OXFORD UNITED (0) 1 ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
played on Saturday, 31 October, 2009, at 3pm
Altrincham were under pressure for much of the game - the BBC gave Oxford 69% of the possession - but, nevertheless, put in a very creditable performance with their very weakened team. In fact, it took a 25 yard shot from the unlikely source of Oxford defender Batt to take the points. It was Batt's first goal for the club. Alty also had a few chances of their own - notably through Little and Densmore - and made Oxford endure a nervous closing few minutes. Early on in the game Stuart Coburn was judged to have conceded a penalty but he saved Green's spot-kick.
REFEREE: Mr Ian Cooper (Kent)
ATTENDANCE: 5,609 (79 in away section)
Altrincham had had a torrid October, with four red cards suffered in two matches with Mansfield, albeit one of those coming after the game, courtesy of an FA Disciplinary Panel acting on a video sent to them by the Stags. Three of the players in question remained suspended today- Chris Senior, Tom Kearney and James Smith, whilst both Chris Denham and Dale Johnson were out injured.
Altrincham included six players, including all five substitutes, who had not started a game for the club this season, such was their depleted squad today. Included on the bench for a league match, for the first time, were youth teamers John Bennett and James Smart.
In contrast, Oxford had Constable and Green back from suspension and with Jack Midson retaining his place they adopted a three-man attack.
At kick off, Oxford were clear leaders of the BSP, whilst Altrincham had lost their last three league and cup games, because of injuries and suspensions.
Radio Oxford provided a piece of trivia before kick-off; Matt Doughty scored the first-ever goal at the Kassam Stadium, when playing for Rochdale!
OXFORD UNITED (Yellow shirts, dark blue shorts and yellow socks): 21. Ryan Clarke, 2. Damian Batt, 5. Luke Foster, 6. Mark Creighton, 22. Steven Kinniburgh, 8. Adam Murray, 4. Danny Bulman, 11. Simon Clist, 24. Matt Green, 9. James Constable, 10. Jack Midson. Subs: 1. Billy Turley, 3. Kevin Sandwith, 17. Ross Perry, 20. Sam Deering, 25. Jamie Cook
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 3. Matt DOUGHTY, 5. Greg YOUNG, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 25. Aaron BURNS, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 27. Antonio BRYAN, 9. Colin LITTLE, 11. Nicky CLEE. Subs: 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 18. Michael WELCH, 20. John BENNETT, 21. Andrew PEARSON, 28. James SMART.
The game got off to an undistinguished start with five freekicks inside the first five minutes - four for fouls by Oxford and one for offside against Colin Little. The first attack of note came in the tenth minute when Batt's cross was well cut out by Stuart Coburn.
After ten minutes, Coburn had to do well to punch clear and, after this, Alty won a freekick for which they sent up both Williams and Young but the delivery by Doughty was not up to standard. Oxford moved the ball immediately to the other end, via Green, and Coburn was judged to have brought down Clist as he advanced on goal. The referee pointed to the spot. But, after being booked for his offence, Coburn did very well to save Green's penalty, which was struck too near to him to succeed (12 mins). Green had not directed the ball far enough away from Coburn.
Just a minute later Constable dived in the box but got neither a penalty nor a booking for going to ground.
Oxford were enjoying more of the possession, without seriously threatening, as Young made an important tackle. He and Williams went on to have good games at the heart of the Alty defence. Indeed, Alty were the next to threaten when, after 23 minutes, a cross from Clee was missed by Creighton giving Little an opening but he failed to make contact from six yards.
After the combative Constable had been penalised for a foul on Coburn (28 mins), a rare Altrincham attack saw the lively Burns shoot over from 25 yards, after 31 minutes. Four minutes later, a foul on Green by Greg Young produced a free kick from which Murray found Constable, but he shot wide. Little was taking Alty's corners today but Oxford saw off one such flag kick after 38 minutes.
As half time approached the Oxford crowd was beginning to vent its frustration on the referee but they were not unhappy to see Lawton booked as the interval approached (43 mins). This was for "unsporting behaviour" after he was deemed not to have reteated quickly enough after conceding a freekick which Oxford deliberately drove against him. However, the home crowd's mood soon swung again when Constable, who had been displaying petulance throughout the first half, was finally booked for a foul on williams (45 mins). Just before the half-time whistle, Midson put the ball in the net but his effort was ruled offside (45+2 mins).
|Half-Time: OXFORD UNITED 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Oxford started the second half the better side, Green and Constable both causing the Alty defence to react smartly. Five minutes after the break, Constable wastefully hit a freekick, conceded by the busy Danylyk, well over the bar from a threatening central position.
In the 53rd minute, Andrew Pearson came on to replace Bryan for Altrincham. Debutant Bryan had put in plenty of effort but seemed a little short of match fitness. As the visitors tried to get forward, Burns was given offside (58 mins)
On the hour, Jack Midson was replaced by Deering and it was the young Oxford forward who sparked some life into a misfiring United. Alty were being kept on the back foot and the pressure cumulated in a goal after 65 minutes. But it took a first-ever goal, from 25 yards, by defender Damien Batt to break Altrincham's stubborn resistance. Left back Kinniburgh crossed the ball and Batt fired the ball, low into the net, from more than 20 yards, giving Coburn no chance.
Oxford were dominating now but the nearest they came to a second goal was Green's wide shot (67 mins). After a Little corner had been dealt with, Cook came on for Oxford's Green (76 mins). With ten minutes left, Welch came on for Lawton and after 81 minutes, Greg Young was booked for a foul on Constable. The already booked Constable chanced his arm with another foul, this time on Densmore.
As the end of the ninety minutes approached, Altrincham caused Oxford some concern. Their best chance to equalise came when Williams won the ball well and it came to Densmore but he shot disappointingly and the ball was cleared off the line by a defender after initial errors by Creighton and Kinniburgh had given Alty the chance (85 mins).
After 86 minutes Perry came on for a now nervous Oxford, who were being pushed all the way by Alty's weakened team. But Coburn had to save from Constable as the game went into added time. In the fourth added minute, a Clee effort cleared the bar and soon aftewards the whistle went to confirm Oxford's win.
Considering the very weakened nature of Alty's part-time side, they had given an excellent account of themsleves against the division's runaway leaders, who are now eight point clear at the top of the BSP. The Robins will be pleased to welcome back Chris Senior for their next game, to add some bite to their attack.
|Full-Time: OXFORD UNITED 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|