SOUTHPORT (1) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Nationwide Conference National match
played on Saturday, 3 February, 2007 at 3pm.
Above: Steve Aspinall (no.2) sees his penalty saved in the first half.
Missed chances, including a saved penalty cost Altrincham dear and left them in the relegation zone. After early Port pressure it was Alty who had the best chances. First Senior sprang the offside trap, only to see his shot come back off the inside of the post. Then Senior won a clear penalty against Rowlands only for the normally efficient Aspinall to see his effort well saved, and Senior's follow-up was cleared off the line (36 mins). Southport went ahead seconds before the interval when Baker got the better of Aspinall and Senior inside the box, left of goal, but he was fortunate to see the ball deflect off an Alty player to wrongfoot keeper Coburn and spin into the net. Alty had a lot of second half possession but Southport took advantage of Alty's pressing forward as Duffy found space on the right and from his cross Newby beat Monroe in the air at the near post, the ball dropping into the net as a Port player arrived to make sure it crossed the line (66 mins).
Alty pressed forward and after O'Neill had hit the post, McFadden headed narrowly over. Finally, Chalmers scored with a superb header which went into the net off the crossbar, from Peyton's corner (86 mins). But even four minutes of added time were not enough for Alty to salvage a point.
REFEREE: Mr. A Halliday
Southport played three new signings in Matt Hocking, Mark Duffy and Chris Holland but influential midfielder Liam Blakeman was only fit to start on the bench.
Alty brought Chris Senior into the line-up, but Val Owen and Steve Bushell were both ruled out by injury. Robbie Lawton started despite being ill for much of last week. Andy Scott continued at left-back after his debut last Saturday but there was no place for Peter Thomson as Pat McFadden returned to the bench.
This was a clash between two sides in the bottom four. Souhtport had recently changed manager, appointing Peter Davenport, who seeemd to be getting on well with Alty boss Graham Heathcote before the game. Graham had, like Lawton, been ill this week so his appearance at Southport had not been certain until matchday itself. The crowd of 1,145 was disappointing for a club which has turned full-time.
ALTRINCHAM ((Pale and dark blue shirts, dark blue shorts, pale blue socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 2. Steve ASPINALL, 17. Karl MUNROE, 4. Peter BAND, 22. Andy SCOTT; 19. Chris SENIOR, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 5. Gary TALBOT, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 18. Pat McFADDEN, 20. Stephen ROSE.
SOUTHPORT (Yellow shirts, black shorts and yellow socks): 21. Paul HARRISON; 18. Mark BIRCH, 26. Adam DUGDALE, 17. Matthew HOCKING, 15. Stephen ROWLAND; 26. Adam DUGDALE, 6. Mark BOYD (capt), 10. Chris HOLLAND, 7. Carl BAKER; 14. Sean PATERSON, 22. Jon NEWBY. Subs: 2. Chris LANE, 3. Lee HOOLICKIN, 4. Michael POWELL, 8. Liam BLAKEMAN, 12. John BAGNALL (gk).
On a foggy afternoon, Alty kicked off towards the covered end at Haig Avenue but almost immediately they conceded a corner as Newby got past Band, on the Southport right (1 min). Newby and Duffy soon threatened again and, with Alty under the cosh, Port won a second corner (3 mins). The home side's early pressure then yielded a third corner with just six minutes on the clock. But then Alty got forward and when O'Neill went down in the box, he had plausible grounds for his penalty appeal, which went unanswered (7 mins).
With good support from the travelling fans, Alty now began to settle, though their hearts were in their mouths as Coburn rushed right to the touchline to clear a loose ball. Soon, O'Neill fed Senior up the right and with Southport hesitating as they appealed for offside, Senior advanced towards goal and drove a low shot across the keeper, only for the ball to come out off the inside of the upright - the 13th minute had proved unlucky for Altrincham. The visitors were now getting the upper hand after their torrid start and from an Aspinall freekick, one of many conceded by Southport in the first half, Chalmers hooked a shot into the side-netting (19 mins).
