ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 FOREST GREEN ROVERS (0) 0
played on Saturday, 8 March 2008, at 3pm.
Above: Alty leave the pitch. The players, left to right, are Darren Tinson, Richard Battersby, Warren Peyton, Carlos Roca, Greg Young, Colin Little, Joe O'Neill and Liam King.
Altrincham played a patient game to emerge with a vital three points on a Saturday when their rivals at the bottom also won. Alty used a 4-1-4-1 formation in the first half with Little and O'Neill rotating in the lone striker's role. With neither side creating any goalmouth excitement, Altrincham came the closer to a first-half goal when FGR stopped for an offside whistle which never came but Little, in the clear, shot early from the edge of the box and goalkeeper Burton made a fine save. A minute before the break, FGR were caught out again and Burton took out Colin Little, 25 yards from goal as the Alty leading scorer threatened to get past him. Deservedly, as the last man, the goalkeeper was sent off. but then, disgracefully, dawdled towards the touchline before sitting down on the pitch, taking off a boot and feigning (very badly) an injury which apparently prevented him from making the ten extra strides that would have taken him off the pitch. His ploy, to allow time for FGR to get a substitute goalkeeper on to the pitch in place of Jamie Pitman worked. But the new keeper, Robinson, could not hold Peyton's freekick for the foul on Little, and the ball went to O'Neill. With an open goal. O'Neill blasted his shot against the post to leave the game goalless at half-time. Alty put two men up front for the second half but showed little sign of breaking down the FGR defence. However, Hardiker was then sent off for a second yellow-card, after he cynically brought down Little who had just nutmegged him 40 yards from goal (71 mins). Alty made three changes in the second half with Cahill, Roca and Battersby coming on but they created no real chances against the nine-man opposition till the 86th minute when Roca cut in from the left and his low cross was hammered home by Richard Battersby. FGR made a late attempt to get level with Coburn having to rush out to drive the otherwise disappointing Fleetwood wide of goal.
REFEREE: Mr. J Collin
Altrincham were without Chris Senior, who had to take an exam this afternoon but they had Ryan Toulson available again after he had had to sit out the match against his employers, Halifax Town. Alty surprisingly deployed a defensive 4-1-4-1 formation, as recently employed in the away games at Torquay and Exeter. Colin Little started as the lone striker but swapped the role with Joe O'Neill during the first-half. Joe had started on the left flank. Chris Lane patrolled the hole in front of the back four in which Ryan Shotton started at right-back and Warren Peyton at left-back. It was good to see Val Owen fit enought ot join the warm up after his long injury lay-off.
FGR arrived on the back of a 6-0 thrashing of Weymouth, whilst Alty had been picking up regularly points but had won only one of their previous nine games. The game was played in dull conditions which turned to increasingly steady rain as the match progressed. The game was watched by local MP, Graham Brady.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 16. Ryan SHOTTON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 11. Warren PEYTON; 15. Chris LANE; 23. Ryan TOULSON, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 25. Liam KING, 12. Joe O'NEILL; 9. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 14. Tom CAHILL, 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 18. Pat McFADDEN, 20. Carlos ROCA.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS (Green shirts, shorts and socks): 25. Terry BURTON; 4. Darren JONES, 5. Chris GILES, 11. John HARDIKER; 2. Alex LAWLESS, 6. Jamie PITMAN, 10. Michael BROUGH (capt), 8. Simon CLIST, 3. Anthony TONKIN; 9. Adriano RIGOGLIOSO, 14. Stuart FLEETWOOD. Subs: 1. Ryan ROBINSON, 12. Mark PREECE, 16. Ishmael WELSH, 17. Les AFFUL, 22. Lee DODGSON.
Rovers kicked off towards their travelling fans on a gloomy afternoon in Altrincham. After just 12 seconds, Ryan Toulson was down, injured, but he soon got up and hobbled on. Next, Stuart Coburn had to come outside his box and take the ball on his thigh as Fleetwood closed in. Following a foul by Chris Lane, who had a fine game, guarding the back four, Fleetwood's freekick hit a team mate to give Alty a goalkick (5 mins). The game lacked any real passion in the opening stages with FGR stroking the ball across the field but lacking penetration and Altrincham adopting a solid rather than attacking approach to the game. In the eleventh minute, Lawless fired a snap-shot wide. But Altrincham then produced the clearest scoring chance of the half. This came when O'Neill won the ball from Giles as the defender tried to dribble his way out of his own half near the half way line on the Alty left. O'Neill set Little running, unmarked, towards goal. Despite the visitors' claims for offside, Little advanced and after a few strides elected to shoot from just outside the box. Burton produced a fine save, diving low to his left, to push the ball out for an Altrincham corner on their right flank (13 mins).
But both sides were giving possession away too easily to produce any more goalmouth action as the game drifted on without much to keep the fans excited. The visitors continued to enjoy plenty of possession but Altrincham were tenacious in closing down and tackling them. Forest Green won a corner on the left for which Alty brought all eleven men back into the 18 yard box as rain now fell steadily on the pitch. Both sides continued to give the ball away, with FGR looking unlike a side which had pulverized Weymouth 6-0 a few days earlier.
O'Neill now took over the lone striker role for Altrincham as Little occupied the left side of midfield (25 mins). With the crowd noise reduced to a murmur by the desultory play on the pitch, the nearest to a goal was when Rigoglioso got to the by-line right of goal but his cross flashed across the goalmouth and was well taken low down by Coburn (32 mins). Following a foul on Rigoglioso, Giles headed Lawless's freekick narrowly wide (33 mins). Alty continued to invite FGR to come at them as they defended in depth, with King again impressing as the midfield terrier. But nothing remotely resembling a goal threat occurred as play drifted towards half-time and Altrincham won a freekick for Jones's over physical challenge on Lawton, who was also working hard in midfield (42 mins).
