CREWE ALEXANDRA (2) 4 ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
Cheshire Senior Cup, 2nd Round Match
played on Wednesday, 16 November 2005 at 7.45 pm.
Only four of the players who had started for Altrincham against Exeter City last Saturday also started here tonight (Band, Chalmers, Little and Scott). In contrast, Crewe were fielding a stronger side than the one which lost to Altrincham in the CSC Final of 2005 and their slick passing carved them out an opening goal after just six minutes. Good work by Suhaj, on the right, led to his cross which Rix had time to steer comfortably past Richard Acton, a late inclusion after Stuart Coburn cried off with a back strain. Altrincham themselves played some neat football and looked to have got to the interval just a goal behind, only to concede a similar goal to Crewe's first just before the break. Suhaj this time set up Rivers for another comfortable finish from his low cross from the right (45+1 mins). Any hopes of Alty's making a recovery were immediately dispelled in the second half when Eddie Johnson converted a loose ball after Suhaj had again got free, the ball running loose to the scorer after an apparently timely challenge in the box by Kirk Hilton had seemed to have averted the danger to the Alty goal (47 mins). Johnson scored again seven minutes later as Crewe threatened to run away with the game (54 mins). But three early substitutions by Alty saw them settle down and begin to get forward but, apart from a fierce shot from Pat McFadden, they were unable to threaten the Crewe goal seriously in the second half.
REFEREE: Mr. M Heywood
Altrincham went into this game as holders of the Cheshire Senior Cup, having beaten Crewe in the Final at Witton last season.
Altrincham knew earlier this week that they would be without the injured Gary Talbot, Mark Maddox and Lee Hendley, but manager Graham Heathcote was also forced into two late changes as Stuart Coburn and Stephen Rose were also unable to start, the latter being injured in the warm up. So Richard Acton returned in goal for his first game since breaking a bone in his foot in the previous round of this competition, two months ago, and Steve Aspinall came in for his 100th Alty appearance but only his second appearance of the season following his ankle operation in the summer. With new signings Ged Murphy, Warren Peyton, Chris Butler and James Robinson ineligible and the on-loan Kyle Wilson unable to play against his employers, only four of the players who had started for Altrincham against Exeter last Saturday also started here tonight (Peter Band, Colin Little, Lewis Chalmers and Gary Scott).
Crewe included several players with significant first-team experience including Chris McCready, Ade Moses, Justin Cochrane, Mark Rivers and Ben Rix, as well as Eddie Johnson, formerly with Manchester United.
CREWE ALEXANDRA (Red shirts & socks, white shorts): 1. Stuart TOMLINSON, 2. Richard SUTTON, 3. Mark ROBERTS, 4. Ade MOSES (capt), 5. Chris McCREADY, 6. Justin COCHRANE, 7. Mark RIVERS, 8. Mike O'CONNOR, 9. Pav SUHAJ, 10. Eddie JOHNSON, 11. Ben RIX. Subs: 12. Rob LLOYD, 14. Tom POPE, 15. Nicky HAYWARD.
ALTRINCHAM (All yellow): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Kirk HILTON, 4. Karl MUNROE, 5. Peter BAND, 6. Val OWEN, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Lewis CHALMERS, 9. Colin LITTLE, 10.Rod THORNLEY, 11. Gary SCOTT. Subs: 12. Kieran LUGSDEN, 14. Pat McFADDEN, 15. Chris ADAMS.
On a cold night at Gresty Road, play was soon halted after kick off for treatment to Val Owen, who was returning, with Karl Munroe, after suspension. Owen had to go off the pitch to continue his treatment from Richard Norris. In the meantime, a long throw from Chalmers caused some concern to the Crewe keeper but the home side's crisp passing on a soft surface, off which the ball skidded at pace, soon led to the opening goal of the night. Just after Owen had come back on, Crewe advanced on the right and, about forty yards out, a pass from the right, played inside, evaded Hilton, allowing O'Connor to feed the ball back out to Suhaj on the right. His low cross found Rix unmarked in the centre of the goalmouth and he calmly sidefooted past the exposed Richard Acton (6 mins). Despite the goal, Hilton was settling well at left-back after his injury problems, which had seen him start just 3 games this season for Altrincham. Potts, too, was looking lively for the visitors.
Alty worked themselves a decent opening after 11 minutes when Val Owen found Colin Little. But Little, who had had a warm reception as a former Crewe favourite, for once found his control lacking and the ball was cleared from the edge of the box. Soon afterwards Rod Thornley found himself in a similar position on the edge of the box, but delayed shooting and again possession was lost (14 mins). After Chalmers had lost the ball to Eddie Johnson, O'Connor's rising shot took a deflection over the bar to give Alex the game's first corner, which O'Connor took and from which a second corner resulted, off Chalmers's clearance. However, Altrincham were now holding their own but soon, once more, when presented with a reasonable shooting chance they elected to pass, this time Owen and Little being the Alty players involved in a promising build-up.
