ALDERSHOT TOWN (1) 2 ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
played on Saturday, 22 March 2008, at 3pm.
Colin Little (far left) waits for the ball to drop to him off a half clearance of Ryan Shotton's throw from the right. Colin drove the ball home to make it 1-0.
In conditions that varied from torrential hail and sleet to bright sunshine, Alty gave a good account of themselves against the runaway league leaders. Fielding a more attacking formation than last week, with Little and Senior on the flanks supporting O'Neill, Altrincham created four very good chances but were unable to convert them. And it took a superbly hit freekick by Davies from 22 yards to beat the Robins (67 mins). Earlier, Altrincham had stunned the Shots by taking the lead in the 14th minute when Shotton's long throw was diverted to Little, whose low shot found the bottom corner of the net. Nine minutes later Charles converted Mendes's cross from the right to level the scores. Referee Hopkins did Alty few favours, booking five of the visitors in a game of few serious fouls
REFEREE: Mr. J D A Hopkins
Joe O'Neill was available after suspension but Liam King and Ryan Toulson were dropped from the side which lost at Grays, last week. Midfielder King was on the bench, where there were recalls for Steve Aspinall and Jake Sedgemore. Though Lane again sat in front of the back four, the deployment of Little, on the left, and Senior, on the right of midfield in support of striker Joe O'Neill, gave Alty a more attacking formation.
Aldershot went into this game 10 points clear at the top of the BSP, whilst Alty were in the relegation places. REPORT
ALDERSHOT TOWN (Red shirts, shorts and socks, with blue trim): 1. Nikki BULL; 20. Rob GIER, 5. Rhys DAY (capt), 6. Anthony CHARLES, 3. Anthony STRAKER, 17. Kirk HUDSON, 16. Scott DAVIES, 8. Lewis CHALMERS, 19. Ben HARDING, 25. Junior MENDES, 14. Danny HYLTON. Subs: 7. Louie SOARES, 10. Rob ELVINS, 18. Dave WINFIELD, 23. Joel GRANT, 33. Mikhael JAIMEZ-RUIZ.
ALTRINCHAM (Pale and dark blue shirts, pale blue shorts and socks) 1. Stuart COBURN; 16. Ryan SHOTTON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 4. Ryan LYNCH; 15. Chris LANE; 19. Chris SENIOR, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 11. Warren PEYTON, 9. Colin LITTLE; 12. Joe O'NEILL. Subs: 2. Steve ASPINALL, 6. Jake SEDGEMORE, 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 20. Carlos ROCA, 25. Liam KING.
A heavy hail shower was falling as the teams came onto the pitch. Altrincham kicked off and it was they who won the first corner, as the game went into the fifth minute. This was cleared but came to Senior whose well-hit shot from 20 yards was held by Bull at the second attempt (5 mins). The hail had temporarily eased before an Aldershot freekick for handball yielded a Shots' corner (11 mins).
Though well out-numbered, Alty's travelling supporters were in good voice though inevitably saddened by the death in hospital on the morning of this game of Gary Wright who, only the previous Saturday, had been one of the Alty fans at the Grays match.
Alty had a let-off when the impressive Mendes almost found Hylton unmarked with a cross from the left but the ball just evaded him. Alty then won a throw, from the right, about 18 yards out. Shotton's long throw was deflected across the box to Little who planted a smart, low shot into the bottom corner of the net, to Bull's right (14 mins). The shot apparently deflected off defender Rob Gier. The goal stunned the league leaders but it almost got worse for them when, following a foul by Charles on O'Neill the ball was worked to Senior who saw his shot deflected narrowly wide for a corner (18 mins). Senior was booked soon afterwards when he stopped Bull from kicking the ball upfield (20 mins). To match the yellow card a yellow ball was introduced in exaggerated deference to the sleety conditions. O'Neill was then booked for a foul (22 mins). Alty's third misfortune, after the two cautions, was to concede an equalizer. This came when Mendes found Charles unmarked with a cross from the left and he converted the chance (23 mins).
After Harding had been treated for an injury, the hail and rain stopped for a while. The visitors continued to belie their lowly position as Lawton broke on the right and, from his cross, a superbly hit shot from Little hit a defender. The ball came out to Lane whose 20-yarder cleared the bar comfortably (28 mins). Aldershot were now enjoying more possession but without troubling Coburn in the Alty goal (35 mins). However, it was the Robins who won the next corner through Peyton (38 mins). This was cleared out to Peyton, but he lifted his shot over the bar.
After Mendes had fired narrowly wide, the Alty defence continued to work hard to keep Aldershot at bay. But they were grateful to see Harding shoot badly wide with only Coburn to beat, as the 45 minutes ended. Two minutes of added time changed nothing.
|Half-Time: ALDERSHOT TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
At the interval, Louie Soares came on in place of Gier for Aldershot, who kicked off the second half and soon started to apply some sustained pressure. An early corner was seen off as the sleet and hail returned. But Chalmers's nod wide was the nearest the hosts got to a goal at this stage (51 mins). Hudson's shot then cleared the bar from 18 yards as the Aldershot attacks continued but failed to hurt Altrincham. But then, on the hour mark, Alty had a great chance to score themselves when Little's cross from the right found Senior unmarked but Bull saved his shot.
Altrincham now brought on Battersby for O'Neill, who had played well (63 mins). With Battersby slotting into right midfield, Alty adopted a 4-4-2 formation with Little and Senior pushing forward. Alty threatened again when Senior turned well to unleash a fierce shot, which Bull could not hold. The now sticky pitch came to Bull's rescue, allowing him to re-gather the ball as Senior followed up (64 mins). Following a freekick decision, Lawton was booked for dissent (65 mins).
But as Alty looked to have weathered Aldershot's 15-minute onslaught from the start of the second half, referee Hopkins gave the Shots a freekick 24 yards out, just left of centre. This arose when Shotton seemed to mishead a clearance and fell, or was pushed, into the path of Hylton. With Coburn finalizing the position of the defensive wall, Davies hit a well-struck freekick into the top corner of the net, past Coburn's dive to his left (67 mins). Aldershot won two corners (73 and 74 mins) before Carlos Roca replaced Senior for the visitors (76 mins). Two minutes later, Joel Grant came on for Hudson. When Tinson pushed over an opponent, who had kicked him whilst off the pitch, Alty's captain became their fourth player to be cautioned (79 mins). A minute later, Sedgemore replaced Lane for Altrincham.
Despite the ticking-away of tlme, Alty's fans continued to give them strong vocal support. Their team could not, however, create any more clear openings. When the combative Hylton clashed with Young, Mr Hopkins took the easy way out and booked both men (88 mins). As the match drifted into four added minutes, Elvins replaced Davies (90+1 mins).
Another day, another narrow defeat for Altrincham, but this was a very creditable performance, a vast improvement on last week in a game in which Altrincham created at least as many clear-cut chances as the Shots. Monday's clash with Stafford Rangers now assumes even more importance in Altrincham's fight against relegation.
|Full-Time: ALDERSHOT TOWN 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|