KETTERING TOWN (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
Nationwide North League Match,
played on Saturday, 19 February, 2005
An understrength Altrincham put in a solid second half defensive performance to withstand Kettering pressure after Colin Little had lobbed the keeper to put Alty ahead when the game was just two minutes old. The Kettering defence had frozen, expecting an offside decision that never came as Norris played the ball forward to him. Once again, Val Owen impressed in midfield but this was a good team performance all round and moved Alty up to seventh, with games in hand on many of the teams ahead of them. Altrincham are now unbeaten in 14 league and cup games.
REFEREE: Mr I. Smedley
Alty had not won in the league at Rockingham Road since 1988/89 season and had had nine unsuccessful attempts since then to do so. However, Altrincham arrived at Kettering today on the back of thirteen league and cup games without defeat, whilst Kettering had not played a league game for four weeks due to the weather and the fixture list.
With Potts, Aspinall and Mitten all suspended, Alty gave George Melling and Richard Norris their League starting debuts and new signing, Kirk Hilton, was also to make his debut as a late substitute in left midfield.
KETTERING TOWN (Red and black shirts, black shorts and red socks.): 1. Steve CROUDSON, 2. Wayne DIUK, 3. Martin MATTHEWS, 4. Brett SOLKHON, 5. Rob GOULD, 6. Derek BROWN, 7. Ollie BURGESS, 8. James GOULD, 9. Darren LYNCH, 10. Chris CARRUTHERS, 11. Jamie PATTERSON. Subs: 12. Stephan MORLEY, 14. Jonathan BEWERS, 15. Chris DIFANTE, 16. Jonny ROWAN, 17. Scott McCAFFERTY.
ALTRINCHAM (All yellow) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. George MELLING, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Eddie HUSSIN (capt), 7. Richard NORRIS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Kieran LUGSDEN, 14. Marcus HALLOWS, 15. Kirk HILTON, 16. Paul TILLEY, 17. Lewis CHALMERS.
After Kettering had kicked off towards the Rockingham Road End, populated by the segregated but vocal Altrincham fans, it was the visitors who took the lead, scoring their fastest goal of the season. A ball forward from Richard Norris found Little defeating the offside trap in the insight right channel. With the Kettering back line having stopped to appeal for offside, which never came, Little coolly lobbed the ball over the advancing Croudson from the edge of the box to record his 24th goal of the season (2 mins).
This was just the start that a weakened Alty side needed. Soon after the restart Hussin was caught by a late challenge and the Alty captain, who had passed a late fitness test, was to be the victim of two or three such challenges in the first half. But after Hussin himself had been penalised soon afterwards, Burgess's freekick from the left led to a Kettering lob over the Alty bar (7 mins). Then an Owen foul gave the Poppies another freekick, this time 25 yards out in a central position. Coburn did well to get down low by his post to scoop James Gould's freekick out for a corner on the Town right (9 mins). After an aerial tangle, Maddox and Lynch were then involved in a little skirmish, which the referee missed. Debutant Melling was settling well for Alty, again doing things simply and effectively. A mis-pass by Kettering then allowed Norris to send Thornley chasing forward but the striker was judged narrowly offside (12 mins). Alty won their first corner when Brown sliced clear as Thornley again threatened. From Little's corner the ball came out to Norris who sliced his shot high and wide. But Alty soon won another corner when Little headed Croudson's goalkick to Norris and from Thornley's lay off Owen's shot was deflected over the bar. Soon after this corner had been cleared, Melling was booked for a clumsy challenge on the halfway line which left Matthews needing treatment (19 mins).
Talbot and Maddox were as solid as ever at the heart of the Alty defence and Chris Adams was showing no signs of the hamstring problem that made his participation doubtful. Kettering's passing continued to break down as the effects of a month's lay off and several team changes took their effect. Diuk then had to make a fine tackle to stop Scott as he entered the box following a good feed from Thornley. Following a Kettering freekick Coburn and Lynch were involved in a minor spat following which the goalkeeper was awarded a freekick (25 mins). Kettering now enjoyed some pressure which was relieved by a foul on Owen, 30 yards from the Alty goal. But Kettering returned and won a corner, when Norris did well to block Carruthers's shot from left of goal. Melling headed Burgess's corner clear but the ball came back in from Burgess on the right and Rob Gould's resulting header shaved the outside of the post as Coburn covered its trajectory (29 mins).
