RUNCORN TOWN (0) 0
ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (2) 2
played on Tuesday, 25 July 2006, at 7.00pm.
Aaron Edwards (centre) and an opponent clash as Danny Heffernan (14) and John Maloney (8) look on.
Altrincham were made very welcome at Runcorn Town's Pavilions complex for a game which was to be overshadowed by a bad injury to Alty's Ashley Brown. After taking a two-goal lead inside 8 minutes, both goals being well taken by former Preston North End youngster Ashley Stott, Brown suffered a serious injury to his right leg when he went in bravely for a 50/50 ball. After almost 10 minutes of treatment on the pitch by physio Alan Ainsley and his Runcorn counterpart, Alan Charlesworth, Ashley was stretchered off and then taken by ambulance to hospital in Warrington. Sadly, x-rays revealed that he had fractures to both his tibia and fibula and Ashley was put in a full-leg plaster-cast for three months.
The game was played in four quarters of 20 minutes to make allowance for the fierce heat and the sloping pitch made it even harder work when playing up the incline. Though there were no more goals, the game was well contested and allowed manager Neil Brown to blend a number of last season's youth team and reserve players with some new faces.
Runcorn Town play at The Pavilions sports complex and were formerly known as Mond Rangers FC. Tonight's game was played on a pitch adjacent to their normal one, as that surface had been worked on over the summer and, because of the hot, dry weather, was not fit to play on. So, as the game took place in baking heat on a sloping pitch, the referee sensibly agreed to a game of four 20-minute segments to allow plenty of drink breaks. Runcorn Town are currently in the West Cheshire League Division Two but aspire to the NW Counties, which is where the Runcorn Linnets, a club formed out of the ashes of Runcorn FC Halton will play their inaugural season. However, as the Linnets are groundsharing at Witton, Runcorn Town are carrying the torch for football in Runcorn itself.
Manager Neil Brown opted for a 3-5-2 formation with a squad which included a blend of last season's Altrincham Reserves, last season's youth team players and some new recruits. The new players included ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Ball, former Preston NE striker Ashley Stott, midfielders Aaron Edwards and Cabba Bagdigi and striker John Oakes. The youth team graduates from last year in tonight's starting line-up were Danny Gray, Richard Gresty and Astley Mulholland.
Neil had opted for an experimental 3-5-2 formation tonight.
Thanks to Martin Fallon for providing the Runcorn Town details, below.
RUNCORN TOWN (Blue): Starting 11: 1 Andy Murphy, 2 Dean Woolley, 4 Reece Conlon, 7 Jay Phillips, 8 Darren Moore, 9 Matty Johnson, 9 Ged Bushell, 10. Ben Stubbs, 11 Dave Phoenix, 14 Craig Threllfall, 15 Darren Mayers. Subs: 14 Robbie Gorry (replaced Phillips 32), 5 Kev Ward (replaced Mayers 32), 1 Adam Judge (replaced Murphy 40), 6 Mike Thomson (replaced Bushell 40, 17 Aaron Conlon (replaced Stubbs 40), 12 David Ginever (replaced Phoenix 40), 16 Mark Tudor (replaced Woolley 56), 6 Paul Angell (replaced Moore 70), 5 Pete Dorgan (replaced Johnson 70, 3 Mark Johnson (replaced Gorry 70).
ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (Red & white striped shirts, black shirts, red socks.) 1. Scott BALL; 2. Danny GRAY, 4. Richard GRESTY, 3. Colin McALLISTER (capt); 7. Keith WEDGE, 12. Aaron EDWARDS, 6. Cabba BAGDIGI, 8. John MALONEY, 11. Ashley BROWN; 9. Astley MULHOLLAND, 10. Ashley STOTT. Subs: 14. Danny HEFFERNAN, 15. Ben DEEGAN, 16. John OAKES, 17. Hassan ZAREH-OURANG, 18. Michael RISK.
Above: Cabba Bagdigi in action. Picture courtesy of Martin Fallon.
Altrincham kicked off with the advantage of the slope but with a strong sun shining in their eyes. An early Mulholland shot struck Woolley to give Alty a corner (3 mins). Though nothing came of this, Alty went ahead two minutes later when Maloney's excellent ball forward allowed Stott to round the keeper and score neatly into an empty net (5 mins). Just three minutes later, another good pass found Stott who, this time, went round the keeper on the left to make it 2-0 (8 mins). But Runcorn responded well as Bushell almost got in behind the defence to convert a pass. But at the other end, Ashley Brown did well to find Mulholland, who forced a save from Murphy in the home goal (10 mins). However, Ashley then came off worse when he went in bravely for a 50/50 ball and went down injured. It soon became clear that the damage was serious as the Alty left wing-back lay motionless, face down (12 mins). However, after some careful treatment from Alty physio Alan Ainsley and his Runcorn counterpart Alan Charlesworth, the 18 year-old was rolled over onto his back and treated further. After eight minutes or so of treatment, Ashley was stretchered off to the touchline where he received further attention as an ambulance was summoned. Danny Heffernan came on for Ashley on the left (20 mins).
Not surprisingly, the injury put a bit of a damper on proceedings and the game moved quietly on to the first drinks break (30 mins).
The second twenty minute period kicked off and it soon became clear that playing down the slope conferred a considerable advantage in the extreme heat. Runcorn began to introduce substitutes as they took the game to Altrincham for whom the back line was playing well. About 15 minutes into the second quarter, the ambulance arrived for Ashley Brown.
Alty's new players Bagdigi and Edwards were well involved in midfield but neither side created clear cut chances before the end of the second quarter arrived after 20 minutes of play.
|Half-Time: RUNCORN TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM RESERVES 2|
For the third quarter Alty introduced Ben Deegan and Hassan Zareh-Ourang, both members of last season's youth team, as well as new striker John Oakes, with Mulholland, Edwards and Stott being withdrawn. Keith Wedge did well to win a corner on the right, nine minutes into the quarter, following which Deegan was unable to get a firm head on a cross from the right by Bagdigi. Soon, Heffernan won Alty another corner, this time on the left but, overall, play was now fairly even and two minutes before the end of the 20-minute quarter, Ward's lob just cleared the Alty crossbar.
For the final quarter, Alty brought back Mulholland, whilst Michael Risk came on in defence. Runcorn were awarded a freekick on the left edge of the Alty box but they fired wide from this (3 mins). Next, at the other end, Heffernan fired in a firm shot but it rose over the bar (4 mins). Alty were now getting on top again and won two more corners. Deegan and Oakes's running were keeping the home defence on its toes and soon a fine pass from McAllister almost let in Oakes but the keeper cleared just in time (12 mins). Gresty and Bagdigi now gave way to the returning Stott and Edwards (13 mins). After Stott had headed over the bar, the same player headed wide from good work by Mulholland (15 mins). Next, Zareh-Ourang fired narrowly wide as Alty finished the stronger side. Stott then forced a good save from the home keeper before Deegan fired over the bar. But a late Runcorn effort forced a good save from the alert Ball at the cost of a corner. Following this, Angell did well but his shot was blocked and, though Runcorn won a late corner, the score remained 2-0.
What was otherwise an enjoyable evening at a hospitable club was overshadowed by the injury to Ashley Brown. It later emerged that he had broken both his tibia and fibula and that he would be in plaster for three months. Everyone at both clubs wishes the young left-sided Alty player a full recovery from an injury which was the accidental outcome of two players fairly challenging for a loose ball with equal determination.
|Full-Time: RUNCORN TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM RESERVES 2|