CAMMELL LAIRD (1) 2
ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
played on Saturday, 15 July 2006, at 3pm.
Left: Robbie Lawton and Peter Band.
ATTENDANCE: est. 150
After defeat under a hot sun at Woodley two weeks ago, Alty once again lined up at a UniBond First Division ground on a very warm afternoon. But today's side showed six changes from the eleven who had started against the Stockport side.
Welcome spectators at the game included former Alty captain Mark Maddox, who was released in the summer and has now joined Leigh RMI and former Alty striker Ken McKenna, the manager of TNS in Wales. Also watching the game was current Alty player Colin Potts, recuperating after his recent hernia operation.
Alty again fielded their two new signings from Halifax Town, midfielder Steve Bushell and winger Justin Bowler. Indeed, Bushell started as captain. Alty's other new signings, Joe O'Neill, Robbie Lawton and Peter Thomson all made their debuts for the Robins. O'Neill and Thomson were paired up front in the absence on holiday of Colin Litttle and Rod Thornley whilst Lawton started on the right of midfield. The new players wore the shirts belonging to members of last year's squad, so Bowler had Potts's name on his back, O'Neill was in Little's shirt, Lawton in Thornley's and Thomson appeared in Hendley's no.26 shirt. There were also first outings of the season today for Steve Aspinall, Chris Adams, Eddie Hussin and Val Owen. Indeed, it was the first time Eddie and Richard had worn their personalised Conference home shirts in a competitive match, having missed all of last season through injury.
Cammell Laird included former Alty striker Anthony Hargreaves and, on the bench, left sided ex-Alty midfielder Stuart Wright, whilst the veteran ex-Stalybridge Celtic right-back, Derek Ward, had been on Alty's books as a trialist.
CAMMELL LAIRD (Blue): . Line up included 2. Derek WARD, 4. Lee ATHERTON, 6. Ian COOKE, 11. Anthony HARGREAVES, ?. Eddie JEBB, ? Michael COLE. Subs: 17. Stuart WRIGHT
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and socks.) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Stephen ASPINALL, 17. Karl MUNROE, 15. Peter BAND, 3. Chris ADAMS; 10. Robbie LAWTON, 30. Steve BUSHELL, 12. Warren PEYTON, 7. Justin BOWLER; 9. Joe O'NEILL, 26. Peter THOMSON. Subs: 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Eddie HUSSIN, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 8. Val OWEN, 18. Blake NORTON, 22. Richard NORRIS
Right: Joe O'Neill (front) and Peter Thomson (background). On a hot afternoon in a game played on a pitch hardened by the recent dry spell, Alty made a good start and almost went ahead after two minutes when O'Neill forced a fine save after good work from Thomson on the left. The keeper pushed O'Neill's effort out for a corner and, though this was cleared, Alty did not have long to wait to take the lead. The industrious Lawton was involved in the build up on the right but it was Bowler who finished off the well-constructed goal with a firm shot from the edge of the box (8 mins). However, the lead was short-lived for, just a minute later, Alty conceded a freekick about 30 yards out towards the Lairds' left wing. From Michael Cole's free-kick, Lairds' Atherton rose well, beyond the back post, to loop a header over Coburn to make it 1-1 (9 mins). Atherton needed treatment before resuming.
Alty were passing the ball about well and soon O'Neill got free only to see his shot deflected over the bar for a corner. Bushell was also impressing, in midfield, and almost picked up a booking for a committed challenge in midfield. Lawton was showing commitment on the right flank and the tall and burly Thomson was also working hard in the hot sun. But Lairds were giving as good as they got and won two successive corners midway through the half. As the half wore on goalmouth chances became scarcer as the sides cancelled out each other's efforts but, after 43 minutes the busy O'Neill's quick thinking chip just failed to deceive the home keeper, Then, just before the break, Lairds made the first substitution of the game but there was still time, just before the interval whistle, for O'Neill's header from Aspinall's cross to be well saved by the home keeper (45 mins).
|Half-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
The afternoon remained unrelentingly hot as the second half started with Alty sticking to their starting formation. But within 10 seconds Band pulled up after making a challenge. Fortunately, after treatment off the pitch, he soon resumed. Bowler then showed more of his great pace as he made progress on the left but his cross went unconverted (50 mins). Alty threatened again soon afterwards when Peyton got hold of a shot from 25 yards which the home keeper fumbled but was grateful to gather at the second attempt (54 mins). Altrincham now made a triple substitution as Norton, Owen and Talbot came on for Owen, Thomson and Munroe (58 mins). Norton was soon making inroads on the left in conjunction with Bowler but the latter's good cross was taken by the Lairds' keeper (60 mins). However, the best chance of the half so far fell for Lairds when a good move ended with a fine save from Coburn, who beat out a fierce shot from Jebb (64 mins). Lairds immediately made a triple substitution of their own as Ward and his colleagues in the no. 16 and no.8 shirts were withdrawn. One of the newcomers was former Alty man, Stuart Wright. From the restart after the substitution, Lairds went close again as their no.7 headed onto the bar from a free-kick on the right (65 mins).
Above: 65 mins- a Lairds' header hits the cross bar.
The home side were looking the more likely to break the deadlock as Alty struggled to create anything at the other end in the middle of the second half. After 66 minutes, Chalmers replaced Adams for Altrincham and, for the next few minutes, Alty had a good spell with Bowler prominent. Next, Norris came on for Bushell in midfield (70 mins). before Lairds made a swap as their no.15 was withdrawn (73 mins). But after Norris's misplaced pass had gone to the Lairds' no.9 in midfield, the Lairds' man found McMullen, who was curiously wearing a number 0 shirt, on the left flank and, from his cross, the veteran ex-Northwich man, Ian Cooke, saw his first effort well beaten out by Coburn but the Lairds' man was on hand to poke the loose ball back into the net (74 mins). Immediately Eddie Hussin came on for Lawton in midfield for Alty.
After looking unlikely to score an equaliser for some time, Alty finally had a chance after 83 minutes when the home keeper picked up a back pass near the penalty spot and Alty were awarded a freekick. From Norris's lay off, Aspinall's effort was predictably charged down by the massed ranks of defenders. Alty went in search of an equaliser, as next Talbot headed narrowly wide. But Lairds finished strongly as a cross from their no.9 found a colleague whose goal-bound shot was blocked (86 mins). After O'Neill had headed over for Alty, Coburn had to make a magnificent save from a Cammell Laird shot, tipping the ball over for a corner. Then as the final seconds ticked away the Alty keeper again saved well, to his left, from Cammell Laird's number nine (90 mins).
So, Alty had lost for the second successive game to a team from three levels below the in the pyramid. However, as manager Heathcote has said, the pre-season results are not as important as getting the squad fit and blending in the new players. Today's side included three new faces who had not played at all for Alty before as well as two others making only their second apperance. Two more of the squad were returning after season-long lay-offs. Nevertheless, nothing should detract from the home side's good performance. Laiirds have been climbing rapidly through the Pyramid and it would not be surprising to see them again challenging for promotion at the end of next season.
|Full-Time: CAMMELL LAIRD 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|