OXFORD UNITED (0) 1 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Nationwide Conference National Division
played on Saturday, 14 October 2006, at 3pm.
Above: Alty celebrate their draw.
Disgraceful behaviour by some Oxford fans after the game took some of the edge off this excellent result for Altrincham. At the end of the match, the visiting supporters, who had given their side magnificent support throughout, had to be kept under the stand behind a mesh gate for their own safety and escorted to their coach by an army of stewards because Oxford fans had attempted to get in among them to cause trouble. The coach was then escorted at walking pace by an army of stewards out of the ground, past a crowd of Oxford supporters. The Oxford stewards were out in commendable force but the police were conspicuous by their absence.
On the pitch, Oxford had been held to a goalless first half by a good Alty team-effort but the home side went ahead after 54 minutes when Thornley lost possession and Day drove an unstoppable shot from 25 yards past Acton. Alty immediately brought on McFadden to assist the lone striker O'Neill but it looked as if they would come away empty-handed until five minutes from the end when Mr Hendley awarded a penalty to Alty. He indicated that this was for a push, though even the nearby visiting fans could not see what the referee had spotted - which was apparently Dempster's push on McFadden. Aspinall made no mistake from the spot (85 mins).
REFEREE: Mr. Andy Hendley (West Midlands)
Altrincham had drawn their previous three away games but had yet to win away this season. Meanwhile Oxford were unbeaten since the start of the campaign, a run of 15 games to date.
This was Alty's first visit to the Kassam Stadium, an impressive structure albeit with only three sides, the fourth being a car park. The programme revealed that the away support at the Oxford match against our local rivals Northwich Victoria had numbered 159 so it was good see that 190 Alty fans were recorded as entering the away section today!
Altrincham remained without injured goalkeeper Stuart Coburn, midfielder Steve Bushell, centre-back Gary Talbot and strikers Colin Little and Peter Thomson, whilst winger Justin Bowler was absent, ill. Rod Thornley was back after three games' absence with the England team for which he is the masseur. However, he was deployed today on the right flank, leaving Joe O'Neill as the lone striker.
Alty deployed O'Neill as a lone striker with Thornley used on the right flank rather than up front.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 13. Richard ACTON; 2. Steve ASPINALL, 17. Karl MUNROE, 20. Stephen ROSE, 11. Warren PEYTON; 4. Peter BAND, 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 8. Val OWEN, 10. Rod THORNLEY; 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 18. Pat McFADDEN, 21. Kieran LUGSDEN, 22. Colin POTTS, 23. Eddie HUSSIN.
OXFORD UNITED (Yellow shirts, black shorts, yellow socks): 23. Billy TURLEY, 2. Eddie ANACLET, 15. John DEMPSTER, 4. Barry QUINN, 6. Phil GILCHRIST, 21. Matt DAY, 7. Carl PETTEFER, 10. Chris HARGREAVES, 14. Rob DUFFY, 11. Andy BURGESS, 12. Yemi ODUBADE. Subs: 1. Chris TARDIF, 8. Eddie HUTCHINSON, 9. Steve BASHAM, 17. Billy BEECHERS, 9. Steve BASHAM.
On a sunny afternoon, Oxford kicked off but it was Alty who had the best early chance when Aspinall fed Thornley on the right and his low cross was only just taken off the foot of O'Neill by a defender in the goalmouth (2 mins). However, soon Acton had to make a good save from Odubade, who had played for Eastbourne Borough against Alty in the 2005 promotion play-off (4 mins). Oxford did not look like a team of league leaders in the early stages and Alty gave as good as they got, whilst Acton's safe handling and the back-four's hard work gave the home side no openings.
When Owen was penalised 35 yards out, Dempster glanced wide the resulting freekick from the left with a header (9 mins). However, the Alty fans in the away section were giving excellent vocal support in contrast to the relatively subdued home support at this stage. Next, Odubade got some space but miskicked his effort badly and it rolled to Acton. Oxford came closer from a freekick, 35 yards out on their left, when Rose's header went backwards to Day but his shot struck the top of the bar from right of goal (13 mins). Altrincham's Thornley won the game's first corner after a good build-up (19 mins). Band did well to meet Thornley's corner from the right but his header just cleared the bar. Lawton impressed again with his energy in midfield as the home side continued to give a stuttering performance, sprinkled with misplaced passes. However, Alty had a scare when Acton kicked the ball into touch to get treatment to his right leg but he resumed after treatment (23 mins).
After Band had lost possession to Quinn, Owen and Acton almost got in each other's way as Duffy threatened in the box but the keeper finally gathered the ball. After 25 minutes Oxford won their first corner, which was cleared, only for Oxford's Burgess to cross the ball back in, from the left, for Quinn who got to the ball with his head before Acton, at the back post. The ball fell to Dempster who underhit his shot, allowing Munroe to clear comfortably off the line (25 mins). Oxford were now on top but still looked below par for a team with their outstanding record this season. With Thornley playing very deep, O'Neill had a thankless, lone role up front but stuck to his task well. But Thornley did get in a shot after Peyton's freekick from halfway but his effort went wide from 22 yards (32 mins).
