ALTRINCHAM (1) 2
SOUTHPORT (0) 1
Nationwide North game,
played on Saturday, 18 December, 2004
Another richly entertaining game at Moss Lane ended with Alty consolidating their sixth position thanks to goals by Thornley and Little. Alty took the lead after 21 minutes when a fine ball forward from Potts, who had an excellent game, found Little who got round keeper Dickinson to the right of goal. Little managed to get the ball back, inside, to Thornley, who scored comfortably. The Port started the second half strongly and got level thanks to a penalty conceded for a tackle on Mulvaney. Fearns converted the spot kick impressively (52 mins). The Alty winner came after 67 minutes when a good clearing header from Talbot found Thornley who laid the ball off accurately to the right to Little. His well-placed shot from about 12 yards beat Dickinson and went in off the upright. The game briefly threatened to boil over in the closing stages but Alty ran out deserved winners to gain revenge for their 2-1 loss at Haig Avenue earlier this season.
REFEREE: Mr J.R. TYAS
After a pitch inspection at Moss Lane at 11.45 it was passed fit for play. But as the spectators arrived at the ground the sanded surface was still being worked on, with Alty Director Grahame Rowley prominent as he operated the manual mopping machine to great effect to ensure that play could go on. Before the match Rocky Robin made a seasonal appearance as the Altrincham mascot. Southport had brought good numbers in support of their side and both sets of fans were in good voice.
Altrincham were unchanged from the Harrogate match last week, but Marcus Hallows had recovered sufficiently from the hamstring problem which had kept him out of that game to be on the bench, displacing Reserves' centre-back Adam Brindle. New signing Josh Mitten was starting a three-match suspension.
Southport's Kevin Leadbetter and Jerome Fitzgerald were unfit to start but "Sid" Pickford had recovered to play after being injured on Tuesday night whilst Carl Baker was on the bench after a recent illness.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks.) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Chris ADAMS. 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Eddie HUSSIN (capt.), 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Marcus HALLOWS, 14. Kieran LUGSDEN, 15. Sean SMITH, 16. Paul TILLEY, 17. George MELLING.
SOUTHPORT (All yellow, with black trim): 1. Steve DICKINSON, 2. Steve PICKFORD, 3. Alex MORTIMER, 4.Farrell KILBANE, 5. Earl DAVIS, 6. Dominic MORLEY, 7. Chris PRICE (capt.), 8. Kevin LYNCH, 9. Terry FEARNS, 10. Neil ROBINSON, 11. Lee MULVANEY. Subs: 12. Ian LOWE, 14. Martyn LANCASTER, 15. Jimmy WILLIAMS, 16. Carl BAKER, 17. Steve DALY.
Southport kicked off early, at two minutes to three, attacking the 20/20 End and the first controversy of the afternoon saw Dickinson half-punch clear from Talbot and win an unlikely looking goalkick. Colin Potts soon played in a fine ball which only just reached Dickinson before Little could get it (4 mins). It soon became apparent that the wet pitch would cause the ball to "die" in certain areas of the field but both sides adapted well to the conditions. After 9 minutes Alty almost opened the scoring when Thornley found Potts on the right and his low cross to the near post was met almost simultaneously by the incoming Little and the impressive physical presence of Earl Davis. The ball squirmed just wide of Dickinson's left post and a goalkick was the referee's decision. Soon, another ball into the Southport box skidded off the surface into Dickinson's arms when, on a drier pitch, it might have held up for the arriving Thornley. End to end play continued with Fearns going down cheaply under an excellent Adams challenge inside the Alty box to prompt Southport cries for a penalty which Mr Tyas was right to ignore (11 mins). But Southport won the game's first corner when Maddox cleared from the lively Robinson (15 mins).
Maddox cleared the corner and Price put the resulting loose ball over the roof of the old Chequers night club. Alty soon put together a good move when Hussin found Little who, in turn located Thornley. His fine ball for the advancing Owen saw the midfielder half-hit his shot to the advancing keeper's left as he entered the box but Dickinson got a hand to the ball, to keep it out (19 mins). Southport went to the other end and, as the Alty midfield allowed a long ball up the middle to bounce through to Fearns, the prolific striker fired in a shot which Coburn did very well to beat out, a corner resulting on the Southport right. After Southport had been caught offside, Potts played a fine ball from a position inside his own half which Little just reached before Dickinson. Little got past the keeper, who half stopped the ball, but the Alty man was driven slightly wide to the right of goal and was forced to gather the ball and turn, with his back to goal, before relaying the ball inside to the advancing Thornley who drove the ball home from a central position about 10 yards out, to give Alty the lead (21 mins). It was Rod's fourth goal in only four league starts (and 5 sub appearances) this season and helped maintain his Alty career record of more than a goal in every two starts.
Southport then made an appeal for a penalty for handball after Robinson's lay off had seen Price drive his shot against Adams's hand (23 mins). After Thornley had been upended by Kilbane, Aspinall's low, driven freekick from 25 yards was well held by Dickinson (25 mins). The floodlights were now coming on a gloomy but dry afternoon at Moss Lane. Both sides were putting plenty of effort into the game, despite the tricky conditions and at the back, Talbot and Maddox were doing well to keep out the threat of Fearns and Robinson. Owen and Hussin continued to forge a promising combination in central midfield but it was Southport who had the next shot of note, an effort from some 25 yards by Robinson which just cleared the bar as Coburn kept a watchful eye on it (33 mins).
