ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 TORQUAY UNITED (0) 1
played on Saturday, 29 March 2008, at 3pm.
Above: Alty played 4-1-4-1 in the first half, with Val Owen sitting between the back-line and midfield, as shown in the picture. Behind Val are, from left-back to right-back, Lynch, Young, Tinson and Shotton, whilst in the midfield we see Peyton, Turnbull, Tansey and Lawton.
Alty fielded both their new loan signings (Turnbull and Tansey) and they were joined in midfield by Val Owen, making his first start since November. The Robins emerged with a deserved point against promotion-chasing Torquay thanks to Colin Little's 19th BSP goal of the season. Altrincham more than matched United in the first half but after the break the Gulls upped their game, despite rain which was, at times, torrential. They took the lead in the 56th minute when Hill's lob over Coburn from the left was turned against his own bar and into the net by the retreating Alty captain Darren Tinson. But Alty then brought on Joe O'Neill to assist lone-striker Little and within five minutes of the substitution the equalizer came. Little netted from 10 yards after debutant Turnbull's effort had been blocked. In the closing stages Alty might have snatched the points but the action continued after the final whistle. With the players leaving the pitch, the two "benches" becames involved in a protracted brawl in front of the Carole Nash Main Stand before order was finally restored.
REFEREE: Mr. A R Hendley
Altrincham started with a virtually new midfield. In addition to the debutant loan players, Greg Tansey and Paul Turnbull from Stockport County, Val Owen was starting his first competitive game of any kind since November 2007. Alty reverted to a 4-1-4-1 formation, Colin Little being the loan striker. Liam King was out injured after limping off on Easter Monday.
Torquay were without the suspended Jody Banim, who is on loan from Droylsden, whilst fellow striker Tim Sills was away on paternity leave.
Altrincham had played well dwon in Devon to secure a 1-1 draw at Plainmoor earlier this season but the teams went into this game with the Gulls still pressing for promotion and the hosts still battling to stay above the drop zone. It was the first time Torquay United had ever played at Moss Lane.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts shirts, black shorts and red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN; 16. Ryan SHOTTON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 4. Ryan LYNCH; 8. Val OWEN; 7. Robbie LAWTON, 14. Paul TURNBULL, 21. Greg TANSEY, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 15. Chris LANE, 19. Chris SENIOR, 23. Ryan TOULSON.
TORQUAY UNITED (All yellow): 1. Simon RAYNER; 7. Lee MANSELL, 6. Chris TODD, 25. Mark ELLIS, 3. Kevin NICHOLSON; 26. Chris ZEBROSKI, 24. Steve ADAMS, 14 Chris HARGREAVES (capt), 11. Kevin HILL; 20. Roscoe D'SANE, 10. Lee PHILLIPS. Subs: 2. Paul HINSHELWOOD, 5. Chris ROBERTSON, 9. ElliottBENYON, 16. Matt HOCKLEY, 21 Martin RICE (gk).
After a sunny morning in Altrincham the clouds had gathered before kick off and heavy rain was beginning to fall as the match got under way in a stiff breeze. Torquay started the match, attacking the Golf Road (Leighton Stand) End. Alty won a corner after barely more than a minute and with Ryan Shotton kept busy with three early long throws, and a second Alty corner coming in the third minute, it was the home side who were initially camped in the visitors' half. Indeed, both corners came in similar fashion when Young won headers from Shotton throws and, in each case, Colin Little had a resulting shot at goal diverted out of play by Ellis. Next, an agricultural challenge from Hargreaves on Turnbull enabled Altrincham to maintain their pressure with a freekick. Hargreaves soon conceded another freekick, for handball, as the game was punctuated by regular freekicks in the opening stages (8 mins). Two more long attacking throws from Shotton brought his tally to five by as early as the 11th minute.
At last Torquay got out of their half to some effect and won their first corner when Lynch did well to cut out Zebroski's cross from the right in the 12th minute. Following this a great surge forward up the right by Lawton from Little's pass was undone by a poor cross. The rain had now eased a bit as Torquay began to get into the match after their slow start. The Gulls now won two corners in succession, the first conceded by Young's fine covering tackle. Alty again brought all 10 outfield players back into their own box for the corners in this game. The second corner was taken short, leading to a swerving shot from the right which Coburn beat way with some difficulty at the near post (17 mins). Next, a Mansell cross from the right was nodded wide at the back post before some good build-up play by the Gulls ended with a poor cross by Mansell (21 mins). When Young gave away a freekick to the right of the Alty box it enabled Torquay to threaten again. With rain again pouring down, Young almost immediately transgressed once more and this time was booked by Mr. Hendley. From the freekick Nicholson drove a low shot just wide (23 mins).
Another Torquay corner arrived, which Coburn caught from Mansell's kick. A flowing Alty attacking move followed this and ended with Turnbull feeding Tansey whose shot went narrowly wide of Rayner's right post from 20 yards (27 mins). Torquay continued to win regular corners, with D'Sane now winning one with a deflected shot (29 mins). But after a 15-pass Alty move the home side won itself a corner, too. Tansey's flag-kick was taken comfortably by the 6ft 4inch Canadian keeper, Rayner (32 mins). And soon, Torquay won their sixth of the afternoon off Lynch from Adams's ball into the box (35 mins). But despite the regular corners there were few direct efforts on goal at either end. As half time approached Torquay enjoyed some sustained possession until a huge kick by Coburn almost got Little in on goal but Rayner just got to the ball first (40 mins).
