CRAWLEY TOWN (1) 1 ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
Nationwide Conference National match
Saturday, 17 February, 2007 at 3pm.
Right: Robbie Lawton chases the ball at Crawley, as (left to right) Warren Peyton, Lewis Chalmers and Val Owen wait for the outcome.
After being very much second best in the first half, Alty were very fortunate to go in level when Okuonghae turned Joe O'Neill's cross from the right by-line past his own keeper moments before halftime. Earlier Benyon, who had wasted two earlier chances, nipped in front of Coburn to give Crawley the lead. Alty were vastly improved in the second half and had Little been able to convert a gift from goalkeeper Hamer in the first minute of added time Alty would have recorded their first away win of the season. Despite the draw, Alty dropped to second bottom.
REFEREE: Mr N Kinseley (Isle of Wight)
Gary Scott took over from Steve Aspinall at right back, and left-back Andy Scott also dropped to the bench as Warren Peyton reverted to that position. In midfield, Val Owen returned to partner Steve Bushell, displacing Lewis Chalmers to left midfield. Up front Joe O'Neill partnered Colin Little but, surprisingly, there was not even a place on the bench for Pat McFadden. Stephen Rose was absent with a virus.
Despite the unpaid debts of their owners, on the field Crawley had somehow managed to bring in numerous new faces, several of them being loans from League clubs. With 4 wins and 2 draws from their last 6 Conference matches they were in good form, whereas Altrincham had lost their previous four games.
ALTRINCHAM (Pale and dark blue shirts, dark blue shorts, pale blue socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 3. Gary SCOTT, 17. Karl MUNROE, 4. Peter BAND, 11. Warren PEYTON; 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 14. Lewis CHALMERS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 2. Steve ASPINALL, 5. Gary TALBOT, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 19. Chris SENIOR, 22. Andy SCOTT.
CRAWLEY TOWN (All red): 1. Ben HAMER; 4. Scott HILEY, 5. Magnus OKUONGHAE, 26. David WOOZLEY, 6. Ronnie BULL; 7. Jamie ENGLAND, 17. Dannie BULMAN (capt), 16. Steve EVANS, 11. Tony SCULLY; 21. Elliott BENYON, 10. Scott RENDELL. Subs; 9. Marcus RICHARDSON, 12. Jack MacLEOD, 19. Scott MARSHALL, 20. Lloyd BLACKMAN, 22. Rob TOLFREY (gk).
Having conceded a goal after 27 seconds when they kicked off last Saturday there was no repetition for Altrincham today but Little's immediate ball into touch was not the best of starts. Indeed they almost fell behind after just 90 seconds when a ball forward over the Alty defence set Benyon free against Coburn, but the Alty keeper was more alert than his cover and got his body in the way of the Reds' striker's shot to divert the ball over the bar for a corner.
Though not huge in numbers, the travelling fans gave Altrincham excellent support, despite Crawley setting the early pace. Coburn next had to catch smartly from Rendell's nod down, as it almost reached a team-mate in the goalmouth (7 mins). But Alty soon won a corner on their left before Crawley soon won another for themselves when they, again, played the ball over the Alty back four. After this had been cleared, O'Neill ballooned a shot miles over the bar at the other end (11 mins).
Crawley's Scully had already switched to the right wing before Bulman sliced a shot very wide from Benyon's pass (13 mins). After the referee had waved play-on when O'Neill was fouled in the air, Little curiously opted to shoot from 40 yards and was well off target. Little's touch continued to desert him as he twice gave the ball away. But the Alty defence continued to hold firm and in midfield Val Owen continued to belie his passing years with a typically committed performance. However, Gary Scott became the first player cautioned, for a challenge from behind on England (22 mins). Karl Munroe was more unfortunate to be booked soon after for what looked a fair challenge and as it was his tenth booking, it will be costly (26 mins). From Evans's freekick, Woozley's diving header was held by Coburn (27 mins). As play continued, Alty still looked susceptible to the ball over the top of their defence.
Next, Scully, on the left, found England and he got past Peyton, who seemed to be fouled in the process. The ball was played to Rendell, to the right of goal, and he crossed, low, into the box where Benyon nipped in before Coburn and Scott at the near post, to slide the ball into the net (31 mins). Coburn let rip at his defence for allowing the goal and, after the re-start, manager Heathcote let his feelings be known to the referee about the foul in the build-up to the goal.
