ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 CRAWLEY TOWN (0) 1
Nationwide Conference National match
played on Saturday, 18 November 2006, at 3pm.
Above: Timperley Villa Youth FC from the Timperley & District Junior Football League were guests as the "Featured Club" at Moss Lane today. Here they are seen listening to Alty boss Graham Heathcote and, as Graham would have us believe, they are paying more attention to him than the first-team does!
After a lacklustre and goalless first-half, the tempo increased for the second period but this game never reached the heights of excitement. Crawley's Peters, recently signed on loan from Brentford, converted a cross from the right with a curling shot into Coburn's right corner to give the visitors the lead after 48 minutes. But, within a minute, Alty had levelled with a goal from Lewis Chalmers which was of a quality alien to the rest of the match. Lewis celebrated his call up to the England National Game XI with a superb shot from almost 25 yards to make it 1-1. Alty had the better of the second period but when they did create chances, Hamer was equal to them. For Alty, Peter Thomson made a very late appearance, replacing Colin Little, to record his debut after missing all of the season to date with injury. Alty dropped to 18th in the table.
REFEREE: Mr. P Varley
This was Alty's first home game for four weeks and their first match of any kind for a fortnight. For Crawley it had been a traumatic season so far as the off field behaviour of their owners had led them to the brink of losing their Conference status. Yet, despite their parlous financial state and recently having sacked their manager, John Hollins, they still boasted several established Conference players in their side today, alongside a band of loanees. Their 10 points point pre-season deduction meant they started the game in a relegation slot when otherwise they would have been comfortably in mid-table.
The referee today was Mr Paul Varley, who had harshly sent off Peter Band last season at Accrington following a handball. On a happier note he had also officiated at Moss Lane in January 2004 when Alty trounced Whitby Town 4-0.
Moss Lane boasted a strong contingent of youthful supporters today. Not only were many youngsters from Timperley Villa Youth FC at the game as the guests of Altrincham FC under their "Featured Club" scheme but also Sale school, Forest Park, were also in attendance. There was also a large contingent of pupils from Elmridge Primary School, who had been addressed by Graham Heathcote at an assembly on Wednesday. And before the game, the impressively agile Phoenix Cheerleaders went through their routine, whilst the ballboys and girls lined up for a group picture (right) to underline the high proportion of youngsters in the the ground today.
Alty made changes from the side which had played well in their last game, at York City, two weeks earlier. Steve Aspinall returned at right back after his suspension and Val Owen came back in centre-midfield after injury. So, Gary Scott and Rod Thornley dropped to the bench, where Peter Thomson made his first appearance of the season for a Conference match following his summer arrival from Stafford Rangers. Robbie Lawton played on the right with Lewis Chalmers deployed on the left of midfield.
Crawley's well-chronicled backroom goings-on meant that they included several loan players in their squad, including Ryan Peters, recently arrived from Brentford. Missing through injury was former Exeter striker Jake Edwards, one of several significant signings to arrive at Crawley despite their alleged difficulties in paying players.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks):1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 17. Karl MUNROE, 20. Stephen ROSE, 11. Warren PEYTON; 7. Robbie LAWTON, 6. Steve BUSHELL (capt), 8. Val OWEN, 14. Lewis CHALMERS; 12. Joe O'NEILL, 9. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 13. Richard ACTON; 3. Gary SCOTT, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 16. Peter THOMSON, 22. Colin POTTS.
CRAWLEY TOWN (All blue): 1. Ben HAMER; 2. Ben JUDGE (capt), 7. Michael BOSTWICK, 26. David WOOZLEY, 4. Scott HILEY; 11. Tony SCULLY, 6. Gary MILLS, 17. Danny BULMAN, 8. Lee BLACKBURN; 14. Ryan PETERS, 16. Scott RENDELL. Subs: 12. Jamie MacLEOD, 15. Jamie LOVEGROVE, 19. Scott MARSHALL, 22. Rob TOLFREY, 28. Michael PHILLIPS.
On a cold but bright afternoon, Crawley kicked off towards their modest contingent of supporters at the Hale 20/20 End. For their part Altrincham were cheered on, not only by their regular vocal supporters, but also by the welcome youngsters from Timperley Villa FC and Forest Park School (seen right).
Within just two minutes of the kick-off, the referee decreed that the matchball should be replaced, a strangely frequent feature of the modern game for some reason. Coburn was the first keeper to see serious action, saving a low shot from Peters, who went on to give a lively performance throughout the game. Alty then got themselves into a mess as Munroe was forced to run back with the ball at his feet towards his own goal before Coburn miskicked his pass to Peters but Peyton fortunately arrived to clear the danger (4 mins). Alty's faltering start continued as they looked like a side which had not played a competitive game for a fortnight at this stage of the afternoon. Alty's best opening in the early minutes arose when Chalmers's throw was received by O'Neill, who turned well but then unleashed a disappointing shot which ran to Hamer (8 mins). A push by Rose gave Crawley a freekick 25 yards out soon afterwards. From Scully's freekick, Rendell headed narrowly over the bar. Referee Varley was irritating the home contingent with some strange decisions and a penchant for retaken freekicks but Alty at last upped their game when Lawton fed Little but he hooked his shot over the bar (11 mins).
Then a good cross from the right by Lawton saw O'Neill poke a shot at Hamer which he saved comfortably (13 mins). But Alty were misplacing their passes too often to give a flowing performance. When O'Neill was flattened 25 yards out by Bostwick, Mr. Varley awarded Alty a freekick before overruling himself when he saw his assistant's flag raised for offside (16 mins). Crawley won the game's first corner after 20 minutes, following an error by Aspinall which allowed the ball across the box to Blackburn. But the Alty right back recovered to divert the Crawley player's shot out for the flag kick. This was cleared and Alty then put together their best move of the match so far which ended with Chalmers's excellent first time ball coming to Owen, who shot wide (21 mins).
