ALTRINCHAM (0) 1 GRAYS ATHLETIC (0) 1
played on Saturday, 27 February 2010, at 3pm
In an entertaining game, albeit littered with frequent stoppages for freekicks, Grays emerged with a deserved point. The bottom club in the table, Grays had strengthened in recent weeks, and they deserved their point today. After Reynolds had hit the bar and Wilson had missed a good chance in the opening fifteen minutes, the sides traded attacks in a goalless first half, in which Alty's play was undone by some poor passing.
Grays took the lead after 61 minutes when they broke up the left and Cissoko netted a cross from close range. Alty levelled twelve minutes later through Chris Senior after Kearney had done will to the left of goal. Grays captain Dean was lucky not to see red till the 89th minute when he committed his fifth foul following his original booking in the first half. Grays keeper Garner was named their man of the match with Senior taking the Alty award though he would not have begrudged Nicky Clee the award, had he been the recipient.
REFEREE: Mr D Handley
Lawton and Little, who finished the game at Gateshead as used subs, today returned to the starting line-up with Danylyk and McAliskey dropping to the bench to accommodate them.
Grays Athletic's manager Julian Dicks had brought in numerous new faces in recent weeks, notably Shrewsbury goalkeeper Glyn Garner, on-loan Southend centre half Duran Reynolds and former Yeovil midfielder Sam Lechmere.
Altrincham had dropped a place with the demise of Chester on Friday and the erasure of their results against the Deva Stadium side. But they went into this game in eleventh place whilst Grays were now bottom (23rd) and looking for their first point of 2010.
Akty had comfortably won the reverse fixture at Grays 3-0, earlier this season. But they had played indifferently in recent games at home To Eastbourne and away to Gateshead, where they had lost last Tuesday.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): ALTRINCHAM: 1. Stuart COBURN, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 2. James SMITH, 5. Greg YOUNG; 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. Tom KEARNEY, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 11. Nicky CLEE; 9. Colin LITTLE, 19. Chris SENIOR, 10. Chris DENHAM, Subs: 17. John McALISKEY, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 27. Ryan BROWN, 8. Clive MOYO-MODISE,
GRAYS ATHLETIC (Pale blue shirts and shorts, white socks): 32. Glyn Garner, 17. Kenny Davis, 6. Duran Reynolds, 27. Mark Clairey, 28 Danny Bunce; 11 Richard Graham, 30 Harlee Dean (capt), 20 Jordan Wilson, 7 Alsseny Cissoko; 9 Jamie Guy, 29 Sam Lechmere. Subs: 1 Preston Edwards, 5. Jonathan Glowacki, 8. Alex Rhodes, 10. Wayne Gray, 14. Harry Agumbar..
Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road End, facing Grays' 4-4-2 formation which included several recent signings, notably goalkeeper Glyn Garner who was Shrewsbury Town's regular keeper till the season before last. The attendance was better than might have been expected given that only five Grays supporters were in the away end, plus a handful in the main stand; but they are to be commended for supporting their side through thick and thin by making the 425-mile return trip today.
Alty won the first of what were to be many long throws by Nicky Clee in the first half. With Nicky also taking several corners, he was a busy man racing back and for across the pitch for these set pieces. A good ball forward from Smith only just evaded Greg Young who was still deep in the Grays box having come upfield for an earlier freekick (4 mins). Indeed, Grays were to concede quite a few freekicks in the first half.
Alty's fairly bright start continued as Denham got to the by-line to the right of goal, his resulting cross skimming across the face of goal (6 mins). But Altrincham almost went behind in the 12th minute. A mis-directed back header from Clee, who was at times playing as an auxiliary left-back to mark Lechmere, ran out of play when Coburn could not get to it. From the resulting corner, Reynolds rose well to plant a header against the underside of the Alty bar from where it was cleared (12 mins).
As Clee then raced forward past half-way he was felled by Davis who was very fortunate to receive a lecture but no card (13 mins). Denham then had a decent half-volley saved. But Grays almost scored once more and again it stemmed from an Alty error. This time, Smith sold Williams short with a pass and Graham got free, before putting in a diagonal cross from the left which the stretching Wilson, with only Coburn to beat, could only screw wide of the goal at the back post (15 mins).
It was clear that Grays were a much more formidable side than they had been earlier in the season, with goalkeeper Garner proving a solid presence at the back. Play was now end to end and Densmore now swept a strong cross from the right across the face of the Grays goal (18 mins). Two more Clee throws were won on the left, the second leading to a deflected shot from Little which landed on the roof of the net, for an Alty corner - taken by the ubiquitous Clee. Then the all-action Clee got in a good shot from a Densmore freekick which Garner did well to tip over the bar for another corner... taken, of course, by Clee.
