ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 OXFORD UNITED (1) 3
Warren Peyton chases down Yemi Odubade.
Though it is now eight games without a win this season for Altrincham, the final score again did not reflect the balance of the game. With four minutes to play the score was 1-1 and Alty looked more likely to win the game than their visitors. But slack marking allowed Day to head Oxford ahead (86 mins) and three minutes later Karl Munroe was sent off for throwing Robinson to the ground, though the muscular Oxford substitute was guilty of grappling with the Alty defender in the lead up to the incident (89 mins). To add insult to injury Oxford scored a very flattering third goal when Alty left Aspinall back as the sole defender and Odubade got the better of him from a hoofed clearance from the Oxford defence. Odubade went clear and beat Coburn with a low shot (90+4 mins). In the first half Alty had been very unlucky when O'Neill's headerr came back off the underside of the bar and was cleared before Shaw scored from an Odubade cross from the left for Oxford (39 mins).Jake Sedgemore struck a superb equaliser from 25 yards after 77 minutes, following good work from Carlos Logan, but again the closing stages proved costly to Alty.
REFEREE: Mr Jock Waugh
Colin Little returned from suspension but both Gary Scott and Val Owen remained sidelined by injuries. To accommodate Little, Logan dropped to the bench in the only change from last Tuesday night.
Oxford keeper Bily Turley was out injured so Chris Tardif came into the side despite manager Jim Smith's criticism of him earlier this week. Also out was former Tamworth defender Eddie Anaclet. But returning from injury was midfielder Eddie Hutchinson, whilst Yemi Odubade, never popular at Altrincham, given his tendency to go down at the slightest provocation in Alty's 2005 promotion play-off against his former club Eastbourne Borough, started for Oxford.
Like last season, Oxford had drawn too many games to be in the top spots of the division so far in this campaign but given their resources they would always be a handful for Alty's part-timers. Alty had given discount entry to season ticket-holders from any Premiership or League club but the rival TV attractions of England v Israel and the Rugby Union World Cup helped to limit the gate to a modest 1,298, some two hundred down on the corresponding fixture last season.
Welcome guests today under the Featured Club Scheme were our neighbours from Stamford Park Primary School.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 15. Chris LANE, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 4. Karl MUNROE, 2. Steve ASPINALL; 7. Robert LAWTON, 6. Jake SEDGEMORE, 21. Gareth WHALLEY, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 14. Stephen ROSE, 17. Colin POTTS, 19. Chris SENIOR, 22. Carlos LOGAN, 23. Sean CLANCY.
OXFORD UNITED: (All yellow): 30. Chris TARDIF; 20. Alex JEANNIN, 4. Barry QUINN (capt), 25. Arthur GNOHERE, 3. Michael CORCORAN; 21. Matt DAY, 8. Eddie HUTCHINSON, 18. Phil TRAINER, 12. Paul SHAW; 10. Yemi ODUBADE, 9. Rob DUFFY. Subs: 42. Sam WORRALL (gk), 7. Carl PETTEFER, 24. Michael STANDING, 26. Marvin ROBINSON, 11. Danny ROSE.
Oxford kicked off attacking the Carole Nash Family End. Oxford enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges but without seriously threatening the Alty goal. But Alty then began to settle and won the game's first two corners around the ten-minute mark. But these were both seen off by the Oxford defence. The second corner had arisen when Tardif made a nervous start to the game and pushed the ball wide to Little, whose cross produced the second corner. The two sides continued to probe each other's defence without too much to note as the game passed the quarter of an hour mark. But then Altrincham were very unlucky not to take the lead. Following a throw, Aspinall got the ball back and from the left sent a pinpoint ball into the box where O'Neill rose well but saw his header come back off the inside of the upright and be cleared to safety (17 mins). Almost immediately afterwards, Aspinall fired narrowly over the bar from 22 yards. The game then stopped when a clash of heads between O'Neill and the massive Gnohere saw the Oxford man needing treatment.
Play continued in unremarkable fashion without any obvious chasm between the full-timers and the part-time side until Shaw headed over the bar after good work from Day (26 mins). Both defences were looking solid with Darren Tinson continuing his recent good form for Alty and Chris Lane, as ever, unhurried and efficent at right-back. The game continued in fairly even fashion with little goalmouth incident until Oxford won their first corner after 32 minutes, from which Gnohere headed over the bar. Next, Alty won themselves a corner and from Whalley's kick, Tardif fumbled the ball away but Aspinall's follow-up shot went over the bar from 25 yards (34 mins).
