ALTRINCHAM (0) 4 VAUXHALL MOTORS (1) 2
after extra time, 2-2 after 90 minutes.
played on Tuesday, 16 September 2008, at 7.45pm.
Altrincham were pushed all the way by Vauxhall Motors and needed extra time to overcome their Blue Square North opponents. The Motormen went ahead on the half-hour mark after Andy Ralph had done well to beat out two shots, only for Karl Noon to score from the rebound. The introduction of Joe O'Neill with Chris Senior at the interval finally did the trick as Joe netted twice but not before Greg Young had also been brought on, playing as an auxiliary striker, alongside Chris Senior.
O'Neill made it 1-1 in the 69th minute and then appeared to have won the game, with eight minutes left, when James Coates, the visitors' keeper, failed to hold his low shot. But, just two minutes later, Alty's defence was cut open on the Motors' right, allowing Chris Noone to score from close range when Ralph was unable to hold Owens's effort. So, the game went to extra time but it was not till the eventful final period that the game was decided.
Firstly, Vauxhall "scored" from a freekick when Ralph was unable to hold the ball and it was put into the net, but this was ruled out for offside, then Greg Young scored from six yards after a McGregor shot had been blocked in the 114th minute. Finally, with virtually the last kick of the game, Chris Senior span clear of a marker on half way and sped up the left. A perfectly weighted return pass from O'Neill set Chris in on goalkeeper Coates and, though driven to the right of goal, the Alty striker scored a fine goal (120 mins). Just 128 people watched the game.
REFEREE: Mr W D Smallwood
Graham Heathcote pulled no punches in his programme notes, where he expressed his disappointment at the performances of several of his squad.
There was a predictably low gate for this Cheshire Senior Cup clash because competition rules required full admission prices to be charged and the opposition, Vauxhall Motors, have low home gates themselves, so visiting fans were minimal in number. Damp weather, live European football on terrestrial TV at the same time and Alty's recent form all added to the situation.
Altrincham included three players starting their first competitive game for the club, (Ralph, Densmore, Tierney). A number of players who had not been regular league starters recently and might have expected to start were again on the bench.
Vauxhall included several players with Alty connections. In goal was James Coates, an Alty trialist this summer; up front was Pat McFadden, the former Alty striker, and on the bench was Rio Nelson, the former Alty Reserves' player.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 13. Andy RALPH; 21, Shaun DENSMORE, 2. Chris LANE, 4. Mark McGREGOR, 20. Paul TIERNEY; 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 6. Kevin STREET, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 11. Warren PEYTON; 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Chris DENHAM. Subs:19. Chris SENIOR, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 5. Greg YOUNG, 15. Alex MEECHAN.
VAUXHALL MOTORS: (All pale blue): 1. James COATES; 2. Lee OWENS, 4. Ged BRANNAN (capt), 5. Alan GRIFFITHS, 3. Jonathan EGERTON; 7. James HOLDEN, 6. Tom HANNIGAN, 8. Mattie BURKE, 11. Chris NOONE; 9. Pat McFADDEN, 10. Thomas ROONEY. Subs: 12. Karl NOON, 14. Anthony WRIGHT, 15. Rio NELSON, 16. Jordan HOLMES.
Altrincham kicked off before the sparse crowd, attacking the Carole Nash end but it was the visitors who had the first chance. The ball came to McFadden inside the box who turned well but could not find the force to beat Ralph. Indeed, the young former Alty striker was looking very sharp on his return to Moss Lane. Indeed, the visitors continued to look brighter overall than Alty as a good cross from Holden was cleared to Burke, who lofted his shot over the bar (5 mins). Vauxhall continued to be first to the 50-50 balls as Alty played with a lack of confidence after their recent run of reverses. When The Motors threatened again, Ralph resorted to a two-handed fist into the air to clear the danger but soon more good work from McFadden and Holden yielded a corner for the Motormen (12 mins).
With Altrincham yet to trouble James Coates, Vauxhall almost scored as McFadden got round Andy Ralph but was driven wide of goal and, from the left, lifted his shot over the bar (18 mins). Ralph was soon in action again, punching a freekick clear. At last Alty threatened as Denham got into the Vauxhall box but was blocked off (21 mins). With McFadden down needing treatment, Alty manager Graham Heathcote pointed out to his team that they had had only one man in the box and as the play remained suspended he moved Street to the right flank and Lawton to the centre, with instructions to break forward up the middle whenever the ball was on the Alty wing. Though McFadden hobbled on he had to come off soon afterwards, being subbed by Karl Noon (26 mins) - a big disappointment to the former Alty striker.
It was debutant right-back Shaun Densmore who sparked some life into Altrincham when he surged up the right, playing a one-two with Denham before firing in a fierce shot which Coates did well to beat out and then gather - this was Alty's first real shot on goal (28 mins). At the other end, Ralph did well to hold Karl Noon's well-struck effort. Soon after this, Vauxhall broke from half way and, though the Alty keeper made two excellent parries, the ball broke free to Rooney, Wayne's cousin, who struck the ball into the net to give his side the lead on the half-hour mark.
