ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 MANSFIELD TOWN (1) 2
played on Saturday, 10 October, 2009, at 3pm
Right: Mansfield's Marriott claims the ball in the first half.
Altrincham paid the price for two defensive errors in a game where once again the referee became a major talking point. It was not that Mr Halliday sent off Chris Senior, who ill advisedly ran 15 yards to push Perry in the chest, who collapsed like a felled oak. Nor was it that he dismissed Matt Doughty for an alleged kick, which earned him a second yellow card, but the referee's general failure to clamp down in the first half on Mansfield's rugged approach to the game (18 fouls in the game to Alty's 7) meant that one or two Mansfield players stayed on the pitch whose cumulative fouls should have earned them an early bath. Four of Mansfield's five bookings only came after the score had reached 2-0.
Colin Little saw a first-half header crash back off the underside of the bar and Alty lost Chris Denham to injury in the opening 45 minutes. Stuart Coburn also limped through much of the game, but with no keeper on the bench he saw out the 90 minutes. But the game was decided through the Robins giving away avoidable goals at the start of each half. Having started the game better than the visitors, Alty fell behind as the game went into the eighth minute. After Alty had failed to clear their lines, Stuart Coburn made a brilliant save from Somner's attempt but the ball came out to Perry who found the top of the net. In the second half, Mansfield scored after just 12 seconds- the same time it took Alty to score in last year's encounter between these sides. That goal came as Alty allowed the ball to bounce in their own penalty area and Briscoe found the net.
Despite being down to nine men for the final 37 minutes, Altrincham continued to go forward and made Mansfield distinctly jittery before the end. The nine men got a goal back through Aaron Burns in the 64th minute and Robbie Williams headed home what the home crowd thought was an equalizer in the 90th minute only to see it ruled out for offside. Alty may have lost but they showed plenty of spirit and, but for their two defensive lapses, could well have won this game.
REFEREE: Mr Andy Halliday
ATTENDANCE: 1,642 (389 in the away end)
Colin Little was making only his second start of the season, replacing Sam Sheridan.
Last season's game at Moss Lane between these sides was settled by a goal from Alty's Chris Senior after just eleven seconds of the first half. This year Mansfield had started better than in their inaugural BSP campaign and lay in fifth place at kick off whilst Alty were eighth, just two points behind The Stags. Altrincham went into the game unbeaten in seven games.
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, 10. Chris DENHAM, 4. Tom KEARNEY (capt), 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 11. Nicky CLEE, 19. Chris SENIOR, 9. Colin LITTLE. Subs: 7. Robbie LAWTON, 26. Sam SHERIDAN, 18. Michael WELCH, 5. Greg YOUNG, 25. Aaron BURNS.
MANSFIELD TOWN (Yellow shirts, blue shorts, yellow socks): 1. Alan Marriott, 16. Gary Silk, 15. Luke Graham, 6. Scott Garner, 3. Paul Heckingbottom, 7. Louis Briscoe, 14. Steven Istead, 4. Gary Mills, 8. Matthew Somner, 9. Robert Duffy, 19. Kyle Perry. Subs: 11. Ryan Williams, 12. Craig Armstrong, 17. Jake Speight, 32. Blair Sturrock, 33. Ed Eley (gk).
After changing ends, Alty kicked off attacking the away end and after a bout of head tennis, Altrincham almost took an early lead (80 secs). Danylyk fed Denham who played in Senior, whose cross from the right by-line just evaded the head of Colin Little in the goalmouth. But from their first serious attack, Mansfield took the lead. It came as Altrincham failed to clear their lines and though Coburn made a magnificent save from Somner's shot, the ball came out to Perry, who lifted the ball into the top of the net to give the Stags the lead, to the delight of their sizeable away following. Stuart Coburn protested that the goal was offside but to no avail. The game had just gone into the eighth minute.
