ALTRINCHAM 0 TAMWORTH 0
played on Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, at 7.45pm
Given the unfamiliar look to the home line-up, which lacked eight players through injury, illness or suspension, and included three players making their debuts this season (two of these being loan players signed hours before the game), it was not surprising that the visitors had much the better of the first half. However, Altrincham again defended well, eventually emerging with their fourth successive clean sheet. The second half was a more even affair than the first, with Chris Denham (chosen again as Man of the Match), in particular, causing Tamworth some problems whilst Sheridan also showed some good touches alongside the ever reliable Kearney in midfield. But Alty were thankful to poor finishing from McKenzie's rasping 25-yarder over the bar near the end. Alty went close themselves when Williams's header dropped narrowly wide. It is now 364 minutes since Alty last conceded a goal.
REFEREE: Mr S A Duncan
With eight players out (the ill Young, the injured Little, Clee, Johnson, Moffatt, Edwards and Welch and the suspended Lawton), Altrincham again included in their squad Rod Thornley, who has otherwise retired from football. His last appearance for the Robins was against Wrexham last April when he was dually registered at Ashton United and Altrincham. Graham Heathcote had signed two emergency-loan players the morning before kick-off; they were striker Aaron Burns from Northwich Victoria and midfielder Sam Sheridan from Bolton Wanderers, both of whom started. Aaron had almost signed for Alty a year ago but registration rules prevented that and he arrived at Moss Lane tonight on a one-month loan. Including Rod Thornley, that made three players making their first appearances of the season for Altrincham.
In contrast, Tamworth, third in the table, were unchanged. Their side included, at right back, 38 year-old former Nottingham Forest player, Des Lyttle, who recently completed 100 games for the Lambs. Earlier this month Tamworth signed midfielder Simon Russell from York as an emergency loan and he, too, started tonight. Other recent signings, left-sided defender/midfielder Danny Andrew from Peterborough and Nathan Koranteng, a young full back, were both on the bench.
Tamworth substitute Neil Mackenzie achieved some unusual publicity when, last summer as a Notts County player, he won five episodes in a row, of the popular TV programme, Countdown!
This was the first league meeting of the sides at Moss Lane since Saturday, 23 September 2006 when Alty won 2-0. Then, as now, Alty were without six first team players and coincidentally it was the twelfth game of the season, just as it was tonight. In 2006 Alty had gained 13 points before kick off whereas they currently had 16 points this season.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 2. James SMITH, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 4. Tom KEARNEY, 26. Sam SHERIDAN, 10. Chris DENHAM, 19. Chris SENIOR, 25. Aaron BURNS. Subs: 20. Danny HEFFERNAN, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 15. Rod THORNLEY, 21, Andrew PEARSON, 24. Ross THAKER.
TAMWORTH (All blue) 1. Danny Alcock, 15. Des Lyttle, 16. Michael Briscoe, 4. Chris Smith (capt), 2. Richard Tait, 21. Sebastian Lake-Gaskin, 24. Simon Russell, 14. Tom Shaw, 3. Michael Blackwood, 11. Bradley Pritchard, 12. Jake Sheridan, Subs: 6. Neil MacKenzie, 20. Anthony Bruce, 22. Trevor Benjamin, 25. Daniel Andrew, 26. Nathan Koranteng
For some reason the game kicked off several minutes late but Tamworth almost made up for lost time as they went from kick off straight up the middle and almost scored after just 12 seconds! This arose when Sheridan received a pass from Pritchard and should have hit the target, with just Coburn to beat, but he steered his shot wide of the keeper's right post. Indeed, Alty started the game slowly and were soon on the back foot again after Densmore’s lunge had conceded a freekick (3 mins). Soon afterwards, Coburn had to tip a shot from Tait over the bar for the game's first corner.
