ALTRINCHAM (2) 2
FOREST GREEN ROVERS (0) 5
played on Saturday, 21 March 2009, at 3pm.
At half-time Altrincham were comfortably two-goals up against a shaky FGR, who were without a win in seven league games and who were also without their suspended leading scorer, Mangan and banned defender, Darren Jones. Yet, 45 minutes later, Altrincham had shipped five goals and had seen James Smith sent off and three others booked during a disastrous second half.
It had started so well as Colin Little took advantage of goalkeeper Burton's poor clearance to lob the keeper from 35 yards or more after just 75 seconds. Another finely taken goal, a volley, by Little in the 21st minute made it 2-0 and so it stayed till the interval. But, within ten minutes of the re-start, it was 2-2 and Alty were down to ten men. Two minutes into the second half, Lloyd drove home from right of goal to make it 2-1. After 54 minutes, with Altrincham being outplayed, Brown passed Mohamed's feed into the net to level the scores. A minute later, a foul by Brown saw Smith react with a wild hack at Brown's shins and he inevitably saw the red card of Mr. Collin.
Altrincham struggled to get out of their half before a superb strike from 30 yards by Lawless gave the visitors the lead. After 72 minutes, Young was judged to have fouled Mohamed well to the right of the Alty goal and Platt drove home the spot-kick to make it 2-4. The final nail in the coffin came deep into added time when Palmer, who had just come on, made it 2-5.
Smith had not even seen a yellow card in his previous 22 matches for Altrincham. But with him now suspended and with Altrincham's bench today including an injured Joe O'Neill and the ill Michael Welch, the Robins potentially face their next league matches with just 11 outfield players available, or 12 if Welch's loan from Northwich is extended!
REFEREE: Mr. J. Collin
FGR'S Andy Mangan and defender Darren Jones were both suspended for the visit to Altrincham whilst assistant manager and defender Jerry Gill (facial injury) was also out, as were Curtis McDonald (groin) and Les Afful (knee).
Alty, too, were short of players, with Chris Senior ruled out for the season, Michael Welch ill, and Joe O'Neill not fully recovered from a groin injury. Nevertheless O'Neilland Welch were named on the bench as there was no one else available. On the positive side, Mark McGregor passed a fitness test on his hamstring. Warren Peyton came into the side in place of Welch, for whom this marked the last game of his scheduled one-month loan period from Northwich.
FGR had not won in seven league games though they had drawn five of them. Altrincham had lost four of their previous five but started the game in a healthier league position, seemingly only a few points from acquiring sufficient points to ensure their place in the division for next season.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 22. James SMITH, 4. Mark McGREGOR, 5. Greg YOUNG, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 21. Shaun DENSMORE, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 14. Dale JOHNSON, 9. Colin LITTLE, 11. Warren PEYTON. Subs: 23 Richard ACTON, 2. Chris LANE, 15. Alex MEECHAN, 12. Joe O'NEILL, 18. Michael WELCH.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS (Green shirts, shorts and socks): 25. Terry Burton; 2. Alex Lawless, 15. Mark Preece, 24. Lee Ayres, 3. Paul Stonehouse; 27. Paul Lloyd, 11. Jonathan Smith, 16. Lee Fowler, 10. Conal Platt, 26. David Brown, 17. Kaid Mohamed. Subs: 28. James Baldwin, 29. Marcus Palmer, 7. Adriano Rigoglioso, 14. Ben Ashford, 1. Ryan Robinson (gk).
On an overcast afternoon, made chilly by a steady breeze, Warren Peyton and Colin Little kicked off for Altrincham, towards the Golf Road end. Peyton was deployed on the left of a 4-3-3 set-up, with Little playing centrally and Johnson to the right. The previous four Altrincham games had all featured goals in either the opening minutes or the last and the trend continued as Alty took the lead after 75 seconds. The goal came when the visitors' keeper, Burton, came out to kick clear but succeeded only in finding Little. Alty's alert leading scorer executed a superb 35-yard lob over the stranded keeper to give his side the perfect start. An Alty corner soon followed as FGR got off to a jittery start, giving the ball away and looking decidedly shaky at the back.
But the visitors then gained a corner, on their left, which found Lloyd at the back post. However, his volley flew just over the bar (7 mins). Soon after this, Lloyd wasted a better chance, dragging a shot across goal when set free. But Alty almost doubled their lead when Densmore forced a fine save which gave Alty a corner. Alty continued to have the better of things though a long punt up field caused problems for them as Densmore fell inside his own box and Coburn had to come out smartly to gather, colliding with Brown. Both Brown and Densmore resumed after treatment.
