ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
CRAWLEY TOWN (1) 1
Nationwide Conference National Match
played on Saturday, 1 October 2005 at 3pm.
Hard work by groundsman Neil Brown and a team of volunteers ensured this match went ahead after heavy rain, which fortunately held off for most of the game itself. Alty fielded a back line of four centre-backs (Munroe, Maddox, Talbot and, at left-back, Band). The first half was a scrappy affair, not assisted by some debatable refereeing decisions one of which left Alty irate as Crawley went ahead in first-half injury time. The goal came when Wormull found himself in space in the right corner and from his cross the unmarked Lindegaard scored comfortably despite appeals for offside. Mark Maddox's first-half back injury prevented his reappearance for the second half, allowing Gary Scott to make his first appearance after injury. Alty played better in the second half and won a clear penalty when Thornley was bowled over. Little sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot (68 mins).
REFEREE: Mr. P Varley
Alty had gone five games without a win, whilst Crawley were improving after a bad start to the campaign. The Sussex side had gone full-time earlier this season after a change in the club's ownership and were visiting Moss Lane for the first time today. Heavy rain during the preceding week and on Saturday morning itself had put this game in some doubt. However, hard work by groundsman and Reserves' manager Neil Brown and a team of very wet volunteers ensured that the game went ahead - all at the match were very grateful for their efforts. Thankfully the rain stopped as the match got under way and held off for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Graham Heathcote once again made changes to his formation and personnel. After fielding a 4-5-1 team at Halifax last Tuesday, this time he favoured 4-4-2 for this home game. However, there was a surprise in the composition of the back four as Peter Band played in an unaccustomed role at left back in a backline which comprise four centre-backs - Munroe, Maddox, Talbot and Band. Normal left-back Chris Adams started in left midfield. There was no place in the squad for Kieran Lugsden, James Olsen or Nehru McKenzie who all played at Halifax, but Lee Hendley made a return on the bench after his recent trial at Crewe Alexandra. Munroe and Adams were the only two players to retain their places in the first eleven of the five players brought back into the side at Halifax, as McKenzie, Chalmers and Rose were replaced, the latter two being on the bench this afternoon. So Alty paired the returning Rod Thornley with Little up front, whilst the injured Potts and Talbot returned to start the game. Maddox, too, returned, after limping off at half-time at The Shay. Gary Scott made his first appearance in the squad this season after his summer operation, having played 90 minutes for the Reserves last Wednesday. But Steve Aspinall, who also played in that game, had suffered a reaction to his ankle injury and was again not included today.
Crawley included recent signing Daryl Clare, the former Chester and Boston front man, as well as Andy Lindegaard, on loan from Yeovil Town. Manager Francis Vines again preferred Scott Ward to former first-choice keeper Phil Smith.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 17. Karl MUNROE, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt), 5. Gary TALBOT, 15. Peter BAND; 7. Colin POTTS, 12. Steve HAWES, 8. Val OWEN, 3. Chris ADAMS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY. Subs: 11. Gary SCOTT, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 19. Gary WILLIAMS, 23. Kirk HILTON, 26. Lee HENDLEY.
CRAWLEY TOWN: (Blue shirts with one white arm, blue shorts and socks): 14. Scott WARD; 2. Ben JUDGE, 5. Ian SIMPEMBA, 12. Dave WOOZLEY, 17. Sacha OPINEL; 27. Jamie CADE, 7. Simon WORMULL, 8. Paul ARMSTRONG, 19. Andy LINDEGAARD; 30. Daryl CLARE, 10. Steve BURTON. Subs: 1. Phil SMITH (gk), 18. Stuart DOUGLAS, 23. Lee BLACKBURN, 26. Chris GILES, 28. Joe KEEHAN.
