ALTRINCHAM (0) 0 OXFORD UNITED (2) 3
Nationwide Conference National match
played on Saturday, 17 March, 2007 at 3pm.
Above: Oxford's Chris Hargreaves is in possession as Robbie Lawton (right) closes in. Colin Little watches (foreground) whilst an Oxford defender towers over Chris Senior (left).
Tiredness from seven matches in four weeks seemed to catch up with Altrincham today as, after a fairly bright start, they were comfortably beaten by full-time Oxford United. All three goals were disappointing from the defensive point of view. Oxford took the lead when Eddie Anaclet's cross from the right was allowed to bounce in the box and, as Munroe and Coburn went for it, the ball looped over the Alty keeper into the far corner (25 mins). Corcoran made it 2-0 when he headed home Rose's corner at the back post after Coburn had failed to cut it out in the air (35 mins). The second half was largely unmemorable but with Alty pushing forward in the latter stages, they left huge gaps which Oxford exploited in a fortunate manner when substitute Burgess's indifferent cross from the left diverted off Munroe to drop perfectly for the unmarked Robinson to head home at the back post (89 mins).
REFEREE: Mr Mo Matadar
Gary Scott and Val Owen remained sidelined through injury whilst centre-back Peter Band was a late withdrawal after sufering a stomach upset this week. So, Stephen Rose moved to centre-back whilst Steve Aspinall made a surprise return at right-back having been thought to be sidelined for at least another week thorugh injury.
Oxford were without suspended top-scorer Duffy. In their side was Yemi Odubade who had played against Alty for Eastbourne Borough in the Conference Play-Off Final in 2005.
Altrincham had won their previous three games whilst Oxford had lost their last two, but that did not alter the fact full-time Oxford were in second place whilst Alty were fighting to keep out of the relegation places. Oxford's disappointing recent form has led to a reduction in their following and though today's gate was better than all but one of the attendances at Moss Lane this season it meant that Altrincham became one of the few clubs whose best gate of the season was not against Jim Smith's men. Smith, of course, had been a visitor here previously in his Boston United days but it was The "U"s first trip to Altrincham. Altrincham fans had been subjected to crowd violence after the away match at Oxford this season but today the visitors' supporters were generally well behaved..
ALTRINCHAM (red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks). 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Steve ASPINALL, 20. Stephen ROSE, 17. Karl MUNROE, 11. Warren PEYTON; 12. Joe O'NEILL, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 6. Steve BUSHELL, 14. Lewis CHALMERS; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR. Subs: 4. Peter BAND, 5. Gary TALBOT, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 18. Pat McFADDEN, 22. Andy SCOTT.
OXFORD UNITED: (All yellow): 23. Billy TURLEY; 29. Michael CORCORAN, 4. Barry QUINN (capt)., 30. Luke FOSTER ; 2. Eddie ANACLET, 24. Martin FOSTER, 16. Danny ROSE, 10. Chris HARGREAVES, 3. Gavin JOHNSON ; 12. Yemi ODUBADE, 26. Marvin ROBINSON. Subs: 1. Chris TARDIF, 7. Carl PETTEFER, 11. Andy BURGESS, 21. Matt DAY, 28. Greg COOMBES.
The sides changed ends so that Altrincham kicked off into the wind, attacking the Golf Road End. The home side started well and, after just one minute, Oxford keeper Turley dropped Aspinall's cross and had to rely on a defender to clear the danger. For the next five minutes the sides traded unproductive movements. Alty did threaten when Aspinall fed Little but the striker slipped as he chased the ball just outside the box. Turley's uncertain start continued as he picked up a ball which Mr Matadar deemed to be a back pass to give Alty a freekick just inside the penalty area. After an eternity pacing out the ten yards, Mr Matadar allowed the freekick to proceed and, predictably in such circumstances, Little's first effort came back off the wall whilst, from the rebound, his second shot was sliced high and wide (9 mins). At the other end, Rose headed Foster's cross towards goal but Munroe headed the ball away. The sides continued to cancel each other out as Rose made an impressive covering tackle (12 mins). Senior then won the game's first corner, on the Alty left, when he did well to get to the by-line. Altrincham continued to match their opponents as the game continued, devoid of any clear chances of a goal. But when Rose slipped, to the right of his own goal, it allowed Robinson to lay the ball back across the goal mouth but Coburn managed to grab the ball beyond the back post (21 mins). An excellent interception from Munroe now prompted an Alty attack but this came to nothing. Next, Turley dropped the ball for the second time in the match and, though Little gathered the ball and turned smartly, his shot went well wide (23 mins).
Alty soon pressed again but when O'Neill lost possession, Johnson did well up the left until Rose's covering tackle stopped his advance. But the decisive moment of the game arrived out of nothing. Munroe gave away possession inside the Oxford half and the ball was worked to the right wing where Anaclet sent in a routine cross which bounced in the Alty goalmouth as Coburn and Munroe half went for it from different angles The outcome was that the keeper found himself stranded as the ball bounced up and over him into the far corner of the net to give Oxford the lead (25 mins). Alty almost levelled soon afterwards when Peyton's freekick from the right was taken off Munroe's boot in the Oxford goalmouth by the hands of Turley (26 mins). But then a fine 25 yard shot from Foster was well turned round the base of his right post by Coburn, to give Oxford a corner (28 mins). Oxford continued to apply pressure after the corner and went on to take control of the half. After Munroe had been penalised against Robinson, who for a big man goes to ground easily, Bushell was booked for not retreating quickly enough for Mr Matadar's liking (31 mins). Johnson's resulting freekick hit the Altrincham wall.