Alty went two-up in the 21st minute. Johnson found Little, who did well to keep possession, on the front edge of the box, before feeding Doughty, to his left. Peyton's resulting ball into the box was headed up into the air by a defender but it dropped for Little who sent a superb volleyed shot into the net from just outside the penalty area (21 mins).
FGR were awarded a freekick just outside the box for a trip on Brown by Smith (30 mins). Soon afterwards Smith was again penalised, against Brown, and this time received a referee's lecture. Manager Graham Heathcote expressed his displeasure to his team for conceding so many freekicks but FGR did not capitalise on them.
With the visitors now settling and beginning to play some passing football, they won two corners (37 mins). But Altrincham defended these successfully only to concede another corner as the game went into two added minutes at the end of the half. Again, this came to nothing and the interval arrived with Altrincham looking set fair to record their second successive home win.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 |
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 0
Forest Green came out early for the second half and, in the light of what was to follow, Altrincham must have wished that they had not joined them on the pitch. All started well enough as a nice move ended with a Danylyk shot being saved. But thirty five seconds later, FGR scored.
The goal came as Brown fed Lloyd, who advanced into the right hand side of the area unmarked. He lashed a fierce shot across Coburn into the net (47 mins). It was now all Forest Green, as Alty remained penned back. The visitors levelled the score in the 54th minute when Mohamed fed the ball to his left and Brown passed the ball into the corner of the net, to Coburn's right.
Just when it seemed it could not get worse, Brown and Smith clashed in midfield and the Alty defender took a wild kick at the legs of the FGR captain. Mr Collin had no option but to send off the Alty man, who had not even seen a yellow card in his previous 22 matches this season (55 mins).
FGR sought to press home their extra man and won two successive corners. Referee Collin and linesman Campbell were not endearing themselves to the Alty contingent by allowing a number of off the ball pushes to go unchecked but there was no disguising the fact that the home side were now second best. Mohamed should have scored soon afterwards but somehow Coburn got a touch to divert his effort for a corner, as the game went into the final half hour. Anthony Danylyk was then booked for a foul (63 mins). Four minutes later the midfielder was subbed by Chris Lane (67 mins).
Altrincham were not threatening at the other end at all at this stage but held on until FGR won a corner on their left. This came out to Lawless who hammered a superb shot into the top of the net from 30 yards (72 mins). And, four minutes later, it got even worse. With Mohamed near the by-line to the left of the Alty goal, Young was judged to have fouled him just inside the box. The resulting protestations earned Young a booking before Platt drove the spot-kick past Coburn; it was now 2-4 (76 mins).
At this point Rigoglioso replaced Lloyd for the visitors. Alty's faltering performance continued as McGregor got himself booked for a foul (77 mins). The tally against Alty was now four goals conceded, one red card and three yellows received - all in just 33 minutes of the second half.
Forest Green now won two more corners before a bad slice by goalkeeper Burton from a back pass gave Altrincham a corner on their left (80 mins). Another corner soon followed for the Robins. But the home side was thankful to see Rigoglioso shoot wide from a good position at the other end (84 mins). Then Coburn made a fine save from Mohamed as the visitors looked to add to their score. With two minutes left Palmer came on for his debut in place of Brown and moments later Alty's Alex Meechan came on against his old club, replacing Warren Peyton (89 mins). Four minutes of added time were announced and in the first of these Baldwin replaced Smith for the visitors.
Dale Johnson then stormed into the FGR box but his shot was deflected towards Little at the back post. Little's ambitious attempt at an overhead shot came to nothing (90+2 mins). Moments later Johnson was clearly held inside the box but the absence of a decision from the referee made little difference to the outcome, though, as FGR swept to the other end Coburn had to make another fine save, this time from Mohamed (90+3 mins). But Forest Green had not finished and in the fourth added minute Stonehouse fed Palmer who finished well, to Coburn's right to make it 5-2 to the visitors and to leave the Alty fans wondering when their club had last conceded five goals in a single half of football.
Altrincham's need to keep within a necessarily tight budget has meant that their squad is very short of numbers at present and Smith's dismissal only makes the problem worse. Whether a long season of battling against better-resourced clubs, with little opportunity to rotate their small squad, is now taking its toll on the Robins is debatable but the second half showing today was certainly hugely disappointing against a side which had started the game very shakily. But credit is due to the visitors for coming back from a two-goal deficit to run out comfortable winners in the end.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 |
FOREST GREEN ROVERS 5