Right: Having walked without a problem 30 yards or more from where he was shown the red card, FGR keeper Burton miraculously loses the ability to walk and sits down, 10 yards from touch and takes his boot off (discarded in front of him), to delay the resumption of play. He effected a remarkable recovery once the new keeper, Robinson, had come on for midfielder Jamie Pitman.
However, just before the break, the game erupted. King set Little running towards goal, about 40 yards out, and the Alty man jinked to get past Burton who had rushed well outside his area. About 25 yards from his goal, the keeper felled the Alty man and despite protests from FGR players there could be only one outcome; a red card for the goalkeeper (44 mins). Having walked about 30 yards from the place where he was shown the red card, Burton disgracefully sat down on the pitch and expected everyone to believe that he had suddenly suffered a previously undetected injury which now prevented him from walking a further ten yards to the touchline. The keeper took off his left boot and held his left leg in a thoroughly unconvincing pretence of injury. Presumably he was trying to buy time for his side to get another player off and bring on substitute keeper Robinson. It is a pity that the disciplinary authorities cannot add another game to his impending ban for this unsporting insult to the intelligence of the paying public. Pitman was the unlucky player taken off as Robinson came on (45+1 mins).
After Burton's antics, Peyton drove a superb freekick at goal which Robinson stopped but could not hold. With the goal at his mercy, O'Neill hammered the ball at goal but unbelievably missed the target, striking the post and seeing his shot come out and be cleared. So, half-time arrived with the game still goalless and Altrincham having had the best two chances of a far from entertaining first half.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0|
Alty kicked off the second half with a one-man advantage but with steady rain falling. Within 15 seconds the now two-man attack of Altrincham had been caught offside. But FGR won the half's first two corners (46 and 49 mins). Despite their extra man, Alty caused the Forest Green defence little concern at this stage until, in the 57th minute, King got forward right of goal and fed Little but, on his right foot, Alty's leading scorer delayed his shot and only a corner resulted, on the Alty right.. Alty continued to labour to impose themselves on their opponents as the hour mark approached. In the 58th minute Hardiker was booked for a foul on O'Neill as the rain continued to fall steadily. Alty did a bit better soon after this when Little chipped the ball over a defender to O'Neill but his shot, from right of goal, went narrowly wide (59 mins). At the other end, FGR could only muster a shot from Lawless which hit the Perfect Apex advert high above the Alty goal.
Alty brought on Carlos Roca as a straight replacement on their right flank for Ryan Toulson in the 63rd minute. Lane continued to impress as the visitors started to waste time, with Jones taking an inordinate time to make a throw-in (65 mins). Two minutes later Jim Harvey brought on Ishmael Welsh for Rigoglioso. Welsh was a player whom Alty had first seen last season playing against them for Weymouth. At the same time a limping Ryan Shotton came off to be replaced by striker Tom Cahill. Lane was now at right-back. FGR were reduced to nine men when King fed Little who nutmegged the former Morecambe defender Jon Hardiker about 40 yards from the FGR goal. As Little threatened to get clear, Hardiker stuck out a foot to trip the Alty man and saw a second yellow card, followed by a red, for his actions (70 mins). Unlike Burton, he had the good grace to accept his punishment and walk off the pitch.
Soon afterwards, Cahill displayed good skill to get into the box but only a throw resulted from this attack. Then, there appeared to be a hand-ball in the visitors' box but play continued regardless. Roca had by now switched to the left wing but he had seen little of the ball since his arrival on the pitch. Manager Graham Heathcote now ensured Roca got forward and he soon started to cause problems for Lawless. Indeed, not long afterwards, Roca appeared to be tripped as he got to the by-line by the combative Jones but nothing was given. O'Neill then miscued to the keeper before Ishmael Welsh was surprisingly brought off having only been on the pitch for nine minutes! As he did not seem to be suffering any injury this seemed to be a bizarre tactical move, with Preece replacing him (76 mins).
Alty won an unforced corner when Jones sliced in front of his own goal. A second corner followed which Peyton put straight into the keeper’s hands to the exasperation of his manager. Peyton had an industrious game, as ever, but his distribution was poor at times. A foul by King on Fleetwood earned the Alty midfielder a booking just before Joe O’Neill was taken off, to be replaced by Richard Battersby (78 mins). Alty now began to apply some concerted pressure with Cahill being seen off in the box and then Roca being dispossessed as he advanced on goal. As FGR attempted to slow play down, Alty continued to press without creating a clear opening.
But after several probing runs on the left by Roca, the new signing drifted inside and his low cross came to Battersby, right of goal. The former Northwich man hammered the ball into the net to the relief of the Altrincham faithful (86 mins). Lawton, however, was now hobbling badly. After Peyton had given the ball away Fleetwood ran at goal but Coburn did well to force the division's leading scorer wide of goal, from where the danger was cleared. Four minutes of added time were announced, at the start of which Robinson held a decent shot from Battersby, at the second attempt. But then the visitors pushed forward for a final onslaught, which produced a corner in the final added minute. Even goalkeeper Robinson went up for the corner but Little headed it clear and soon afterwards, the whistle went for Altrincham’s first win in ten games and their first home win in two months.
Unfortunately Weymouth and Farsley also won today so Altrincham gained nothing on their rivals for the final relegation place, who have three and two games in hand on them, respectively. Richard Battersby was named as Man of the Match, as the player whose goal won the game. Over the ninety minutes King and Lane were probably the pick of the Altrincham players.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0|