ALTRINCHAM (1) 1 MANCHESTER CITY XI (3) 3
played on Thursday, 27 July 2006, at 7.30pm.
REFEREE: Mr Paul Norris
Altrincham gave a very creditable performance on Thursday night against a Manchester City XI which included eight of their FA Youth Cup Final side. Alty took the lead after 12 minutes with a smart volley from Little beyond the back post after Schmeichel had failed to hold an aerial freekick from the left by Peyton. But Sturridge levelled after 19 minutes when he turned Peter Band and poked the ball into the bottom left corner of Coburn's net. Sturridge added a second after 34 minutes from close range, after a cross from the right. Etuhu sealed the game by making it 3-1 when he outpaced Band to a ball up the middle (39 mins). Alty held their own in the second half with a rasping shot from Thornley which just cleared the bar the highlight for them. A bonus for Alty was the performance of trialist left-back Adam Yates from Leek Town
After a poor showing at Leigh on Tuesday, Altrincham were looking for an improved performance against Manchester City's young bloods, eight of whom had featured in their FA Youth Cup squad last year, which reached the Final.
Tonight's game was watched by City first team boss Stuart Pearce whilst other big names to attract the autograph hunters in the stand included Paul Dickov and Ben Thatcher.
The original City squad for this game had been announced as including midfielders Lee Croft and Stephen Ireland but neither played; indeed on the day of this match Croft was on the point of joining Norwich City for £800,000. Nevertheless, there was plenty of quality in the Blues' squad which included the likes of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Willo Flood as well as up and coming players such as Daniel Sturridge, Nathan D'Laryea, Shaleum Logan and Kelvin Etuhu.
Alty were still without the injured Gary Scott, Val Owen, Peter Thomson and Colin Potts, though all were present and Scott was lapping the pitch before kick-off.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shirts, red socks.) 1. Stuart COBURN; 2. Steve ASPINALL, 15. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 22. Adam YATES; 10. Rod THORNLEY, 12. Warren PEYTON, 30. Steve BUSHELL, 8. Justin BOWLER; 9. Colin LITTLE, 7. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 1*. Andy CUMMINS, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Eddie HUSSIN, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 17. Karl MUNROE, 20. Kieran LUGSDEN, 21. Stephen ROSE, 26. Lee HENDLEY, 28. Pat McFADDEN.
MANCHESTER CITY XI (Blue): 1. Kasper SCHMEICHEL, 2. Shaleum LOGAN, 3. Sam WILLIAMSON, 4. Nathan D'LARYEA, 5. Gary BREEN, 6. Michael JOHNSON, 7. Willo FLOOD, 8. Marc LAIRD, 9. Kelvin ETUHU, 10. Daniel STURRIDGE, 11. Piers BOWMAN. Subs: 12. Ashley GRIMES, 13. Joe HART (gk); 14. Ashley WILLIAMS, 15. Curtis OBENG, 16. Ched EVANS, 17. Karl MOORE
Above: First half action as Peyton and Yates are the foremost Alty players with Aspinall, Band and Talbot behind them with goalkeeper Coburn.
Kick-off was delayed by six minutes and one reason seems to have been City's all-black kit which enforced a change of top for the referee, Mr Norris. So the spectators had the unusual site of the ref wearing a pale blue no.14 Altrincham FC shirt, whilst maintaining strict impartiality throughout the match!
After changing ends, City won the first corner, at the Hale End after 3 minutes, from which Laird headed wide. But then Alty went close when an Aspinall freekick from his own half was expertly nodded down by Thornley and Little flashed a shot narrowly wide (5 mins). Altrincham were looking far sharper than in their last, disappointing game at Leigh on Monday, with newcomer Yates making a couple of headed clearances. However, the young City side were soon playing some good football and won three corners in succession, all of which the Alty defence dealt with. Following the third one, a fine ball from Bushell found Little but his underhit shot ran to Schmeichel (8 mins). He was to have better luck soon afterwards, following a freekick for a foul by D'Laryea on O'Neill, left of goal. Peyton's freekick was taken in the air by Schmeichel but the ball squirmed out of his hands and beyond the back post, where Little's first-time volley sent it back across goal and into the far corner of the net to give Alty the lead (12 mins). Two minutes later Schmeichal caught Alty's next aerial cross to a chorus of ironic cheers from the Golf Road Enders.
Coburn then made a good save from Flood before a good cross from Thornley just evaded O'Neill at the other end. Thornley was working hard and soon, deep in his own half, he had to concede a corner, as Sturridge threatened. Flood took a poor corner but soon City got themselves level in any case. The goal came when City got to the by-line on their right flank and from Flood's low cross, Sturridge expertly turned to make space past Peter Band and slid a low shot into the left, bottom corner of Coburn's net (19 mins).
