For the eighth successive game Altrincham scored a single goal but, as last Saturday, it was not enough to bring any reward. Shaun Densmore's fine low shot in the 62nd minute, his second for the club, brought Alty level after they had fallen behind early on.
In a game played in atrocious conditions of lashing rain and strong wind, Kettering's French striker, Marna, fired his side ahead in only the ninth minute. Kettring held their lead despite two close efforts from Alty's Chris Senior before the interval. The Alty striker first struck the outside of the post with a fine individual effort and then went narrowly as he tried to convert Matt Doughty's low cross from the left.
After Alty had made it 1-1, they briefly had the upper hand but all that changed when Marna got the better of Mark McGregor and scored his second goal of the night with a quarter of an hour left. Alty rarely looked like getting a second equalizer and Kettering finished them off with a header in added time. This came from a free kick on their right, which Solkhon netted.
REFEREE: Mr R J West
Altrincham's last appearance at Rockingham Road was the memorable Conference play-off semi-final, which Alty won to progress to the final against Eastbourne Borough in 2005. But Alty arrived tonight behind the Poppies in the table. Conditions from before kick off were dreadful with a strong gusty wind and rain - and they got worse towards the end of the game.
Alty had Alex Meechan back from his month's loan at Stalybridge but Chris Danham had gone on a similar loan to the Bower Fold, leaving tonight's squad virtually self-selecting from the remaining members of the small squad. So the same eleven started as did last Saturday against Stevenage but Chris Lane returned on the bench in place of Richard Acton.
ALTRINCHAM (shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Stuart COBURN; 22. James SMITH, 4. Mark McGREGOR, 5. Greg YOUNG, 3. Matt DOUGHTY; 21. Shaun DENSMORE, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 16. Anthony DANYLYK; 14. Dale JOHNSON, 19. Chris SENIOR, 9. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 12. Joe O'NEILL, 11. Warren PEYTON, 18. Michael WELCH, 23. Richard ACTON, 15. Alex MEECHAN.
KETTERING TOWN (Red and black shirts, shorts and socks): 1. Lee HARPER, 5. Guy BRANSTON (capt), 6. John DEMPSTER, 8. Brett SOLKHON, 10. Jean-Paul MARNA, 14. Luke POTTER, 16. Richard GRAHAM, 17. Andre BOUCARD, 19. Gareth SEDDON, 23. Exodus GEOHAGHON, 32. Craig WESTCARR. SUBS: 7. Alfie POTTER, 4. Darren WRACK, 24. Jason LEE 2.Nicky EADEN, 9. Chris BEARDSLEY
The game got under way in a biting, swirling wind and rain with Altrincham kicking off towards the empty, uncovered away end, the visiting fans having been allowed under cover instead. The players not surprisingly took some time to get to grips with the slippery surface and the strong wind. Alty had an early scare when Westcarr got the better of Smith on the left by-line and from his cross a team-mate headed over. Identifying the Poppies' players was difficult as they had black numbers on red shirts (5 mins).
Senior was looking lively for Alty, deployed on the right-wing of Alty's 4-4-2 formation and his astute ball into the box was inches away from the end of Johnson's stretching foot with just the keeper to beat (6 mins). But the hosts took the lead in the 9th minute when Westcarr cleverly let a forward ball go past him to Marna. This dummy by Westcarr left the Frenchman free and he fired a left-foot shot past Coburn to make it 1-0. Senior almost got Altincham level five minutes later, when he cut in fom the right but his low shot hit the outside of the post and went out for a goalkick. Next, an Alty corner came and went.
Neither side created any clear chances in the next few minutes, with Alty bringing all 11 players back to defend any Kettering set pieces. But then Senior went very close again to an equalizer as Doughty put in a fine cross from the left and Senior knocked the ball inches wide from 10 yards (32 mins). It seemed it would not be Altrincham's night. McGregor got in a fine tackle to stop Seddon but Kettering's Branston and Geohaghon were equally as solid as their Alty counterparts.
Altrincham had the better of the 15 minute period before half time. There was a bizarre incident in the last minute of the half when Densmore collided with Branston and, with the Kettering man prostrate, play continued until Densmore attempted to put the ball out of play but his kick hit the injured man to go out for a corner. Densmore then took a "sporting" corner, kicking the ball to the Kettering keeper, only for Mr West to order a re-take! Half-time then arrived with Alty still a goal adrift.
|Half-Time: KETTERING TOWN 1 |
Kettering started the second half the stronger side despite now having the wind against them. But, after a corner for the Poppies had been and gone, Alty improved. However, their best effort at this stage was an effort from Little into the side netting (54 mins). Kettering's Luke Potter then lashed a 25 yard freekick well over the bar (57 mins). After a foul on Danylyk, Little made space well and fired in a low 20 yard shot which Harper did well to turn round the post for a corner on the Alty left (60 mins).
Alty were now pressing well and got their reward, out of nothing, when Densmore was allowed time to fire a low shot from outside the box which found the bottom corner to Harper's right, to make it 1-1 (62 mins). With the rain getting heavier, for the next few minutes, Alty looked the more likely to score again. Next, Marna was allowed to use his hands to control the ball, but he shot badly off target. Alty's players pointlessly protested to the referee even though the chance had gone and Densmore found himself unnecessarily booked as a result.
Standing water was now beginning to pool on the pitch as Alty won a corner through Johnson's efforts. At this point Meechan came on for Senior (71 mins). Two minutes later Alfie Potter replaced Kettering's Graham. A fine tackle by Smith halted a Kettering attack but then Alty threw the game away. Marna was allowed to get free of McGregor inside the box and fired past the exposed Coburn from 12 yards to make it 2-1 (75 mins). Immediately, Beardsley replaced Kettering's out of sorts Seddon(76 mins).
A fine cross from the left by Doughty forced a defender to head over his own bar for an Alty corner but this came to nothing. Kettering now began to press forward and again Smith had to make a fine interception. With the home side comfortable with their lead and only five minutes left, both teams made a change. Peyton came on for Danylyk, who had needed treatment earlier in the game, and Wrack replaced Marna for the Poppies (85 mins).
Altrincham were not threatening the Kettering goal and, indeed, Lawton had to track back 30 yards to make a vital interception in his own box, at the cost of a corner (87 mins). Four minutes of added time were announced as the rain continued to lash down. In the first of these, Peyton pushed an opponent in the back by Alty's left corner flag. From the resulting freekick Solkhon was allowed a free header to make it 3-1 (90+1 mins). In fact, after a further mix up in the Alty box two minutes later, it should have been 4-1 but substitute Wrack wasted the chance. In the end Altrincham were well beaten but having got themselves level, it was disappointing that they gave away two poor defensive goals to lose the match.
|Full-Time: KETTERING TOWN 3 |