For the second home game running Alty ran out to the Golf Road End rather than their customary 20/20 End and, after the toss, kicked off in the same direction. It took a few minutes for the players to gauge the effect of the rain on the pitch as the ball tended to skid off the wet but playable surface. After 60 seconds, Crawley had the game's first shot, a 25 yard shot, wide of the post, from Lindegaard after a mis-pass by Hawes. Alty gave away several early freekicks as the visitors settled the better and Hawes received a lectrue as early as the 6th minute for his second offence. Band made a fine tackle to stop Burton as he got into the Alty box just before Chris Adams appeared to tread on the ball, allowing Clare to get free. With the home fans' hearts in their mouths, the former Conference Footballer of the Year curiously elected to pass, inside, rather than shoot and Maddox did well to clear the danger. But the Alty captain injured himself in the process and needed treatment (8 mins). However, Maddox was soon in action again, making a fine tackle on Cade. At last Alty threatened, soon after this, but following passes from Munroe and Adams, Little elected to pass rather than shoot from 22 yards and failed to find a colleague. Indeed, Alty in particular were giving the ball away too often though Crawley were not too much better as the game stuttered along in a fairly scrappy fashion. Alty's below par start was underlined when a foul on Potts by Opinel gave the home side a freekick on the right 30 yards out but Potts took it far too quickly and passed the ball straight to an opponent. Manager Graham Heathcote exploded, asking his errant right winger "What did I say, just 10 minutes ago [in the dressing room]?". Presumably the manager had warned his team about silly mistakes.
Errors by Crawley were instrumental in allowing Munroe to find Owen and Potts, as Alty went forward, and Thornley and Little played a neat exchange of passes which left Thornley with a toe-poked snap shot from inside the box which went narrowly wide of Ward's right post (18 mins). Owen earned a lecture for kicking the ball away at a Crawley freekick but then the Alty midfielder spoke out of turn soon afterwards, when Munroe had been judged to have fouled an opponen. Owen's name entered the referee's book - the Alty man's fourth booking of the season (23 mins). When Thornley went down in the box under a tackle, soon afterwards, his appeal met deaf ears- probably correctly. Then Crawley's Cade followed Owen into Mr Varley's notebook for reasons that were unclear but probably arose from comments after he had been deemed offside following a magnificent tackle on him by Band (26 mins).
Alty's improvement from their slow start was underlined as they won three corners in quick succession, the second a rather bemusing decision by the ref after Talbot and/or Munroe had seemed to put the ball out of play. The third corner was cleared to Wormull but Maddox won it back and fed Potts whose resulting cross was poor (27 mins). Play continued fairly unexceptionally till a Crawley ball forward cleared Maddox and reached Clare, who fed Cade, whose shot was directly wide of Coburn's left post (33 mins). Play switched to the other end where Adams's cross from the left was only half-punched clear by Ward as he collided with Opinel. The ball came out to Potts, on the front edge of the box, right of goal, but he sliced his attempted shot back at goal well wide. Play now stopped for both Ward and Opinel to receive treatment (35 mins).
The half continued to be punctuated by freekicks and Alty had to be thankful to keeper Coburn when he blocked an effort from Clare after an error by Band. Soon after keeper Ward had again fumbled a cross, Cade got past Munroe at the other end and got to the byline to win their Town's corner of the game, on the left. Band and Adams cleared this up to Thornley who did well on the right and his cross was met by a stooping header from Little which went narrowly wide to the keepr's left (40 mins). Little was then caught offside by a late flag and soon afterwards, the same player lost his footing on the slippery surface as Thornley threatened to put him clear. A fine clearance from Maddox followed, even though the defender was clearly having trouble with his back. Band then did well on the left only to be fouled but the freekick only led to a goalkick. As the game went into added time, Band was penalised for holding, 45 yards out. Following the freekick, several passes saw Judge find Wormull in the clear on the right flank towards the corner flag. With no offside flag being raised, Wormull crossed and found Lindegaard completely unmarked in the centre of the goalmouth and he scored comfortably past Coburn (45+1 mins). Alty's appeals for offside fell on the referee's deaf ears and, to add insult to injury, play resumed with Alty captain Mark Maddox on his knees, seemingly unable to move, just off the pitch by Coburn's left upright. With ten men, Alty got to half time only to have Potts booked inside the centre-circle presumably for protesting further against the Crawley goal.
