ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
BARROW (0) 0
F.A. Trophy 4th Round game,
played on Saturday, 5 February, 2005
Altrincham advanced to Round 5 of the FA Trophy for the second year running and gained £5,000 in prize money with this narrow win against a resurgent Barrow side whose performance belied their lowly league position. A weakened Alty side, (lacking Maddox, Potts, Adams and Mitten) won the game with a goal from Colin Little as the game entered the fifth minute of added time in the second half, in front of a crowd of 1,119. The goal came, as Alty finished strongly, when Man of the Match Gary Talbot nodded on Steve Aspinall's freekick and Little sent a brilliantly directed header into the top corner. George Melling and Richard Norris making their home debuts both had good games, with Norris even wearing the captain's armband when Hussin limped off late in the game. Barrow will feel disappointed not to have taken the tie back to Holker Street after playing well, if at times physically. Referee Grundy opted for a lenient approach - awarding Alty a string of freekicks but only booking one Barrow player. After the game, manager Graham Heathcote said "This is a massive result for us" and it takes our unbeaten run to 13 games.
REFEREE: Mr C. Grundy
Alty came into the game unbeaten in their last 12 games and Barrow, too, were on a shorter unbeaten run, their form much improved from early season when they had flirted with the relegation places of Nationwide North. This match was a rarity; a home Saturday game for Alty against Barrow. In recent years, whislt Alty have travelled to Holker Street on a Saturday, the Moss Lane games have been confined to Tuesday nights following some trouble with Barrow fans in Altrincham town centre some years ago. As a result, today's game was segregated.
Before kick-off Mark Maddox received a presentation from Alty director Grahame Rowley to mark his achieving 300 appearances for Altrincham last Tuesday. Sadly, the suspended Mark was unable to play today against the only other club for which he had played Conference football.
The gate of 1,119 was Alty's best of the season so far.
Alty were without the injured Colin Potts (hamstring) and Chris Adams (groin), whilst Jozzer Mitten and Mark Maddox were suspended. So, George Melling came in for his home debut after impressing at Vauxhall in the Cheshire Senior Cup on Tuesday night, after which his team-mates had chosen him as their Man of the Match. Another new face was that of Richard Norris, a midfielder signed yesterday from Northwich Victoria. Returning to Moss Lane was goalkeepr Richard Acton who was on the Alty bench today alongside graduates of the Alty youth and reserves' sides, Lewis Chalmers and Paul Tilley. Marcus Hallows, who was not fully fit, was also on the bench along with Sean Smith. There was a further scare for Alty when Gary Scott limped off during the warm up but he was fit enough to play. Up front Kieran Lugsden started alongside Colin Little.
Barrow also had some new and newish faces. Danny Forde, a teenage signing from Oldham made his debut in midfield whilst Simon Bishop had only recently returned to the team. Up front, Neil Tarrant has recently returned from abroad and was partnered by Gavin Knight, rediscovering his form after being loaned out to Scarborough. Veteran Neil Campbell was on the bench along with recently signed understudy goalkeeper Jamie Waite, who has reportedly been on the fringes of the Thailand national squad.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Gary SCOTT, 4. George MELLING, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Eddie HUSSIN, 7. Richard NORRIS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Kieran LUGSDEN. Subs: 12 Marcus HALLOWS, 13. Richard ACTON (gk), 14. Sean SMITH, 15. Paul TILLEY, 16. Lewis CHALMERS.
BARROW (Blue shirts with white trim, white shorts, blue socks): 1. Simon BISHOP, 2. Guy HEFFERNAN, 3. Scott MAXFIELD, 4. James COTTERILL, 5. Karl COLLEY, 6. Graham ANTHONY (capt.), 7. Danny FORDE, 8. Andy HILL, 9. Neil TARRANT, 10. Gavin KNIGHT, 11. Steve RIDLEY. Subs: 12. Neil CAMPBELL, 13. Jamie WAITE, 14. Phil ROWLAND, 15. Gareth SIMPSON, 16. Ian KILFORD.
Altrincham kicked off, towards the 20/20 Hale End on a bright and dry afternoon which was soon to turn cloudy. The Moss Lane pitch was heavily sanded as the sizeable Barrow contingent and the home spectators exchanged their chants and songs. The kick-off was an odd affair with Lugsden's pass to Little leading to a strange long ball forward towards the Barrow penalty area. Barrow won the game's first corner after three minutes and, indeed, it was the visitors who settled the better in the opening stages. But Alty centre-back George Melling was soon impressing with several good clearances. The formidable Barrow back pairing of Colley and Cotterill was giving the smaller Little and Lugsden little change, especially in the air.
