ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
TAMWORTH (0) 0
FA Trophy First Round match
played on Saturday, 16 December 2006, at 3pm.
REFEREE: Mr. J Collin
Alty welcomed back Karl Munroe from suspension but right-back Steve Aspinall was again dropped as Gary Scott continued at right-back and Warren Peyton at left-back. Stephen Rose, who had limped off last Saturday was the player to make way for Munroe. Rather than name a second keeper, Graham Heathcote brought winger Justin Bowler onto the bench in place of Richard Acton.
For Tamworth, Stevenson gave way as Tom Kemp, recently released from Lincoln City, played his first game since returning from Lincoln City.
Thanks to the hard work of groundsman Neil Brown, the pitch was in remarkably good condition after fifteen successive days of significant rainfall in South Manchester. With the game being played on the penultimate weekend before Christmas, and with Trophy matches not covered by season tickets, the attendance today was very poor - just 621, including a small contingent for Tamworth.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & whits striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 3. Gary SCOTT, 17. Karl MUNROE, 4. Peter BAND, 11. Warren PEYTON; 7. Robbie LAWTON, 6. Steve BUSHELL (capt), 8. Val OWEN, 14. Lewis CHALMERS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 2. Steve ASPINALL, 5. Gary TALBOT, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 16. Peter THOMSON, 15. Justin BOWLER.
TAMWORTH (All pale blue): 1. José VEIGA, 14. Graeme LAW, 2. Adie SMITH (capt), 24. John McGRATH, 28. Ryan LAIGHT; 20. Daryl TAYLOR, 31. Simon HESLOP, 21. Tom KEMP, 11. Matthew WILLIAMS; 9. Stve BURTON, 29. Taiwo ATENIO. Subs: 8. Kyle STORER, 10. Jon STEVENSON, 16. Mark COOPER, 26. Joe KENDRICK, 40. Dale BELFORD.
The Lambs kicked off towards the Golf Road and the first few minutes were uneventful until Chalmers was caught in the air by Kemp, who was making his return to Tamworth after being released by Lincoln City. Referee Collin had allowed play to continue after the foul, as Altrincham retained possession, but the official booked the miscreant at the next break in play (7 mins). The booking came just after a cross from the Alty left had appeared to be handled by Smith as he deliberately dived across the line of flight inside the Tamworth box, but the referee dismissed the Alty appeals for a penalty. Both sides continued to misfire, as their passes went astray and, overall, the game lacked any fluidity. Tamworth then had a claim for a penalty of their own as a Tamworth header from a freekick conceded by Bushell, 40 yards from his own goal, hit the back of Band's hand. Again, Mr Collin was not interested in a spot kick (10 mins.
Play continued with plenty of effort but not a lot of finesse and an almost total absence of goalmouth incident as both defences comfortably repelled whatever came at them. From time to time Alty were keeping possession but not making a lot of progress upfield but when Owen did get into the box he was stopped, only for the ball to be worked, via Lawton to Scott. The right back got to the by-line, right of goal, and delivered a good cross for Little. However, Little hooked his shot comfortably wide of the keeper's left post. This was the first reasonable shot at goal in the game and it had taken 23 minutes to arrive.
The floodlights now came on to illuminate an increasingly gloomy afternoon. Alty were gradually improving but Coburn's complete miskick caused some concern before the ball fortunately ran to Peyton (26 mins). Soon afterwards, from Taylor's cross, Atenio beat Owen in the air and gained a corner on the Tamworth left (27 mins). However, moments later it was Altrincham who should have taken the lead when Chalmers did well and fed Little, who was clear inside the box, but poked his shot a good 10 yards wide of the target (28 mins). Not long after this, a foul by Bushell gave Tamworth gave the visitors a freekick. McGrath's freekick came off Munroe but hit Atieno and, fortunately for Altrincham, ran to Coburn. Altrincham finally won a corner after 32 minutes when Chalmers and Scott combined well. Bushell's corner was cleared to Owen who lashed a shot, left-footed, over the bar (33 mins).
