LANCASTER CITY (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM (0) 2
Pre-Season Friendly Match
played on Tuesday, 26 July, 2005 at 7.45p.m.
Altrincham were deserved winners after a strong second-half performance in which trialist Gary Williams (ex-Accrington, Doncaster) put Alty ahead, rounding the keeper well from a well-won headed flick-on by Aaron Wilford (53 mins). Williams impressed before limping off midway through the second half. Rod Thornley seized on a loose ball to hammer home a second goal from just inside the box after 74 minutes.
REFEREE: Mr Scott Lee
This friendly clashed with the Reserves' friendly at Warrington so Alty's support was split between the two venues with many preferring the closer venue to home. The Giant Axe had generally not been a happy hunting ground for Alty in recent years so, against a fairly full strength Lancaster side, this game would be a good test of how far Alty had come in preparing for life at the next step up in the non-league pyramid.
Traffic delays caused Maddox, Olsen and Scott to arrive after 8pm which affected the Alty starting line-up. With news that Paul Tilley, Wes Wilkinson, Gavin Salmon and Steve Owens had been released from pre-season commitments with Altrincham, and with the Reserves playing at Warrington Town at the same time as this game, tonight's line-up gave a general pointer towards manager Graham Heathcote's selection thinking for the new season. Though Karl Munroe is the only trialist, so far, to have signed non-contract terms for Alty, the continued presence of trialists Steve Garvey, Arron Wilford and Nehru McKenzie suggests that they, too, still figure in the manager's plans. Making his first appearance as a trialist tonight was Gary Williams, the former Accrington Stanley and Doncaster Rovers forward, who has also been at Rossendale United and Leigh RMI.
LANCASTER CITY: (All pale blue): 1. Tony McMILLAN, 2. Danny ??, 3. Andy SCOTT, 4. Paul SPARROW (capt.), 5. Iain SWAN, 6. Joe McMAHON, 7. Ian DAWES, 8. Nick ROGAN, 9. Steve JONES, 10. Steve SKINNER, 11. Alex TAYLOR. Subs: 12. Ryan Zico BLACK, 14. Tony SULLIVAN, 15. Ryan ELDERTON, 16. ???
ALTRINCHAM: (All yellow): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ROSE, 3. Nehru McKENZIE, 4. Karl MUNROE, 5. Peter BAND, 6. Steve HAWES, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Aaron WILFORD, 10. Gary WILLIAMS, 11. Rod THORNLEY. Subs: 14. Kieran LUGSDEN, 15. James OLSEN, 16. Steve GARVEY, 17. Mark MADDOX.
The game was played on a warm, dry evening on an excellent surface at the Giant Axe. Alty had an early scare when the Lancaster right-back's ball over the Alty back line set Taylor free in the box but his slightly underhit shot was well stopped by the advancing Coburn as the goalkeeper rushed out of his goal (1 min). Soon, Lancaster won the game's first corner, which Peter Band was forced to concede with a header (3 mins). But Alty replied with a corner of their own which came following good work by Thornley and Williams, the latter starting up front with Wilford (5 mins). Alty got a second corner when new signing from Morecambe, Iain Swan, opted for safety first and conceded an unnecessary corner from Potts's cross (8 mins). Owen was impressing in the Alty midfield but it was City who got in the next shot of note, but though well-struck, Dawes's effort went wide (13 mins). Lancaster then had a shout for a penalty when Taylor was played into the box and came off worse from a challenge by the out-rushing Coburn (14 mins).
After Lancaster had won another corner, Alty got a freekick. Rose's freekick was well nodded on by Wilford and set up Potts for a flashing shot which went only narrowly wide. But Alty were then caught asleep from a Lancaster freekick as Skinner fed Taylor who was unmarked once again in the Alty box. Taylor was once more thwarted by a magnificent save from Coburn (22 mins). Lancaster were now having the better of things until a great turn and advance up the middle by Williams led to his shot being deflected to Wilford. The tall striker tried to sidefoot the ball home from left of goal but his effort was blocked (27 mins).