Melling brings a reasonably long throw into the Altrincham armoury and following one such effort Norris, again neat and efficient in midfield, fed Little but the ball ran onto Croudson (30 mins). Though the home side were enjoying a fair share of possession in the Alty half, they were not getting many clear sights of the Alty goal as the visitors worked hard to close them down. Coburn did have to punch clear a Diuk cross but then from a Maddox pass, Thornley got free in the Kettering box, only to be penalised (38 mins). But Town had their best chance of the half after 38 minutes when a nod forward from the small but efficient Patterson set Carruthers free in the outer left of the box. The on-loan Northampton Town player shot as Coburn came out but put his effort comfortably wide when he was favourite to open the scoring for the Poppies. The partisan crowd showed little sympathy when Thornley was caught in the face by an arm, to win a freekick near half way. Referee Smedley lectured Val Owen for a foul on Solkhon before Talbot made a fine clearing header. As half time approached, Kettering pressed again but despite the referee finding a surprisingly long three minutes of added time, they did not come close to levelling the score before the break.
|Half-Time: KETTERING TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Alty kicked off and, as in the first half, almost scored in the opening minutes. A ball from the right saw Rob Gould and Diuk get in each other's way and allow the pass to reach Scott. However, Diuk recovered to force Scott to the left of goal before he could shoot (46 mins). Play then settled into a pattern of Kettering pressing forward and Alty looking for the quick breakaway. Val Owen was soon laid low when a clearance by a team-mate caught him in the midriff and, as play continued without him, Kettering won a corner on their right. This short-corner led to a scramble in the box which the recovered Owen himself cleared. Altrincham were receiving their customary strong support from the travelling fans but it was Kettering who went close after 55 minutes when a move up the left saw Lynch beat Talbot to Carruthers's aerial cross but the striker could not hit the target with his header and the ball went wide of Coburn's right post with the keeper beaten. But Alty replied with a good break of their own which started with Coburn's goalkick which found Owen and he fed Thornley who was clear but to the right of goal. From a tight angle Thornley's shot hit the advancing Croudson at the near post and was cleared. A good Adams tackle then stopped Solkhon in the Alty box before Alty survived another goalmouth melee after a misheader allowed Lynch a shot which was blocked. At the other end Scott, who had a busy game, was caught narrowly offside. Owen was then caught by an arm in the face and needed treatment during which Kieran Lugsden came on to replace Rod Thornley up front for Alty (63 mins).
Following a punt by Coburn, Alty's Adams, Little and Scott combined on the left and allowed Little to cross the ball into the goalmouth where a defender just prevented Norris from getting his head to it (66 mins). After a Maddox foul on Lynch, Coburn allowed the freekick from the Town left to go behind him to the back post but it was retrieved by a Kettering player from the by-line. The ball was played back into the goalmouth and only a Kettering miskick saved Alty as the ball was cleared off the line. Kettering now brought on striker Difante for defender Matthews (68 mins). Coburn soon had to be active to grab the ball after a Maddox error and Owen mis-header followed each other in quick succession and left the ball dangerously bouncing round the Alty penalty area. Alty remained on the back foot till a Norris freekick for a foul on Lugsden by Diuk relieved the pressure. From the freekick, Croudson took the ball off Talbot's head (74 mins).
Diuk then surged 40 yards up the middle of the pitch but Melling stopped his advance as Altrincham continued to absorb the home side's efforts. Soon, the Poppies won a corner from Maddox's clearance (81 mins) but Alty won themselves a corner in the 82nd minute when Scott's feed led to Lugsden getting past his marker and into the box to win a flag kick on the left. Kettering then won a corner after Melling's misheader was tidied up by Scott (83 mins).
Burgess was now replaced by Rowan for Kettering, just before the hardworking Lugsden won Alty another corner on the right (85 mins). Little played this corner, short, to Hussin and he and Little tried to wind down time in the corner but lost possession. Alty then brought on Kirk Hilton for his debut in place of Little (87 mins). The former Manchester United player settled into the left of midfield as Lugsden was left to plough a loan furrow up front. As play entered added time, Kettering won a corner when a good move up the left ended with Carruthers's volleyed shot to the near post, where Coburn pushed the ball round the upright. A late breakaway by Alty saw Norris feed Hilton but he elected to pass rather than shoot from the edge of the box. After some three minutes of added time, the whistle went to secure three points for Altrincham following a hardworking team performance secured by a line-up lacking several regulars. After the whistle the Altrincham players saluted their fans behind the goal who could now savour a run of fourteen unbeaten games in league and cup.
|Full-Time: KETTERING TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|