Graham Heathcote, who had risen from his sickbed for this game, now came down from the stand to the touchline but it was the home side who now came back into the game with, first, Senior and then Aspinall having to make good defensive challenges. Left-back Andy Scott was also having a solid game at the back for Alty. Next, after a fine Band tackle on the dangerous Baker, Little had a shot deflected over the bar for an Alty corner on the right.
Both sides were commiting errors and when O'Neill set Little free, the striker made one as he elected to go to the left of the advancing keeper before losing his footing (32 mins). O'Neill and then Chalmers lost possession before Paterson got past Munroe and set up Newby, but his woeful shot from 12 yards cleared the bar comfortably (34 mins). Then, Senior did well, getting past Rowland into the box, right of goal only to be clearly pulled back by the defender for the most indisputable of penalties. However, no booking was given. Steve Aspinall, Alty's leading scorer with five penalty goals this season, hit the spot-kick well, but keeper Harrison made a fine save, to his left, pushing the ball away (36 mins). The loose ball ran from the keeper to O'Neill, right of goal, but his hook towards goal was cleared off the line. Next, Senior was felled by Baker for a freekick. The referee continued to show remarkable tolerance as Newby's handball and Duffy's and Baker's fouls produced further freekick awards to Alty.
As halftime approached Peyton fired well over from 30 yards (42 mins). But deep into added time, Aspinall lost possession and the ball was played to Baker, on the left. He jinked past Senior and the recovering Aspinall inside the box but his shot from an acute angle, left of goal, needed a wicked deflection off an Alty player (possibly Peter Band) to spin behind Coburn into the net (45+1 mins). Seconds later the whistle went for half-time with Alty rueing their missed chances.
|Half-Time: SOUTHPORT 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
As the second half started, the fog began to thicken. Altrincham won an early corner when O'Neill did well to chase a ball forward from Peyton (46 mins). Bizarrely, Colin Little, in the centre of the goalmouth, punched Peyton's corner from above his head towards goal but Mr Halliday continued to show his reluctance to caution anyone for anything by awarding a freekick but not producing a card. A volley by O'Neill, well over the bar, was the nearest to a shot on goal from either side at this stage (49 mins). Next, Duffy shot wide from Boyd's pass as Alty were caught by a counter-attack (52 mins). Then, a shot from Baker was initially spilled, low down, by Coburn but the Alty keeper safely gathered the ball back into his arms before any damage was done (53 mins). Later, after Newby had been caught offside, Apsinall's freekick was a long way off finding a colleague and drifted out for a Southport goalkick.
Altruincham had a glorious chance to equalise when Senior and Lawton got Little free to the right of the goal but the out of sorts Alty striker over-elaborated inside the box and allowed the chance to go when a first time effort might have been the better option ( 57 mins). After Holland had felled Lawton, Apsinall tried to find Lewis Chalmers from the freekick. This was a repetitive ploy which became too predictable in today's game, being tried at least five times. However, on this occasion it did yield a corner but Harrison punched Peyton's flag-kick clear. Altrincham were now dominating proceedings and a good move involving Aspinall and Senior ended with Lawton's cross from the right dropping just behind the cross bar, onto the roof of the net (60 mins). Next a bad tackle by Boyd on Lawton gave Alty another freekick following which Chalmers appealed for a penalty as he went up for the ball in the box.
Southport then got to the other end where Holland's shot deflected off Band for a corner, followed soon afterwards by another coner when Birch won one off Peyton, which Coburn punched away. Further Alty pressure came to nothing and the visitors were now caught out, having pressed up too far, leaving Duffy and Newby both free as they raced after a clearance up the Southport right wing. Duffy took the ball towards the by-line right of goal before crossing to the near post where Newby rose well ahead of Munroe to loop a header over the defender and the keeper, which dropped into the net, as another Southport player arrived to make sure that it crossed the line (66 mins).