Lancaster threatened again from a freekick when, for the second time, Alty were caught flat-footed at a set-piece. From the freekick Jones found Taylor whose shot produced an excellent save with his feet from the onrushing Coburn (29 mins). The resulting corner was cleared but Alty remained under pressure. Band however saw off a couple of attacks and Munroe was looking comfortable at the back too at this stage. But Potts had to chest the ball back to Coburn in the Alty box as nice approach play from Lancaster once more threatened the visitors (42 mins). Williams continued to look menacing for Alty going forward but half time arrived with the game goalless.
|Half-Time: LANCASTER CITY 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
At the interval Alty made two changes, with Maddox and Garvey replacing Potts and Thornley. Maddox went to centre-back, Munroe moved to left back and McKenzie moved to left midfield. Lancaster brought on three subs, Sullivan, Zico Black and a no.12 being the new players. Alty began to play some good football and a fine advance by McKenzie led to Wilford winning a corner on the left. Hawes's corner was cleared. Soon afterwards a punt upfield from Coburn was won well in the air by Wilford and his flick-on found Williams, to his right. The trialist took the ball into the box, to the right, and past the advancing McMillan. From an acute angle he then slid the ball smartly into the net to put Alty ahead (53 mins). Wilford has proved a useful target man in the games he has played and could provide Alty with attacking options if he is signed.
Skinner then had to go off with what looked like a shoulder or arm injury and the Blues' no.2 came back on in his place (57 mins). On the hour mark Alty brought on Lugsden up front for Wilford and Olsen for Rose. Hawes now moved to right back, McKenzie to centre-midfield and Olsen to the left flank. Three minutes later Lancaster's Scott returned after his half-time substitution for Dawes. Williams then appeared to twist his ankle as he landed when challenging for a ball but he limped on. Now, Lancaster wasted a glorious chance as a cross from the right located an unmarked Black near the penalty spot. But the blond striker with a headband got his header terribly wrong and the ball flew miles wide (64 mins).
Alty now replaced the ailing Williams, with Thornley returning to the fray (66 mins) but Lancaster won a corner at this point. This was cleared and then Owen made a fine interception and got into the right corner from where his cross was met well on the volley by Lugsden but McMillan made a good save at the foot of his right upright (68 mins). Maddox then needed treatment for a head injury but played on afterwards. Altrincham were now well on top although Black did force a decent save from Coburn (73 mins). However, immediately, an attempted clearance from Lancaster seemed to deflect off McKenzie into the path of Thornley. After advancing a couple of strides, Thornley blasted the ball past McMillan from the edge of the box, left of centre, to make it 2-0 (74 mins).
After Lugsden had forced a throw in the right corner, a corner-kick followed for Alty which was taken by Hawes. This was cleared to Garvey who fed McKenzie and his shot was deflected and narrowly passed the outside of the keeper's left post for another corner. Hawes's second corner flashed across goal and narrowly missed contact with the incoming Maddox's head. Although Lancaster got a freekick on the "D" of the Alty box, for a foul by Owen on Elderton as he was advancing, the kick was driven into the defensive wall by the no.2. Alty were now playing as well as they had done in all of the pre-season and almost made it 3-0 when Thornley fed Garvey on the overlap and his cross from near the right by-line was met by a well-timed leap from McKenzie who headed narrowly wide when his marker had been clear favourite to head the ball before the Alty man (82 mins).
Alty went very close again soon afterwards when Lugsden executed a great turn and shot to which the keeper just got his fingertips to push the ball round his left post for a corner (84 mins). The game moved into the 90th minute with Alty keeping possession well and ending up very good value for their 2-0 win. It is a measure of their progress over the summer that Altrincham overcame one of Phil Wilson's well organised sides which is a task that has been beyond more than once over the last five years. However, but for a couple of magnificent stops by Coburn, Alty could have fallen behind early on and the game might have told a different story so Graham Heathcote will not be getting too carried away as he puts together the final pieces of his jigsaw for the new league season.
|Full-Time: LANCASTER CITY 0 ALTRINCHAM 2|