Rod Thornley was soon switching wings to keep the opposition on their toes. But with the visitors playing well, Alty boss Graham Heathcote was soon down on the touchline, having started the game in the directors' box. With Dalton Steele, his assistant, back from his work commitments, the Alty management duo attempted to get their much changed team performing as a unit, encouraging them to "play it simple" rather than use long balls forward. But neither side was creating any clear chances. Forde's speculative shot from 20 yards which bounced to Coburn was as good as it got in the goal-threat department in the opening stages (12 mins). Alty did have the ball in the net following a freekick by Aspinall when the ball came off Talbot's body and ran to Thornley, whose "goal" was scrubbed out, presumably for offside (15 mins).
Barrow then went close when Tarrant got the better of Talbot and, from Knight's resulting cross from the right, the Barrow number nine's header went narrowly over the bar. A Barrow corner soon followed after which Cotterill received his first lecture of the game for tripping Lugsden. With the Golf Road supporters taunting the burly visiting goalkeeper Bishop with chants of "who ate the pies?", the Barrow number one responded by pretending to conduct their song. Knight was looking impressive for Barrow on the right and from his feed Ridley sliced a shot over the bar (21 mins). Indeed, the Barrow side as a whole was physically bigger than Alty's with the formidable Colley at the back and the strong Tarrant up front amongst the bulkier of their players. Their robust approach was underlined when Lugsden was twice flattened in almost the same spot out on the right wing some 15 yards from goal. On the first occasion, Colley was lectured and Aspinall's freekick found Little in space near the penalty spot. Unfortunately, Little's volley was not perfectly timed and the ball just cleared the bar (28 mins). When Maxfield brought down Lugsden for the second offence, Barrow cleared the danger.
Barrow then went to the other end and Knight impressively beat Scott and Hussin in one movement on the Alty left before feeding Forde whose cross from the right was met by Tarrant but his effort struck the cross bar and went for a goalkick (29 mins). A push by Hussin in the back of Ridley just outside the front edge of the box, to the left of goal, gave Barrow a threatening freekick. The freekick came across the goalmouth and evaded everyone narrowly before going out for a goalkick (31 mins). The game was developing into a well-contested cup tie as Alty attacked through Thornley and Lugsden only for Barrow to respond with a move which Melling did well to see off.
After Coburn had held a ball into his goal area at the second attempt, Kieran Lugsden was felled again by Cotterill, whom a less lenient referee would have booked, given his earlier lecture to the same player. Then, when Owen was brought down by Maxfield, the Alty man reacted and the Barrow player appeared to put his boot in and had to be dragged away by Anthony. Again Mr Grundy took a lenient view and after lecturing Maxfield and his captain, also had words with Owen after he had been treated. At this stage it appeared that the game might boil over but thankfully it did not (35 mins).
Another fine piece of covering by Melling saw off Barrow again but soon the young centre-back let himself down with a misdirected pass out of defence but Knight was so surprised to receive the ball 35 yards out that he too made a mistake and was dispossessed (38 mins). However, Knight was soon threatening again on the Barrow right as the visitors had marginally the better of the first forty-five minutes. Little was being kept quiet by his markers whilst Val Owen was also quieter than usual in central midfield. Talbot was having a solid game at the back as the two defences limited the goal chances to a minimum. Aspinall then put in a fine tackle on the Barrow left as half-time approached and a resulting, neat move by Alty up the right ended with Little heading Norris's cross just over the bar (45 mins). Norris, who had started on the right, had a good first half on his debut, rarely giving the ball away and doing the simple things well. Just as the game entered a minute of added time, Heffernan's cross was nodded across goal by Tarrant and only just evaded Knight at the back post. Another fine tackle in added time by Aspinall in added time ensured the teams went off goalless at the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BARROW 0|
Alty started the second half better than they had begun the first and a nice move involving Thornley and Aspinall led to Little getting into the box and hooking a shot narrowly over the bar (47 mins). Owen was now more prominent in midfield as Alty enjoyed the better of the opening stages (51 mins). The two sets of supporters continued to give strong support and with the Alty fans now only separated from the Barrow contingent by a patch of marshalled terracing, the atmosphere grew more vibrant. The atmosphere on the Alty touchline was also soon vibrant as play continued after Thornley had been fouled off the ball and it took a scrambled save by Coburn to see off the resulting danger to the Alty goal. Hill came off worse from his challenge on the Alty keeper.
In midfield Hussin was showing his customary commitment as he now played to the left of Norris who had moved to a more central position in the Alty midfield. Forde then needed treatment after he, too, had come off second best from a challenge on Coburn (58 mins). After Talbot had left the ball following a call from Coburn, Coburn missed his catch but his feet saved him as he gathered the ball in the outer part of his area. Barrow soon threatened from the left when Ridley's cross had to be tipped over by Coburn but it was judged to have already gone out of play for a goalkick (60 mins).
