Cheshire Senior Cup, 3rd Round match
played on Tuesday, 11 November 2008, at 7.45pm.


Two early goals secured Altrincham's place in the Cheshire Senior Cup semi-finals at a wind-swept and rain-lashed Bower Fold in this CSC quarter-final. Alty had the benefit of playing down the slope with the gusty wind behind them in the first half and they made the most of it in the opening 15 minutes. The first goal arrived in the fifth minute when Meechan's close-range volley from Elam's cross from the right was beaten out but Warren Peyton played the ball back in from the left for Johnson to score.

Anthony Danylyk made it 2-0 on the quarter-hour when Alty did well again on the right. Johnson and Peyton combined to lay the ball off for the midfielder and Danylyk drove it low into the net, just inside Phillips's right-hand post. Stalybridge showed plenty of effort but a combination of indifferent forward play and a solid display at the back from Altrincham kept them at bay. In particular, debutant defender James Smith had a fine game alongside Luke Waterfall in an Alty side showing six changes in the starting line-up from the eleven who started last Saturday. It was also good to see Val Owen complete 70 minutes on his return to the side.


  • 5 mins: Dale JOHNSON (Stalybridge Celtic 0 Altrincham 1)
  • 15 mins: Anthony DANYLYK (Stalybridge Celtic 0 Altrincham 2)

    REFEREE: Mr R J Jones (Higher Bebington)



    Altrincham had won a pre-season friendly at the Bower Fold this year but in competitive matches it was some 15 years since their last victory at Stalybridge.


    Altrincham made six changes from Saturday's starters; in came Luke Waterfall and new signing Jamie Smith at the back. Val Owen made his first appearance since last season, after recovering from a knee injury. Up front, Johnson, Elam and Meechan all came into the starting eleven.

    Stalybridge included two ex-Robins in Steve Torpey and Richard Battersby whilst on the bench was a third, striker Lee Ellington.


    STALYBRIDGE CELTIC (Blue shirts, shorts and white socks): 1. Paul PHILLIPS; 2. Ashley WOOLISCROFT, 4. Tom SHARPE, 3. Rhys MEYNELL, 6. Andrew SMART; 11. Richard BATTERSBY, 8. Keith BRIGGS, 5. Terry BARWICK, 7. Steve TORPEY; 10. Nathan JOYNES, 9. Matty BARLOW. Subs: 12. Greg WILKINSON, 14. Nick PLATT, 15. Lee ELLINGTON, 16. Barrie KEELING, 17. Chris WILLIAMS.

    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 13. Andy RALPH; 17. Luke WATERFALL, 22. James SMITH, 2. Chris LANE, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 8. Val OWEN, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 11. Warren PEYTON; 15. Alex MEECHAN, 14. Dale JOHNSON, 18. Lee ELAM. Subs: 4. Mark McGREGOR, 5. Greg YOUNG, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR.


    The game kicked off in a stiff, biting wind and with rain starting to fall. It was Celtic who had to face the gale and also play up the slope, so it was perhaps predictable that Alty would score first. The breakthrough came early, in the fifth minute, when a ball up the right skimmed off Smart's head to Johnson who knocked it on to Elam, who advanced on goal before clipping a cross from the right by-line to Meechan. His close-range volley was well beaten out by the former Droylsden keeper, Phillips. But the ball went out to the left to Peyton and he fed it inside to Johnson and the tall striker found the back of the net (5 mins). As the rain strengthened, Celtic won the game's first corner but Alty soon threatened again when Meechan got in a cross from the right (11 mins). At the Alty end, Andy Ralph then showed his mastery of the windy conditions as he confidently stood his ground to allow a spinning ball to bounce back over an opponent into his arms (13 mins).

    Steve Torpey got in a good shot from 25 yards which narrowly cleared the bar but a good Alty move followed with Danylyk, Johnson, Elam and Meechan and Peyton all involved before the ball came out to Danylyk, just inside the box. His low shot found the bottom corner, to Phillips's right to make it 2-0 to Altrincham (15 mins). Stalybridge responded by winning a corner when Smith did well to head the ball out of play, as danger threatened the Alty goal. With Celtic now pushing forward Alty boss Graham Heathcote described his side as "half-hearted" for not pressing home their two-goal lead. Indeed. Smith had to be alert again in the Alty defence to head a cross over his own bar (27 mins).

    But, then, Celtic keeper Phillips almost gifted Alty a third goal with a poor kick straight to Meechan but the Alty man could not stop the former Droylsden custodian from reclaiming the ball (28 mins). Rain was now falling torrentially and the biting wind was making conditions bad for the spectators, never mind the players. Next Joynes fed Battersby for a well-hit shot from just outside the box which just cleared the bar. After this, Matt Doughty came on to replace Lee Elam who left the field holding the small of his back (37 mins). For Alty, Johnson continued to pose problems and Phillips soon had to come out to head clear from the Alty striker (39 mins). Despite the awful conditions the game remained entertaining as Wooliscroft now fired a shot over the bar (43 mins). On the stroke of 45 minutes Dale Johnson linked with Warren Peyton for the former to put the ball in the net but offside had been given. Despite the heavy rain Mr Jones curiously added on some three extra minutes during which a good advance and cross by Lawton saw Philips pat the ball away and a defender conceded a corner to the visitors. Peyton took this, low and diagonally, to an unmarked Lawton but the Alty captain sliced his shot diagonally back towards the corner flag to leave the score 2-0 at the interval (45+3 mins).


    The pitch continued to soak up the downpour throughout the interval. Two minutes into the second half, with Alty now playing against the incline and the wind, Waterfall played a fine long ball for Meechan but Phillips managed to get the ball away. There was then a curious incident when a firm tackle by Smith on the edge of the box saw the ball cannon off one of his opponents and only just clear the Alty bar (49 mins). Next, Meechan saw a shot deflected wide before Stalybridge enjoyed some possession and won a corner. But Alty replied a minute later with a corner of their own from a Meechan-Johnson combination on the right (57 mins).

    On the hour mark Torpey made space well and Ralph did well to beat the ball away at the near post. Bridge then applied some pressure with the impressive Smith twice getting in vital tackles before Alty brought on Chris Senior in place of Val Owen. Val had done well to come through 70 minutes in gruelling conditions after his long lay-off but will obviously need some time to regain his full match fitness after such a long lay-off (70 mins).

    After Briggs had headed a Battersby cross wide, Lee Ellington replaced the former Barnsley striker, Nathan Joynes (73 mins). A needless push by Waterfall 40 yards out then led to some danger for Alty just as manager Heathcote told the young defender loudly that it would. In fact, a corner materialised but Alty cleared this. Next, Platt replaced Briggs for the hosts (78 mins). Stalybridge continued to press, with Smart's crosses from the left a recurrent danger. Barlow then went close from a Battersby feed, firing just over the bar from the edge of the box (80 mins).

    Each side now made a change; Williams replaced Torpey for Celtic and Colin Little came on for Dale Johnson for Altrincham (81 mins). The sides continued to provide good value to the spectators without either side going really close to a goal.

    Andy Smart was announced as the Celtic man of the match as the game went into added time, during which Celtic keeper Phillips fumbled a routine ball over the by-line to give Alty a corner. But, soon afterwards, the whistle went on an efficient display by an experimental Altrincham side. James Smith was probably the pick of the Alty players and the defence did well to keep a clean sheet. Though not the tallest of players, like Mark McGregor, Smith reads the game well and showed why he had been at Liverpool before joining Stockport County. Alongside him, Luke Waterfall also had a steady game, whilst between the sticks, Andy Ralph again did everything that was asked of him assuredly.