks): 1. James COATES, 2. Rob WARNER, 3. Les HINES, 4. Colin HOYLE, 5. Carl HEELEY, 6. Paul CARTY, 7. Nick COLLEY, 8. John SNAPE, 9. Mark OWEN, 10. Leon KELLY, 11. Pat LYONS. Subs: 12. Adam WEBSTER, 14. Liam McDONALD, 15. Tom WARNER, 16. Shabir KHAN, 17. Lewis SKYERS.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shirts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Peter BAND (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Val OWEN, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Eddie HUSSIN, 9. Stephen ROSE, 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Marcus HALLOWS, 14. Rod THORNLEY, 15 Kieran LUGSDEN, 16. Peter WRIGHT, 17. Mark MADDOX.
After changing ends, Worcester kicked off two minutes early. Alty got off to a slow start and Worcester went close early on when Mark Owen chipped an effort over the backpedalling Coburn but onto the roof of the net, from the left (4 mins). City continued to have marginally the better of things but Alty were not helped when they were not awarded a clear corner (10 mins).
Worcester continued to undo good approach work with a poor final ball. For Alty, Val Owen was looking assured on his full debut whilst his midfield partner Hussin was coming to life after a faltering start. The match erupted when Hussin went down, sandwiched by two opponents (16 mins). As he lay on the ground, the City assistant player-manager deliberately put his hand in the prostrate Hussin's face and this prompted a brawl involving half a dozen players or more with Snape emerging with his collar almost torn off. As Hussin was treated, the ref consulted the nearby linesman. The outcome was a freekick for Worcester but a red card for Snape and a yellow for Hussin, his fifth of the season - prompting a suspension for him. Hoyle also appeared to be booked whilst the referee also had to put up with a verbal assault from the Worcester management. Indeed, City manager John Barton was sent off, too.
When Potts was felled, late, Warner was the next to be booked (22 mins). Following a freekick, Worcester won a corner which Coburn caught. A bad tackle by Colley left Rose in a heap but play continued for a minute or more before Carty kicked the ball out (24 mins). After lengthy treatment, Rose was helped off in clear distress. Treatment continued to Rose's right leg/ankle on the pitch side. Hallows came on to replace Rose so Adams moved to left-back and Potts moved back to the right wing (25 mins).
Despite their man advantage, Alty were not getting any clear shots at the stand-in keeper. But then Aspinall and Little got Hallows free in the box to the right of goal. Completely clear, Hallows advanced but made badly underhit his attempted chip and Coates saved easily (31 mins). A stretcher now took Rose to the dressing room from the far side of the pitch. Following an Alty throw, Coates caught a cross intended for Little. At the other end Alty had a shout for a penalty as Hoyle slid in to intercept the ball and fell on top of it as he knocked it back to Coates (34 mins). Val Owen then escaped sanction with a two footed challenge which took the ball rather than the man but caused the volatile Worcester bench to explode once again.
As Worcester continued to play without looking a man short, Talbot had to make a great tackle to stop Mark Owen after he had got past Band. Chances continued to come for Altrincham but Little scuffed a shot wide at the end of a good move which led to a well directed cross from the left by Adams (37 mins). Potts then won an Alty corner but, soon after this had been cleared, Peter Band was booked for a foul on Kelly (41 mins). Hines's freekick provoked a goalmouth melee but a goalkick to Alty resulted. A fine move finally brought Altrincham the game's opening goal. It started when a foul on Val Owen by Mark Owen gave Alty a freekick just inside their own half. After playing the freekick short to Band, Aspinall got the ball back and played a superb diagonal ball 50 yards to Scott on the left. Via Val Owen and Adams, the ball came back to Scott, advancing into the left of the box. His pass was conveyed on by Hallows to Little whose overhead shot from the centre of the box was saved but the Alty striker reacted quickly to get up and poke the loose ball past the prostrate Coates (45 mins). Good work by Hallows on the left saw him get past Heeley but his cross was headed at Coates by Little after three minutes of added time had passed. Nevertheless, there was still time for Mark Owen to head at Coburn before the interval arrived.