When Pickford jumped all over Hussin, the combative Alty midfielder stayed down and needed treatment from the physio before groggily getting to his feet, with mud marks down his face and shirt. Soon, after Mulvaney had got the better of Adams, the Alty left-back held his opponent's shirt to concede a freekick but then a trip on Hussin by Lynch gave Alty a freekick in return. The referee than failed to see his linesman's frantic flagging for a foul on Potts and allowed play to continue till he spotted a foul on a Southport player and gave them a freekick. This prompted a minor fracas involving Hussin and a Southport player before play resumed. Mr Tyas had shown leniency until Aspinall was caught late and he booked Mortimer (40 mins). After Potts had ridden three challenges he was fouled just outside the box and the victim, Little and Aspinall all stood over the dead ball. The rehearsed move did not come off but after Owen's subsequent shot had been cleared to Little, his low cross from the left won his side a corner on the left. Potts's well struck corner to the back of the goalmouth found Thornley with a free header which he unfortunately put into the side netting (44 mins). A fine tackle by Maddox saw off the ever-dangerous Fearns before a minute of added time was played and Alty left, with a deserved half-time lead after 45 minutes of full-blooded action.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 SOUTHPORT 0|
Southport came out early for the second half and proceeded to up their game by a gear in the opening stages of the second period. As a result, Alty were kept hemmed in their half for, even when they won possession, they were unable to keep it for long. When Pickford picked up a loose ball inside his own half, he surged up the middle and fed Fearns who in turn found Mulvaney, who got past Adams and was brought down for a clear penalty. Though Coburn guessed correctly, the force of Fearns's spot kick took the ball past his dive to his right and into the net to level the scores (52 mins).
Southport dominated the next few minutes but Mortimer's exaggerated reaction to Potts's challenge won him both a freekick and the ire of the home crowd. At last Alty put together a decent second-half move but it ended when Thornley was felled and Price was booked for the offence (55 mins). From this situation, Potts took a good freekick which Dickinson did well to save (56 mins). Alty remained generally on the back foot, however, but Aspinall did get in a teasing diagonal ball from the right which just evaded a knot of players at the back post and went out for a goalkick (59 mins). Hussin, Scott and Thornley then put together a neat move and a good run from Potts saw him get on the end of it, but the ball ran off his toe to Dickinson.
Maddox then had to concede a corner before another Southport move ended with a fine shot from Fearns which Coburn saved magnificently. Almost immediately, the Alty keeper was having to make another, more routine stop, as Southport continued to impress going forward (63 mins). With manager Heathcote now on the touchline, Alty responded with a good move, before the Southport defence got themselves in a bit of a mess as they were closed down by Alty harrying. At this point, Mulvaney was surprisingly replaced by Daly, who slotted into right midfield (65 mins).
But the change did not have its desired effect for the visitors for, within two minutes, it was Altrincham who had scored. The goal started with a firm and well directed header out of defence by Talbot from about 25 yards inside his own half in a central position. He found Thornley, about 25 yards out from the Southport goal. Rod controlled the ball well before laying it off inside to Little. Little also controlled the pass well before placing a low shot across Dickinson and into the far corner, where it entered the net off the inside of the post, from a distance of about 12yards (67 mins). It was Colin's first league goal in seven games and took him to eight in total in the league and an impressive seventeen in all competitions this season.
The goal helped Altrincham to re-assert themselves after Port's dominance of much of the play since the interval. The crowd continued to get good value for money as the two sides contested every ball. Southport were not getting any clear sights of Coburn's net at this stage but they did win a corner when Fearns appeared to shoot over the bar but the referee spotted a deflection (76 mins). This corner came to nothing and Southport soon made another change, with Baker replacing Lynch (77 mins).
Hussin was again clattered, this time by the newly arrived Baker and it needed a two minute stoppage to restore the Alty midfielder to his feet, which was filled by the Altrincham supporters' chants. Alty then won a corner and Dickinson failed to hold Potts's inswinger, allowing Little a shot which a defender blocked for another Alty corner. This corner, from the right by Potts, was nodded across goal by Maddox to Thornley at the back post but he could only find the side netting (81 mins). Southport replied by forcing a corner off Scott before Alty made a substitution with Lugsden replacing Thornley and assuming a lone striker role as Little dropped deeper, on the left (83 mins). The slight figure of Kieran was soon holding its own against the much bigger Davis as the youngster made a good impression in the few minutes of the game available to him. Three minutes of added time were announced during which Coburn gathered a Daly freekick at the second attempt before Alty wound down the clock with some play in the corner of the pitch at the Southport end, which yielded them a freekick. There was some late concern when a seemingly excellent tackle by Maddox was penalised about 35 yards out from goal on the Alty right, but the resulting freekick was taken and cleared after a melee had been broken up. After 4 minutes of added time the final whistle signalled another good home win for Alty who have now gathered 24 of their 34 league points in matches at Moss Lane. Colin Little was named Man of the Match and he did have a good game, but so too did the whole side, with Colin Potts and Rod Thornley also particularly impressing.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 SOUTHPORT 1|