ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (1) 2
played on Tuesday, 4 August, 2009, at 7.45pm
Altrincham gave a good account of themselves against a young Manchester United XI, especially considering they played the last 15 minutes with only ten men after Dale Johnson had limped off with what looked like a strained hamstring. United's first goal arrived in the 13th minute when Simpson appeared to foul Clee as he won possession forty yards out on the right. The ball was worked to the right via Stewart, whose low cross was turned in at the back post by Dudgeon. The Reds' second goal only arrived in the 89th minute when James sprang the offside trap and his chip came back off the post, striking the unfortunate James Smith as he attempted to clear, and dropping into the net for an own goal.
There was plenty going on off the pitch, too, as about half a dozen of the Australian cricket touring party, led by Ricky Ponting, watched the game and their host, Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin, gave interviews to the press and posed for the army of press photographers. A crowd of 1,772 were in the ground.
REFEREE: Mr A Taylor
All the fit members of the Alty squad, apart from Richard Acton, were involved tonight. Robbie Lawton was named on the bench but despite lapping the pitch many times before kick off he was not fit enough to be involved in the game. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Above - Gavin Rathbone's picture of Australian cricket team captain Ricky Ponting, ex-Manchester United goalkeeper Jack Crompton, United reserve team manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin.
United included none of their "big names" as the first-team was scheduled to play Valencia 24 hours later. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was there as the reserves' captain and he received plenty of press attention as did Ricky Ponting, captain of the Australian cricket team who was attending the game along with several of his team-mates, at the invitation of Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin, whose Go Goodwins company provides coach travel for the touring cricketers.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. James SMITH, 5. Greg YOUNG (capt), 3. Matt DOUGHTY; 8. Matty CROWELL, 6. Tom KEARNEY, 7. Anthony DANYLYK, 9. Nicky CLEE, 11. colin LITTLE; 10. Dale JOHNSON. Subs: 13. Russell SAUNDERS (gk), 14. Chris DENHAM, 15. Danny HEFFERNAN, 16. Robbie WILLIAMS, 17. Chris SENIOR, 18. Robbie LAWTON. In the second half Altrincham switched to yellow shirts and used their squad numbers.
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (Black shirts, white shorts and socks): 1. Tom HEATON, 2. Danny SIMPSON, 3. Oliver GILL, 4. James CHESTER (capt), 5. Scott WOOTON, 6. Corry EVANS, 7. Cameron STEWART, 8. Matthew JAMES, 9. Febian BRANDY, 10. Magnus EIKREM, 11. Joe DUDGEON. Subs: 12. Reece BROWN, 13. Ron Robert ZIELER, 14. Oliver NORWOOD, 15. Robert BRADY, 16. Nicholas AJOSE, 17. Will KEANE, 18. Scott MOFFATT, 19. Michael NGOO.
Altrincham kicked off on a warm evening, attacking the Golf Road end, with Dale Johnson as their lone striker, a strategy which changed to 4-4-2 as the half progressed. United immediately settled into their expected fast, passing game but Altrincham, led by captain Greg Young, kept them at bay. Dale Johnson, meanwhile was causing United some problems at the other end and was soon upended by Chester but the freekick came to nothing. Soon afterwards, Clee found Johnson well but the striker sliced his shot well wide (8 mins).
James Smith then cleared the ball well from in front of goalkeeper Coburn as the pacy Stewart got behind Doughty on the United right. As United went forward again, it took a fine tackle from Young to to halt them. The pressure continued as a ball over the top of the Alty defence set Stewart running into the box but a combination of Young and Doughty saw him off.
United then took the lead in slightly fortunate circumstances. Simpson was given the benefit of the doubt in dispossesing Clee with what looked a questionable challenge, some 45 yards from goal. Simpson went on and fed Stewart and his low cross from the right was converetd from close range at the back post by Dudgeon (13 mins).
Alty responded well when Johnson nodded Kearney's freekick just wide after a foul on Crowell, 35 yards out on the Alty right (15 mins). But Alty were soon indebted to goalkeeper Coburn when he beat out a fierce shot from Eikrem from the edge of the box. With some spectators paying more attention to watching the celebrity spectators rather than the game, Alty's new wing man, Nicky Clee, began to make a mark. He has a prodigious long throw and, following one of these, Young found Little but his shot was blocked (25 mins).
