ALTRINCHAM (1) 3 HALIFAX TOWN (2) 3
played on Tuesday, 4 March 2008, at 7.45pm.
All six goals on this 3-3 draw came from defensive errors rather than attacking skill, with Altrincham leading the way by conceding two penalties to Halifax's one. But, with the score at 3-3, the most obvious penalty of the night was not given, when Halifax keeper Legzdins virtually pinned Senior to the floor for several seconds after the striker had poked the ball past him. Alty's first-half performance was poor and they fell behind in the fifth minute when Peyton allowed Campbell to advance up the right where he bundled Tinson off the ball to cross the ball from the right for a tap-in by Shaw. Alty remained second-best till the Halifax defence went to sleep, allowing Little to head home from Shotton's long throw, though the keeper got a hand to it (30 mins). But then O'Neill crudely bundled over Campbell just inside the right edge of the Alty box and Campbell converted the spot kick to restore the Halifax lead (34 mins). With Lane replacing Battersby at the interval, Alty got level just three minutes into the second period when Wright had a rush of blood and fouled Young on the edge of the Shaymen's box. Little scored his second goal of the night from the spot to make it 2-2. Tinson then fouled Shaw just inside the front edge of the box to allow Shaw himself to convert the visitors' second penalty of the night (66 mins). But straight from the restart Halifax's right-back allowed Peyton to charge down his clearance and though his cross led to both Senior and Little having shots blocked in the goalmouth, former Shayman, Joe O'Neill finally drove the loose ball home to make it 3-3 (67 mins). Five minutes later came the unbelievable failure of Mr West to award the penalty against Legzdins but in the end Halifax were good value for their point, which was a disappointment to Alty as they sought to climb away from the bottom four
REFEREE: Mr. R J West
Altrincham have five ex-Shaymen in their squad. One of them, Ryan Toulson is only on loan from The Shay so was not permitted to play tonight, whilst another, Val Owen, was out injured. The others, Chris Senior, Greg Young and Joe O'Neill were all in the starting line-up. Richard Battersby started with Ryan Shotton again at left-back.
This was the first of three successive home games in an eight-day period which would do much to shape Altrincham's destiny in the Blue Square Premier division. For their part, Halifax had just emerged with a vital home win against Weymouth after a poor spell of form.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 16. Ryan SHOTTON; 12. Joe O'NEILL, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 25. Liam KING, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 14. Tom CAHILL, 15. Chris LANE, 18. Pat McFADDEN, 20. Carlos ROCA.
HALIFAX TOWN (Yellow shirts, shorts and socks): 1. Adam LEGZDINS; 18. Gareth DAVIES, 14. Jake WRIGHT, 4. Tom CLARKE, 3. Matt DOUGHTY; 7. Danny FORREST, 19. Anthony GRIFFIN, 27. Simon HESLOP, 10. Lewis KILLEEN; 8. Andy CAMPBELL, 11. Jon SHAW (capt). Subs: 1. Craig MAWSON, 5. Adam QUINN, 6. Tom KEARNEY, 16. Craig NELTHORPE, 23. Tom HARDAN.
Halifax started the better and won their first corner in the third minute, but this was taken poorly. However, the visitors were soon to take the lead when Campbell bundled his way past Tinson, who was left on the ground, before the striker slid the ball from the right to the unmarked Shaw who completed the formalities of tapping the ball into the net from close range (5 mins). Peyton did then get in a shot for Alty but it hit a defender (7 mins). Alty continued to misfire as Coburn fired a freekick straight into touch. But at last Halifax were put under a little pressure as they scrambled the ball away from a Little-Senior combination (9 mins). However, Halifax were still setting the pace as Coburn again put a kick into touch (12 mins). At last Alty improved when a good passing move ended with a Peyton miskick which, nevertheless, yielded a corner, but Peyton's flagkick came to nothing (15 mins).
The home side were soon threatening again when O'Neill, Little and Peyton combined, the move ending with an excellent volley by Little which shaved the outside of Legzdins’s left post. At the other end, for the second time in the game Coburn now had to dribble the ball outside his area as he remained the busier keeper. Soon, the Alty number one was making a fine save from Shaw after Young had been caught out. "You're defending like a gang of girls" manager Graham Heathcote told his charges as Coburn's save gave Halifax a corner (19 mins). Following this, Griffin had an effort cleared near the Alty goal line before Alty scrambled the ball clear. The first of many penalty appeals came in the 23rd minute when Senior seemed to be bowled over on the Halifax box, but the referee waved play on. Alty then had a piece of luck as Forrest’s well-hit shot hit a defender’s foot. Alty's jittery performance continued as Coburn was again forced to come out and dribble the ball away (28 mins).
