EXETER CITY (1) 2 ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
Nationwide Conference National Division
played on Saturday, 19 August 2006, at 3pm.
For the second successive game, Alty lost to a late goal. Altrincham had gone ahead after just 90 seconds from a neat move up the left-centre and when Little's shot was beaten out by keeper, Rice, Lawton was on hand to score. In a first half of lashing rain, thunder and lightning, Alty held their own till Todd headed home a corner from the right (40 minutes). But in the second half, the Grecians dominated after making three quick substitutions just after the hour mark and after that Alty barely had a shot until the closing minutes. But it took Exeter till the 85th minute to get the winner when Challinor scored from the edge of the box after Alty had cleared a corner and the ball had been crossed back from the left by Exeter.
REFEREE: Mr. J. Linington.
This was Alty's second visit to St James's Park; they had lost there 3-1 last season in a game which saw Mark Maddox sent off just before the interval.
Peter Thomson remained unfit so, the Alty line up was unaltered from the defeat at Stafford. But Rod Thornley and Jason Bowler replaced McFadden and the injured Hendley on the bench.
For Exeter, last season's top-scorer, Phillips was unfit to start but was on the bench.
EXETER CITY (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Martin RICE, 2. Danny WOODARDS, 3. Billy JONES, 4. Matthew GILL, 6. Chris TODD (capt), 7. Andy TAYLOR, 8. Jamie MACKIE, 9. Adam STANSFIELD, 10. Jon CHALLINOR, 15. Rob EDWARDS, 33. Paul BUCKLE. Subs: 11. Lee PHILLIPS, 14. Bernard COZIC, 19. Jon RICHARDSON, 21. Dean MOXEY, 27. Paul JONES.
ALTRINCHAM (Dark / pale blue shirts, pale blue socks and shorts.)1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 4. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 3. Gary SCOTT, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 6. Steve BUSHELL, 8. Val OWEN, 11. Warren PEYTON, 9. Colin LITTLE, 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 10. Rod THORNLEY, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 15. Justin BOWLER, 17. Karl MUNROE, 20. Stephen ROSE
The warm-up had taken place in bright sunshine but, just before kick-off, heavy rain started to fall. After changing ends, Exeter kicked off and immediately Bushell committed a foul but soon Peyton won a freekick for Alty. Following Scott's kick, on the left, just inside the Alty half, the ball came via Bushell, Scott and a clever O'Neill feint, to Little but his fierce shot was well beaten out by Rice. However, Lawton ran onto the loose ball, inside the 6-yard box and drove the ball into the net, past a covering defender on the line (90 secs).
Right: Steve Bushell and Robbie Lawton (in blue) compete against Exeter City
With lightning flashing round the ground, the sides exchanged free-kicks. The home side were disappointing their fans with some poor passing and Alty soon threatened again as a move, begun by Owen, ended with a teasing cross from the right by Lawton. When Woodards overhit a ball to Coburn, the impatient home supporters voiced their disapproval. They were also less than happy when the referee penalised Challinor for handball but Peyton's resulting freekick ran to Rice.
With the soaked Alty fans in good voice, Woodards got past Peyton, but shot wide. Alty had an escape when, 40 yards out Stansfield beat a hesitant Band to a ball up the left touchline and raced behind the Alty defender, before cutting in past Talbot. The chasing Band then appeared to bring down the marauding forward as he drifted across the box but, to the crowd's annoyance, nothing was given (15 mins). Band redeemed himself with a good clearing header soon afterwards and also won a freekick in the process.
An error by Owen led the Alty midfielder to recover the situation by commiting a foul, which earned him a lecture from Mr Linington (20 mins). From the freekick, Jones won the game's first corner. After this had come to nothing, Little fed O'Neill whose shot from 20 yards was comfortably saved. With rain now pelting down, Aspinall earned a lecture for a foul on Taylor. Soon after this two Exeter players went down in successive challenges, but play carried on. However, when they were treated soon afterwards, several of their team-mates took advantage of the stoppage to change their boots to ones with studs better suited to the now slippery conditions. The Exeter stewards had initlially not allowed the soaking Alty fans in the open away-end to move into the stand, even if they paid the supplement, but now they relented and many of them were allowed to move. But by now the rain had eased.
Alty now had a great chance to go two-up. It came from an Aspinall freekick which Bushell relayed to Little, whose clever first-time flick found Lawton, on the right. His low cross found Little once more, but span off the striker's toe-end, wide of the target, to the keeper’s right (30 mins).