Soon, Crawley threatened again as an error from Chalmers allowed Scully to feed Benyon but the ball ran off the nippy striker to Coburn. Referee Kinseley failed time and again to detect off the ball nudges from Crawley but Alty almost got themselves into trouble when Peyton, who had done well to cover a Scully surge on the Crawley right, slipped. But Scully's cross was poor. Then Lawton miskicked an intended shot at the other end (38 mins).
O'Neill continued to work hard for Alty, with scant help from the referee as a stiff challenge came in on him. Later, Chalmers shot well wide from 22 yards as Alty conspicuously failed to trouble Hamer (42 mins). After Benyon's shot had deflected off Munroe for a corner, the game went into the 45th minute. Then, after a good tackle by Band had gained Alty possession in the right side of their own half, the ball was played forward for O'Neill to chase to the by-line. From right of goal, O'Neill crossed, low, only for Okuonghae needlessly to lunge at the ball and divert it into the net at the near post. So, Alty went off at half-time with the score 1-1 despite not having had a shot on target.
|Half-Time: CRAWLEY TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Crawley kicked off the second half, but it was a rejuvenated Altrincham who were to set the second half pace. However, first, Alty had to survive an appeal for a penalty as a home player went down under Munroe's challenge (47 mins). Then, at last, Alty got in their first shot on target, after a good build-up, which ended in Owen's well-struck shot from 20 yards from Lawton's pass. But Hamer saved it well (48 mins).
When Scully clearly pushed Chalmers in the back, deep inside the box, as he went for Lawton's cross from the right, the referee saw nothing and Alty only gained a corner, which was immediately followed by a second as Bull headed out Chalmers's cross back into the box. Though Altrincham continued to have the upper hand, Coburn had to be alert and head clear a ball from Scully (55 mins).
Then some excellent covering work from Chalmers led to the young midfielder needing treatment for what looked like a back injury (59 mins). Owen and Peyton continued to impress, before a foul on Chalmers by Hiley yielded a freekick from which Chalmers headed Little's flick-on over the bar (60 mins). Crawley were very fortunate soon after, when Munroe's freekick was relayed to Lawton by O'Neill, and as Lawton powered into the right side of the box he was brought down. No penalty, or even a booking resulted as Mr Kinseley awarded Alty a freekick just outside the penalty area, which was predictably cleared (64 mins).
Next , Bushell and O'Neill got the ball to Little but his shot was well off target. Moments later Owen fed Little but he lost possession. Crawley now made a double change as Richardson, the ex-Cambridge man, and Blackman replaced Rendell and England (67 mins). Next, good play from Scott and Chalmers set Little free but his shot hit the post as the offside flag was raised. Minutes later, Little was caught offside again but then Crawley began to get back into the game, which was now in its most entertaining phase.
Crawley soon won two corners before Alty brought on Senior for the ailing Chalmers; O'Neill moved to the left of midfield as Senior went up front (74 mins). Senior was soon caught offside and five minutes later he slid in, late, as Hamer gathered a low through ball. The keeper reacted by twice pushing Senior, in the upper body and then pushing Bushell who was preventing a quick freekick. Both Bushell and Hamer saw yellow cards (80 mins).
Crawley now pressed forward with Richardson using his size, at times illegally. But Band and his colleagues held firm. After Benyon had turned well to fire Scully's left-wing cross narrowly over the bar, four added minutes were signalled. In the first of these, Hamer almost presented Little with Alty's second gift-wrapped goal as he failed to control a back pass and gave possession to Little but as he attempted to slide the ball home, Little allowed Hamer to get the slightest of touches which diverted the ball onto the upright for a corner (90+1mins).
After Blackman had shot yards over, Alty had a late scare when Benyon nodded Scully's cross from the left inches wide of Coburn's left stick (90+2 mins). Talbot replaced Little (90+3 mins) and the final whistle, soon afterwards, signalled Alty's first point in their last five games, but it was not enough to stop them dropping to 23rd in the table.
Against an in-form, full-time side, this was a good result, which had seemed unlikely till the fortunate equaliser on the stroke of halftime. But an excellent second-half showing gave Alty a deserved point. Owen was arguably Man of the Match but many others played well, especially after the interval.
|Full-Time: CRAWLEY TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|