MARINE (0) 1
ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Pre-Season Friendly Match
played on Saturday, 6 August, 2005 at 3p.m.
Above: Chris Adams (11), Gary Talbot, Mark Maddox and Stuart Coburn are the Alty players shown above in action against Marine.
A match which had not set the pulse racing for 84 minutes suddenly came to life when a fine cross from Kieran Lugsden from right of goal was netted by Colin Little to put Alty one up. But a minute later, Mark Maddox failed to connect properly with an intended back pass and Kissock had a clear chance to equalise, which he took well. Then, in the 87th minute Coburn went up to collect a ball which had skimmed back off Maddox's head and was caught by Kissock, though not particularly badly. The referee immediately gave Alty a freekick but Coburn reacted by pushing the Marine man over. A skirmish then developed with at least a couple of punches appearing to be thrown. With a dozen or more players involved, calm was eventually restored and Maddox and Kissock were both red-carded, with Coburn seemingly fortunate not to have joined them. The referee, Mr A Scregg, then used his discretion to blow the final whistle just a few seconds later without allowing any added time.
This was Alty first-team's ninth pre-season friendly and, apart from defeat to Greenock Morton in the very first game, the Robins were unbeaten. Alty last met Marine in 2003-04 when both were in the UniBond Premier Division. Today, two divisions separated the clubs, with Marine still in the UniBond Premier but Alty looking forward to nxt season back in the Conference National.
Marine had bid farewell to record-breaking manager Roly Howard but his replacement, Alvin McDonald, was well known to Alty fans as the ex-boss of Vauxhall Motors and Runcorn FC Halton.
Graham Heathcote included four of his new signings (Band, Hawes, James and Munroe) in the starting line-up. Colin Little again started up front with Lutel James but Peter Band was an unaccustomed left-back as Chris Adams had been moved forward to left-midfield. Watching the match, but not in the squad for Alty, were the injured Gary Scott, Steve Aspinall, Kirk Hilton and Richard Norris, as well as Stephen Rose who, despite being named on the team-sheet as a sub, was in his everyday clothes on the terraces.
Alvin McDonald included in his squad Lee Kissock (ex-Alty reserve) and Nicky Young (the manager's son-in-law), both signed from Runcorn, along with other new acquisitions Steve Hollis (from Lancaster), Paul Byrne (Kendal) and Carl Nesbitt (Vauxhall), whilst in goal was recent signing Andy Ralph, the former Vauxhall, Northwich and Bangor City keeper. Adam Farley, the former Altrincham, Droylsden and Colwyn Bay centre-back was also in the Marine starting eleven but four other new signings were not involved today (Mark Kerr from Formby, Lee Parle and Carl Rendell from Runcorn and Aaron Rey from Cammell Laird). Marine right back Neil Murphy had had a brief spell at Moss Lane a couple of years ago. Players who had left Marine over the summer included Dean Thurston (to Ashton United) and the experienced Paul McNally and Gary Randles (who have joined Warrington Town).
ALTRINCHAM: (All yellow): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Karl MUNROE, 3. Peter BAND, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Steve HAWES, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Val OWEN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Lutel JAMES, 11. Chris ADAMS. Subs: 12. Rod THORNLEY, 14. Richard ACTON (gk), 15. Gary WILLIAMS & Kieran LUGSDEN, 16. Lewis CHALMERS, 17. James OLSEN & Stephen ROSE.
MARINE: (White shirts, black shorts & socks): 1. Andy RALPH, 2. Neil MURPHY, 3. Steve HOLLIS, 4. Adam FARLEY, 5. James CONNOLLY (capt), 6. Darren BROOKFIELD, 7. Carl NESBITT, 8. Anthony MEE, 9. Nicky YOUNG, 10. Ged COURTNEY, 11. Paul BYRNE. Subs: 12. Chris FITZSIMMONS, 14. Lee MULLIN, 15. Michael ELLISON, 16. Lee KISSOCK, 17. Chris PARRY (gk). NB Kissock actually wore no.15.
The game started in bright sunshine at a rapid pace and Adams, at the back post, flashed a volley wide of the target following a cross from Potts (4 mins). But, sadly, there was to be little other goalmouth action for virtually the entire first half. Although Altrincham were passing the ball neatly in the opening stages, they were not making much forward progress in the process and most of the play in the opening forty-five minutes was confined to the central third of the pitch. Talbot conceded the game's first corner after 11 minutes but this produced no danger and the game settled back into a stalemate.
