CAMMELL LAIRD (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Pre-Season Friendly Match
played on Tuesday, 19 July, 2005 at 7.45p.m.
Above: Trialist Nehru McKenzie (ex-Hyde) in yellow. Richard Norris is in the background, tracked by former Alty striker Anthony Hargreaves.
A well-taken goal (seen above) by trialist Aaron Wilford (from Stalybridge), from a Kieran Lugsden feed, after 28 minutes secured Altrincham's win. Having taken the lead deservedly, Alty had to battle against a gusty wind and withstood a lot of Laird pressure in the middle of the second half. But Alty's stand-in keeper John Gillies (loaned by Trafford) made a couple of excellent saves and the unfamiliar back four did well to keep such a prolific goalscoring team at bay. Wilford impressed, especially in the first half, but as well as allowing him to run his eye over numerous trialists, the game gave manager Graham Heathcote another opportunity to rotate his squad and ease them back to full match fitness.
REFEREE: Not known, but gave a good performance.
This was Alty's second pre-season game and came after a home defeat by Morton last Saturday. Alty had visited Cammell Laird's Kirklands ground two pre-seasons ago and had won 1-0 against a team which gave them a good test. This time, Lairds were preparing for their first season in NW Counties 1, after walking away with the Division 2 title having scored more than 140 goals in 2004-05. Alty had also had a close encounter with Lairds last season in the CSC, with the Robins emerging with a 3-2 win.
Only two Altrincham players started this game who had also started on Saturday; Kirk Hilton and trialist Steve Garvey, though the latter began tonight on the right flank rather than up front. A surprise starter was 6ft 3in striker Aaron Wilford (23) from Stalybridge Celtic. His previous clubs include Whitby Town, Lincoln City, York City, Darlington and Clyde. Another new face was midfielder Nehru McKenzie (ex-Hyde). Other trialists who figured last Saturday and started today were Steve Garvey, Wes Wilkinson and Karl Munroe. There was also a surprise in goal where John Gillies, Trafford's newly acquired, ex-Chorley keeper, stepped in due to Stuart Coburn's tight hamstring and Richard Acton's substitute duties with TNS against Liverpool. There were first appearances this season for Kieran Lugsden, George Melling and Stephen Rose, the latter making a welcome return after his broken leg injury last season at Worcester. The bench included Paul Tilley and four trialists. These were defenders Liam Brownbill and Colin Bell, midfielder Lee Robinson and forward Gavin Salmon. Salmon played for Alty against Morton last Saturday but the other trialists on the bench were new faces. Altrincham-born Brownbill (18) is a former Stockport County defender; Robinson's former clubs include Crewe, Burnley, York, Wigan and Telford but he has recently been coaching in Canada; Bell was recently released by TNS having been with Rochdale, Bury and Chester Reserves.
Familiar faces in the Lairds eleven included right-back and captain Derek Ward, formerly at Stalybridge and a man twice signed as injury cover at Moss Lane in recent seasons, though he had never played a competitive game for us. Anthony Hargreaves, the former Alty striker, who was at Flixton last season was also in the Laird side, playing alongside the prolific Ronnie Morgan. As no team sheet was issued I cannot list the Cammell Laird side in full here.
ALTRINCHAM: (All yellow): 1. John GILLIES, 2. Stephen ROSE (capt.), 3. Kirk HILTON, 4. George MELLING, 5. Karl MUNROE, 6. Richard NORRIS, 7. Steve GARVEY, 8. Nehru McKENZIE, 9. Aaron WILFORD, 10. Kieran LUGSDEN, 11. Wes WILKINSON. Subs: 12. Gavin SALMON, 14. Liam BROWNBILL, 15. Colin BELL, 16. Lee ROBINSON, 17. Paul TILLEY.
CAMMELL LAIRD: (All blue): 2. Derek WARD, 6. Anthony HARGREAVES, 9. Ronnie MORGAN.
The opening stages were marred by two stoppages for injuries to Laird players. Firstly, the number four injured himself (4 mins) in a challenge on Lugsden and after treatment limped off, to be replaced by a substitute. Then a lunging tackle from George Melling laid former Alty striker Anthony Hargreaves low but he resumed after treatment as the Alty centre-back received a lecture from the referee. For Alty, Garvey started well out on the right and when he played a good through ball for Lugsden, it took a good save from the keeper to deny the Alty striker (10 mins). Wilford too was impressing in the Alty attack whilst at the back, the experienced Munroe put in a fine tackle to stop a Cammell Laird attack (16 mins). Following a poor pass in the Laird defence, Lugsden got in a shot at goal which went narrowly wide of the far post from the right of goal. But play was fairly even at this stage and Gillies had to distinguish himself by diverting a through ball from Hargreaves which would have set the no.11 free in the goalmouth (20 mins).