For the second time in the match Duffy went down very easily for a big man inside the Alty box to the derision of the home support, and he then got up and tried to pick a fight with the Alty defence. Referee Waugh gave him a lecture but took no card from his pocket (35 mins). But soon after Oxford took the lead, thanks to a lapse by Alty. Odubade got the ball on the left and was allowed to cross it into the penalty area where the unchallenged Shaw, a recent signing who once cost Gillingham £450,000, headed firmly past Coburn (39 mins). Manager Graham Heathcote was not pleased with his side, "You shoot yourselves in the foot every game" he told his defence. But Alty replied by winning a corner and towards half-time continued to press for an equaliser. Odubade reinforced his reputation with the Alty supporters for petulance when he took exception to an Aspinall challenge in which the referee saw nothing wrong. The former Eastbounre man went over to Aspinall and arrogantly wagged his finger at the impassive Alty defender. It was obvious that the United striker would seek retribution for the perceived injustice and almost immediately he elbowed Aspinall in the face as both went for an aerial ball. Mr Waugh quite rightly booked the Oxford man, though on another day he might have seen red rather than yellow (44 mins). Just before the break Whalley had a decent chance from O'Neill's knock-down but the midfielder volleyed wide and, so, Alty went into the interval trailing for the first time at half-time in a game this season.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 OXFORD UNITED 1|
At the interval Colin Potts replaced Whalley, with Lawton pushing inside to accommodate him. Soon an excellent cross from the right by Potts just evaded Peyton at the back post, then O'Neill's header, under pressure. went to Tardif as Alty made a bright start to the second period (47 mins). But Oxford won the half's first corner, off Peyton but play went through a scrappy period before Oxford made a change, as Pettefer replaced Hutchinson in central midfield (53 mins). Alty won a corner soon afterwards from which Tardif uconvincingly punched clear to Little but his shot missed the target (55 mins).
Right: Alty celebrate their goal.
Munroe and Duffy then clashed with the Oxford man again going down dramatically and requiring treatment but no offence was given against Munroe. Soon another testing cross from the right by Potts once more narrowly evaded Peyton at the back post (58 mins). "Believe in yourselves" shouted the Alty manager as his side took the game to the visitors. On the hour mark an excellent shot from Lawton forced a good save from Tardif, who beat the ball away for a corner on the Alty right. At this point Logan came on for the out of sorts Colin Little (61 mins). Soon Logan did well on the left, beating his opponent, but ruined his good work with a poor cross (62 mins). After Lawton had shown his strength to keep possession and win a freekick, Trainer was booked for kicking the ball away (64 mins).
Duffy once again went down for treatment before Oxford made a double change with Duffy slowly leaving the pitch, along with team-mate Shaw, whilst Rose and Robinson came on to replace them (65 mins). Munroe then went through a rocky spell giving the ball to opponents twice inside 30 seconds before Logan again caused Oxford problems by running at them with pace. But again his crossing was disappointing (70 mins). Day's shot then hit Lane and an Oxford corner was awarded. The corner kick evaded everyone before Day himself handled it in the box. Logan for the third time did well to get past his marker before again failing to deliver an accurate ball. Alty now made a change as Senior came on for Lawton (75 mins).
For the fourth time Logan did well on the Alty left and this time, via Gnohere's clearance, his cross found Sedgemore who hammered home a superb 25-yard shot to make it 1-1 (77 mins). Immediately Logan was threatening again as he surged forward but his well-hit shot was well saved by Tardif at the second attempt (78 mins). Alty now looked the more likely to take the points as they pressed forward. The turning point in the game arrived after 82 minutes when Senior fed O'Neill but with Peyton in close attendance inside the goalmouth, the midfielder took the ball off the striker's feet and allowed it to run to the keeper. A golden chance had gone.
Oxford now stepped up a gear for the closing stages but when they scored their second goal it arose, like their first, from Alty's failure to close them down quickly enough. Several passes were played on the Oxford left before Jeannin's cross picked out the unmarked Day in the goalmouth and he headed firmly past Coburn (86 mins). Things then got worse for Alty as Marvin Robinson foiuled Munroe as they both headed towards the Alty penalty area, but with Mr Waugh signalling nothing the Alty defender retaliated by swinging Robinson to the ground. Mr Waugh elected to produce a straight red for Munroe who became the third Alty player to be sent off already this season (89 mins). Robinson went unpunished.
Alty survived the resulting freekick from five yards outside their box before the game went into four minutes of added time. Alty won a corner during this period but their afternoon was ruined further in the last seconds when, pushing forward for the corner, Sedgemore's flag-kick was cleared long, upfield, where only Aspinall had been left to guard Odubade on the half-way line. Though the Alty man seemed favourite to clear the ball, the pacey Odubade harried the defender and emerged with the ball and a free run at Coburn. He made no mistake in driving the ball past the advancing Coburn's left hand to make the score a very flattering 3-1 to Oxford (90+4 mins).
The ending to this game brought back memories of a similar match against Exeter on the opening day of this season when late goals had also produced a scoreline which suggested a much heavier defeat than was actually the case. Once again Alty had done enough, especially in the second half to deserve at least a point but had succumbed in the final few minutes to full-time opponents. But one consolation is that all five defeats so far this season have been against teams in the top eleven so there is hope that when they meet less exalted opposition Alty may start to climb the mini-league which is made up of the bottom half a dozen sides. Already the league is polarised with the likes of Droylsden and Northwich suffering 5-0 reverses today and the bottom slots in the division are all occupied by financially-challenged sides from the north-west.
Darren Tinson was again named Man of the Match whilst Arthur Gnohere took the Oxford award.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 OXFORD UNITED 3|