Farsley Celtic will count themselves a little unfortunate to have lost Tuesday night's Setanta Shield match at Moss Lane, the Yorkshire side going down 4-2 on penalties after the game had gone to extra time. Coming little more than 48 hours after Altrincham had gone to the top of the Blue Square Premier form guide with their fifth win in six games, the Robins looked anything but pace setters for most of this match, which was largely played in heavy rain on a sodden pitch. It took a well driven freekick from 20 yards by Warren Peyton in the last period of added time to give Alty the lead, only for them to concede an equalizer when the wily Rory Prendergast's fine cross from the left was headed home by Penford on the stroke of full-time. Alty keeper Andy Ralph was the hero of the shoot out, saving two efforts but his Farsley counterpart Curtis Aspden may feel aggrieved that one of his own two penalty saves was ruled out for moving too early and Johnson was given a second attempt, which he converted. Alty's other successful spot-kickers were Peyton, Doughty and Danylyk but Densmore saw his effort saved.
REFEREE: Mr J Simpson
Alty had played barely 48 hours earlier but went into this Setanta Shield match on a run of seven unbeaten league and cup games. Rain had been falling all afternoon and it continued to pour through virtually the entire game. Though the pitch was obviously soaked, it stood up well to the deluge. The sides had met last year in the Blue Square Premier, when both the home and away matches ended in 1-1 draws.
Altrincham made only two changes to their winning team from Sunday. In goal Andy Ralph came in for Stuart Coburn and at the back, new loan signing Luke Waterfall, a tall young defender from Tranmere Rovers, came in for Chris Lane.
Celtic included a number of faces familiar to Alty fans. Amongst these, up front, was former Halifax striker Andy Campbell, whilst on the bench was Rory Prendergast, who used to play against us for Emley.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 13. Andy RALPH; 17. Luke WATERFALL, 4. Mark McGREGOR, 5. Greg YOUNG, 21. Shaun DENSMORE, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 19. Chris SENIOR, 9. Colin LITTLE, 18. Lee ELAM. Subs: 6. Kevin STREET, 14. Dale JOHNSON, 11. Warren PEYTON, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 15. Alex MEECHAN.
FARSLEY CELTIC (All blue): 1. Curtis ASPDEN; 2. Chris STABB, 5. James KNOWLES, 4. Amjad IQBAL (capt), 3. Ryan SERRANT; 11. Lee TUCK, 8. Dominic KRIEF, 6. Tom PENFORD, 7. Matthew JAMES; 9. Andy CAMPBELL, 10. Jake SPEIGHT. Subs: 12. James WALSHAW, 13. Chris BACKHOUSE, 14. Jamie PRICE, 15. Rory PRENDERGAST, 16. Stephen DOWNES.
Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road End and in a slow start to the game the earliest incident of note came when Lee Elam caught the ball before it had gone out of play and conceded a freekick. It was Farsley who had the better of the opening stages and took until the 12th minute for Altrincham to make their first decent move when Danylyk won the ball and fed Elam whose shot from the right was beaten out by Aspden. But manager Graham Heathcote was not happy with his side. He pointed to his watch, soon afterwards, saying "Fifteen minutes gone and we've not caused them much trouble!" A few minutes later Elam fed Doughty, whose cross was met by Senior's header which forced a decent stop from Aspden (19 mins).
Farsley themselves went close as the lively Speight turned past Young and McGregor but fired narrowly over from the edge of the box (20 mins). The rain got even harder as McGregor conceded a freekick just outside the box but this came to nothing. Celtic threatened again when a fine run by Campbell up the left led to a cross which was scrambled away. Alty were more fortunate soon after this when Speight got behind Young and forced a fine save from Ralph (28 mins). "We're all over the place" the Alty manager shouted to his team and he had a point.
Alty continued to stutter until Danylyk's fine shot from25 yards just cleared the Farsley bar (34 mins). And then Serrant had to be alert to cover Senior's advance towards goal (37 mins). Just before the break, Farsley won a corner but in the added time at the end of the half, Altrincham gained a corner through Little. But the interval arrived, with the rain still coming down and the score goalless.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FARSLEY CELTIC 0|
Altrincham made all three substitutions at the interval but it was neither Kevin Street nor Alex Meechan, neither of whom has seen much action recently, who came on. Rather, it was Joe O'Neill, Dale Johnson and Warren Peyton who replaced Colin Little, Chris Senior and Lee Elam respectively. Colin would therefore have to wait for at least another game to reach his 100th goal for Altrincham. Farsley also made a change as Price replaced Stabb. Speight also appeared in a new shirt, numbered 17, instead of his number ten top.
