VAUXHALL MOTORS (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM (1) 3
Cheshire Senior Cup Semi-Final,
played on Tuesday, 1 February, 2005
Altrincham, without the injured Gary Talbot and Chris Adams, made heavy weather of beating a pacy Vauxhall side reduced to 10 men after keeper Tim Dittmer was sent off when he brought down Colin Little to concede a penalty (29 mins). Aspinall drove the spot-kick past Darren Wright, who had taken over in goal. Earlier, Vauxhall had taken a deserved lead when Coburn could only parry Darren Wright's firm shot and O'Donnell nodded the ball home (16 mins). Colin Potts limped off after 29 mins and looks likely to miss Saturday's match, as Alty struggled to make the extra man tell.
Colin Little put Alty ahead from a Hussin cross (50 mins). The game looked over when Lugsden's looping header from more than 20 yards out on the right wing deceived stand-in keeper Wright, with the incoming Colin Little claiming the goal (61 mins).
Referee Cummins ensured a tense end to the game as he amazingly awarded a penalty for handball against Owen when Noone headed the ball against the back of his arm. McDermott netted from the spot (70 mins). Alty held on for the win but Aspinall was booked for delaying the taking of a throw-in and will now be suspended.
REFEREE: Mr F.P. Cummins (Runcorn)
This previously postponed game would determine who met Crewe Alexandra in the Cheshire Senior Cup Final at Witton Albion on 15 March. A modest crowd watched the game on a dry but breezy evening.
Alty's defence was without the injured Gary Talbot and Chris Adams, as well as the suspended Jozzer Mitten. So, young centre-back George Melling made his first start, playing alongside Mark Maddox, who was making his 300th appearance for Altrincham. Marcus Hallows returned up front for his first start for several games. Vauxhall were without the injured Peter Cumiskey, so often a scourge to Alty on previous visits to Rivacre Park, a ground on which The Robins had never won. Also missing from the Motors' side was former Alty defender James Glendenning, though he was in the stand watching the game.
VAUXHALL MOTORS (White shirts and socks, blue shorts): 1. Tim DITTMER, 2. Lee WOODYATT, 3. Wayne McDERMOTT, 4. Carl SPELLMAN, 5. Darren WRIGHT, 6. Phil BRAZIER, 7. Carl NESBITT, 8. Robbie LAWTON, 9. Karl O'DONNELL, 10. James OLSEN, 11. Chris NOONE. Subs: 12. Anthony WRIGHT, 14. Alan GRIFFITHS, 15. James PARRY.
ALTRINCHAM (All yellow) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Gary SCOTT, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. George MELLING, 6. Eddie HUSSIN, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Kieran LUGSDEN, 14. Sean SMITH, 15. Paul TILLEY.
The game settled into an early pattern of pacy Vauxhall passing movements, aided by a tail-wind, but the Alty defence prevented any shots at goal. In these early stages Alty were barely getting out of their own half and manager Graham Heathcote was not a happy man, telling his team that they had not caused the opposition a single problem (12 mins). The first decent shot at goal was Lawton's fine 22-yarder, which took a slight deflection and went just wide of Coburn's left post, for a corner. Coburn, wearing tracksuit bottoms on a firm pitch, got a hand on the corner but a resulting Motors' shot was blocked by a defender. Soon after he had won the ball well, Hussin mis-directed a pass in centre-field. A Vauxhall player relayed the ball to Darren Wright, some 25 yards out on the right flank. His well-hit, low shot was only parried by Coburn and the loose ball sat up conveniently for the incoming O'Donnell to nod into the net from close range (16 mins).
Going behind spurred Alty to their first significant attack as Little played a short pass, inside, to his left to Hallows. Marcus elected not to shoot and, instead, shook off his marker with a neat side-step but this allowed time for his eventual shot to be blocked (20 mins). Two minutes later, a well judged through-ball from Aspinall, from a Hussin feed, set Little free and as he entered the box, goalkeeper Dittmer rushed out and clearly brought him down. Mr. Cummins had no option but to send off the goalkeeper and, after protests, he also booked Nesbitt. Darren Wright took over in goal and though he dived to his left, he could not stop former Motorman, Steve Aspinall from recording his fourth successful spot-kick of the season (24 mins). From looking second-best, Alty were now level and had an extra man for the remaining 66 minutes.