Alty finally won a corner after 62 minutes at the end of a Thornley, Hussin and Little move. Lugsden won a header from the corner but as he attempted to poke home the loose ball it was hacked clear. Moments later, from a Melling ball, Lugsden again got in a header which ran to Bishop. After Hussin had been caught late by Heffernan, the ref finally got out his yellow card to caution the Barrow number two (63 mins).
Altrincham were now playing better than in the first half but it was still a full-blooded and competitive cup tie between two well-matched sides. After a firm tackle by Lugsden which clearly won the ball, Mr Grundy gave Maxfield a freekick following which Aspinall got the ball away only for Ridley to feed Tarrant, who shot into the net. However, the flag was up and the "goal" ruled out (66 mins). This led to some more Barrow pressure before Maxfield was again lectured by the referee for a verbal offence after Ridley had tripped the much abused Lugsden on the Alty right. From Aspinall's freekick Talbot sent a downward header to Bishop who was soon again indulging in repartee with the Alty supporters (69 mins).
Barrow's Hill got in a good shot which Coburn saved, well, low down after a move up the right by Barrow (73 mins). The visitors were now enjoying a good spell and after 75 minutes they introduced fresh legs up front in the formidable shape of the shaven-headed Neil Campbell, who replaced defender Heffernan (75 mins). Lugsden was felled yet again soon after, this time by a trip from behind by Ridley deep in the Alty half. Again Mr Grundy gave a freekick, but no more, even when Ridley, just seconds later, committed another foul. As Aspinall waited to take the freekick, Marcus Hallows came on for Thornley (78 mins). Soon a foul by Knight on Scott gave Alty another freekick and this was followed by a crude push in the back of Hussin by Forde to concede yet another freekick (80 mins). With everyone up in the Barrow goalmouth except Coburn and Scott, Aspinall's freekick from the left which was met by Norris's downward header which bounced just over the bar (81 mins).
As Cotterill's blasted clearance accidentally caught Eddie Hussin full on, the Alty captain went down injured on the Alty left touchline. As Hussin received lengthy treatment, the Altrincham constabulary arrived on the scene to ensure that the baiting between the Barrow fans behind the goal and the Alty supporters in the Popular side not get out of hand. Hussin hobbled on but Paul Tilley got ready to replace him. A rare mistake from Colley saw a header glance off him almost into the path of Hallows but Bishop got to it first as Alty finished on the offensive. Tilley than did replace Hussin (86 mins) and the Alty captain handed his captain's armband to the nearest player Norris. With the Alty newcomer unable to find a willing colleague to take on the role, he assumed the captaincy himself, a rare honour for a debutant!
The niggling fouls continued with Ridley now pulled up for holding Owen to give Alty a freekick just outside the box. Little's free-kick was cleared but as Tilley was felled for yet another free-kick, a minimum of four minutes of added time was signalled by the referee. Alty soon won a corner when Norris put the ball out via Cotterill and a second corner immediately followed, which was cleared. With the tannoy announcing that, if a replay were necessary it would be on Tuesday, everyone was resigned to rejoining the contest at Holker Street. But Alty continued to press and after good work by Owen had led to a shot from Norris from the edge of the "D", which went well wide, it seemed the game was destined to remain goalless (90+4 mins). Then, with the game well into the fourth minute of stoppage time, a foul by Campbell on Norris near halfway gave Alty a freekick. Aspinall found Talbot's head and his nod-on found Little, who looped a well-judged header into the top corner of Bishop's net to the keeper's right (90+5 mins). Moss Lane erupted as Little's 23rd goal of the season hit the back of the net. There was just time for Gary Talbot to be fittingly named the Man of the Match before the final whistle went.
A small number of Barrow fans took the result with less than good grace, insulting the innocent Gary Talbot as he left the pitch with his well deserved bottle of champagne. Nevertheless, it was easy to sympathise with the majority of their better-behaved supporters who had travelled a long way and seen their team play well, only for the tie to be resolved in their opponents' favour in the dying seconds.
For the much weakened Alty team it was, as manager Graham Heathcote said afterwards, "a massive result". Out of the adversity of losing Potts, Adams, Maddox and Mitten before kick-off, he had seen a second very promising performance inside a week from young George Melling, ninety minutes of effort and refusal to be provoked by Kieran Lugsden and a solid start to what will hopefully be a long Alty career for midfielder Richard Norris. The more established players all performed well too as Alty took their unbeaten run to thirteen games in all competitions and, one of them, Gary Talbot, who had been a serious injury doubt for this game, was a deserved Man of the Match.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 BARROW 0|