Stephen Rose now showed great composure with a back header to Acton before referee Hendley allowed Pettefer to build an attack despite a clear handball but Rose cleared the danger. Next, Acton collected a cross expertly with one hand before Munroe conceded a freekick, 25 yards out. Bizarrely an Oxford player came up and pushed his team-mate Burgess to the ground before Burgess got up to take the kick! This was cleared but came back towards goal where the swivelling Duffy hooked it towards goal only for Acton to make a magnificent save, tipping the ball over for a corner on the Oxford right (41 mins). There was further pressure on Alty as Band was penalised just outside the box but Burgess drove the kick into the wall. But a fine ball from Chalmers set O'Neill free at the other end, only for the flag to go up for offside (42 mins). When Acton made a fine save from Duffy, a late flag from Mr Tavinder for offside prompted a chorus of "Alleluia" from the visitors' fans after the Assistant Referee's earlier failures to give decisions in Alty's favour. However, Oxford won a late corner, taken by Burgess, which Quinn headed narrowly over (44 mins). After a minute of added time, the interval arrived with Alty still on level terms after a fine team performance.
|Half-Time: OXFORD UNITED 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Alty kicked off, defending the stand populated by Oxford fans. Gilchrist's foul on O'Neill gave Alty an early freekick but Oxford, no doubt fired up by Jim Smith's halftime talk, soon won two corners in succession. These were seen off but just as Alty seemed to have seen off Oxford's upsurge, Thornley lost possession to Day, whose low shot from 27 yards gave Acton no chance as the ball arrowed into the corner of the net, to the keeper's right (54 mins).
Alty immediately prepared McFadden to come on, which he soon did, replacing Thornley (56 mins). Chalmers's excellent long throw then found O'Neill in the box but after the ball came to Peyton, the opening disappeared. The change to 4-4-2 which came with McFadden's arrival saw Alty get forward again but Peyton's ball across the box found no team-mate (61 mins). A risky back-heel by Chalmers gave Oxford possession in midfield but Acton punched the resulting cross clear. Chalmers had more bad luck when he skilfully got free near the centre-spot, only for referee Hendley to block his way and give possession to Oxford. A couple of Chalmers' throws soon helped Alty's impetus and a trip by Day then gave them a freekick. Peyton's curled freekick from the right came out to Owen but he put his shot high over the bar from 20 yards. When Odubade raced up the right touchline, Rose made an important tackle but the Oxford man tumbled dramatically under his own impetus. The crowd's baying ensured that Rose got a booking (67 mins). When, almost immediately, Odubade took Peyton down from behind, his only punishment was a freekick (68 mins).
Though trailing, Altrincham continued to get excellent support from their fans in the North Stand. As the game drifted towards the final 15 minutes, Lawton was lectured for contesting a freekick, at which Turley wasted time as his side seemed content with its 1-0 lead. Duffy's dive just outside the Alty box did not impress the referee but the home supporters were now more vocal than previously, especially when their side won two corners in a minute. But Lawton now went close for Alty, following good work by McFadden on the right, the Alty captain shooting narrowly wide from 20 yards (80 mins). Scott then replaced Band, with Peyton moving to left midfield as Scott played at left-back (82 mins).
After Burgess's weak attempt to lob Acton had failed, Dempster was booked for Oxford for a foul but Aspinall's freekick found its way to Turley via McFadden (83 mins). Alty pressed again and from Aspinall's cross from the right, Turley punched clear, only for the referee to stun the home team by pointing to the penalty spot, indicating that there had been a push on an Alty player. This was reported to be a push by the recently booked Dempster on McFadden, who escaped a second yellow for his offence. Turley, Duffy and Hargreaves all unsportingly tried to put off the penalty-taker Aspinall by walking separately into the box and the referee finally showed his impatience by booking Duffy. However, Aspinall was not distracted and drove the penalty home, making himself Alty's top scorer this season with 4 goals, all spot-kicks, and he has also missed one this campaign (85 mins). Hussin now came on for O'Neill (86 mins). Though four minutes of added time were announced and five minutes were actually played, Oxford could only muster a very wide shot from Duffy (90+3 mins).
After saluting their team, the Alty fans were confronted as they left the stadium and had to be shepherded behind a gate under the stand for their own protection as some home fans attempted to get at them. Indeed one did get into the away fans area where the Alty fans ignored him and seeing he was alone, as the stewards had blocked further intruders, his courage deserted him and he left. Eventually dozens of stewards - but no police - arrived to supplement their colleagues. The Alty coach was brought to the gate and then driven off at walking pace with an escort of stewards. Meanwhile the Oxford fans who were loitering around the coach started fighting amongst themselves.
But despite the ending, this was great result for Altrincham, underlining the resilience of their injury-hit squad.
|Full-Time: OXFORD UNITED 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|