MOOR GREEN (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM (1) 2
Nationwide North game,
played on Saturday, 4 December, 2004
In a generally open and entertaining game, a weakened Altrincham were fortunate to come away with a point after Moor Green had dominated much of the second half. Alty were without the injured Hallows and Owen, as well as their captain Peter Band, who had signed for Northwich on Friday. Their bench comprised five players (Smith, Brindle, Melling, Chalmers and Tilley) who had yet to make a league appearance this season, whilst two others (Thornley and Lugsden) were starting their first league games of the season. The Moors took the lead after 37 minutes when Bridgewater finished well from close range to the the right of goal. But a magnificent goal from Gary Scott levelled things just before the break, his superb volley from the edge of the box being lifted over debutant keeper Harris before dropping into the net just under the cross bar (45 mins). The Moors caused Alty a lot of defensive problems, especially on the Alty right before Bridgewater's corner got a headed touch from Sanders to make it 2-1 (70 mins). Belatedly Alty began to get forward in the closing stages and Thornley scored a well-taken goal with just five minutes of normal time left. Both sides were roared on by excellent vocal support throughout the game.
REFEREE: Mr N. MURPHY (Mansfield)
This was Alty's first visit to the Moorlands ground, situated in the Hall Green suburb of Birmingham, near Solihull. The pitch was one of the best we have played on this season and the ground itself is neat and tidy. Down both sides there is no cover or terracing but, behind the clubhouse end, is a wooden stand. This used to straddle the halfway line before the pitch was reorientated by 90 degrees some years ago. The far end has covered terracing. It was the Moors first home league game since October.
Altrincham had major team selection problems. Not only were midfielder Val Owen and striker Marcus Hallows out of action through injury, Steve Torpey still has pleurisy and captain Peter Band had left the club on Friday afternoon to join Northwich Vics. Some of those playing were also doubtful before kick off - with Hussin, Scott and Adams all carrying knocks. So the 16-man squad included no fewer than seven players who had yet to make a start for Altrincham in the league - these were Thornley and Lugsden who started together up front and the five subs, Smith, Tilley, Brindle, Melling and Chalmers. Smith had been sidelined for more than 18 months after a road accident, Tilley and Chalmers were Alty youth graduates who have been in the Reserves this season, whilst Melling and Brindle are the Reserve team's centre-backs.
Alty were also forced into positional changes with Colin Little starting in central midfield whilst Gary Scott continued in his new role on the left. Eddie Hussin captained the side for the first time.
Moor Green were without keeper Rachel for the first time in any game this season and Harris started instead. In Darren Middleton, the Moors had one of the division's leading scorers.
MOOR GREEN (Dark and light blue shirts; dark blue shorts and socks) 1. Matt HARRIS, 2. Ben PETTY, 3. Richard FOLLETT, 4. Aaron BROWN, 5. Guy SANDERS, 6. David FOY, 7. David BRIDGEWATER, 8. Darren MIDDLETON, 9. Sean DOWDALL, 10. Jae MARTIN, 11. Phillip TRAINER, Subs: 12. Matty HALL, 14. Peter FAULDS, 15. Lee VAUGHAN, 16. Luke BRADLEY, 17. Junior ENGLISH.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks.) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Eddie HUSSIN (capt.), 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Rod THORNLEY, 9. Kieran LUGSDEN, 10. Colin LITTLE, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Sean SMITH, 14. Paul TILLEY, 15. Lewis CHALMERS, 16. Adam BRINDLE, 17. George MELLING.
Although today's gate was 334, the Moorlands average is under 300. Despite their small number, their supporters certainly give them much better vocal support than is the case at many larger clubs. The travelling Alty fans were also in good voice and the game was played in a good spirit throughout.
After changing ends, Altrincham kicked off, defending the club house end, but within ten seconds Aspinall had lost possession on the Alty right. The Moors had the first shot of note when Trainer shot narrowly wide from 22 yards but Coburn had it covered (5 mins). Alty's first effort was way over the bar from Hussin after Talbot had headed on an Adams freekick, one of several conceded by the home side in the early stages (7 mins). End to end play continued as Middleton, who was beginning to impress, especially when he advanced on the left, got in a cross which Martin headed into the side netting of the Alty goal (8 mins). Altrincham had the ball in the net soon afterwards when Talbot nodded on an Aspinall freekick but the ball was turned into the net by an Alty hand. A foul on Thornley gave Alty another freekick but this was cleared. At the other end Coburn had to rush out to clear. The even pattern continued as Lugsden was given offside in a promising position (15 mins).
Altrincham won their first corner but this came off Talbot for a goalkick, as the visitors began to settle and play some neat passing football, though without creating any clear chances. There was a humorous exchange between the fans as the Moors' chants of "dodgy keeper", aimed at Stuart Coburn were met by a chorus of "England's number one" from the other end of the ground. But the Moors began to reassert themselves round about the 25 minute mark when, again, they advanced up the left and Dowdall nodded the ball across goal to Follett but Alty were given a freekick to stop any further danger. However, soon Trainer got free but put in a poor cross which Adams cut out (27 mins). Altrincham were not helping their cause by giving away possession repeatedly and when Aspinall was caught in possession, Coburn had again to run towards the touchline to concede a throw.
