ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 EXETER CITY (1) 1
Nationwide Conference National Division Match
played on Saturday, 12 November 2005 at 3 pm.
In a pulsating second half Alty came from behind to gain a deserved draw, but whereas the Grecians' point took them to the top of the table, Alty's saw them drop to 17th. In a much changed side, Alty started without Potts and had Maddox at right back and Little in wide midfield. Chalmers also started, in midfield, whilst the on-loan Kyle Wilson started up front. There was also a debut in midfield for Warren Peyton. Despite the changes Alty gave a good account of themselves in the first half and withstood a lot of pressure from Exeter, who went ahead when Challinor headed home at the back post from the dangerous Scully's cross (31 mins). Alty's claims for offside went unheeded. Talbot limped off just before the break and then fellow centre-back Maddox also has to be replaced after 57 minutes. This allowed the introduction of Potts whose defence splitting pass set up Little for a fine equaliser (69 mins). With the lively Lugsden replacing the ineffective James, Alty improved. Potts proceeded to hit the bar and was also only foiled at the end of a superb run up the middle by keeper Jones's save. For their part Exeter had a goal disallowed in each half.
REFEREE: Mr. C D Sarginson
This was Alty's first ever game against former League outfit, Exeter City and the Devon side brought more than 300 supporters with them. With the news that Grays had lost to Accrington at lunch-time, a point for Exeter would be enough to take them to the top of the Conference table. After the inundations during last week, the Moss Lane pitch was soft but perfectly playable. Fortunately, the rain held off thoughout this game.
Alty made numerous changes from the last game, at Burton. Out of the team were the suspended Val Owen and Karl Munroe. Gary Talbot returned to central defence but he was not expected to last the full 90 minutes with his foot injury. Colin Potts dropped to the bench as new signing Warren Peyton (right) came in for his first start. Up front, on-loan Kyle Wilson moved forward to join Lutel James, whilst leading scorer Colin Little played an unaccustomed role on the right of midfield. Mark Maddox moved to right back and Lewis Chalmers came in for his first league start since the Halifax away game. On the bench for Alty were new signings Chris Butler and James Robinson from Accrington Stanley.
Exeter had few selection worries and included the two Joneses, who had been called up to the National Game XI squad. Lee Phillips started and Alty fans may recall that he played against us for Weymouth a couple of seasons ago in the Trophy. Brazilian Márcio dos Santos Gaia was back in the defence. Also a starter was former Chelsea youngster Dan Woodards and the on-loan winger from Notts County, Irishman Tony Scully.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white stripe shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt), 15. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 3. Chris ADAMS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 12. Warren PEYTON, 11. Gary SCOTT; 29. Kyle WILSON, 18. Lutel JAMES. Subs: 7. Colin POTTS, 16. Chris BUTLER, 19. James ROBINSON, 20. Kieran LUGSDEN, 21. Stephen ROSE.
EXETER CITY: (All blue): 27. Paul JONES, 3. Billy JONES, 5. Márcio dos SANTOS GAIA, 6. Chris TODD, 7. Andy TAYLOR, 8. Glen CRONIN (capt), 9. Craig FARRELL, 10. Jon CHALLINOR, 11. Lee PHILLIPS, 24. Tony SCULLY, 25. Dan WOODARDS. Subs: 1. Martin RICE (gk), 4. Gary SAWYER, 12. James MACKIE, 14. Steve FLACK, 21. Dean MOXEY.
After a minute's silence for Remembrance Day and a change of ends, Exeter City kicked off towards the 20/20 end, watched by Steve Perryman, the Grecians' director of football, seated in the Directors' box. His last encounter with Altrincham had been as a player in the FA Cup when his Spurs side met the Robins. With a completely new midfield, Altrincham were soon on the back-foot and it took Exeter only four minutes to win the game's first corner. But, soon, from Band's pass, Kyle Wilson surged up the middle only to be muscled off the ball as he entered the oppsition box. Both sets of fans were creating a good atmosphere as Alty began to settle, and when Scott gained possession well, Wilson was soon involved again from James's pass. Peyton was also beginning to show some good touches but Exeter soon had the ball in the net when Farrell headed home but the flag had already been raised for offside (9 mins). Another Exeter corner soon followed but Chalmers soon showed his tenacity with a fine tackle on Scully. Up front, James was seeing little of the ball and was tending to hope for defensive errors rathev than challenge for 50-50 balls. Exeter won their third corner (16 mins) but though the visitors were enjoying a lot of possession, Alty were working hard and coping well.. A fourth corner came after 19 minutes but then James did get clear at the other end only to be caught offside (21 mins).
A couple of unforced errors in the Exeter defence gave Alty a throw-in, and Chalmers's long-throws were to be a feature of this game. Mark Maddox became the first player to see a yellow card, his third of the season, for a trip on Challinor, 22 yards out, left-centre. The freekick went to Coburn's arms. The visitors took the lead after 31 minutes and the goal came, ironically, after a superb tackle inside the box by Maddox, who saw the ball go looping out to Scully on the Exeter right. His cross was met by a header at the back post by Challinor and though Alty looked to the linesman, he kept his flag down. Scully soon threatened again as he got past Adams and Chalmers but Maddox cleared from Challinor on this occasion. Exeter again gave Alty some hope when keeper Jones dropped the ball and Santos Gaia hacked clear. But overall Exeter continued to have the upper hand and it was Colin Little who made the next telling challenge to see off Exeter inside the Alty box. Maddox then lunged in but escaped without a further caution but his colleague Chris Adams did soon see yellow when Scully appeared to run deliberately at him to win a freekick (43 mins).