Curiously Alty stayed on the pitch for half-time with a large teapot being produced for their refreshment. It emerged that the reason for this was that one of the stewards who had taken Stephen Rose to the dressing room had collapsed there and, very sadly, had died.
|Half-Time: WORCESTER CITY 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Alty started the second half very well and after just two minutes Little got behind the keeper to the left of goal and from a very acute angle seemed to have scored but the ball ran agonizingly along the line and out, off the inside of the far post. It rebounded past the incoming Hallows to safety. Alty then won two corners. Following the latter of these two, Lyons shot well wide at the other end (49 mins). Altrincham continued to enjoy the better of the game and a good effort from Potts, 35 yards out on the right wing, almost went in, with Coates well of his line (53 mins).
Worcester now brought on Webster for Carty (54 mins). But Alty continued to play well but without creating any further openings. However, Val Owen picked up a booking even though his challenge had won the ball (58 mins). Next, Hallows was put clear on the break but Coates again made a good save as Alty squandered another opportunity to make the game safe (60 mins). A couple of Adams' crosses sustained the visitors' pressure before City made another change; Warmer replacing Lyons (64 mins).
Worcester now got back into the game and some end to end action followed. Coburn, unoccupied for much of the second half to date, came out to punch but did not get to the ball but the resulting shot went wide. More good skill from the impressive Little set Hallows free but he was judged offside (68 mins). Another chance went begging when a cross from Potts from the right gave Hallows a clear header but he powered the ball over the bar from 10 yards (71 mins). At this point, Worcester made another change with McDonald replacing Kelly. Next, after Scott had lost the ball, Adams conceded a corner on the City right. This was cleared but Worcester's ten men now had Alty's eleven penned back in their own half. So it came as no real surprise when the pressure produced an equaliser, Webster's well struck shot from the edge of the box being beaten out to Mark Owen, who was on hand to put the loose ball into the net from close range near Coburn's right post (74 mins).
Alty then got up to the other end, where Little had a shot well saved. But then Talbot (as I and others thought, or Band as some newspaper reports state) missed a ball down the middle and it ran to Owen. Coburn slipped in coming to meet Owen leaving the striker with an open goal to make it 2-1 (76 mins). From the re-start Alty won a corner and brought on Thornley for Scott on the right (77 mins). But Worcester were not lying down and Warmer soon lashed a shot across goal. When Coburn then kicked poorly clear Altrincham look rattled, as their travelling fans were, by Worcester's two quick goals. But Altrincham settled again and Thornley was soon to be brought down, just a pace outside the box, near the by-line left of goal. Potts wasted the freekick by ambitiously trying to drive the ball in at the nearpost but he could only hit the side netting (80 mins).
A foul on Hussin saw Webster booked just before Peter Wright replaced Potts (84 mins). Though Talbot won a header from the resulting freekick, the ball was cleared. Wright settled on the left with Thornley on the right supporting Hallows and Little. McDonald was then booked for Worcester but Aspinall's freekick was cleared. Alty's desperation for an equaliser even saw Coburn come to halfway to take a throw-in. Alty almost got their reward when Aspinall found Little but Coates made fine successive saves to beat out shots from Little and Band to keep Alty at bay as the game went into the second added minute after the 90 had been completed. Even at this late stage Altrincham made yet another chance when Aspinall shot narrowly over from 20 yards in the third added minute.
So, Worcester got their first win in nine league games whilst Alty failed to win for the seventh game of any kind - the curse of being Nationwide Manager of the Month for September has truly struck Altrincham's Graham Heathcote! Alty have now lost four games this league season, all away, and all by 2-1. Today they played some good football and created enough chances to have won comfortably but credit must go to Worcester who battled for 74 minutes with ten men and whose second half substitutes gave them a boost towards victory.
But the disappointing result was put into perspective both by the bad injury to Stephen Rose, whom we all wish a speedy recovery, and even more by the untimely death of the Worcester City steward. All at Altrincham FC send their condolences to his widow, who was working behind the scenes at the ground during the match, and to his family.
|Full-Time: WORCESTER CITY 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|