ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
SOUTHPORT (0) 0
Nationwide Conference National Match
played on Saturday, 15 October 2005 at 3 pm.
Above: Southport line up a second-half free-kick at Moss Lane.
After a goalless first-half in which the visitors were the better side, Alty improved in the second period and won the game thanks to a superbly struck goal by Colin Potts which came from an excellent long throw from the left by Chalmers. Little relayed the throw well to Hawes whose well-judged pass found Potts and he struck the ball home from the right front-corner of the box to record Alty's first goal from open play in 5 games and their first win in 9 league matches. Southport rarely threatened in the second half and ultimately Alty deserved the points, which lift them to 14th in the table. Stuart Coburn was named Man of the Match but Peter Band, especially in the first half, was also outstanding. Alty gave a debut, as substitute to Lutel James and he caused the Southport defence some second-half problems.
REFEREE: Mr. I K Scarr
Today was the third anniversary of Graham Heathcote's first game as Alty manager away at Burscough.
After two successive draws but no wins in their last eight league games, Alty were keen to reverse their slide down the table which had taken them to 18th at kick-off today. Southport had improved after a slow start to the season but their away form had yet to match their free-scoring at Haig Avenue.
Rod Thornley was back after missing the game last week due to his job as masseur to the England international team. Gary Talbot captained the side in the absence of Mark Maddox, who was on the bench. After two reserve games, Lutel James made his first appearance in the Conference for Alty but started on the bench, where Kirk Hilton replaced James Olsen as the manager's replacement left-sided player. Kieran Lugsden was sidelined by a midweek injury, picked up playing for Radcliffe Borough, whilst Gary Williams was also out after getting a knock for the Reserves on Friday night at Southport, where Alty's second team had defeated Southport's, 5-1.
Southport had Neil Robinson back on the bench after injury but were without the combative Steve Pickford and Dominic Krief, through injury.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 17. Karl MUNROE, 15. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT (capt), 3. Chris ADAMS; 7. Colin POTTS, 12. Steve HAWES, 8. Val OWEN, 11. Gary SCOTT; 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY. Subs: 4. Mark MADDOX, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 18. Lutel JAMES, 23. Kirk HILTON, 26. Lee HENDLEY.
SOUTHPORT: (All yellow): . Subs: 1. Steve DICKINSON, 19. Chris LANE, 3. Jerome FITZGERALD, 12. Farrell KILBANE, 4. Neil FITZHENRY, 5. Carl BAKER, 10. Dominic MORLEY (capt), 14. Kevin LYNCH, 20. Matty McGINN, 11. Steve DALY, 7. Kevin LEADBETTER. Subs: 15. Jamie SPEARE (gk), 6. Earl DAVIS, 16. Michael POWELL, 21. Robert BOOTH, 8. Neil ROBINSON.
After changing ends, Southport kicked off, on a warm and bright afternoon, attacking the Golf Road End. The visitors won a freekick in the first minute, immediately followed by one to Alty on the edge of their own box. Indeed, the opening minutes saw both sides making errors but the two sets of supporters were both impressively vocal in their support of the teams. A couple of good early tackles by Hawes contrasted with the general standard of play at this stage. When a good piece of covering by Band was harshly penalised, Southport were given a freekick 20 yards out, on their left . Daly took this poorly but the ball caught Potts's boot and went out for the game's first corner, on the visitors' left. Coburn flapped at the corner and from the resulting shot, Scott did well to head away from just in front of the line but his clearance led to a second shot at goal and, this time, Munroe did well to clear off the line (6 mins).
Alty continued to make mistakes with Potts giving the ball away to Morley as the Sandgrounders gained the upper hand. In fact, manager Heathcote was moved to tell his charges, "Stop giving the ball away so easily"! Next, Daly shot narrowly wide of the near post (10 mins). Up front, Thornley and Little were seeing little of the ball and Dickinson was scarcely troubled at this stage in the Port nets. But after Thornley had lost possession, McGinn advanced threateningly only for Owen to make an important interception. Soon, Band, who was the best of the Alty players in the first half, made an important tackle to halt Leadbetter at the cost of a corner. From Baker's corner from the left, Owen at the near post only managed to head the ball backwards across the face of his own goal but the it was ultimately cleared, though Graham Heathcote accused his players of ball-watching and it was hard to disagree with him. It almost got worse for Alty when Leadbetter was put clear to the right of goal and advanced, one on one, on Coburn. The Alty keeper rushed out and made a fine save with his legs to deny the Southport man as he entered the box (17 mins).
