EBBSFLEET UNITED (1) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
played on Saturday, 19 April 2008, at 3pm.
Altrincham could have no complaints after they lost to an Ebbsfleet side showing few signs of their taxing fixture schedule. Ebbsfleet went ahead in the 39th minute when McPhee scored after Alty failed to clear Charles's cross from the left. Warren Peyton gifted Ebbsfleet their second with an underhit backpass which was picked up by Akinde. When he made a hash of his chance, Long sidefooted the loose ball home (53 mins). Little and Senior each wasted a great chance to pull a goal back, but in the final stages Alty rarely looked like getting back in the game.
REFEREE: Mr Darren Sheldrake
Alty were without injured left back Ryan Lynch, so Chris Lane came in to the side in that position. Chris Senior was preferred to Joe O'Neill up front. The Fleet had had a very heavy fixture schedule so had rung the changes again to prevent fatigue.
Alty started the game in 19th position and were desperate to put a gap between them and the bottom four.
EBBSFLEET UNITED:(Red shirts, white shorts and red socks): 1. Lance CRONIN; 2. Peter HAWKINS, 5. James SMITH, 6. Paul McCARTHY, 24. Darius CHARLES; 18. Luke MOORE, 25. Michael BOSTWICK, 14. Neil BARRETT, 8. Stacy LONG; 19. John AKINDE, 12. Chris McPHEE. Subs: 21. Sam MOTT, 4. Gary McDONALD, 10. Chukki ERIBENNE, 11. Charley HEARN, 17. George PURCELL.
ALTRINCHAM Pale and dark blue shirts, pale blue shorts and socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 16. Ryan SHOTTON, 5. Darren TINSON (capt), 10. Greg YOUNG, 15. Chris LANE; 14. Greg TANSEY, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 21. Paul TURNBULL, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR; Subs: 2. Steve ASPINALL, 3. Gary SCOTT, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 17. Richard BATTERSBY, 20. Carlos ROCA.
Above: Colin Little has just been fouled in this picture from today's game.
Ebbsfleet had the better of an undistinguished start to the game in which Alty's defence seemed a little shaky. Even the normally reliable Stuart Coburn dropped a routine cross but the 75 or so away supporters remained in good voice (9 mins). However, it was the visitors who won the match's first corner (11 mins). Yet still neither side created a clear chance, the nearby local radio commentator describing the game as "End to end but not much in the middle".
Alty had a scare when Coburn's attempt to clear the ball, low to Little, was driven instead into the back of a Ebbsfleet player, but Alty got the ball back (18 mins). Bostwick then shot, very wide from 20 yards. Following that, Barrett fired narrowly wide. Next, after Coburn had been bundled over, Akinde's resulting cross was poor, to Alty's relief (21 mins). Coburn soon had to make a fine block from McPhee as Alty remained on the back foot (22 mins). Ebbsfleet were now well on top but when Young was penalized for holding just outside the front edge of the box, Long and McPhee messed up a rehearsed set-piece, with Long putting his shot well over the bar (24 mins).
After Senior had been caught offside, Young failed to clear Hawkins's freekick, but McPhee's resulting shot was blocked. A fine Tansey tackle saw off another attack before Little won Alty a corner (27 mins). At the other end, Cronin had to come out of his box to clear and then Alty almost scored when good work from Senior on the left led to Little's cross to the back post, where Tansey was just prevented from turning the ball into the net by a defender, who conceded a corner (34 mins).
Cronin, who had a very jittery game in the Fleet goal, fumbled a Peyton cross to give a corner to Alty, which was immediately followed by a second. Little and Senior then combined for Tansey to head at goal but Charles cleared the effort. But just as Alty looked to be beginning to hold their own, they conceded a goal. It came when Bostwick passed to Charles, whose cross from the left was only half-cleared by Young. The ball came to McPhee, who placed a low shot into the net, to Coburn's right from around 12 yards out (39 mins).
Two minutes later, Tansey poked an effort over the bar for Alty from 20 yards (41 mins). Half-time arrived with Alty facing an uphill struggle.
|Half-Time: EBBSFLEET UNITED 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Ebbsfleet kicked off the second half in drizzly rain, attacking the clubhouse end. When, on the edge of the box, Tinson appeared to hold Akinde, as the striker threatened to latch onto Cronin's long kick, he was fortunate not to concede a freekick. Even so, Akinde got in a shot but the advancing Coburn held his attempted lob (50 mins).
Alty now sent Shotton up front, so Peyton moved to left-back and Lane switched to right-back in a 4-3-3 formation. Immediately Tansey nodded on a Coburn kick to set Senior free, but his shot cleared the bar (52 mins). But, then Altrincham committed suicide. After a Lane freekick for a foul by Charles on Little had been cleared, Peyton badly underhit an attempted pass back to Coburn from 20 yards out, wide-left, the ball going to Akinde. The striker made a hash of his chance but the ball rebounded out to the edge of the box, where Long drove it into the net to make it 2-0 (53 mins). This defensive error was then compounded by two bad misses by Alty's strikers. Firstly after a Little freekick had hit the wall from 25 yards, Peyton's resulting cross was dropped by Cronin to Little, who jinked to make space before hitting his shot disappointingly over the bar from 15 yards. The second miss moments later was more glaring. A dreadful mistake by Fleet right-back Hawkins let in Senior who, with only Cronin to beat, lifted it badly over the bar before pulling his shirt over his head in embarrassment (57 mins). A third piece of poor shooting followed three minutes later when Tansey fired wildly over the bar (60 mins). From 0-2 down, Alty could have gone 3-2 up in a space of five minutes had they converted their chances.
Ebbsfleet now made a double switch as Eribenne and Hearn replaced Akinde and Barrett respectively (63 mins). But the Alty chances kept coming; Peyton's excellent freekick from 30 yards was well-headed towards goal by Young, only for Cronin to make a flying save, to his right, at the cost of a corner. Alty now brought on Roca on the left for Tansey (67 mins).
But after Altrincham's inspired spell, which had produced four good second-half chances, Ebbsfleet began to contain the visitors better until Senior won a corner (74 mins). This was cleared to Roca and, from his cross, Shotton beat Cronin in the air to head the ball into the net, but it was ruled out for offside (75 mins). Shotton was injured in the process but resumed after treatment.
O'Neill now replaced Senior for Alty (78 mins). The Fleet raised their game as Moore got into the box to win a corner. After this, yet another error from Cronin saw him miskick badly but Roca, wide to the left of goal failed to take advantage, miscontrolling the ball to concede a goalkick. Steve Aspinall become Alty's last sub, replacing Turnbull in central midfield (82 mins). After getting booked for clattering Eribenne (86 mins), Aspinall made the first of three superb tackles in the closing minutes as Ebbsfleet pressed forward. They replaced Long with Purcell (87 mins) before the game went into three added minutes, during which Young was booked for kicking the ball away. But Alty did not look like scoring in the closing stages and their unhappiness in defeat was compounded by news of last-minute wins for rivals Northwich and Weymouth, who both also have a game in hand. Whatever happens in those games, to be played on Tuesday night, next Saturday's game at Weymouth will have plenty riding on its outcome.
|Full-Time: EBBSFLEET UNITED 2 ALTRINCHAM 0|