Above: The Alty players leave the pitch, whilst chairman Geoff Goodwin shakes each player by the hand. Peter Band (15) was named Man of the Match
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
CRAWLEY TOWN 1
Unsurprisingly, Maddox failed to appear after the break - for the second game running, though this time with a back injury. In his place, substitute Gary Scott made a welcome first appearance of the season after missing all the games so far, following his hernia operation. Scott slotted into left midfield allowing Adams to be restored at left-back, whilst Band joined Talbot at centre-back.Talbot was soon in action clearing up after a Munroe error before Potts wasted a freekick for a foul by Opinel on Little by playing it straight to Armstrong. Potts soon got in a cross which the keeper fielded before Chris Adams became the third Alty player to be booked, but the first to be cautioned for foul, a late lunge at Lindgeaard near half-way. Alty almost lost a second goal to the offside trap when Burton got free from a seemingly offside position and should have scored but tamely chipped the ball over Coburn and wide of the far post for a bad miss. Alty recovered from this incident to win another corner, taken by Potts, for which Owen rose well and powered a downward header just wide of the near post (55 mins). Alty were now enjoying their best period of the game and, soon, Little got in a shot which Ward saved. Steve Hawes became Alty's fourth yellow-carded player for a foul on Wormull. But Gary Scott was showing no signs of rustiness after his long lay-off even when a sudden sharp shower drenched him and the rest of the players. Alty continued to press but Thornley's shot from a fine Adams feed went well wide as the rain stopped (62 mins). Alty were now preparing striker Lee Hendley to come on but played on, unchanged, as a good move saw Little do very well and feed Thornley for a shot which was saved. Alty had raised the tempo from their first half performance and got their reward when Owen, Potts and Little contrived to find Thornley who was clearly brought down by Cade as he crossed the penalty box. Mr Varley had no doubt in awarding the penalty and from the spot-kick Little, who had missed twice from the spot in a pre-season game sent the keeper the wrong way before finding the bottom corner of the net (68 mins).
Crawley soon won a corner and then won a freekick off Owen. However, they put the freekick, from 30 yards, miles over the bar. At this point, Hendley finally joined the game, replacing Thornley up front (71 mins). Alty continued to press and won a freekick for handball by Judge. From Adams's kick, a corner followed. Owens won the ball at the near post from Potts's right-sided corner and the ball then just evaded Hendley at the back stick (74 mins).
Crawley now brought on Blackburn for Wormull (75 mins) as Francis Vines tried to stir his side into action after a second half in which they had not threatened Coburn's goal. Soon Crawley were moving forward and after Coburn had touched a Burton cross clear, Blackburn fired wide (78 mins). Soon Crawley won a corner which was cleared as Williams now replaced Potts for Altrincham (80 mins). The Alty club doctor followed Potts to the dressing room but soon emerged again. Crawley continued to press and penned Alty back for a few minutes as the home team tired. Alty managed to get back into their opponents half through some skill by Little, and then a misplaced shot by Scott, from Hendley's feed, won a rather fortunate corner. After this had been cleared, Douglas replaced Clare for Crawley (87 mins). As the game went into three added minutes, Peter Band was named deservedly as Altrincham Man of the Match. But, although Crawley won a corner in added time, the game ended 1-1.
Overall a draw was a fair result. Alty had started shakily but had a good spell in the second half to earn their equaliser, the first time they had retrieved a game this season after falling behind. The injury to Maddox and the four yellow cards were a disappointment especially as Owen's and Potts's came for verbal offences. As manager Graham Heathcote pointed out after the game, midweek Conference games have now ended for the season (barring rearanged games) and he is hopeful that the one-game-a-week pattern will aid his part-time side as they have had to compete recently twice a week against full-time opposition. The return of Scott was a great bonus and although Alty dropped to 18th on goal difference, a haul of a point per game is not disastrous and, if maintained, could be enough to avoid relegation. Alty now need to capitalise against teams from the middle-to-bottom of the table as they play Canvey Island, Southport and Burton Albion in the coming weeks.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
CRAWLEY TOWN 1