BURTON ALBION (0) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
played on Tuesday, 8 April 2008, at 7.45pm.
Altrincham came so close to taking a vital point but lost to a goal in the ninetieth minute scrambled home by a combination of Brayford and Clare, following a Gilroy corner. After Alty had kept Burton at bay in the first half, the Brewers had taken the lead in the 68th minute when Tansey lost possession on the Alty left and from the edge of the box Harrad netted. Young levelled for Alty in the 80th minute when goalkeeper Deeney failed to hold a long throw from Shotton. The Brewers deserved their win but the manner of the defeat was a sickener for a hard-working Alty side which has now lost 14 games by a single goal.
REFEREE: Mr. Jock Waugh
Val Owen was Alty's only injury exclusion. But Chris Senior was preferred to Joe O'Neill up front for this game. The on-loan Greg Tansey started on the right rather than in central midfield where he had played his two previous games. Instead Robbie Lawton partnered Paul Turnbull in the centre.
Although veteran keeper Kevin Poole had returned from injury in last night's Birmingham Senior Cup match for the Brewers, tonight he was only on the bench, as was Darren Stride.
Burton had played a Birmingham Senior Cup match 24 hours before this match, losing 5-0 to a Birmingham City reserve side, but several key players had been rested for that game so that the Brewers could push for a play-off place tonight against Altrincham. The pitch at the Pirelli has attracted a fair amount of criticism since the stadium opened and tonight quite rightly so with the strip in front of the main stand in very poor condition. Burton had suffered a surprise reverse in their last home league game and over recent weks had not been at their best. Altruncham for their part arrived on the back of two drawn games and with only three games left after tonight it was important that they did not leave empty-handed if they were to keep out of the bottom four.
BURTON ALBION: (Yellow shirts, black shorts and socks): 30. Saul DEENEY, 2. Andy CORBETT (capt), 17. John BRAYFORD, 3. Aaron WEBSTER, 25. Paul HURST; 31. Matt WILLIAMS, 24. Michael SIMPSON, 6. John McGRATH, 11. Keith GILROY; 10. Daryl CLARE, 14. Shaun HARRAD. Subs: 1. Kevin POOLE, 4. Mark GREAVES, 7. Darren STRIDE, 8. Marc GOODFELLOW, 12. Danny HOLMES.
ALTRINCHAM (Pale and dark blue shirts, pale blue shorts and socks) ALTY: 1. Stuart COBURN; 16. Ryan SHOTTON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 4. Ryan LYNCH; 14. Greg TANSEY, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 21. Paul TURNBULL, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR. Subs: 3. Gary SCOTT, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 15. Chris LANE, 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 20. Carlos ROCA.
Alty kicked off defending the away end where, once more, Alty's travelling supporters was in really good voice even though the game got off to a fairly quiet and even start, punctuated by a series of freekicks. Burton then began to apply a bit of pressure and when Clare went down in the box under Young's challenge, some referees would have pointed to the spot but Mr Waugh did not (11 mins). Alty had a half-chance when Peyton got in a good cross from the left but Little's header from the edge of the box was comfortably saved (15 mins).
After a cool dribble into his own box by Coburn, his counterpart, Deeney, had to be equally smart to reach Lawton's ball ahead of Senior (18 mins). With the home crowd still subdued, Altrincham continued to hold their own. When Webster caught Lawton with a clash of heads as the Alty man won a midfield header, it was Webster who both conceded a freekick and came off worse, cutting open his head. Both men continued after treatment, following which Alty won a corner on their right. Following this, Shotton's glancing header from Lynch's cross from the right just evaded Young at the back post (25 mins). Deeney was then fortunate to clear a ball outside his box with his thigh as the sides continued to cancel each other out with solid defending. Having committed a foul, Webster then had to go off to have his bleeding head wound staunched. From the rehearsed freekick, just outside the box, Little lifted his shot over the bar (30 mins).