For Alty, Lutel James enjoyed a reasonable amount of the ball but was comfortably checked by the Marine defence whilst Colin Little saw little possession. Talbot conceded a second corner after 24 minutes when he headed past the advancing Coburn, to the right of the keeper's net. Nicky Young did get a sight of goal after 25 minutes but shot well wide of Coburn's right post. The players on both sides were showing plenty of effort but fluent movements were generally absent and possession was lost at regular intervals. After 37 minutes Little almost threatened the goal as he got into the outer reaches of the box but three opponents closed him down. It was left to Chris Adams to lash in Alty's second shot at goal but this was much too high to trouble Ralph (38 mins). With spectators as concerned about England's progress against Australia in the Test Match as the game in front of them on the pitch, the match meandered to half time and a goal-less scoreline.
|Half-Time: MARINE 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Altrincham started a little more purposefully in the second half and soon won their first corner of the game through Little. This was cleared but, soon, a mis-header by Marine gave James a chance but he mis-hit his shot well wide (49 mins). Byrne then won Marine a corner on the left, which Coburn caught. After this, Lutel James got past a couple of men before being fouled and from the freekick, from 30 yards out, Adams tried to find Talbot but the ball ran out for a goalkick. Nevertheless, things were slightly improved as regards entertainment.
Marine had a chance, though, when Coburn spilled Murphy's cross from the right but Mee hit his shot wide of the keeper's right post (58 mins). The game continued to labour as Alty made a triple change on the hour mark and Marine brought on no.16 for Byrne. The Alty changes saw Thornley, Chalmers and Williams come on whilst Adams, Hawes and Potts came off. Thornley played on the right (for Potts), whilst Chalmers went into central midfield (for Hawes) and Williams played on the left (for Adams).
A long throw from Chalmers on the right came to Colin Little whose close range shot was very well saved by Ralph and then hacked away by a defender (66 mins). Then Thornley went close at the back post as he volleyed a pass from James past the post (68 mins). For their part, Marine's Courtney headed into the Alty side-netting. The general improvement in play continued as Mee fed Young for a shot which forced a full-stretch tip round his right post by Coburn to concede a corner (72 mins).
Marine brought on their no.15 (who was apparently Kissock, though he was no.16 in the programme) and Olsen came on for Owen in central midfield (73 mins). After five minutes of unremarkable action, Lugsden, who was not named on the teamsheet, came on for James (77 mins). Almost immediately, neat work from Thornley set up Lugsden who forced Ralph to a good save, as he tipped the ball over the bar for a corner (80 mins). Lugsden's arrival continued to spark a bit more life into Altrincham and soon he and Little fed Williams, whose shot was blocked. Chalmers then fed Little for a fine shot which Ralph again saved well, at the cost of a corner on the Alty left. At last, Alty were asserting themselves and their pressure led to a goal. It came when Olsen won the ball just inside the Marine half and fed Thornley, to the right of goal. He found Lugsden near Ralph's left post and the young substitute crossed the ball accurately for the incoming Little to hit the ball home from close range as he arrived just ahead of Murphy (84 mins). But Alty's lead lasted barely a minute as Maddox, on the edge of his own box, failed to make proper contact with an intended backpass and this allowed Kissock to nip in and score (85 mins). A couple of minutes after the re-start, a Marine long ball skimmed off the top of Maddox's head and veered across the penalty area where Coburn and a Marine player (Kissock?) rose together. The keeper got there first but was caught in the process and though the offence immediately prompted the referee's award of a freekick to Altrincham, Coburn took exception to the challenge and appeared to push his opponent to the ground (87 mins). A set-to then developed and upto a dozen players waded into a general skirmish. The referee sent Maddox and Kissock for an early bath. Barely a minute after resuming play, the referee blew the final whistle, having allowed no added time - just as he had done in the first half.
So, after more than 80 minutes of unexceptional play, the game exploded in the final six minutes. Certainly Altrincham will have to raise their game next Saturday at Stevenage Borough in their first league game but before then they give manager Graham Heathcote a final chance to hone his plans with a friendly at home to Bangor City on Tuesday.
|Full-Time: MARINE 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|