Duffy got away with no more than a freekick award against him for both a foul and dissent as Mr Halliday set his low benchmark for taking action against the rugged approach of the visitors. A very late challenge by Somner on Kearney merely underlined this as a freekick was given but not even a word of censure was addressed to the perpetrator (10 mins). Altrincham had a glorious chance to equalise in the 12th minute when a ball dropped for Denham whose effort was blocked but came out to Senior. From about 12 yards Senior hit the ball hard - but well off target (12 mins).
Another crude foul from Mills, who somehow won the away man of the match award, flattened Denham and even Mr Halliday was induced to produce a yellow card (13 mins). Alty had a close escape when Perry got in a shot which Coburn saved smartly with his legs at the cost of a corner (16 mins). Altrincham continued to pass the ball well, with Kearney always looking to have time whenever he was on the ball. Clee was then flattened, with Mr Halliday playing advantage, which led to an Altrincham corner. Williams was being held two-handed round the waist as the ball came in but the linesman, spelt in the programme as Mr Cropp, failed to spot it.
At the other end Coburn injured himself kicking clear and needed treatment. This was the first game this season that Alty had no reserve keeper on the bench so Stuart had to continue, though clearly troubled with a leg injury (20 mins). Mansfield were now on top as the fouls continued at regular intervals. From a Clee cross, Alty went close again (24 mins) before the left winger was brought down by Silk. An Alty corner soon followed before a flashpoint in the game arose. Clee was clearly fouled again but Mr Halliday saw nothing wrong. The Alty man then exacted his frustration by fouling an opponent who went down, followed by a posse of his team mates arriving on the scene. Senior unwisely steamed into the action and clearly pushed a Mansfield player, two-handed, in the chest. He could have few complaints at seeing a red card. Following several unnecessary bookings amongst his four yellow cards this season, the Alty striker needs to act more wisely in future (28 mins). Doughty also picked up a booking in this incident, presumably for dissent and Clee, too, was booked.
So, heavily outpointed in the foul count, Alty nevertheless found themselves a man down. Denham was then given offside by Mr Cropp, the assistant referee. When Somner, not for the first time, committed a foul, this time catching Kearney very late, Mr Halliday again declined to show a card, but at least gave a freekick which is more than he did when Istead arm wrestled Danylyk off the ball barely six foot from his gaze (32 mins). Alty then almost equalised with a fine move on the right as Densmore's excellent cross was headed firmly against the underside of the cross bar by Colin Little. The ball bounced out and was cleared. This suggested it was not to be Alty’s afternoon.
Smith was having another excellent game at the back for Alty but more controversy surrounded Mr Halliday when, shortly after Chris Denham had gone down for treatment following a clash with a Mansfield defender, for which no foul was given, Mr Cropp had a word with the referee which resulted in Alty substitute Greg Young, warming up at the side of the pitch, being booked, presumably for saying something which upset the linesman (37 mins). Alty's unhappy afternoon got worse as Denham had to limp off to be replaced by Burns (41 mins).
The ten part-timers held their own as the game approached the interval, before which five added minutes were announced. Burns nearly nipped in to score for Alty as Mansfield allowed a ball to bounce in their goalmouth. But his header was just clawed out for a corner by Marriott (46 mins). Mansfield had looked suspect in defence and this was the fourth decent chance that Altrincham had had in the first half. Alty won their third corner of the final five minutes of the first half before Mr Halliday curiously blew his whistle, having only allowed 19 seconds for an injury that had taken at least a minute to treat, and which occurred after he had decreed a minimum of five added minutes. Mr Ferguson would not have been amused.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANSFIELD TOWN 1|
Alty had won this corresponding match last season by scoring 12 seconds after the kick off; now Mansfield did exactly the same at the start of the second. Twelve seconds elapsed as Alty hesitated and, in a replica of the move just before the interval when the Stag's defence had allowed a ball to bounce in their box, allowed the same to happen which permitted Briscoe to hook the ball past Coburn. It was a bad goal from the defence's point of view and gave Alty a mountain to climb with ten men.