A better moment for Alty came when Adams found Scott and, via Thornley, the ball came to Potts whose 30 yarder, leaning back, cleared the bar (30 mins). It then took a superb tackle from Maddox to see off another Moor Green attack as the home side switched the play well. A dangerous moment arrived when yet again Coburn had to dash towards the touchline, this time to the left of his goal and about 20 yards out. He found Talbot, who promptly lost the ball and it was only the fact that Middleton slightly sliced his attempted lob from right of goal that allowed the keeper time to hurry back and gather the ball before it crossed the line (35 mins). Immediately play went to the other end and Lugsden appeared to be bowled over in the box but referee Murphy showed no interest in a penalty award. Moor Green responded with another neat attack and though Hussin seemed initially to have cleared the danger, Follett played the ball forward inside the box to Bridgewater, who was approaching the by-line some six yards or so to the right of gioal. The Moors' number seven drove an unstoppable shot past Coburn from an acute angle to put his side ahead (37 mins).
Amost immediately, Little gave the ball away and it took another fine tackle from Maddox to stop Dowdall at the cost of a corner. The Moors continued to pen Alty back and Dowdall once more got behind the Alty defence in a similar position to the one from which the goal had come. This time Coburn made a good save. Alty now began to get forward at the other end and after a Potts' shot had been blocked, Little's follow-up went out for a corner. The corner was cleared and the Moors broke away forcing the busy Coburn to volley clear from his own penalty area. After Hussin had been tripped by Follett, not his first offence, the referee simply lectured the offender. From the resulting freekick by Adams, near half-way, Talbot won the ball in the air inside the box. The ball then came out of the box to Scott who executed a superb half-volley which he managed to lift up and over the defenders and keeper but under the crossbar for a very good equaliser (45 mins). Referee Murphy then booked Thornley for his first offence, a foul on Brown, as the game entered added time (46 mins). Half-time arrived soon afterwards.
|Half-Time: MOOR GREEN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
The second half started with an early cross from an Aspinall freekick which Lugsden headed over the bar. Soon Hussin shot over the bar, as the visiting fans continued to sing their support (51 mins). Then Lugsden headed wide from a Thornley cross as Alty looked to improve on their patchy first half performance (54 mins). However, as the game approached the hour mark, Moor Green began to re-assert themselves. Trainer got past Aspinall and fed Middleton whose shot from the left went across goal and just wide of the far post (57 mins). Soon Moor Green were again making progress on the left but Aspinall covered well. However, the Moors were soon pressing again until, at last, Hussin fed Thornley, to the right of goal, but his cross cum shot went out of play (63 mins). At this point, Moor Green replaced Foy by Hall. Soon afterwards handball by Petty was not given by the referee inside the home box who presumably judged it accidental (64 mins).
Next, Dowdall shot wide as the action continued mainly in the Altrincham half. Maddox again did well to see off another attack at the cost of a corner. Before this could be taken, Potts was lectured for a foul in the Moors' build-up. The corner was well taken by Bridgewater and, from a distant viewpoint, seemed to sail into the back corner but those closer to the action gave the goal to a header from Sanders (70 mins). A Moors' corner soon followed as the home side kept up the pressure.
Alty now made a change with Paul Tilley coming on for his league debut in place of Lugsden. Tilley joined Hussin in central midfield allowing Little to move forward (73 mins). Coburn took Martin's cross well as the Moors attacked again but soon Altrincham made another swap with Sean Smith coming for Gary Scott (78 mins). It was Sean's first league appearance for more than 18 months after a road accident. But the Moors immediately won another corner as Alty looked second best. Indeed when Trainer again got free of the Alty defence after getting past Talbot, Middleton forced a magnificent save from Coburn at the cost of another corner to the home side, on their right (80 mins). But soon Altrincham began to get forward for the first time in quite a while. A Potts shot struck a defender to earn a corner on the left. This was cleared but soon, from a Hussin pass, Thornley composed himself well as he got free inside the box and he calmly slotted the ball past Harris to level the scores at 2-2 and undo the lengthy period of second half pressure from the Moors. Rod's trademark cartwheel celebration followed and then the referee had to prise him and other Alty players away from the fans behind the goal. Altrincham now kept on the front foot but neither side was able to create a clear chance in the closing stages and the points were shared. In the last minute of added time, Lewis Chalmers came on as Alty won a throw deep in the Moors' half. Lewis, who has a prodigious long-throw in his armoury was sadly not given the opportunity to take the throw and the final whistle went before he could touch the ball. Though Alty have won just one of their last eight league games, they remain in eighth place and this was a very satisfactory result given the weakened nature of the Altrincham squad.
|Full-Time: MOOR GREEN 2 ALTRINCHAM 2|