New man Burns and Sheridan for Altrincham were showing some promise but it was the Lambs who continued to look the better side as Alty's makeshift team got to know each other. Another Tamworth corner came (14 mins), following a good run up the left by Blackwood, as the visitors played most of the game in Alty's half. Alty were fortunate that when another run from Blackwood led to his cross finding Lake-Gaskin placed his free header, on a tight angle, just over the corner of bar of post. However, Lake-Gaskin continued to be a threat on the Tamworth right though Doughty was working hard to keep him under control.
Burns then did well to advance up the middle before being brought down by Smith, who was booked (24 mins). Burns himself drove the freekick into the defensive wall. Smart work from Denham saw him spurt into the box to dispossess a dawdling Tamworth defender but his resulting cross could find no Alty man on the end of it (27 mins). James Smith then pulled up limping but managed to run off the problem.
Coburn punched a cross clear at the other end before a superb tackle from Doughty saw off another run from Lake-Gaskin on the visitors' right wing (35 mins). Tamworth had their third good chance of the half in the 40th minute but again their composure in front of goal was lacking as, this time, Blackwood got past Densmore to the by-line on the Tamworth left and the ball came into the box for Russell who mis-kicked weakly in front of goal, allowing Coburn to gather the ball at the second attempt as a Tamworth player followed up.
As the game reached the end of the first half, Densmore, Denham and Senior conspired to win a corner for Altrincham (44 mins). Corner kicks have been a weak feature of Alty's play this season and they proved so again on this occasion. One minute of added time was played out at the end of the half which left the Moss Lane faithful still awaiting their first home goal of September. But given the injury-ravaged nature of their side, Altrincham had worked impressively to keep a confident Tamworth side at bay.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 TAMWORTH 0|
Tamworth came out early for the second half and spent some time going through collective warm-up routines before Alty emerged for the restart. After Senior had been felled early on, the freekick from the Alty left struck Des Lyttle and gave Altrincham a corner, which came to nothing (46 mins). Five minutes into the half a foul by Lyttle on Denham gave Alty another freekick following which a rasping 30-yarder from Denham forced Alcock into some action.
Alty were now more in the game than in the first half and they won a corner after 57 minutes which Alcock failed to hold, but Smith got the ball away. However, Tamworth wasted their fourth decent chance of the game when a free header from Pritchard went to Coburn's arms. As Denham threatened to race clear of the defence on the Alty right, Tait deliberately handled the ball and was booked (63 mins). Then Alty had a chance as Kearney’s excellent cross from the right, following a short freekick was nodded narrowly wide by Williams (63 mins).
Play was switching from end to end as Tamworth won the game's next corner but in the 68th minute Denham fed Burns whose 30 yard shot went narrowly wide. Each side then made a change, Alty bringing on Rod Thornley for Burns (73 mins), followed by MacKenzie replacing Lake-Gaskin who had not been quite such an influence in the second half as he had been in the first forty-five minutes (74 mins).
Thornley soon put in a good cross from the right but Alty had no one in the goalmouth. Blackwood then volleyed over for the Lambs (78 mins). Tamworth had clearly identified Denham as Alty's danger man and at one point no fewer than four of their players closed in on the Alty wide man! Russell then fired narrowly wide for the visitors before Heffernan came on, up front, for Sheridan, who had shown some good skills in the second half (80 mins). Thornley then picked up a yellow card for a lunge on Shaw (82 mins).
Alty had a late escape when an 87th minute Tamworth freekick from half way was volleyed superbly by MacKenzie, from right of goal, forcing a magnificent tip over the bar by Coburn for a corner. Another Tamworth corner followed this one before Altrincham won themselves a flag kick in the final seconds of the ninety minutes. Doughty overhit the corner and with it went Alty's last real chance. In the second added minute Andrew came on for Tamworth in place of Tait but for the second home game running the score remained 0-0. It is now 364 minutes since anyone scored against Alty and the fact that that they have taken four points this week with a decimated squad is testimony to the organization instilled by Graham Heathcote and Ken McKenna and the players' application and self-discipline. It gets no easier for Alty as they travel to second-placed Stevenage Borough on Saturday with few if any of their casualties likely to be fit for that game either.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 TAMWORTH 0|