Then, from Peyton's freekick near half-way, Chalmers rose superbly to head the ball at goal and, for Tamworth, it bounced luckily off a defender to their Portuguese keeper, Veiga. Altrincham were now getting on top, without dominating the game. O'Neill continued to work hard up front whilst Tamworth's Burton kept the Alty defence busy. A foul brought Atieno a long lecture from Mr Collin and from Peyton's freekick Chalmers met the ball and sent it back across goal, where it went through Munroe's legs in the centre of the box, and found its way to Little, to the right of goal. From his cross, Chalmers' diving header powered the ball over the bar, and another Altrincham chance had gone begging. For his pains, Chalmers was injured and needed treatment before continuing (41 mins).
Before half time, referee Collin ignored Tamworth appeals for hand against Bushell who accidentally touched the ball after slipping in midfield. As added time started, Burton got clear but sliced wide and was given offside in any case. After Scott had lost possession just inside the Tamworth half, the Alty right back emerged hobbling badly and holding his hamstring. He managed to limp through to half time but the final whistle came as a relief to the spectators as well as to Alty's defender as it had comprised 45 minutes of mediocre football.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 TAMWORTH 0|
Not surprisingly, Aspinall replaced the lame Scott at right-back for Altrincham whilst Tamworth also made a change, as their left-back, Law, gave way to Joe Kendrick. When O'Neill was felled, very late, Aspinall's freekick was cleared . But, overall, the game continued in its error-ridden pattern. At last, Alty manager Graham Heathcote came down from his vantage point in the Directors' box to join Dalton Steele in the technical area and he was soon urging his side to "Up the tempo!". When Owen went down, having seemed to have trodden on the ball, Taylor was irate at having a foul awarded against him and his reaction earned him a yellow card (58 mins). Burton's deliberate hand ball, on the hour mark, was as exciting as it got in the next few minutes but, gradually, the game improved as its pace increased. Tamworth then brought on the pace of Stevenson for the physical presence of Burton, up front (63 mins).
Tamworth won a rare corner after 65 minutes and three minutes later a low shot from Owen ran to Veiga from 25 yards. A needless push by Aspinall on a Tamworth player gave Tamworth a freekick on the left, which almost cost Altrincham dear. Kemp rose well to meet the freekick and forced a magnificent diving save by Coburn, low to his right. Coburn could only push the ball away and it took assistance from Band before the ball rebounded into the keeper's arms. Coburn was injured in the process and needed treatment (70 mins). Soon afterwards, Justin Bowler came on for only his seventh appearance of the season to replace O'Neill (72 mins). When Thomson came on to replace Owen, after 77 minutes, Bowler was still to receive the ball from his team-mates.
Altrincham now won a corner, rather fortunately, when Little's routine effort was fumbled by the otherwise reliable Veiga. After Bushell's corner had come to nothing, the Alty captain became involved in a spat with the already booked Kemp. Although the Tamworth player placed his forehead against Little's, the referee chose not to show either player a card, thus sparing Kemp a dismissal. After 82 minutes, Coburn was called into action again, pushing out a freekick by McGrath from the base of his right upright. Bowler then did well, tracking back to see off an incursion into the Alty box. Two Tamworth corners soon followed. As the minutes ticked away Storer came on to replace Williams for Tamworth (87 mins). As the game went into three minutes of added time, Alty were on the back foot. But in the first added minute, Bowler finally received the ball in aromising position, to ironic cheers from the crowd, but he ballooned his attempted cross from the left over the rroof of the Golf Road End. The final whistle soon sounded to condemn the supporters to an unwanted replay at The Lamb which will force the postponment of Tamworth's Conference game against Northwich Victoria on Tuesday night.
Robbie Lawton was named Altrincham's man of the match whilst Adie Smith won the award for the visitors. But they were probably the only two at Moss Lane to derive much satisfaction from the afternoon's proceedings.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 TAMWORTH 0|