When Young was fouled by D'Sane, the referee displayed the game's second yellow card and showed it to the visitors' striker (44 mins). A minute of added time produced a corner for Torquay from Mansell's deflected effort but half-time arrived with the game goalless and Altrincham having given a good account of themselves.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 TORQUAY UNITED 0|
At the interval there had been torrential rain but it had eased as Chris Lane came on to replace Val Owen in the midfield "hole". Presumably ninety minutes was proving too much to ask of Alty's veteran midfielder who had not started a game for four months. Alty kicked off towards the Golf Road but the visitors started the second half with an increased tempo and had the better of the opening stages of the half. Their flow of corners continued with four more coming in the opening eight minutes of the half. The second of these corners arrived when Tinson and Coburn got in a mix-up and the captain's outstretched leg almost diverted the ball into the net but, instead, it struck the side netting (50 mins). Rain was still falling steadily as Alty at last showed some impetus in this half but after a nicely-built move, Little was judged offside inside the box (54 mins).
Having narrowly avoided an own goal a few minutes earlier, Darren Tinson had less good fortune as the game went into its 56th minute. The ball came to the unmarked Hill on the left. As Coburn came towards him, the Torquay man lobbed the ball over the keeper from an acute angle and the retreating Tinson could only knock it against his own cross bar and into his own net as he attempted to clear it off the line. With the rain intensifying, Torquay enjoyed a few more minutes of their lead before Alty brought on Joe O'Neill to assist Colin Little up front (60 mins). Shotton moved to left-back and Lane to right-back as Alty switched to 4-4-2. O'Neill was soon proving his worth, winning a freekick within minutes of arriving on the pitch.
Tansey took the freekick well but Rayner saved equally well. After two more Torquay corners had been and gone Coburn started the ball going forward. O'Neill did well to make sure Torquay did not complete a half clearance from Lane's ball from half way and the ball was worked to the right from where it came to Turnbull whose effort was blocked inside the box. But it rebounded to Little who slotted it into the net for his 22nd goal of an injury-hit season, his 19th in the BSP - all the more remarkable as Alty's leading scorer has yet to start more than eight successive games for the Robins in the league during this season (65 mins).
Alty were fortunate soon after this when D'Sane fed Hill but he shot across, rather than at, goal before Torquay had two more shots blocked in succession inside the box (67 mins). O'Neill continued to impress for Alty as he set up Little for a shot which went wide from 22 yards (68 mins). Torquay then withdrew D'Sane and brought on Benyon (68 mins). With rain still sheeting down, Tinson, who otherwise had a good game, almost put through his own goal for the third time in the match as he again stretched out to poke the ball towards his own net but Coburn gathered it this time. A nice Alty move then ended with a Peyton shot being blocked (72 mins). More good Alty play ended with a fine strike from Turnbull which went narrowly wide from 25 yards, with O'Neill again instrumental in the build-up (73 mins).
Alty were now on top and when Shotton got in a good cross from the left O'Neill rose well but his header narrowly cleared the Torquay bar (75 mins). The heavy rain was beginning to impact on the pitch with water coming up when the ball hit it in one or two places. But considering the battering it had taken and, compared with Chester City just 30 miles away, where rain forced an abandonment his afternoon, the surface was holding up very well. However, Torquay came back at Alty and when Zebroski jinked into the right side of the box it took a good block from Coburn, at the cost of a corner, to keep the elegant Gulls' midfielder at bay (79 mins). Torquay had the better of the next few minutes and when a cross from Philips left Coburn stranded, Tinson did a fine job to clear a Hargreaves header off the line (82 mins).
After another foul by Zebroski, his fourth to be penalised this afternoon, he compounded his offence by trying to make out that Turnbull was shamming and tried to pull the injured player forcibly off the ground. Turnbull reacted angrily and the referee was diverted enough by this to fail to book Zebroski for the original offence, settling instead for a lecture to both players (83 mins). The rain now eased off a little as Alty was forced to wait by the referee before he allowed Senior to replace Peyton (86 mins). Soon, a fine ball over the defence from Turnbull set Senior chasing and he won a corner for Altrincham, but Rayner caught this from Tansey's kick from the right. Torquay won a last-minute corner from which the ball was bundled into the net but only after a foul on Coburn, which the referee spotted (90 mins). In a game totally devoid of intervention from either physio, four minutes of added time were announced, presumably for the substitutions. In this period Hargreaves headed a cross just wide as he was announced as the visitors' Man of the Match. Greg Young was a deserved winner of the Alty award.
But as play continued Benyon almost got free and then Torquay won a fortunate corner after Coburn was fouled and could not stop the ball going out of play. From the corner the ball got stuck in a goalmouth scramble involving half a dozen players and though the ref awarded Alty a freekick he stopped play after Alty had quickly taken it and Turnbull had raced towards half way with only two Torquay defenders between him and goal. Then, when Coburn retook the kick, Mr Hendley made him retake that, presumably for a rolling ball. The game then ended with Altrincham taking a well deserved point but losing ground to both Farsley and Northwich who won today. This was another good showing from Altrincham. Both debutants played well with Turnbull looking particularly useful.
As the players shook hands on the pitch all hell broke loose in front of the Main Stand. The two "benches" which had seemed to be reasonably amicable throughout the match were involved in a protracted brawl and then some of the players also got involved in a separate incident a few yards away. Eventually peace was restored but it was not an edifying sight whilst it lasted.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 TORQUAY UNITED 1|