After this, a good cross from Yates came off Little but Bowler's attempted shot was blocked (20 mins). Then O'Neill recovered a ball that he had lost but his shot, too, was blocked by a defender. Two more City corners followed in the succeeeding minutes but Alty almost scored again after 31 minutes. Once again, it was a Peyton freekick from 25 yards out which caused the problem to City. From right of goal, Peyton found Little unmarked but he put just a little too much on his close range header and it narrowly cleared the bar with the defence flat-footed by his well timed run. However, another City corner soon followed as Coburn did well to beat out Etuhu's well-hit shot. Soon after this corner, City took the lead as Flood got past Aspinall and crossed the ball from where it came back across goal to Sturridge for a close range conversion (34 mins).
City were now on top but Alty were still playing well. Nevertheless, Coburn had to be alert to save from Johnson after good work from the dangerous Sturridge (38 mins). However, City went 3-1 up after 39 minutes when a ball up the middle saw Band and Etuhu chasing it and the City man's pace won the race for him. He then slid the ball past Coburn to make it 3-1. But following the restart, Alty put together an excellent move which ended with Thornley's cross from the right being half cleared to Little, whose excellent volley was brilliantly tipped over by Schmeichel for a corner (40 mins). Aspinall's corner caused the City defence some problems before they eventually cleared the danger. Alty continued to press but half time arrived with City two goals to the good and the crowd having been well entertained by both sides.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 MANCHESTER CITY XI 3|
At the interval, City brought on their new £600,000 signing from Shrewsbury, Joe Hart to replace Schmeichel in goal. He soon had to contend with an Alty corner from the left by Aspinall which came to Bushell whose miskick returned the ball to the corner-taker who then, himself, miscued as well. But the ball was soon played back towards goal where O'Neill's hook conveyed it to the new keeper (47 mins). A trip by Talbot gave Sturridge a freekick nearly 25 yards out but he hit it comfortably wide. Moments later, at the other end, Aspinall's freekick from halfway came out to Thornley who launched a superb, swerving volley from outside the box which cleared the bar only by inches (50 mins). After treatment for Aspinall following a late challenge by Bowman, the next goalmouth action saw Coburn save from Bowman's nod towards goal (53 mins). From a freekick following a foul on Bushell, Peyton won a corner for Alty but this came to nothing before the yellow-booted Hendley came on for Bowler (56 mins). Hendley, released by City a couple of years ago, was immediately fouled but Aspinall struck the dead ball well wide. A neat City interchange then drew an excellent save from Coburn to his right but Alty responded with a good move of their own, which Hart fielded confidently.
City now introduced Grimes for Bowman (62 mins). After this, Logan's well hit effort from 30 yards was taken at the second attempt by Coburn and from his clearance Hendley chased a lost cause to win a corner. But Coburn was soon in action again making a fine save from Laird after Sturridge's well judged feed. Play was now end to end as O'Neill prompted another Alty move but soon afterwards Band had to see off Grimes at the cost of a corner. Alty now made a double change as Chalmers and Hussin came on for Thornley and O'Neill (68 mins). After Hendley had shot over the bar, City's Moore replaced Flood (70 mins) as the floodlights came on. An excellent long throw from Chalmers reached Hendley whose great footwork allowed him space to roll the ball across the goalmouth but no one could convert it. Alty continued to press and a fine pass from Aspinall set Hendley running at Hart but the keeper got the ball. Next City's Evans replaced Sturridge who, it was hard to believe, is only 16 years old (76 mins).
Another well created Alty move ended as Aspinall fired over the bar but the Conference side were playing some of their best pre-season football to date (77 mins). City then won a corner as Band covered well but before it could be taken, Rose replaced Aspinall for the home side (79 mins). City took a short corner which led to Coburn gathering Laird’s header. Good play from Yates for Alty set Hendley and Peyton going forward but the ball ended with keeper Hart (80 mins). Chalmers was also getting involved well but Alty now made another change as Talbot gave way to Adams in central defence (82 mins). The teams continued to trade attacks before Peyton shot wide from a Rose, Bushell and Little build-up (84 mins) but then City won another corner after a great covering block from Adams. But there was to be no late goal for either side and City ended up 3-1 winners, having shown their class but, for their part, Altrincham had shown some good form to lift the spirits after their disappointing showing two days earlier at Leigh.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 MANCHESTER CITY XI 3|