Altrincham once again were slow to start, as they had been in the first half. It took till the 59th minute for the hosts to get in a decent shot in the second half, the effort coming from 20 yards by O'Neill. It was saved by Aspden. Farsley won a corner (66 mins) before Campbell fired wide from 20 yards. There was then a comedy of errors by Altrincham. Ralph’s goalkick fell short of half way where it came off Young, looping back towards the Alty goal. McGregor then miskicked allowing Speight to get in against Ralph. The striker's attempted lob came back off the outside of the post to give Altrincham a reprieve (70 mins). Soon after this Young was booked for a foul on Campbell (72 mins).
Johnson was beginning to cause a nuisance to the Farsley defence and it was he who went close with a shot after 74 minutes. But when Iqbal made a rare mistake, slicing the ball into the air, Alty could not capitalize as Aspden gathered the ball at the second attempt. Alty won a freekick 25 yards out with ten minutes left, following which Young nodded a header wide, as the rain eased off. Altrincham had a let off at the other end when Matthew got free but shot wide from 16 yards (82 mins). Four minutes from the end of the ninety, Farsley brought on Walshaw for Matthew and as play drifted towards the final minute, Danylyk was booked for an alleged foul (89 mins). Two minutes of added time made no difference and the crowd which had endured a less than enthralling 90 minutes was condemned to another half hour.
|90 mins: ALTRINCHAM 0 FARSLEY CELTIC 0|
Right: Alty take a breather towards the end of the game.
The first period of extra time started a bit more brightly as the game became more open. Firstly, Johnson won a corner before Farsley did the same at the other end (97 mins). Farsley finally brought on Rory Prendergast, the former Accrington and Emley winger, who presumably was not fully fit (99 mins). For the second time in the game Danylyk produced a superb long- range shot, this time his 25-yarder forced Aspden to make a fine save, tipping the ball onto the bar and out for a corner (101 mins). This was wasted and then Peyton became Altrincham's third booking when he justifiably protested that he had been fouled but no freekick was given (103 mins). The break in extra time arrived with the score still 0-0.
When play restarted Johnson forced a save with a low shot from 22 yards before O'Neill forced a good save from Doughty’s feed (109 mins). Peyton, who was having a mixed game, then fired in a shot which was handled to give Alty a freekick 25 yards out left of centre. Peyton drove the freekick superbly into the keeper's bottom left-hand corner to break the deadlock (111 mins). For the next few minutes it looked as if the game was over as Altrincham at last dominated proceedings. When Waterfall played a superb 70 yard pass diagonally to the left, Peyton fed O'Neill who forced a save (115 mins). But with a couple of minutes left, Farsley rallied themselves. Speight got free in the box and Ralph had to do well to block his effort (119 mins). And then a clearance from Aspden cleared Densmore at right-back and fell to Prendergast. He got in a superb cross from the left which Penford headed firmly home from the centre of the box to send the game into a penalty shoot out (120 mins).
|Full Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 FARSLEY CELTIC 1|
The spot kicks were taken at the Carole Nash End, with Alty going first. Peyton scored impressively before Prendergast replied equally confidently, to make it 1-1. Johnson's kick was then saved by Aspden, who had been jigging along his line and referee Simpson ordered a retake to Alty's relief. This time Johnson narrowly beat the keeper to put Alty 2-1 up. Ralph, whose technique was to wait till the taker committed himself, reaped his reward when he saved well from Knowles, going to his left. Matt Doughty then drove his shot down the middle as the keeper dived to the left so Alty now led 3-1 on penalties.
Dominic Krief then saw Ralph make another fine save, to his left but Shaun Densmore also had his kick saved to leave the score at 3-1. Price narrowed the margin to 3-2 before Alty's last taker, Danylyk came up to the mark. His shot was touched by the keeper but had the power to reach the back of the net and confirm Altrincham's victory, 4-2.
This was a far from convincing performance from Altrincham but in their defence they had had 90 minutes in the hot sun beating Oxford United barely 48 hours earlier and they may have been a factor in their showing. As well as progressing to Round Three, where the majority of BSP clubs enter the competition, the club won £3,000 for this victory, a valued sum in these difficult economic times. And the unbeaten run is now eight league and cup games, sveen of which have been won.
|Penalty Shoot Out: ALTRINCHAM 4 FARSLEY CELTIC 2|