But Crawley remained on the front foot as Alty struggled to get their game into gear. Next, Scully, who had started on the right but had now moved to the left, drifted a ball across the Alty goalmouth before Coburn gathered it (26 mins). But Alty responded when, from Peyton's feed, Little made space cleverly but then planted his shot wide from the edge of the box (27 mins). Manager Heathcote had shown his concern by moving from his seat in the directors' box and coming down to pitch-side to try and get his faltering side playing to their capabilities. Up front, O’Neill was working hard but getting little change from referee Varley for a series of pushes and nudges suffered as he went for the ball. Peyton was more effective than most for Alty and he soon advanced on the left but his cross from the left bounced over the incoming Lawton at the back post. Then, after Peyton had been fouled and forced to retake the resulting freekick by the fussy Mr. Varley, Little shot disappointingly wide from a rehearsed Alty set-piece routine (34 mins). After this, Blackburn sliced badly wide for Crawley as neither keeper found himself over-employed in this game. Altrincham finally won a corner when Peyton's cross was deflected out of play and this signalled an improvement in the home side's performance in the closing minutes of the half. Firstly, a neat move ended with Owen shooting wide from Little's feed and soon afterwards, O'Neill was unlucky to get nothing from the referee when he was held in the box but play continued and the ball came to Peyton whose clever attempted chip was just reached by keeper Hamer (41 mins).
Alty's late pressure then yielded another corner when the referee overruled the better placed linesman who had signalled a throw-in. Bushell's corner was cleared comfortably but soon afterwards Rendell became the game's only booking, for encroachment at an Alty freekick some 40 yards out (45+1mins). Half time arrived, however, with sides still locked at 0-0 and with the supporters hoping for some more inspiring action to warm them up in the second period. At half-time Forest Park School enjoyed a brief five a side game on the pitch under the watchful eye of Alty vice-chairman, Grahame Rowley.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 0|
After an initial Crawley threat had been seen off, it was nevertheless just three minutes into the half when the Crawley Red Devils took the lead. The goal came from an unexceptional cross from the right wing which Alty failed to defend and Peters was able to steer a curling shot across Coburn and into the far corner of the net, to the keeper’s right (48 mins). But there was not time for Alty to be too despondent as, almost immediately after the restart, the ball was fed through from Aspinall via Lawton to Chalmers who unleashed a superb drive from almost 25 yards which beat Hamer comprehensively to level the scores (49 mins). It was Chalmers's first Conference goal and a fitting end to a week which had seen him called up for the so-called England National Game XI match against Holland later this month. Before play restarted Peyton needed treatment before he could carry on.
The tempo of the game had now increased and with it the entertainment value. Alty boss Graham Heathcote attempted to ensure the pace did not drop by exhorting his team from the technical area rather than remaining in the stand, where he had started the game. A 20-yard shot from O’Neill was then saved by Hamer before Aspinall dwelt too long on the ball and forced Lawton to concede a freekick in Scully's favour. The sides continue to block each other's efforts as the game reached the hour mark. Referee Varley then replaced the match ball for the second time in the game as the sides continued to cancel each other out. Alty were hopeful when a ball fell for Chalmers in almost the same position from which he had scored earlier but, this time, his well hit shot was saved by Hamer (68 mins). Alty were now enjoying the upper hand but when Little found himself in space on the edge of the box, he could only lift his shot over the bar. At this point Little gave way to Rod Thornley up front (70 mins).
After Peters had shot wide at the other end, Hiley went down injured off the ball and, after lengthy treatment, he hobbled off, clearly unable to continue the game. A couple of minutes later MacLeod replaced him from the bench; the Crawley management sending Lovegrove back to his seat after he had been poised to come on before Hiley's injury (76 mins). Alty remained the better side at this stage but without showing too much in the way of incision. When O'Neill went down in the box, again play was waved on, only for Owen to shoot over the bar but, with a deflection, he earned a corner on the right. Following Peyton's corner, Owen lashed a shot over the bar. Play now stopped for Chalmers to receive treatment (78 mins). After going off, he returned to take a throw in but nothing came of it. Alty did threaten, however, when Rose and Bushell got the ball to Thornley but he lost his footing in the box. With just ten minutes left, Peter Thomson came on for his Alty debut in place of Joe O'Neill (80 mins) as a Crawley player received treatment following a tackle by Rose.
Altrincham continued to press but as the game went into three added minutes they could not make a clean opening. Indeed, Crawley's Peters had a golden chance to take all of the points when he outpaced Munroe to the right of goal but his shot was so wayward that it struck the upper storey of the terraced housing on the far side of the Golf Road (90+1 mins). However, Alty recovered to force two corners in the third minute of added time, but to no avail. Finally, Crawley brought on Marshall for Peters in a move designed to wind down the remaining seconds rather than influence the visitors' performance and seconds later Mr. Varley blew the whistle for full time.
Whilst, in one sense, this was a disappointing result against a club in turmoil, fielding numerous loan players, on the other hand, when viewed as a draw against a full-time club which had actually won five more points that Altrincham this season, a share of the spoils was perhaps not too disappointing an outcome. Warren Peyton was named as Altrincham Man of the Match, whilst Ryan Peters lifted the award for the visitors.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 CRAWLEY TOWN 1|