RADCLIFFE BOROUGH (1) 1
ALTRINCHAM (1) 2
Pre-Season Friendly Match
played on Saturday, 23 July, 2005 at 3.00p.m.
Above: Gavin Salmon (in yellow, on left) moves in to finish off Wes Wilkinson's shot which had been parried by keeper Hurst.
With eleven of the players who have figured in pre-season enjoying soft drinks in the bar before kick off it was clear that today's line-up was not necessarily going to be the strongest. And, indeed, Radcliffe Borough of the UniBond Premier had the majority of the possession today, especially in the first half but it was Alty who went ahead after 18 minutes when keeper Hurst could only parry Wilkinson's shot and Gavin Salmon tapped home the loose ball. Boro levelled after 21 minutes through Morley's diving header from a Kilheeney cross from the left. Alty got the winner after 82 minutes when Gary Talbot's gentle but well-placed header from a Thornley free-kick crept in off the post.
REFEREE: Mr Colin Harwood
This was Alty's fifth pre-season game in eight days, and came only 24 hours after a tough work-out against Crewe. Colin Little was the only man to start both games and went on to complete a further 90 minutes today.
Graham Heathcote continued to ring the pre-season changes in his quest to identify those trialist players to be offered places at Moss Lane next season. His choice of line-up today was affected by a growing list of injuries, with Maddox, Potts and Hilton, who was still limping badly today, all picking up knocks last night against Crewe Alexandra. So, more than a full team of 11 Alty players were on the terraces watching the 15-man squad today. The trialists who started today were full-backs Liam Brownhill and Colin Bell, midfielder Nehru McKenzie, wingman/striker Wes Wilkinson and forward Gavin Salmon. Only four players were on the bench and these included an unknown quantity in Adie Brocklehurst, a friend and work colleague of Kirk Hilton whom the Alty defender had recommended to Graham Heathcote. Also on the bench were trialist Steve Owens, who scored at Trafford on Tuesday and first-teamers Gary Talbot and Kieran Lugsden.
For details of the pre-season trialists, click here.
Radcliffe included ex-Alty midfielder Scott Wilson whose red hair has disappeared thanks to the barber's razor. Another ex-Robin was Boro' centre back Darren Royle, the son of Joe Royle, the Everton legend. Other familiar faces included strikers Steve Foster and Ciran Kilheeney.
ALTRINCHAM: (All yellow): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Colin BELL, 3. Liam BROWNHILL, 4. George MELLING, 5. Peter BAND, 6. Nehru McKENZIE, 7. Paul TILLEY, 8. Colin LITTLE, 9. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 10. Gavin SALMON, 11. Wes WILKINSON. Subs: 12. Steve OWENS, 14. Gary TALBOT, 15. Adie BROCKLEHURST, 16. Kieran LUGSDEN
RADCLIFFE BOROUGH: (All blue): 1. Danny HURST, 2. Lee DUFFY, 3. Andy HEALD, 4. Simon KELLY (capt.), 5. Paul McGUIRE, 6. Darren ROYLE, 7. Scott WILSON, 8. Martyn FORREST, 9. Ciaran KILHEENEY, 10. Steve FOSTER, 11. Bernard MORLEY. Subs: 12. Matt EDGINGTON, 15. Gary SAMPSON, 16. Steve SPENCE, 17. Leon GRANDISON.
Alty started the game playing up the slope and spent most of the first ten minutes penned into their half of the pitch. Radcliffe won a corner in the first two minutes and were passing the ball about neatly with Altrincham struggling to get into the game. A second Boro corner came and it was not till 12 minutes had gone before a Paul Tilley left-foot shot forced Boro keeper Hurst into a save, albeit routine. Colin Little was playing in midfield as Salmon came into the attack and it was the former Droylsden man who opened the scoring against the run of play. The goal came after a Forrest freekick had gone to Acton in the Alty goal. The ball went forward to Wilkinson, left of goal and his well-struck, low shot was beaten out by Hurst, going to his left. Salmon was quicker than the Radcliffe defence to react and poked the ball into the unguarded net at the back post (18 mins).