The goal did prompt some reaction from Alty, with Street feeding Lawton but his shot was blocked (37 mins). Denham looked Alty's most potent threat but he was getting little change out of the Vauxhall defence. A cross from Danylyk then allowed Lawton another shot which the keeper parried before Denham got into the box but, without any support nearby, he fired over the bar (40 mins). After a mistake by Griffiths, Brannan played Denham rather than the ball and conceded a freekick and gained a deserved booking (42 mins). A fine ball from Street then found Denham who tried to lift a chip over the keeper but Coates caught the ball above his head. In the one added-minute Peyton and Street fed Densmore but his low cross from the right was held by Coates, to leave the visitors a goal to the good at the interval, a lead they deserved.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 VAUXHALL MOTORS 1|
Altrincham made a double change at the interval with O'Neill and Senior coming on for Little and Peyton. Densmore again got forward and the ball fell to Street but he sliced his shot so wide that it almost reached the corner flag. Chris Noone, who had looked dangerous on the Motors' wing then prompted Danylyk to concede a corner for which Alty pulled all eleven men back. Lane got the ball clear. A great 45-yard pas from Street, now operating on the left rather than the right flank, led to a decent Alty move but no serious threat to the Vauxhall goal resulted. Brannan was lucky just to get a lecture when the already booked defender transgressed again, leaving Lawton injured. The freekick, 30 yards out, right of goal was taken by Danylyk and found Lane, who rose well at the back post. His nod down was put into the net by O'Neill but was ruled out for offside (57 mins).
Play drifted on fairly evenly until Hannigan was booked for a foul on Denham (65 mins). Two minutes later Greg Young came on for Street, the big centre-half joining Chris Senior up front as Joe O'Neill moved to the left (67 mins). O'Neill, hardworking as ever, then saw a shot beaten out by Coates and from Senior's follow-up, Coates produced a second fine block (68 mins). The Vauxhall keeper then made a good save from another O'Neill shot, from Tierney's feed. Soon, Tierney was involved again, with Senior. He got the ball to O'Neill, whose shot rose into the roof of the net to give Alty an equalizer that their improved play just about merited (69 mins).
Soon, Chris Noone then got past the Alty defence but produced a poor final ball. Owens was fortunate that when, to use a footballing euphemism, he "raised his hands" against Tierney, it was not seen by the officials. Soon afterwards, Lawton fed Denham whose shot went narrowly wide (71 mins). There was plenty of end to end football now and, soon, Denham advanced and got in a great cross shot which was beaten out for a corner. Young timed his run well but nodded the corner-ball just over the bar (72 mins). Following a Vauxhall corner, Lawton now put Senior free but he blasted his shot over the bar as the home side belatedly got on top. Next an O'Neill shot was parried before Senior fired across goal (77 mins). Vauxhall then brought on Jordan Holmes for Egerton (79 mins). Next, Young had a shot well saved and finally the pressure told as O'Neill fired Alty's second goal, his low shot entering the net, despite Coates geting his hand to it, low to his left (82 mins).
But what Graham Heathcote described audibly as "schooboy stuff" from his side allowed Vauxhall to make it 2-2 just two minutes after Alty had taken the lead. Karl Noon found Owens in space on the Alty left. His low cross was parried by Ralph and Chris Noone knocked the ball home from close range (84 mins). Vauxhall soon threatened again from an almost replica move up the Alty left which had produced their equalizer but, this time, Ralph managed to get enough on the shot from the right by Noon to enable the ball to be cleared (87 mins). Next, Danylyk drove an Alty freekick wide before a superb tackle by Owens stopped O'Neill's attack. But play was now really open as Vauxhall's Karl Noone got into the Alty box and forced a save from Ralph at the near post, to concede a corner, as the game went into added time. Though the visitors enjoyed the better of the three added minutes, the now entertaining game went into extra time.
After Senior had threatened in the Vauxhall box, the ball broke to Danylyk whose fine shot from edge of the box went only narrowly wide (93 mins). Altrincham were now taking the initiative but they almost threw the game away just before the break in added time as Denham was dispossessed and Vauxhall broke speedily, with more attackers than Alty had defenders. The home side were saved by a poor final ball. A corner resulted from which Burke fired a fierce shot past Ralph only for Danylyk, on the goal-line, to make a superb clearing header (102 mins). At the other end, Young headed narrowly over the bar (104 mins) before the sides changed ends for the final 15 minutes of added time.
From a Ralph punt, Senior shot wide (108 mins) before Densmore was booked for a trip on Hannigan. The Alty manager then instructed his players to get a man on the post to help to defend the resulting freekick. The players presumably did not hear him as the freekick was fired in, Ralph was unable to hold it, and Vauxhall put the ball in the net. Fortunately for Altrincham, Vauxhall were given offside (110 mins). But Vauxhall were still dangerous, with Young making a fine block from Chris Noon, only to find himself harshly booked for his efforts. The freekick was from a similar position to the one a few moments earlier and again Graham Heathcote reminded his players to put a man on the post; again they failed to heed his advice but this time the kick hit the defensive wall (112 mins).
At the other end, a Senior shot was deflected across goal and just evaded Young at the far post but went for a corner. This came out to McGregor whose shot was underhit but the ball came to Young who scored from six yards to put Alty 3-2 up (114 mins). At this point Wright replaced a limping Chris Noone. Young now moved back to left-back to help defend Alty's lead, with O'Neill rejoining Senior up front. Both sides continued to attack but Vauxhall forced Alty into some desperate late defending until Senior span brilliantly past his marker on the left touchline just inside the Vauxhall half. He sped up the wing, fed O'Neill, whose first time return pass was superbly weighted, leaving Senior to draw the keeper and from right of goal, knock the ball into the net to give Altrincham a flattering two-goal margin (120 mins). It was virtually the last kick of a match which had turned into an open and entertaining game after Alty's tame start. Overall, the home side's improvement from the second half onwards just about earned them their win.
The main positives tonight were the form of Joe O'Neill and Chris Senior, whilst at the back Shaun Densmore had a promising debut, particularly when going forward. Andy Ralph also made several important saves in a very open game.