ALTRINCHAM (2) 2 HISTON (1) 1
played on Tuesday, 18 August, 2009, at 7.45pm
Cambridgeshire side Histon went ahead when Alty failed to defend a left-sided corner from the visitors. The ball was nodded back across goal from the back post where Simpson coNverted comfortably, with just 15 minutes gone.
But Chris Denham, who won the man of the match award, equalised with a brilliant strike, looping his shot over goalkeeper Welch from outside the box in the 23rd minute. Alty survived an almost immediate strike from Histon when Simpson's 25-yarder crashed back off the bar to bounce on the line before being gathered by Coburn.
Dale Johnson got the winning goal, five minutes before the interval when he converted a Densmore cross at the second attempt. Despite plenty of pressure, Histon could not get a second-half equalizer, though they did hit the bar.
REFEREE: Mr P C Wright
ATTENDANCE: 698, (23 in away end).
Alty went for a 3-4-3 starting line up as the tall Robbie Williams came in for his full debut at the back alongside James Smith in the centre and Greg Young on the left. Danny Heffernan was involved in the warm-up and named on the bench but unable to play owing to his head injury last Saturday, so Alty had only 13 outfield players at their disposal, whilst Histon listed 31 players plus the new signing Farrell in their squad. Indeed, new signing from Cambridge United, Ben Farrell made his debut for Histon tonight whilst John Kennedy dropped to the bench. Goalkeeper Danny Naisbitt had been sent off on Saturday so was suspended tonight with 20 year-old Joe Welch taking his place.
Altrincham had lost all four games played against Histon before tonight's encounter - though all four had been lost by a single goal. The Stutes, who reached the play-offs last season, had lost several of their star players over the summer, such as defender Mitchel-King and Ada, who have both left for Crewe, and striker Jack Midson, now at Oxford United.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 2. James SMITH, 5. Greg YOUNG (capt); 6.Shaun DENSMORE, 8. Matty CROWELL, 4. Tom KEARNEY, 3. Matt DOUGHTY; 14. Dale JOHNSON, 19. Chris SENIOR, 10. Chris DENHAM, Subs: 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 9. Colin LITTLE, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 20. Danny HEFFERNAN, 11. Nicky CLEE.
HISTON (Sky blue and white hooped shirts, sky blue shorts and socks): 27. Joe Welch, 21. Lanre Oyebanjo, 5. Matthew Langston (capt), 2. Adam Tann, 3. Gareth Gwillim, 11. Jamie Barker, 24. Josh Simpson, 29. Ben Farrell, 18 Nathaniel Knight-Percival, 23. Danny Wright, 9. Michael Frew. Subs: 6. Adam Bygrave, 7. John Kennedy, 10. Bradley Hudson-Odoi, 17. Craig Hammond, 22. Kieran Leabon.
Altrincham kicked off and had won a corner with barely 30 seconds elapsed. From Kearney's corner the ball was nodded by Williams to Young but his header went wide. A period of head tennis followed, a common feature of games with Histon, but thankfully this match was far more entertaining that the quite dreadful match at the Cambridgeshire club's ground last season.
It was not long before Histon gained their own first corner (7 mins) and this was followed by one of Gwillim's trademark long throws which are such an important part of Histon's armoury. But Gwillim also had to be on defensive duties to break up a smart Alty move (9 mins). Just after a Histon attack on the left had produced a long-range shot which narrowly cleared the bar, Johnson's surge forward led to a cross which both Senior and Oyebanjo went for. The two players' collided and both sustained blood injuries to the head (10 mins). After treatment Senior continued in a new, numberless shirt whilst Oyebanjo needed a little more treatment before resuming.
Histon gained another corner as Densmore, who had a good game, blocked a cross from the left. Taken by Frew, the deep inswinging corner found Wright unmarked at the back post and, though Coburn blocked his effort, the ball went back across goal to Simpson, who scored comfortably from close range (15 mins).
