EXETER CITY (2) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
played on Saturday, 1 March 2008, at 3pm.
A gusty wind did not help this game to provide much entertainment but with Alty barely mustering a shot on target, Exeter deserved the points. Two goals in eight first-half minutes decided the game. Stansfield got the better of Young to net the first (25 mins) then Gill turned in Carlisle's cross from the right (33 mins). With Exeter playing into the wind in the second half, they were less of a threat. Despite three attacking substitutions by Graham Heathcote it was not until the second minute of second-half added-time that one of the subs, Colin Little, scored a well-taken goal.
Right: Ryan Shotton in action at Exeter.
REFEREE: Mr. B Malone
Leading scorer Colin Little had recovered from illness to take a place on the bench, where new signing Carlos Roca joined him. Graham Heathcote kept the 4-1-4-1 formation, with Chris Lane playing in front of the back four, which had earned a good point at Torquay. With left-back James Jennings recalled by Macclesfield, Ryan Shotton continued in that position as Alty started with the same eleven which had finished the game at Plainmoor.
After a fine performance at Torquay four days earlier, Alty had another long trek to Devon for this match. Exeter have a fine home record, and Alty had lost on each of their two previous visits to St James's Park. All the visitors' fans were made to go into the stand and pay stand prices even though the away terrace remained unused for any other purpose. When stewards then tried to stop the fans from standing at the back of the stand, a row broke out, with Exeter stewards finally allowing the fans to move to the vacant terrace - though no refunds were offered. Last season the same fans were forced to stay on the open terraces in a thunderstorm, or pay extra to move under cover.
EXETER CITY (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Andy MARRIOTT; 2. Steve TULLY, 16. Matt TAYLOR, 5. Danny SEABORNE, 15. Rob EDWARDS; 10. Wayne CARLISLE, 7. Andy TAYLOR (capt); 4. Matthew GILL, 21. Dean MOXEY; 9. Adam STANSFIELD, 20. Richard LOGAN. Subs: 27. Paul JONES (gk), 3. George FRIEND, 11. Lee ELAM, 12. Steve BASHAM, 28. Ryan HARLEY.
ALTRINCHAM (Pale and dark blue shirts, pale blue shorts and socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 23. Ryan TOULSON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 16. Ryan SHOTTON; 15. Chris LANE; 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 25. Liam KING, 11. Warren PEYTON; 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 9. Colin LITTLE, 14. Tom CAHILL, 19. Chris SENIOR, 20. Carlos ROCA.
Alty elected to change ends and play into both the sun and strong, gusty wind. In a fairly uninspiring opening period, the Robins held their own. Logan was putting himself about up front for Exeter but neither side created any openings (10 mins). But when Exeter swept the ball out to Carlisle, on the right, his cross was headed comfortably wide (12 mins). However, Alty did not learn the lesson of failing to close-down Carlisle and were to suffer for that later in the game.
After Tinson had slipped in the box, Logan shot over the bar but neither keeper had yet been tested (18 mins). Shotton was then booked for a trip, 35 yards from his own goal (19 mins). It was his fifth caution, which should trigger a suspension.
The wind was causing the Alty defence problems as long balls forward by Exeter tended to drift unpredictably behind the back four. In the 25th minute Seaborne got the ball from Peyton and, via Edwards, it went forward, eluding Young, and falling for Stansfield, whose shot beat Coburn from inside the box.
After more undistinguished play, Peyton got in a cross, which went to Marriott (30 mins). Carlisle continued to keep Shotton occupied on the Grecians' right and it was from this source that Exeter doubled their lead. Peyton lost possession to Tully and from Gill the ball found Carlisle in space on the right. His low cross was turned into the net, possibly off Darren Tinson, to make it 2-0 (33 mins).
Exeter now applied some pressure and when Carlisle fed Tully, his low cross was cleared near to the goal-line by Toulson for the game's first corner (37 mins). A second corner followed, which Coburn caught.
Alty made a rare excursion into the opposition box, but centre-back Matt Taylor, the former Burscough goalkeeper, nodded the ball back to Marriott (40 mins). Half-time arrived with Alty needing to produce more attacking ideas in the second period if they were to take anything from the game.
|Half-Time: EXETER CITY 2 ALTRINCHAM 0|
No changes were made at the interval. The second half started with a bout of head-tennis as Exeter now had to contend with playing into the wind. But Exeter went close when they again threatened from the right. A low cross to the near post came to Stansfield, whose attempt to score rolled off Coburn's body and over the bar for a corner. Matt Taylor headed the corner over the bar (47 mins).
Play continued scrappily until Alty made a double change. Colin Little replaced Chris Lane, who had played well but was sacrificed to a change of formation, whilst Carlos Roca came on for his debut, in place of King (52 mins). Roca occupied the left flank.
After a Battersby cross had gone to Marriott, Roca got his first meaningful touch, feeding Little but nothing came of this (58 mins). Next, Moxey fired over for Exeter from 16 yards before a fine tackle by Battersby on the advancing Moxey got the ball back to Coburn (61 mins). Following a routine tackle, Stansfield went down and, after treatment, he was stretchered off. As this occurred, striker Tom Cahill replaced midfielder Richard Battersby for Alty (63 mins). Then Exeter's Elam came on for Stansfield up front, a role to which his manager is keen to convert him from his customary wide position (64 mins). The changes did not immediately affect the disappointing standard of the game. Next, Coburn had to make a decent save from Andy Taylor (71 mins). After this, Exeter won a corner before Alty had their nearest to a shot on target, so far, when Shotton's long throw came out to Peyton. His excellent shot from just outside the box narrowly cleared the bar (73 mins). Peyton soon did well at the other end, too, his important block conceding a corner. Seaborne got a free header from this but put it over the bar (76 mins).
As the game entered the final 10 minutes, Marriott smothered the ball from Roca on the front edge of his box. When Cahill got in a cross from the right corner but was clattered, very late by Seaborne, a freekick was given but no booking was issued as it should have been. Alty played on with 10 men until Cahill resumed a couple of minutes later (85 mins). After a Toulson cross had cleared the bar, Elam was caught offside. Belatedly, Alty were now getting forward. Some good skill from Cahill, left of goal, saw him get in a shot inside the box but this, and O'Neill's follow-up, were blocked before Roca fired over the bar - it was Alty's best attack so far (89 mins). In the first of four added minutes Elam stupidly got booked for blocking a freekick. A minute later, Toulson, Little and O'Neill combined well before Little scored for Altrincham with a well-placed low shot, just inside Marriott's right post from the edge of the box (90+2 mins). It was Alty's first goal from open play for four matches. Toulson was harshly booked in the closing seconds before Alty's defeat was confirmed by the final whistle.
Farsley's win today dropped Alty back to 20th, with Weymouth just a point behind but with three games in hand. 03/01/2008
|Full-Time: EXETER CITY 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|