Next another good shot from Foster had to be tipped over the bar by Coburn, for an Oxford corner.. When Coburn was fouled at the corner, Odubade kicked the ball away but was not booked. Oxford continued to set the pace and won a corner off Peyton, for which Altrincham had all eleven men in their own box and so had no potential outlet to whom to clear the ball. But, as it happened there was no chance to make a clearance as Rose's corner kick from the right was missed by Coburn in the air and fell for Corcoran to head home at the back post to make it 2-0 (39 mins). The Alty keeper did much better soon afterwards when he saved well from Robinson but, with the wind increasingly gusty, Alty were having to counter the elements as well as the opposition. Coburn's afternoon of mixed fortunes continued as he fumbled another effort from Robinson (44 mins). Corcoran was then booked for a clear pull on Senior's shirt just outside the visitors' box but Peyton's freekick ran straight to Turley (45 mins). In the two minutes of added time, Alty pressed but had nothing to show for their effort and left the field trailing by two goals.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 OXFORD UNITED 2|
After the break Alty emerged with a changed formation as O'Neill moved upfront and Senior took up the right flank. Altrincham were lucky when Anaclet missed a sitter, heading wide of goal when totally unmarked at the back post as the Alty defence slept. An Oxford shot then deflected out off Rose for a corner as the game went through a pretty uninspiring period which nevertheless did not stop the two sets of supporters exchanging chants. Oxford seemed content to keep Alty at bay and this they did comfortably as their defence picked off a number of aerial balls launched forward by Altrincham. And, when Rose jumped in on Odubade, he was booked by the referee but there was little else to report as the game passed the hour mark.
But Altrincham now picked up their game though without seriously threatening to score and when they won a freekick 40 yards out, Aspinall's kick went harmlessly to Turley. When Odubade then got past Aspinall at the other end, Coburn made a good save at the second attempt (64 mins). Thornley now came on for Senior (65 mins). Next Little did well and it took a very good interception by Corcoran to stop Peyton getting the ball with a clear sight of goal inside the goalmouth. Then Aspinall made a good tackle to prompt another attack, but this was cleared. Alty then brought on Talbot for Aspinall (67 mins) but Coburn soon had to make a fine save when Odubade went past Munroe and then, after Robinson had won another freekick, an Oxford corner was punched out by Coburn for another corner. Again Alty had not a single player outside their own penalty area which made it difficult to relieve the pressure (70 mins).
When Oxford kicked the ball into touch inside their own half, it was caught by Graham Heathcote, inside the Alty technical area. Referee Matadar was adamant that Chalmers was trying to steal yards with the resulting throw-in and after warning him, awarded a foul throw when the midfielder took the throw in just inside the Oxford half, which is where the ball had actually crossed the line. The game was lacking in goalmouth incident in the second half so when Coburn coolly dribbled the ball past Odubade it raised a cheer with the home crowd (75 mins). But time was ticking away and Alty, though trying hard,did not look likely to score. However, a Chalmers throw did lead to their winning a corner (78 mins) at which point Matt Day came on for the injured Eddie Anaclet, who had had a good game on the Oxford right (79 mins). Indeed it took until the 83rd minute for Alty to have a serious pop at the Oxford goal in the second half, when Talbot rose well but headed over the bar. But, soon after this, a good shot from Little went much closer, just going wide of the keeper's left post (83 mins). Burgess came on as substitute for Odubade at this point. Alty were now playing with just three at the back (Munroe, Talbot and Rose). When Foster threatened Rose did well to delay him enough for the opening to disappear (86 mins). .But just when it looked like Altrincham would end the match with an honourable second-half goalless draw, they allowed Burgess to advance up the left and, though his cross was not very good, it came off Munroe's head towards the back post where the unmarked Robisnon headed past Coburn to make it 3-0 (89 mins).
Pettefer came on as Oxford's third sub, replacing Foster as three added minutes were decreed. In this time, Robinson missed a sitter, scooping his shot straight at Coburn who had closed him down well (90+1 mins). Alty were visibly tired in the closing minutes and conceded a corner but this came to Coburn and the game ended 0-3. Whilst the result was disappointing after three successive wins by Altrincham, realistically it was not unexpected that Alty would lose to the league's second-placed team. The effect of so many games in the last month took its toll on Alty and the absences of Band, Owen and Scott were not irrelevant factors in today's performance. The result makes Tuesday's home match with fellow strugglers Grays Athletic all the more important. Stephen Rose was named as Alty's Man of the Match, whilst ex-Tamworth man Eddie Anaclet won the visitors' award.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 OXFORD UNITED 3|