Play was now more even than in the opening minutes. Vauxhall compensated well for their loss of a player by continuing to pass the ball around with pace. Stand-in keeper Wright dealt well when making a kicked clearance, but Alty failed to test him with any shots. Indeed, it was Alty who suffered a blow when Potts appeared to damage his right hamstring and hobbled slowly off the pitch to be substituted by Lugsden (29 mins). Scott was then flattened by one of several robust challenges.
Vauxhall continued to go forward and any latecomers would not have realised that they had one player fewer than Alty. The makeshift keeper then punched impressively clear from a Lugsden up-and-under (37 mins). Alty's attempts to attack ended, several times, in offside decisions. Before the break, another robust challenge by O'Donnell, just back from suspension, saw him become the third Motorman to be booked in the first half (44 mins).
|Half-Time: VAUXHALL MOTORS 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Alty kicked-off the second half, with the brisk breeze behind them. Olsen soon became the fourth home player to be booked, for jumping in dangerously on Lugsden, who needed treatment before resuming (48 mins). Then, after an Aspinall free-kick on the right, just inside his own half, Hussin crossed from the left and Little hooked the ball over the stand-in keeper from close range for a fairly scrappy goal to put Alty ahead 2-1 (50 mins).
Alty continued to get caught offside and failed to apply real pressure on the replacement keeper. For their part, Vauxhall continued to give at least as good as they got, with Noone shooting wide (56 mins). Indeed, Alty were kept on the back foot as Vauxhall's pacy approach work continued. But just after Mr Cummins had felt it necessary to have words on the touchline with Owen Brown, the Vauxhall manager, Alty scored again - in surprising fashion. Thornley swept a ball from the left-centre, to Lugsden on the right. Kieran, from 25 yards or so, near the right touchline, sent a speculative, looping header goalwards. With Little advancing into the box to get on the end of it, 'keeper Wright was lured too far out, towards the penalty spot, and saw the ball bounce over him and towards the empty net. As Little and Wright chased the ball, it bounced into the net with a delighted Lugsden celebrating on the right, as Little also claimed the goal for himself (61 mins). To Kieran's disappointment, Little was later officially credited with the goal.
With Little 'scoring' a neatly built offside goal soon afterwards, it looked as if Alty were home and dry (65 mins). Hallows was soon, twice, caught offside as Alty enjoyed their most dominant few minutes of the game. But Mr Cummins handed Vauxhall a lifeline. A freekick from the right was sent across the Alty goalmouth. Owen rose to meet the ball ahead of Noone, towards the back post but the ball evaded the Alty midfielder and Noone headed it into the back of Owen's arm. Somehow, the referee construed this to be deliberate handball and gave a penalty. McDermott netted the spot-kick, to Coburn's left (70 mins).
Smith, already waiting to come on as the penalty was scored, now replaced Hallows, who had had a quiet game (70 mins). Vauxhall now scented some reward for their efforts and Griffiths came on for Spellman (74 mins). The home side kept Alty penned back and then caught Alty offside yet again. Manager Graham Heathcote was unhappy both with his players and the linesman who kept flagging his players offside. A brilliant stand-up tackle by Maddox then stopped a jinking run by Olsen and underlined the Alty defender's commitment over his 300 games for the club. Alongside him, debutant Melling was also playing solidly on his debut.
Vauxhall played their final card when Anthony Wright replaced O'Donnell (82 mins). They won a corner as Alty remained on the back-foot (86 mins). Surprisingly, Mr Cummins found three minutes of added time - and actually played almost five. This added time was to cost Alty dear as Aspinall was booked when he was too slow taking a throw-in (90+3 mins). He will now be suspended as it was his fifth yellow card. Vauxhall got a corner in the dying seconds but a foul on Coburn ended any danger.
Alty now meet Crewe in the CSC Final at Witton on 15 March. But a more immediate concern is the possible loss of Potts for Saturday's Trophy game. This was not Alty's best display but playing against 10 men often proves to be more difficult than it looks. On the plus side, George Melling did his cause no harm.
|Full-Time: VAUXHALL MOTORS 2 ALTRINCHAM 3|