Another fine Coburn save kept the score at 2-0 (49 mins), and then Alty won a freekick. Kearney took it and Mr Halliday blew his whistle after the ball had been kicked. Nevertheless he allowed play to continue. Alty then won a corner from which Marriott completely missed the ball but the ball was cleared. Doughty was then brought down by Silk as he advanced into the Mansfield half on the Alty left. After booking the offender, the ref had a word with his linesman before showing Doughty a second yellow card and then a red. Apparently, the Alty left back had kicked out at the offender. So Alty were now down to nine men (53 mins). Both of Alty's dismissals had followed fouls on Altrincham players; in the first case no freekick was given, Clee exacted his own revenge and Senior got himself sent off. In the second case, Doughty retaliated. It looked like curtains for Alty, as nine part-timers faced eleven full-timers for the remaining 37 minutes.
Mansfield then brought on Speight, the former Farsley winger, for Perry (55 mins). Soon afterwards, the already booked Greg Young came on to replace Clee for Altrincham (58 mins). Burns was then harshly penalised as he chased a 50-50 ball into the box and collided with Marriott who spilt the ball. A little too late to help Altrincham, Mr Halliday finally started to produce yellow cards for Mansfield's offenders, booking four of their players in the final half hour. First to se yellow was former Barnsley defender Heckingbottom for a foul on the excellent Densmore (60 mins). Kearney’s' freekick from the edge of the box hit the wall. then Ryan Williams came on for Mansfield to replace Istead (62 mins).
Altrincham were showing good spirit despite the adverse circumstances and when Danylyk and Little got the ball through to Aaron Burns, the on-loan Northwich striker kept his composure to fire past Marriott and make it 2-1 (64 mins). Soon after this Danylyk was caught in the face by a Mansfield raised foot but the referee saw no problem in this. Then Lawton came on for Danylyk (66 mins). Speight got himself needlessly booked after 68 minutes when he played on well after an offside whistle had sounded and rounded Coburn and drove the ball into the net.
Altrincham continued to deploy two of their remaining eight outfield players up front as Mansfield looked distinctly uncomfortable. They tried playing the ball around to tire Alty but lacked any penetration and, quite embarrassingly for an 11-man side against one of nine, they had to be told off for time wasting with almost 20 minutes left. Williams looked their main threat on the left but Smith was doing well to shut him down.
Briscoe then pulled up with a muscle problem and had to be replaced by Sturrock, son of the Plymouth Argyle manager (77 mins). To his discredit, Briscoe walked quite comfortably towards the half way line before deciding that he had to lie down to allow his team to get a substitute ready. Though Mr Halliday saw through this ploy and made him get up, his gamesmanship went unpunished. Sturrock's first act was to kick Densmore in the face with a very high foot-up challenge which earned him a yellow card (78 mins).
Mansfield were far from imposing their two-man superiority on Altrincham with Mills's shot over the bar from 20 yards their best effort at this stage (81 mins). Soon afterwards a wayward shot from Speight cleared the goal comfortably as Mansfield failed to trouble the injured Coburn, until the Alty keeper saved smartly from an offside looking attack (84 mins). More wayward shots from Speight and Sturrock occurred before Alty seemed to have rescued a point. A cross from Little was headed home by Williams, but was ruled out for offside (90 mins).
The visitors were looking shaky as the game went into five minutes of added time. Alty pressed forward belying their two-man deficit but the final whistle went to confirm their second home defeat of the season. They could take a lot of pride from the way they went forward in the final half hour despite the dismissal of two players and a two-goal deficit. But they also had plenty to reflect on in terms of the defensive lapses that cost them the two goals and the receipt of two red cards, both in their way being cases of retaliation for fouls committed against them. Alty dropped to tenth, still a commendable position.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 MANSFIELD TOWN 2|