After the restart Radcliffe resumed their pressure and won two more corners in succession. Though these were cleared the ball soon came to Kilheeney on the left and his long cross was met by an unmarked Morley who dived forward to power a header past Acton and make it 1-1 (21 mins). After this Alty began to get forward a little more leading to a move which ended with Band hooking the ball across the Borough box from the right (24 mins). But Alty had a scare when an Acton throw went to Foster but his shot was well blocked by Band. There was then a stoppage as Gavin Salmon needed Sean Riley's treatment for a knock (28 mins). Soon afterwards, a good run from Thornley ended with an underpowered shot which Hurst held comfortably (30 mins). Moments later Thornley got clear again but elected to shoot at Hurst when Little was an option to his right in the box.
Another Radcliffe corner followed but, after that had been cleared, Salmon was still limping. Radcliffe continued to press, especially up the flanks and from one cross Kilheeney only just failed to make contact when unmarked. After 38 minutes the ailing Salmon had to give way to Steve Owens up front. Alty did then threaten at the other end but it was Kelly's header which almost went into his own net, rather than an Alty shot, which caused most danger. From the resulting corner by Thornley another followed rather fortunately, but this again was not well taken by Thornley (40 mins). A Radcliffe freekick on the edge of the box, awarded after Bell had fouled Kilheeney, was then driven into the Alty defensive wall. The half ended with Alty going forward but the half-time score of 1-1 was the least that Radcliffe deserved.
|Half-Time: RADCLIFFE BOROUGH 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Radcliffe brought on Gary Sampson for Heald at the break. As the second half got under way, Alty looked more menacing than they had done in the first 45 minutes. A Wilkinson shot was saved early in the half and then a cross from the right by Bell found Little whose well-struck shot was tipped over the bar by Hurst (49 mins). Soon afterwards, Wilkinson's pace took him past Royle and from left of goal his firm shot was beaten out by Hurst for a corner. Wilkinson was looking lively now and it was not long before he got past Kelly and into the box and attempted to feed Owens but, just as the nippy trialist forward arrived, Hurst rushed from his line to block well (53 mins).
Alty's improvement continued when Owens did well and fed Wilkinson for a shot which went narrowly wide of the near post. For Radcliffe, Sampson was doing well on their left and it now took a fine save from Acton, tipping the ball round his left post to keep out Radcliffe. Before the corner could be taken, Alty brought on Talbot and Lugsden in place of Melling and Wilkinson respectively (57 mins). Following the corner, Kilheeney's header went just wide. This was followed at the other end by a shot from Thornley, over the bar (59 mins). With play now evenly balanced, Radcliffe made a triple swap with Edgington, Grandison and Spencer coming on (63 mins).
Little clipped a shot wide before Edgington sliced an effort over the Alty bar (67 mins). Next, a good shot from Lugsden produced a good save and a corner to Alty. After this, Duffy came back on to replace McGuire for Radcliffe (70 mins). An Alty corner soon followed, which Thornley took short to Little. His cross to the left found Talbot, unmarked, but his header went well wide. Alty now surprisingly withdrew trialist Owens in favour of the untried Brocklehurst (72 mins). Acton produced another excellent save from Sampson (74 mins) as Radcliffe began to exert some more pressure. Band saw off another attack before a body-check by Wilson on Thornley gave Alty a freekick some 35 yards out to the left of goal. Thornley took the kick and found Talbot unmarked, ahead of him, slightly left of goal. Talbot's header was not the strongest but it was expertly placed and crept inside the keeper's right-hand post to give Alty the lead again (82 mins).
Radcliffe soon won another corner but there was then a bit of bother when Little and Forrest clashed after a foul by the Alty man. Brownhill then joined the Alty injury list when he hurt himself committing a foul on Grandison on the Radcliffe right wing. Alty played on with ten men and there was soon a heated exchange between Foster and McKenzie for which Alty won a freekick to the annoyance of the home fans. Alty then brought back Owens to replace Brownhill (87 mins). Band saw off another couple of probes from Radcliffe before the final whistle.
Borough had tested Altrincham well, especially the defence and midfield, and it was good to see that the Robins' experimental side was still able to extend its unbeaten run to four games, though manager Heathcote will have been more interested with individual performances that the result as he aims to reduce his pre-season squad to manageable proportions.
|Full-Time: RADCLIFFE BOROUGH 1 ALTRINCHAM 2|