At the other end, Richard Acton did very well to rush out and block a shot from Rivers, who had got clear into the Alty box, and Gary Scott completed the clearance (22 mins). Referee Heywood allowed the game to flow as he took no action either when Hilton bowled over Suhaj, or immediately afterwards, when Little was baulked by an opponent. Even when Owen took the legs of his equally combative opponent, Justin Cochrane, a freekick but no booking resulted (26 mins). Hilton then did well to feed Potts, now on the left wing, but Potts's testing cross was cleared. Soon, O'Connor's shot rose narrowly over Acton's bar before a ball up the middle led to some confusion betwen Acton and Band as the defender took the ball wide of his own keeper who had come to collect on the edge of the box. Potts and Little then almost got Owen free in the box but a brave save at the feet of Owen by Tomlinson saved the day for Alex (33 mins). After Potts, policed by two markers on the right wing, had won a throw near the corner flag, Lewis Chalmers's long throw now saw Munroe and Band rise together for the ball. But the ball cleared both men and bounced into the box where Thornley executed a smart overhead kick but saw his shot bounce out of play off the top of the crossbar (35 mins).
Crewe won their fourth corner soon afterwards, off Munroe, but as half time approached Altrincham looked well capable of getting to the break no worse than a goal behind. Two minutes of added time were announced but, in the first of these, Suhaj again got free on the right wing and in a similar fashion to how he created his side's first goal, he played in a low cross to find an unmarked team-mate in the Alty box. This time it was Rivers who scored, comfortably, again giving Acton no chance (45+1 mins).
|Half-Time: CREWE ALEXANDRA 2 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Whilst Crewe's second goal, a minute before the half-time whistle, had been disappointing enough to Altrincham, their third, just two minutes into the second half was a body blow. Again it came via Suhaj, this time after Chalmers had lost possession to O'Connor in midfield. A timely tackle near the penalty spot by the covering Hilton seemed to have done enough to see off the danger but the ball broke, left, to the unmarked Eddie Johnson who had a simple task of scoring. All three goals, so far, had been little more than tap-ins (47 mins). Soon afterwards, from a Chalmers throw, Potts got in a shot which deflected off a team-mate for a goalkick. Then Alty made a double change with Adams replacing Aspinall, who had been intended only to play part of the game as he recovers full fitness, and up front Kieran Lugsden came on for Rod Thornley. Hilton now moved to left midfield as Adams slotted in at left-back. But two minutes later Alex made it 4-0 when Johnson and Suhaj got clear and, though the latter seemed to miskick the ball, it rebounded, possibly off Munroe, to leave Johnson clear for the fourth simple, close-range conversion of the night (54 mins). A minute later Alty brought on Pat McFadden for Lewis Chalmers with Colin Little dropping deeper to accommodate the young striker.
Crewe almost immediately won their fifth corner of the night, followed by a sixth, as O'Connor's shot deflected off Colin Little (58 mins). Roberts rose well from this corner and it took a good clearance off the line by Adams to keep the ball out as the Crewe man's header arrowed for the net. But Alty had a good moment when a Scott free-kick found McFadden and, although wide left of goal, MacFadden got in a fierce goalbound shot which Tomlinson did well to beat out (61 mins). Next, Owen found Little but his shot from 19 yards screwed well wide. Referee Heywood continued to show commendable leniency as Hilton was pulled up for a late challenge but received no more punishment. Work by Little and Hilton then got the ball to McFadden in the box but, though he twisted to try to make space McFadden could not get in a clear shot. But Alty's improvement continued as a fine move involving Hilton, Little and McFadden saw the last named win a corner from his cross from the right, Alty's first flag-kick of the game (67 mins). This was cleared but soon Hilton got in a decent effort from 22 yards which Tomlinson saved (68 mins). An Adams freekick produced another Alty corner but soon after this, at the other end, O'Connor went down in the box but no penalty was awarded. Alty continued to look neat in their passing at this stage but were not creating clear openings up front (75 mins).
Crewe now brought on a sub, striker Tom Pope, who had been signed from Biddulph Victoria at the same time that Alty's Lee Hendley had been on trial at Crewe earlier this season. He replaced Suhaj (76 mins). McFadden was now largely operating on the left as Crewe made another swap, Hayward replacing Rivers (79 mins). Almost immediately the new man received the ball from the right and it took a fine block by Acton to keep his shot out (80 mins). Alty then put together a good move involving Scott, Lugsden, McFadden, Owen, Hilton and Potts and it was Potts's dink to the back post which produced a corner. From this, Owen's shot hit Lugsden to go out for a goalkick. Lloyd now replaced Moses for Crewe (82 mins). Alty had an escape soon afterwards when Lloyd's cross was met by a free header from Hayward which went to Acton (84 mins). Alty won their fourth corner soon afterwards before Crewe won another for themselves (88 mins). Three minutes of added time were played but the score remained 4-0.
This was not one of Alty's better nights; the side was much changed due to injury and unavailability but the manager was disappointed with the team's lack of tenacity especially when not in possession and the fact that all four goals were "walked in" to the net. Hopefully the stimulus of Conference league action and the return of the new signings on Saturday will mean a return to the impressive form shown against Exeter City last Saturday. Alty are now out of the FA Cup and the Cheshire Senior Cup and have only the FA Trophy now to run alongside their league campaign. One good sign tonight was the return to action of Kirk Hilton, who had a generally good game on the left. But despite the disappointment of the home fans, it was hard not to admire the conveyor belt of talent which Dario Gradi produces year in and year out at Crewe Alexandra and which, tonight, had been too good for Altrincham.
|Full-Time: CREWE ALEXANDRA 4 ALTRINCHAM 0|