ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 0
played on Saturday, 12 September, 2009, at 3pm
Right: Matt Doughty and Tom Kearney defend in partnership as Nicky Clee is on hand to help out against Crawley.
Altrincham failed to score for the fifth time in six games but took a hard-earned point against a Crawley side which had threatened to take the points, especially in the first half. Alty were indebted to a couple of fine saves by Coburn and some hard work in defence to keep the visitors out early in the game before the home side raised their performance. Indeed, Alty should have gone ahead through the unmarked Senior, who knocked a tame shot to Rayner from close range when he should have burst the net. After the break, Alty were much improved but Crawley were awarded a penalty, against James Smith, by the inconsistent Mr Wigglesworth in the 77th minute. Coburn made a fine save from the Frenchman's spot kick, prompting the Crawley midfielder ungraciously to refuse his away Man of the Match award after the game.
Denham went closest for Alty in the second half, his fine curling effort from 25 yards being clawed out under the bar by Rayner. The referee sent off Alty's Lawton four minutes from the end for a challenge on Rents, the Alty man having only joined the game nine minutes earlier for his first appearance of the season. The incident-packed second half ended with Mr Wigglesworth deciding to deal with Jefferson Louis's picking up of Danylyk and dumping him on the sidelines by blowing the final whistle and taking no action.
REFEREE: Mr R Wigglesworth
ATTENDANCE: 817 (21 in away end)
Like the visitors, Alty had a number of injury concerns in the run-up to this game. After the excellent draw at Cambridge last Tuesday, seven players were receiving treatment - Robbie Lawton, Michael Welch, Scott Moffatt, Colin Little, Danny Edwards, Matt Doughty and Nicky Clee. But Shaun Densmore was back after serving his three-match ban and Robbie Lawton was fit to play for the first time this season after his operation.
Dale Johnson, who had become a father in the previous 24 hours, was dropped to the bench as Denham and Senior started up front. Ross Thaker, who had ended the game at Cambridge, found no place in today's squad.
The Sussex side had recently had their own injury problems but had brought in the experienced Calum Willock last week to bolster their resources. Crawley have a number of formerly northern-based players in their squad including former Halifax men Quinn and Forrest and former Vics' player, Simon Rusk. Their pre-match injured list included Ben Smith (bruised foot), Glenn Wilson (hamstring) and Chris Giles (back).
After starting the season so well, Altrincham had not won in five games before today's match and had scored just once in those games.
The corresponding game last year ended 2-2 with the visitors getting a very late equalizer but the game was most memorable for Michael Welch's 70-yard freekick goal which won the Blue Square Goal of the Season competition. Michael is still recovering from his summer operation so could not repeat the feat today. Three of the previous four league encounters between these sides at Moss Lane had ended in draws, with Crawley winning the other game, two seasons ago, 3-2.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 5. Greg YOUNG, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 4. Tom KEARNEY, 11. Nicky CLEE, 10. Chris DENHAM, 19. Chris SENIOR, SUBS: 14. Dale JOHNSON, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 20. Danny HEFFERNAN, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 21, Andrew PEARSON.
CRAWLEY TOWN (All blue) 1. Simon Rayner, 6. Karl Broadhurst, 21. Adam Quinn, 12. Chris Carruthers, 3. Sam Rents, 4. Eddie Hutchinson, 10. Thomas Pinault, 2. Simon Rusk, 11. Kieran Djilali, 8. Charles Ademeno, 24. Calum Willock, SUBS: 22. Nick Jordan (gk), 7. Danny Forrest, 9. Jefferson Louis, 14. Lewis Killeen, 17. Barry Cogan.
Crawley kicked off towards their 21 supporters in the away end on a warm, sunny afternoon and forced a save from Stuart Coburn when Djilali fired at goal after just 12 seconds. Ademeno then pulled up lame but managed to run off his ailment (1 min). A Crawley corner arrived after three minutes as the visitors took the game to Altrincham. Djilali then volleyed wide with Alty struggling still to get into the game. Greg Young was now booked for a challenge on Ademeno even though the Alty captain got the ball (9 mins). After a foul by Densmore, Quinn beat his former Halifax defensive partner, Greg Young, in the air but his header landed on the roof of the net from the resulting freekick (10 mins).
The one-way traffic continued but Altrincham were defending well. Referee Wigglesworth was soon annoying the home crowd as he chose to ignore Crawley's robust challenges; Quinn in particular was using his arms as much as his feet or legs to tame the Alty attack and the yellow-flagged linesman, ironically called Mr Booker, seemed unable to see the many pulls and pushes occurring right under his nose.
But then, against the run of play, Altrincham fashioned a glorious chance to take the lead. From Smith's feed, Denham got the ball to Senior, who was unmarked deep inside the box with only Rayner between him and goal. The Alty man seemed to try and lob the big keeper when a firm shot was called for, and the ball ran tamely to Rayner (23 mins). Then Clee fired narrowly wide from 20 yards as Altrincham began to get into the game. Densmore then completed a nice build up from Alty with a shot well off target, from left of goal (26 mins).