Young then conceded a freekick 25 yards out in a central position which Clare drove into the wall, striking Chris Senior on the head. There were no clear chances in the next few minutes as Alty did well to contain Gilroy and Williams on the flanks. In the 40th minute, Harrad received the ball in space, wide of goal to the right, but Coburn rushed out to block his effort, in the process being injured by the inrushing Williams. Stuart received lengthy treatment to his head from Sean Riley before he could continue with a goalkick (40 mins). At this point, off the ball, Williams went down for treatment, apparently caused by the tackle on Coburn. Soon afterwards as Shotton slipped, it took good covering from Young to see off the dangerous Gilroy, who was giving Shotton a busy evening. A wild left-foot shot over the bar by Williams was immediately followed by his substitution, Goodfellow being his replacement (44 mins). Burton won a corner when Shotton halted Gilroy's advance and two more followed in the three minutes of added time. But the interval arrived with Altrincham having played well to keep the score level.
|Half-Time: BURTON ALBION 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
HT "There are three points here for the taking" said the matchday announcer as the second half got under way, with Webster taking to the field with a substantial head-bandage. Shotton was kept busy taking a number of long throws whilst, on the other side of Alty's back-line, Lynch was also having a good game. Alty survived a scare when Coburn was unable to hold on to a cross, before Senior had to go off for treatment to a leg injury, leaving his side with ten men for a few minutes.
Burton were keeping the pressure on Alty and Clare shot only narrowly wide, following good work by Goodfellow (53 mins). Senior then returned but was soon substituted by O'Neill (58 mins). Altrincham were not looking like scoring at this stage and were pleased to see Goodfellow shoot at Coburn from 20 yards, following a fine advance up the right (61 mins). Burton continued to press but it was Alty who now went close when O'Neill, Tansey and Little fed Peyton, whose well-struck left-footed shot forced Deeney to dive full-length to his left to save (64 mins). But the Brewers continued to press and finally got their breakthrough. It came as Tansey on the Alty right, 20 yards out, let the ball run as he turned to clear, unaware of an opponent behind him. Possession was lost, Gilroy worked the ball to Harrad, who from the edge of the box, fired a rising shot into the net (68 mins). Tansey suffered two further blows as he was booked for a foul almost immediately afterwards and then substituted by Battersby as Alty's right midfielder (72 mins).
Play continued relatively uneventfully for five minutes until Carlos Roca came on as Altrincham's next substitute, replacing Warren Peyton on the Alty left. Warren hared off the field when his number was shown, which amused the Burton fans who had earlier booed as the limping Chris Senior had walked slowly to the touchline before Burton's goal. Altrincham had not been much of a threat going forward in the second half but they now got back on level terms through a Burton mistake. A second successive long-throw, from the right by Ryan Shotton, came off Little but was dropped by goalkeeper Deeney who collided with a defender as he went for the ball. This allowed Alty centre-back Greg Young to score and make it 1-1 (80 mins).
After the goal Tinson had to make a fine block for his side but generally Altrincham had the better of the next few minutes before Nigel Clough withdrew Hurst and brought on Darren Stride (85 mins). Altrincham looked fairly likely to hold onto their point with time approaching the 90th minute. But then Harrad got in a replica shot of his earlier goal from almost the identical spot on the front edge of the Alty box. This time Coburn produced a magnificent save, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner. With the game now in the nintieth minute McGrath nodded on Gilroy's corner, from the Burton left, where Clare poked it towards goal. Though the effort came down off the bar, it had crossed the line before an Alty defender (?Battersby) punched the ball out of the net. Though the tannoy gave the goal to Brayford, it appeared to be Clare who had scored and it was he who received his team-mates' congratulations. For Altrincham it was a heart-breaking moment after coming so close to taking a vital point. Three minutes of added time failed to change the score and Burton were enabled to continue their pursuit of the play-offs whilst for Altrincham just three games remain to get themselves out of the bottom four, into which they dropped after this defeat.
Altrincham gave a good account of themselves in this game but lacked the necessary punch going forward. At the back there were fine performances all round, notably from Greg Young and Ryan Lynch. Unfortunately for Altrincham, the Burton defence, which had been the target of recent criticism from Nigel Clough, chose tonight to perform at a high level.
|Full-Time: BURTON ALBION 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|