Immediately, Alty brought on Rod Thornley, on the right, to replace Chris Senior (66 mins), followed a minute later by Pat McFadden, on the left, replacing Robbie Lawton who left the field holding his chest, having been suffering from a virus this week. The second goal semed to have an amazing effect on referee Halliday who had shown no inclination to punish any of the many fouls up this point with a yellow card. But he now booked Boyd for a challenge on Chalmers and was to go on to take a total of five names in the final 20 minutes of the game for offences which, in no case, seemed any worse than what had gone unpunished by him beforehand.
A minute after booking Boyd, the referee showed a yellow card to Munroe (71 mins), at which point Gary Scott became Alty's thrid sub, replacing Steve Aspinall (71 mins). Soon afterwards, Alty put together a decent move which ended when Peyton's shot struck a defender but after this Thornley won his side a corner, off Dugdale, on the right (73 mins). However, this was poorly taken by Peyton . Up to now, sub Pat McFadden had barely touched the ball but after more Alty pressure Little fed Joe O'Neill, whose low shot beat the keeper but came out off his right upright. Little retrieved the ball, left of goal, and got in a good cross from the left which Thornley played the ball back into the goalmouth, from right of goal, to McFadden, whose header disappointingly cleared the bar. The fog was still thickening, prompting Alty fans to hope that, this time, the elements might save them, fog having robbed them of a possible win at Tamworth last month when they were leading in a Trophy game before it was abandoned.
Southport now brought on Lane for Duffy (78 mins). However, Altrincham soon won another corner, but the keeper caught Thornley's flag-kick. Alty continued to press but time was ticking away as Port made another swap, with Powell replacing Hocking (80 mins). Another chance came Alty's way after 82 minutes when a good move led to McFadden crossing well from the left to Little, whose flicked header to his right dropped nicely for a half volley from the unmarked Thornley, arriving towards the back of the box. But Thornley's shot went well over the target. It almost got worse for Alty as Munroe nearly gifted Southport a third goal as he diverted a cross from the right straight to Paterson, but the Southport man shot badly wide from in front of goal (84 mins).
Little's touch continued to betray him as Alty continued to press for a goal. But soon McFadden's neat lay off set up O'Neill but as he took a touch, rather than a first-time shot, he was tackled and only a corner resulted on the Alty left. However, Peyton's corner was superbly met by a bullet-header from Chalmers, who was in the outer part of the penalty box in a central position and the ball flew into the net off the bottom of the crossbar from some 15 yards or more. At least this time, the framework of the goal had been on Alty's side (86 mins). Southport immediately introduced Blakeman for Boyd. After Little had lost possession, a long ball forward from Southport was needlessly headed out for a corner by Gary Scott, much to Stuart Coburn's annoyance (88 mins). Southport now tried to play time away as Alty pushed Peter Band forward, leaving just three at the back. After a weak shot from Powell had run to Coburn, four minutes of added time were announced. Immediately, a low, 25-yard effort from Chalmers was saved by Harrison and then, after a foul by Baker, Alty went upfield again only for O'Neill to be penalised for some reason in the box. McFadden must have said something about the award, for the referee produced a yellow card for the teenager (90+2 mins).
Moments later, Mr Halliday was waving yellow again, this time at Port's Newby, for attempting to block Coburn as he tried to clear the ball upfield (90+2 mins). The referee's card mania continued as he made it three separate booking in two minutes when he brandished a card at Blakeman for a foul from behind on Peyton (90+3 mins) to make it a nap hand of cautions in this game - all made after the 70th minute.
Alty's last chance was a freekick from Peyton which came, via Chalmers, to Little, who got in an overhead shot but a Southport freekick resulted (90+4 mins). Time now ran out on Altrincham who really should have taken something from this game, given the number of chances they created. As a result of their third successive defeat, they now remain 21st in the table but have a game in hand over St Albans City, whom they can overtake, which means that their fate is still in their own hands. But Altrincham have now won just twice in their last twelve league games and are still seeking an away win this season.
|Full-Time: SOUTHPORT 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|