Altrincham were now settling well with their three front men causing Histon some concern whilst Kearney and Crowell were again demonstrating an effective midfield partnership. Histon were conceding regular freekicks and from one of these, taken by Doughty, a corner resulted, but Welch caught Doughty's flag kick (21 mins). When Denham was fouled moments later, Crowell’s freekick was well held by Welch. But the pressure finally told when Johnson and Doughty got the ball to Senior who laid the ball inside for Denham. He executed a superb turn to make space and then looped a brilliant shot over Welch, which dipped into the net to make it 1-1 (23 mins).
But as so often happens, the team which had just conceded immediately threatened at the other end. Indeed, Alty were fortunate to see Simpson's excellent 25-yarder crash down off the underside of the bar and bounce on the line for Coburn to catch, gratefully (24 mins). But Alty replied with some good work from Senior. At the back James Smith was impressing with his calm but effective defending and Williams was making a solid debut, whilst Young, as ever, was faultless.
A fine tackle from Densmore conceded a corner to Histon before a great 30-yard effort from Crowell was fisted away by Welch for an Alty corner on the left. From this Crowell fired well over the bar (35 mins). Welch again punched clear for an Alty corner following a shot from Senior after good work by Johnson (37 mins). But Histon replied by forcing Young to head clear for a corner after Wright had threatened.
When Kearney lost the ball, it looked like another Alty attack would falter, but the midfielder won back possession and fed the overlapping Densmore up the right wing. His low cross was pushed away near the foot of the post by Welch and though the keeper blocked Johnson's first shot, the Alty striker knocked in his follow-up to give Altrincham the lead (40 mins).
Almost immediately Johnson won an Alty corner but soon after this Oyebanjo reopened his cut eyebrow and had to leave the match, presumably for a stitch or two. Bygrave was his replacement (44 mins). Three minutes of added time ensued with Altrincham on the offensive but despite a corner just before the interval, the score remained 2-1 to the home side.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 HISTON 1|
At the interval Histon used their second sub as Hudson-Odoi came on for Farrell. The former Hereford United substitute had previously played against Alty, for Grays, last season.
Histon won an early corner which was half cleared to Wright, whose shot hit the top of the bar. Densmore soon impressed with a low cross which was just cleared off Senior's foot inside the box (53 mins). Doughty then blocked a Histon shot before Wright caught Smith very late but his refereeing namesake kept his book in his pocket (57 mins). A fine cross from Senior was just too high for Johnson, and then Johnson made a great turn and fired in a low shot which Welch held at the foot of his post (62 mins).
Senior suffered another clash of heads, this time with Bygrave, but both players recovered (64 mins). Histon now started to apply further pressure but when Knight-Percival caught Williams late, again Mr Wright elected not to show a card. Altrincham were now having problems keeping the ball for any length of time as tiredness seemed to be a threat. But they persevered well and went to the other end to win a corner from Denham’s shot (72 mins).
A Histon corner soon arrived and after this Crowell left the pitch for attention to his foot from Sean Riley the Alty physio. Johnson was also now hobbling and, as he went down for treatment, Senior foolishly booted the ball out of the ground to earn his third booking in four games. He will soon be rueing both this unnecessary caution following his equally needless yellow card for removing his shirt at Barrow. Little now came on for Johnson (77 mins) and he was soon victim of a hold by Langston which went unpunished.
Histon used their last sub as Hammond replaced Frew (79 mins). Histon soon won a corner which Alty eventually cleared through Young. Senior relieved some pressure by winning a corner which Welch mis-punched but the keeper got away with it (83 mins). Histon continued to press but, on the break, Doughty won the home side a corner. Play went into three added minutes, during which Williams conceded a freekick but Alty saw out the closing stages to record their third successive win and confirm themselves in joint second place, just a goal behind Oxford United who have the same number of points as Alty and Luton Town.
Once again Altrincham proved they are a much improved proposition compared with last season and though Histon could point to some bad luck in losing Oyebanjo and striking the bar twice, they could not complain too much at the outcome.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 HISTON 1|