Coburn then had a fright as he tried to dribble out of his goalmouth and it needed Young's interception to stop possession being lost. Alty were now playing with Little alongside Johnson and, whilst United enjoyed plenty of possession, the home side were not left behind in terms of creating half chances. Indeed, Alty went very close when Clee, Densmore and Crowell combined before the last player's cross led to Heaton's punch clear. Johnson battled well to win back possession and found Little, whose clever chip from the right landed on the roof of the United net (38 mins).
Young and Little then almost capitalised on a Doughty freekick but Heaton managed to fall on the loose ball in the United box (38 mins). Johnson then had the ball in the net with a fine shot from the edge of the box but it was ruled out for offside (41 mins). Alty enjoyed a good spell before half-time and this was underlined as Crowell and Johnson fed Little whose impressive scissor-kick just cleared the bar (42 mins).
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANCHESTER UNITED XI 1|
Right: Greg Young was Alty's captain tonight and led by example, as seen right in Gavin Rathbone's photo.
At the interval, the Aussies' captain Ricky Ponting was interviewed on the pitch by the mass ranks of pressmen and photographers as two of his team-mates took penalty kicks against Alty's Russell Saunders.
< When the football players re-emerged, Alty had changed into their new yellow away shirts, bearing their names and squad numbers, the latter conflicting with the numbers on their shorts. This must be the only occasion they have ever worn yellow tops, black shorts and red socks. United brought on Norwood and Brady for Gill and Evans (46 mins). But Alty started where they had left off and won two early corners. United responded with two flag-kicks of their own soon afterwards.
Alty's first swap came eight minutes into the half as Clee gave way to Chris Denham. Little who started as no.11 thought he was being called off, but the no.11 on the fourth official's board referred to Nicky Clee's shirt number and not Colin Little's shorts' number!. This was followed by an Alty corner and then another change as Saunders replaced Coburn in the Alty goal (55 mins). United continued to attack Alty with pace but when Stewart did so once more his showboating stepovers lost him possession. Chris Senior then replaced Colin Little (59 mins) and the new man soon won a corner from which Young's header was cleared off the line (60 mins).
After a Danylyk shot had been blocked, United brought on Brown for Wooton and Ajose for Brandy (62 mins). The interruptions continued as Heffernan was came on for Alty's Crowell (64 mins). When Dudgeon's pass towards his goal was picked up by keeper Heaton, Alty gained a freekick inside the box but, as ever, the sheer number of bodies in the defensive wall prevented any real hope of a goal for Alty (67 mins).
Next Williams came on for Doughty (70 mins) and Ngoo did so for United in place of Stewart. From Young's long ball Johnson again did well, allowing Danylyk a shot which was deflected for a corner, from which Young headed narrowly over (73 mins). Yet more subs arrived as Keane and Moffatt replaced United's Eikrem and Simpson for the Reds (74 mins). Simpson had played 3 first-team games for United in 2006 and a total of more than 60 league appearances for Blackburn, Ipswich and Royal Antwerp.
After a fine save from Saunders, Alty attacked up the left but as Johnson stretched behind him to try and get Senior's cross, he hurt himself and soon limped off. Despite pitchside attention from physio Sean Riley, an end was called to Johnson's evening but it was later reported that it was nothing more serious than cramp. But Johnson's departure and the new ruling that substituted players cannot reappear in friendlies left Alty a man short. What is more, United had seven second-half subs on the pitch whilst Alty had only four substitute outfield players amongst their remaining ten players on the pitch. It was therefore a big task for them to try to keep their younger full-time opponents at bay till the end of the game.
United's James then fired narrowly over the bar (83 mins), before Williams had to make a fine covering tackle to stop another United probe. Just when it seemed that Alty had prevented a second United goal, the visitors sprang the offside trap, right of goal, and James's chip over Saunders came back off the far post and rebounded into the net off the retreating James Smith (89 mins). It was an unfortunate end to the game for Smith who otherwise put in an impressive 90 minutes. Though Alty won a last-minute corner, they could not get a consolation goal but they had shown enough to demonstrate that they should prove a match for most teams in the Blue Square Premier this season. Greg Young, who was captain tonight, was deservedly named Altrincham's Man of the Match.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANCHESTER UNITED XI 2|