Exeter now lifted their game to win three corners in quick succession. The third came as Bushell, stationed at the back post, headed out a City header which seemed to be drifting just wide (32 mins). As Alty continued to keep Exeter at bay and, indeed, threatened again through Peyton, the home crowd was briefly silent. But their spirits rose again when Band tried to let the ball run out for a goalkick but allowed an opponent to poke the ball back to a team-mate who won another corner (37 mins). Owen cleared this to Gill, who volleyed wildly over the bar.
After an unsuccessful appeal for a penalty, Challinor was lectured by the referee, presumably for protesting. But Exeter now won another corner on the right, off Talbot, to keep up the pressure. From this, Todd was left unmarked in the centre of the goalmouth, to head home the equaliser (40 mins). The remaining five minutes of the half saw more Exeter pressure undone by poor passing. But the two minutes of added time almost saw Peyton sent off - recalling how Alty had had Mark Maddox sent off at the same stage of last season's game. First, Peyton was fouled and awarded a freekick near halfway but he continued to take exception to his opponent, Woodards, and twice pushed him in the chest. The referee produced yellow cards for both men (45+2 mins). When, almost immediately after Alty had taken their freekick, Peyton went in heavily on an opponent the referee judiciously blew for half-time.
|Half-Time: EXETER CITY 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
The rain had stopped as Alty kicked off the second half. A foul by Taylor gave Alty a freekick 40 yards out, which Aspinall drove firmly towards the top corner where the keeper saved well (46 mins). Little then won Alty's first corner before a good passing move from Exeter ended in a save by Coburn. But Mackie soon got past Band only to produce a weak side-foot shot when facing Coburn, which the keeper's legs diverted clear for a corner (50 mins). The corner was cleared to Gill, who fired badly wide from the edge of the box. A good Alty move out of defence ended as Rice punched a cross off Owen's head. Soon afterwards Aspinall overhit a freekick aimed at Peyton but then Owen conceded a freekick on the front edge of his own box. However, Jones drove the kick into the wall. But the home side continued to press as Stansfield broke clear of a lunging Scott just inside the Alty half tackle but the Exeter striker, when clear, inside the box, produced a poor final ball which was neither a cross nor a shot (58 mins).
A fine tackle by Talbot then saw off Mackie before Stansfield headed over from a cross. The Grecians' next attack saw Buckle flick on Taylor's cross to Mackie whose header ran to Coburn. Alty continued to hold out as Scott made a vital tackle on Stansfield, who had failed to pass to the unmarked Mackie, to his right, in the box (61 mins).
Manager Tisdale now boldly threw on three substitutes. Firstly, he put on Moxey and last season's leading scorer, Phillips, for Buckle and Stansfield (62 mins) before, a minute later, French midfielder Cozic replaced Woodards, with Taylor moving to right-back. Now, Exeter kept Alty penned back but the visitors held firm. On a rare excursion to the other end, Little was bundled off the pitch into the hoardings and emerged looking less than 100 per cent fit (72 mins). Nevertheless, he soon combined well with Lawton but his cross into the box from the left was cleared (75 mins).
Alty finally brought on some fresh legs after 78 minutes when Thornley and Bowler replaced strikers Little and O'Neill. However, Exeter almost went ahead after 81 minutes when Moxey forced a superb save by Coburn, low to his right. After Thornley had hoofed a ball upfield, the referee judged that he had done so knowing that the ball was out of play as it dropped to him and booked him rather harshly (83 mins).
Aspinall then did well to see off Moxey, at the cost of a corner. Though Taylor's corner was cleared, the ball was crossed back in from the left and found Challinor. Before Band could close him down, he drove a shot from the edge of the box into the net to make it 2-1 (85 mins).
Alty made a late push for an equaliser with Owen having a shot blocked and Bowler blasting high and wide . Chalmers now came on to replace Talbot at centre-back (88 mins). Owen then fired high, over the bar before 3 minutes of added time began. After a stoppage for a clash of heads between Chalmers and Phillips, the Alty sub recovered to take a long throw which caused Exeter some panic as it reached Bowler, but he headed wide (90+1 mins).
So, as at Stafford last Tuesday, Alty had lost to a late goal after a promising first half. Had Little been able to convert his chance in the first half it might have been a different story but, in the end, Exeter’s second half dominance left the visitors with little room for complaint at the final outcome.
|Full-Time: EXETER CITY 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|