Quinn's two-handed push on Senior went unnoticed before a good ball across goal from Senior just evaded the incoming Densmore, to his right. But, after ten minutes of Altrincham being in the ascendant, Crawley came back and it took a great save from Coburn to come out and block Ademeno. The Crawley man had been played in behind the Alty defence and was odds on to score before Coburn's block. The keeper then recovered to drive the Crawley man wide of goal and the chance was gone for the visitors (34 mins). After this, Williams, who had another sound game, nevertheless conceded an unnecessary corner off his shins from which Quinn rose superbly. His downward header was brilliantly turned round the post by Coburn, diving low to his left (37 mins).
As the game went into added time, a Clee header from Kearney's freekick earned Alty a corner but the interval soon arrived with the game still goalless, an outcome that was more appreciated by Alty than the visitors who had had the better of the first 45 minutes.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 0|
Broadhurst's foul on Senior gave Alty an early freekick which Densmore put over the bar from 25 yards (47 mins). Rayner then had a lucky escape when Denham smartly blocked his kick and the ball cannoned off the Alty player's back, but fortunately for the keeper, who had suffered the embarrassment of being beaten from 70 yards in the corresponding match last season, was relieved to see the ball go wide (48 mins). But Rayner redeemed himself a minute later as Alty’s good start continued. This time Denham's superb looping shot from 25 yards out left of goal prompted an excellent tip out from under the bar by the giant keeper for a corner. From the corner Denham fired in a good shot which produced another corner. Next, Senior's fine lay off led to Clee's shot which disappointingly rose over the bar as Alty showed a marked improvement on their start to the first half (52 mins).
Quinn finally got booked when he felled Senior to give Alty a freekick on the edge of the box (56 mins) After a Denham shot had been blocked, Alty won a corner as they continued as the better team in this half (60 mins). After 64 minutes Dale Johnson replaced Shaun Densmore as the visitors' manager Steve Evans got ever more animated in the technical area. Johnson won Alty a corner as the game continued in his side's favour. Ademeno was booked in the 72nd minute for a foul on Smith which might have earned him more than a yellow had the referee interpreted it as a raised elbow.
When Quinn then crudely hauled down Johnson as he got free on the very edge of the box, and the Crawley captain was arguably the last man, the referee chose not to add a red card or even a second yellow to the defender's account. Crawley got back into the game with a corner and, after this, Willock forced another good save from Coburn (75 mins). However, the lively Denham made another fine run soon afterwards to gain Alty a corner. Then out of nothing a long ball forward went over James Smith in the right back position and, as he attempted a recovery tackle, Mr Wigglesworth saw his challenge on Willock as a penalty. Before Pinault could take it, Alty brought on Lawton for his first appearance of the season, in place of Clee (77 mins). Coburn now made yet another great save, from Pinault's penalty, which had been placed low to the keeper's left (77 mins).
Soon after this, Doughty became the referee's third Alty booking (79 mins) before big Jefferson Louis came on to replace Crawley's Ademeno (80 mins). When Broadhurst appeared to trip Dale Johnson in the box, the Crawley man again got the referee's benefit and only a corner was given (81 mins). Once again Alty's corner-taking was not up to much in this match. After this, another ex-Halifax man, Forrest came on for Crawley, replacing Carruthers (84 mins). Then, near half-way on the Alty right, Lawton challenged Rents and caught the left-back with a clumsy challenge which Mr Wigglesworth judged to be worthy of a red card (86 mins). The Alty club captain’s first appearance of the season after his injury had ended after just nine minutes.
Despite being a man short, Alty's Danylyk strode up the middle but his shot was disappointing. The game soon went into two added minutes during which the already booked Quinn again escaped further punishment for a foul on Johnson. Broadhurst was then booked as the game got bad tempered. An Alty corner was seen off by Crawley before the game ended in farce when Jefferson Louis and Anthony Danylyk clashed near the Alty right touchline 40 yards out. The big Crawley man lifted up Danylyk and dumped him on the ground but, quite amazingly, when the referee sounded his whistle it was not to sort out the fracas but to signal the end of the game and avoid the need to make a judgement.
This was a game which Crawley threatened to dominate in the first half but in which Alty came back well after the interval. Before the game, Graham Heathcote had been concerned at the toll that two hard games at Cambridge and Kettering might have had on his players but he will have been proud of their effort today after their slow start. However, he must remain concerned that Alty have scored just once in the last 590 minutes of football and with Colin Little likely to be out for another 2 or 3 weeks, someone else needs to take up the mantle of goal scorer. On the positive side, the defence has now kept clean sheets in successive games against two of the more potent attacks in the league, Cambridge and Crawley.
Stuart Coburn was a deserved Alty Man of the Match, but Thomas Pinault, the away Man of the Match, won no friends when he scorned the award to him of a bottle of bubbly.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 0|