Southport continued to perform the better without creating any more clear chances but then Little and Potts executed a neat interchange of passes up the right/centre before Little was cut off by a defender inside the Southport box (22 mins). After an error by Potts, Leadbetter again got free, leaving the Alty no.7 with his head in his hands. But Peter Band, once again, saved the day with a timely challenge. Alty won their first corner after 23 minutes when Little fed Thornley who won the flag-kick. Potts's corner was half cleared and, once again, Potts lost possession allowing Leadbetter free for the third time in the game. This time it was Chris Adams who was Alty's saviour as he came across towards the Alty right to clear the ball (24 mins). Alty had a brighter moment soon afterwards when Owen, Potts, Little and Hawes combined well and Hawes's cross was met by an excellent jump at the back post by Scott, which went just wide (25 mins)..Southport too were making errors and the supporters of both sides went quiet for a few minutes as they found little to excite them on the field. Play stumbled on with Band again looking the pick of the Alty team. Following a foul by former Vauxhall man, Lynch, on Owen, Morley got himself booked for stopping Hawes taking the freekick (39 mins). The officials' failure to spot Fitzhenry's clear foul on Little brought complaints from the Alty bench but the Robins' best hope at this stage seemed to be to get to half-time goalless and regroup for the second half. And this they managed to do.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 SOUTHPORT 1|
The second half saw Alty win an early corner, which was followed by a freekick near half-way. From this, taken by Adams, Talbot got free from Lane and powered a header towards goal but Dickinson made a good save, to his left (47 mins). Soon, however, Talbot was hobbling, but he played on. However, Owen then went down and needed treatment from physio Richard Norris (49 mins). Following this, from a Munroe throw, good work from Potts led to a clearance which almost fell for Thornley. Soon, however Owen, who had been doubtful for today's game, had to go off and was replaced by Lewis Chalmers in central midfield (51 mins). Alty were looking a little more lively than in the first half, having benefited from the managerial team's half-time advice. But their play continued to be interspersed with errors. Southport, for their part, have apparently found scoring in the second half of games away from home a a near impossibility and appeared to be playing less fluently than in the first period. One factor in this was that Chalmers's introduction had meant they had more aerial competition in central midfield and the youngster's long throws were also helping the home side convert defence into attack.
As the game approached the hour mark, it was difficult to see where a goal would come from. At this point, Lutel James came on for his debut, replacing Rod Thornley as Colin Little's strike partner (59 mins). Following an error by Lynch, Chalmers's throw was taken quickly and very nearly got Little free at the left bye-line but the ball just ran out of play (62 mins). When Scott was penalised for a challenge on Lane, the former Leigh man got up smirking to the annoyance of the home crowd who felt he had conned the referee. James was beginning to show some neat touches but, at the other end, Coburn produced an excellent punch clear from Baker's freekick from the Southport right, after a foul by Adams. Alty were now getting on top and, following a throw on the left from Chalmers, the ball came out to Hawes, whose fine volley from 25 yards whistled narrowly wide of the Southport goal (67 mins).
Southport now brought on striker Robinson for McGinn (67 mins) and there was the almost mandatory farce as the fourth official showed the wrong numbers on his electronic board and the substitution could not be made till he corrected the error. There is a lot to be said for low-tech cards with numbers on them. A poor ball from Daly, into touch, gave Chalmers a throw 10 yards inside his own half on the Alty left. He found Little, who held the ball up well before finding Hawes. He threaded the ball further right to Potts who was entering the front right hand corner of the box. Potts unleashed a fine shot into the far corner which gave Dickinson no chance and more than made up for the unhappy afternoon that the Alty number seven was otherwise having (70 mins). It was Alty's first goal from outfield play for 462 minutes.
Next, Munroe's foul on Leadbetter gave Southport a freekick in a fairly central position just outside the penalty "D" but Baker put this narrowly wide with Coburn motionless, presumably confident that the ball would pass the wrong side of his right upright (72 mins). Lane soon got in a cross from the right which Potts cleared, deep in his own defence. After a foul on James, Talbot was prevented from getting onto Adams's freekick by holding but when Adams did the same to Robinson, he was penalised. Lane did get in a swerving shot wide of goal but at the other end, Potts went even closer when his goalbound shot from left-centre was deflected out for a corner. After an error from Munroe, who was in a forward position on the Alty right, Leadbetter advanced and it took another fine interception from Band to see him off (78 mins). Alty threatened after this when Potts set Little running to the bye-line, right of goal. He beat a defender and got into the box before passing inside for James. In turning to shoot for what looked to be a certain goal, James appeared to have screwed the ball horribly wide but a corner kick award suggested a defender's intervention. At the other end Stuart Coburn threw himself full length to the ground in disbelief that the chance had gone begging! Alty were now enjoying their best spell of the game with Dickinson forced to make a good catch from Potts's cross. But Coburn was himself obliged to make a good save soon after this when Leadbetter shot from the Southport left after turning past Munroe (82 mins).
Southport now brought on Powell for Lynch (83 mins) as Maddox prepared to come on for Alty. But, within seconds of coming on, Powell fired in a decent shot from 22 yards which went wide. Southport made another change when former Chester man Booth replaced Daly (86 mins). But Alty soon won two corners in succession and, following the second, Chalmers' pass saw Hawes stretch but the midfielder could only turn his shot wide (89 mins). At this point Mark Maddox replaced Potts (89 mins) before the referee signalled a surprisingly long four minutes of added time. Alty had a late scare when Robinson went down in the box under a challenge from Band but the referee showed no interest in the visiting fans' penalty appeal. Alty rode out the final minutes to record their first win in nine league matches and climb four places up to fourteenth in the table, passing Southport in the process.
Whilst the referee made one or two decisions which incensed the Alty boss, in Mr Scarr's favour it has to be said that he kept his book in his pocket throughout, apart from Morley's caution for preventing a freekick being taken. It was the first time no Alty player had been booked in a Conference game this season. This was a hard-earned win for Altrincham and a vital one as they maintained their good record against teams in the bottom half of the table.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 SOUTHPORT 0|