Two minutes of added time were indicated at the start of which Gary Talbot went down. Referee Sarginson refused to allow the Alty physio, Richard Norris, on to treat the injured Talbot and he hobbled of. Manager Graham Heathcote was involved in a wrangle with the fourth official who seemed to be unhappy at allowing a substitution in added time but eventually Stephen Rose came on for the injured centre-back (45 mins). In added time Coburn watched an effort form Scully go narrowly over his crossbar (45+2 mins) but half-time arrived with Alty just a goal behind the joint league leaders.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 EXETER CITY 1|
The second half began with another Exeter corner but Jones wasted this with a poor, low kick into the side netting. With Rose now at right back, Maddox had moved to join Band at centre-back for Altrincham. Rose soon settled and enjoyed a good 45 minutes despite his lack of recent match practice. Chalmers and Wilson then combined but the former's shot struck a defender. Scully soon threatened again on the Exeter right, getting past Maddox, but offside saved the day for Altrincham. Then Farrell got past both Band and Maddox but his cross gave Alty a goalkick. Perhaps the defining moment of the game arrived when Cronin found Farrell unmarked in the box. The striker had time to control the ball and a goal seemed inevitable only for Coburn to rush out a make a superb block (59 mins).
Moments later a limping Maddox became Alty's second centre-back to go off and he was replaced by winger Colin Potts. So, Gary Scott reverted to right-back (59 mins). Next, after Peyton had fed Wilson, the ball came to James on the by-line, right of goal, and he won Alty's first corner. This was taken low by Potts but Little missed the ball inside the box and it went wide left to Chalmers from whom it ended up in keeper Jones's arms. But Alty were looking more lively since Potts's introduction and soon a freekick near half way by Rose was met by Little , whose header from the edge of the box went close to Jones's far post for a goal kick (63 mins). Potts then had a shot blocked . Eventually Alty got their reward when Rose cleared to Little who, in turn, found Potts on the right. His excellent, low cross from the right, about 30 yards out, curled round a defender to reach Little who finished well from the outer reaches of the box, his shot finding the far corner to make it 1-1 (69 mins).
Kieran Lugsden, who had been preparing to come on, immediately replaced James up front for Alty (70 mins). Stung by Alty's equaliser, Band had to make a superb covering tackle to see off an Exeter probe up their left flank. Soon Exeter's manager Alex Inglethorpe brought on the tall Flack in place of Phillips (74 mins). Alty then had a scare when Coburn dropped the ball under a challenge which the referee did not see as a foul. Alty were now looking much more lively going forward than earlier in the game and when Peyton and Little found Potts, the winger unleashed a fierce 30 yarder which hit a defender. At the back, a fine tackle by Rose stemmed the Exeter flow but play now really did resemble the cup-tie atmosphere which manager Graham Heathcote had predicted, with both sets of fans getting behind their teams. Lugsden was looking keen up front and despite his slender build was doing well in holding the ball up for his supporting team-mates. From Lugsden 's pass, Potts then shot narrowly wide from 19 yards. Exeter now brought on Dean Moxey, who had scored a memorable goal for Exeter last season to earn them a money-spinning FA Cup tie at Manchester United, their last visit to the Borough of Trafford before today's game (81 mins). Whilst Chalmers's long throws had been a feature of the game for Altrincham, Challinor's for Exeter echoed those of his namesake, Dave, for Tranmere Rovers some years ago. One of Challinor's efforts soon won Exeter another corner but it was Alty who came the nearer to winning the game in the latter stages. First Wilson did superbly in the left in the corner, to get past his marker and run along the by-line towards goal. His ball into the box was met by Potts, just ahead of Lugsden, and his shot skimmed off the top of the Exeter crossbar. At this point, Mackie came on for Exeter's Farrell (85 mins).
Alty's lively finish, all the more commendable for a part-time side against a full-time outfit, saw them win a corner through Wilson's efforts left of goal. But Scully continued to torment Alty on their left side. With a surprisingly long four minutes of added time found by the referee, Alty almost took all three points as Potts ran 30 yards up the middle of the pitch only to see his low shot brilliantly tipped round the post by keeper Jones for a corner. Potts overhit the corner and, as Scully and Little were named the men of the match, the game drew to a conclusion with a draw a fair result. Exeter had had the better of the first half but Alty had responded well in the second half and with Potts's two strikes had come the closer to winning the game. But in the short term, Alty's efforts went unrewarded as they dropped two places to seventeenth whilst the Grecians could celebrate going top of the table. However, in the bigger picture this was an excellent point earned against a very strong team and showed that Altrinchamare able to compete at this level. Whilst goalscoring remains a problem, the defence has now tightened up and although we have conceded 26 goals, 14 of those came in just three games. Of the new men, Peyton had a solid game in midfield and Wilson looked useful at times up front. The return of Rose was also encouraging and with Talbot and Maddox both limping off, his services are likely to be in demand. Lugsden, too, did well when he came on. As Peyton, Wilson, Butler and Robinson are all ineligible for the Cheshire Senior Cup match at Crewe on Wednesday, it is to be hoped that we will see some of the fringe members of the squad getting a start at Gresty Road and that game may also also afford Altrincham the chance to give those returning from injury, such as Aspinall, a chance to regain match fitness.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 EXETER CITY 1|