Wilkinson was not seeing very much of the ball on the left flank but, when he did, he was penalised for foot-up as he accidentally caught the face of the Laird no.12 to keep their trainer busy with his third injury of the evening (22 mins). After a neat move involving Wilkinson, McKenzie, Norris and Hilton had been stifled, a great ball by the Laird no.8 set Morgan on goal but he was closed down well. Alty went ahead in slightly controversial circumstances as the home defence stopped for an offside decision against Lugsden which never came. Lugsden carried on and found Wilford inside him. The tall trialist did well to take the ball to his left and coolly slot the ball into the far, bottom corner of the net as the keeper came out to meet him (28 mins).
A well-taken goal (seen above) by trialist Aaron Wilford (from Stalybridge), from a Kieran Lugsden feed, after 28 minutes secured Altrincham's win.
Lugsden continued to look lively in the first half and in midfield, McKenzie was also making his presence felt. A good pass from Norris then set Lugsden clear but the keeper saved well with his feet at the cost of a corner to Alty. Alty now looked deserving of their narrow lead and the unfamiliar backline was doing well to stem Lairds' attempts to attack. As half time approached the home side continued to try and press forward but a foul on Garvey relieved the pressure to give Alty a freekick on the half-way line. Wilford won a header from Rose's freekick but the danger was cleared. McKenzie needed brief treatment just before the 45 minutes were up but the referee surprisingly played virtually no additional time, despite three significant stoppages for treatement to Cammell Laird men during the half.
|Half-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|
At the interval, Alty brought on Lee Robinson for Wes Wilkinson. Alty won an early corner and, after this, Bell replaced Rose at right back (50 mins). Alty continued to apply the early pressure as the stiff breeze got more gusty in their faces. A good freekick from Hilton was then punched clear but, despite more pressing, the score remained 1-0 as the next substitution arose. This time, Salmon replaced Lugsden up front (53 mins). Lairds had also made another change with no.14 now on the pitch. With Altrincham still having the upper hand, Paul Tilley came on for McKenzie in midfield (59 mins).
But in the middle of the second half Cammell Laird applied some sustained presure which brought them six corners in 16 minutes. The first came after Lairds' no.16 fed no.14, whose shot across goal forced a magnificent one-handed save from Gillies (64 mins). Only a minute or so later the Trafford keeper excelled again with a fine save from no.16 after a great reverse ball by Morgan had set him free. Then Hilton was replaced by Brownbill at left-back for Alty (67 mins). The wind was now getting stronger and Altrincham began to have difficulty getting out of their own half as Cammell Laird came at them with pace and determination. After their second corner in this spell, Lairds' veteran former Northwich striker Ian Cooke came on for Morgan (68 mins).
Alty boss Graham Heathcote tried to gee up his team telling them, "You've lost it in the last ten minutes" but Cammell Laird continued to press forward with the wind at their backs. Two more corners followed, with the second clipping the crossbar as it curled across goal from the left, but Gillies had it covered well (75 mins). Hargreaves then made an impressive break up the middle but his shot went wide. However, Garvey then got in a testing cross from the Alty left which found Salmon in a dangerous position but he was closed down before being able to capitalise on the chance and his poked shot was comfortably saved. Cammell Laird responded with another corner and soon afterwards a long ball up the middle caused Melling some problems and the no.16 got in a shot but it cleared the Alty bar (80 mins).
Despite a clear push on Monroe, another corner soon arrived which Gillies palmed clear only for a return shot to go narrowly wide. As the game entered the last five minutes, Lairds' last corner was won before Alty got out of their half and had the better of the final stages. A foul on Wilford, 35 yards out gave Robinson the chance for a freekick and he found Melling well but his header just cleared the bar (86 mins). The final act of the game arrived after Norris had been felled 25 yards out and Garvey took a good freekick which the keeper held well under the bar. Once again there was no added time despite some stoppages in the second half.
The game had given Altrincham a very good work out and it was an achievement for them to record a clean sheet against a team which had hit 140+ goals in the league last season, especially as Alty had such a new back five and so many trialists in the squad. Of the trialists, Wilford and McKenzie impressed in the first half whilst Garvey had a good game on the right flank and Munroe was solid at the back alongside Melling, who had lost none of his commitment from last season. Wilkinson, on the left, did not see very much of the ball and the second half trialist subs (Ball, Brownbill and Richardson) all gave competent performances in the time alloted to them. It was also good to Stephen Rose back in action after his long lay-off and also Kieran Lugsden and Paul Tilley, who were making their first appearances of pre-season. Though only on loan for the night, goalkeeper John Gillies looks a very good signing for Trafford and may create something of a record of playing both for and against Alty inside 48 hours if he goes on to keep goal for his club against Altrincham on Thursday night. The signs for Cammell Laird were also very encouraging and it would be a surprise if they are not in the promotion shake-up at the end of next season.
|Full-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|