When Alty won a throw on the left 20 yards out there seemed little danger to Halifax but they completely went to sleep as Shotton's prodigious throw found an unmarked Colin Little. Though the keeper got his hands to Little’s header he fumbled it over the line to give Alty a slightly fortunate equaliser (30 mins). But, having got level, Altrincham promptly gave it away again. Interestingly, as soon as Alty levelled, some visiting fans turned on their manager, Chris Wilder, and he engaged in a brief argument with his critics in the Main Stand. With Graham Heathcote spending the first half in a state of apoplexy at his side, it underlined the pressures on football managers at this level. Back on the pitch, just four minutes had elapsed before Joe O'Neill, running towards his own goal, barged into Campbell, who was not in a particularly threatening position, from the rear. Although the offence was arguably just outside the right side of the Alty box, the referee decided it was a penalty and pointed to the spot. Campbell himself converted easily to make it 2-1 to the visitors (34 mins).
This was a game riddled with penalties and potential penalties. Just two minutes after Campbell's spot kick, Little appeared to be knocked over in the box following another throw-in by Shotton. Once again Mr. West waved away Alty's appeals. Soon afterwards, Little had further disappointment as he fired narrowly wide when Shotton's throw was relayed to him by Senior (38 mins). When Senior was given offside moments later it prompted Graham Heathcote to another outburst at the officials, "That's a joke", he told them.
After a foul on Lawton, King's free kick found Peyton in space left of goal but he sliced his effort. The next real threat on goal saw Coburn diving full length to save from Heslop (42 mins). King continued to impress in midfield in his quiet but hardworking manner before a Senior cross into the Town box led to a defender hacking the ball clear. But Halifax continued to win too many headers against the Alty defence for the home side to be comfortable. But the last chance of the half showed that the Halifax back four's concentration was also not all it might have been as Senior, the shortest player on the pitch, rose unmarked to glance a header wide from Battersby's cross (45+1 mins). As the teams went off for half time manager Graham Heathcote was involved in an exchange with the match officials whilst his side walked off 1-2 down.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 HALIFAX TOWN 2|
At the interval Chris Lane came on for Richard Battersby at right-back. Soon Altrincham won two corners, the first from Peyton’s cross, which struck Wright, and the second from a deflected Shotton header following Peyton's corner (47 mins). The early pressure immediately got its reward as Wright repeated O'Neill's error by pushing over an opponent in an unthreatening position on the outer fringes of the box. This time, Young was the clear victim, in a central position near the front of the Halifax box. Little beat the keeper comfortably from the spot to make it 2-2 (48 mins) and record his 13th league goal and 16th in all competitions this season in just 30 starts. But Alty almost immediately nearly conceded again when Heslop forced a fine save from Coburn who not only stopped the midfielder's shot when he got free in the box, but actually held the shot (51 mins). Halifax continued to apply pressure until Senior relieved it as he did well at the other end. From his cross, from the right King chested the ball down in the box but Davies blocked the midfielder's effort for a corner. Soon afterwards, Senior made a decent attempt to try and chip the keeper but Legzdins got the ball (58 mins). However, it was Halifax who looked the more threatening over the next few minutes after which Nelthorpe came on for Halifax's Forrest (63 mins).
An Alty corner came and went before more Halifax possession was rewarded with their second penalty of the night. Darren Tinson could have little complaint after he tripped Shaw just inside the front centre of the Alty box. For the third time during the evening the penalty taker who, this time was Shaw himself, gave the keeper no chance from the spot as he put his side ahead for the third time at 3-2 (66 mins). But, once more, one goal soon led to another and this time it came almost directly from the kick off to resume play as Alty levelled the score. The goal came from Peyton's persistence as he charged down Davies's attempted clearance. Peyton got to the by-line left of goal before laying the ball back to Senior, who saw his shot blocked, then Little's follow-up was also blocked but, at the third attempt the ball came to O'Neill who planted a rising shot into the net to make it 3-3 (67 mins).
Wright was booked two minutes later for a foul on Little as Alty now pressed forwards. Soon, there was then a quite amazing incident when Senior chased a 50-50 ball and managed to poke it past the advancing keeper Legzdins. The keeper wrestled the striker to the ground then held him down for a couple of seconds whilst a colleague cleared the loose ball. Astonishingly Mr. West played on as if nothing had happened whilst his linesman, who was almost as close to the incident, likewise seemed not to see what unfolded before his eyes (71 mins). Perhaps there is an unwritten rule against giving four spot kicks in the same game.
Altrincham now had the better of things but without seriously threatening a goal whilst, at the other end, a tame effort from Campbell, which went wide of the target was Halifax’s best effort (79 mins). As play went into the final ten minutes, the sides cancelled each other out though a mistake by Shotton did allow Campbell and Killeen to threaten but the ball ended up with Coburn (82 mins). With just five minutes left Tom Cahill came on for Senior. Alty almost got a winner three minutes from time when a good move ended with Lane’s cross from the right and O'Neill's header, narrowly over the bar. With just two minutes left, Carlos Roca came on for Liam King but he had little chance to change the course of the game. Three minutes of added time allowed Halifax to keep possession but the final whistle came with the score still locked at 3-3.
The outcome was a fair reflection of the game but Altrincham will have been disappointed at letting yet more home points slip away as they seek to make a gap between themselves and Farsley and Weymouth. But their poor first-half defending meant that they were always chasing the game. Stuart Coburn was a well deserved Man of the Match whilst Andy Campbell lifted the award for the visitors.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 HALIFAX TOWN 3|