As the first half passed its half-way mark, the sides traded attacks. But then Reynolds got booked for a late, but not pre- meditated tackle which left Senior needing treatment which carried on, off the side of the pitch as play resumed. Senior came back on a minute or two later as Dean beat Lawton in the air to fire a header over the bar (28 mins).
When the already booked Reynolds barged over Senior, the referee opted not even to award a freekick. A great take down of an aerial ball by Denham was then undone by his attempted through ball for Little being cut out by a defender. Just after the half hour some good skill from Little found Clee and, in turn, Denham, who forced another fine save from Garner (31 mins).
Kearney was then booked for an offence that was not altogether clear (33 mins) before Grays won another corner after a shot hit an Alty defender. Next Grays had a shot which went so high it hit the roof of the three-storey block of apartments immediately behind the Hale End goal (35 mins). Alty soon replied by winning a corner for which Clee again had to jog from the left wing to the right corner flag (38 mins).
Next, Lechmere wasted a promising break up the right with a poor cross before Denham broke free at the other end. he expertly took the ball round Garner and a goal seemed a formality. But his goalbound shot was brilliantly blocked, at the cost of a corner, by a covering defender, Richard Graham (43 mins).
Alty went on to finish the half strongly, winning another corner as Little had a shot taken off his toes from a Clee cross. In the two added minutes at the end of the half, Little won his side another corner - Alty were to win the game's corner count by 9 to 2. Before the interval, Dean was booked for a very high foot up against Greg Young (45+1 mins), a card which was to cost the Grays man in the second half.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 GRAYS ATHLETIC 0|
Each side had a great chance to score at the start of the second half. Firstly, a cross from the right gave Reynolds a free header at the back post, which he put wide. then with Alty adopting a 4-3-3 formation Senior forced a fine save from the left of goal with the loose ball coming out to Densmore who put his effort way off target (48 mins).
Alty's attacks were being undone too often by poor final balls, which went to opponents rather than their own men. Davis was then booked quite rightly for blatantly blocking Denham as he threatened to get past into the box (54 mins). At this point James Smith came over to the bench for attention to what looked to be his thigh. As the Alty freekick came to nothing, Dean advanced and forced a save from Coburn. When Denham was felled again, once again by Davis, the Grays man was booked (58 mins). The ESPN match stats showed 22 fouls by Grays against 7 by Altrincham.
Senior then shot into the side netting following a Clee freekick, from 40 yards out, before each side made a change. Grays brought on Gray for Wilson, whilst McAliskey replaced Little up front for Altrincham (60 mins). Almost immediately McAliskey lost the ball some 15 yards inside the Grays half and the Essex side got free up the left. Ironically it was Grays' sub, Gray, who exploited the error by Alty's sub to feed Cissoko who arrived in the goalmouth to score comfortably and give his side the lead (61 mins).
The already booked Dean was now penalised again and from Denham’s freekick a corner resulted. Kearney’s effort was caught by Garner. Now the ailing Smith was withdrawn by Alty and Brown came on to the left side of defence (65 mins). Dean continued to walk a disciplinary tightrope as he threw the ball away after a freekick award but strangely only received a lecture, which incensed Alty boss Graham Heathcote.
Following a magnificent tackle by Lawton inside the Grays box as Cissoko threaten to get free, the referee did produce a yellow card for the Grays man for diving (68 mins). Alty's passing continued to let them down as they laboured past the game’s three-quarter mark. After Grays had gone close, they took off Lechmere and brought on Rhodes (70 mins). When Dean brought down Clee, with a late challenge, the Grays captain yet again escaped a second yellow card. Then Danylyk replaced Lawton in Alty's midfield (72 mins).
Alty again failed to make much use of the freekick. But then Brown advanced on the left, feeding Kearney. He did well to make himself room to get the ball across the box from the left to Clee who, in turn fed Senior. Alty's leading scorer netted his 13th league goal of the season with a low shot into the far corner. It was Chris's eighth goal in the last nine league games (73 mins).
Garner soon had to come out bravely to smother the ball at the feet of an Alty player but Grays then won a corner after Cissoko’s shot was deflected on to the roof of the net. Clee then fired wildly over the bar at the other end as the game could have gone either way. Rhodes then hit the Alty side netting (80 mins). Amazingly Dean got away with his fourth foul after being booked when he fouled Densmore (83 mins).
Play continued end to end as Alty pulled all eleven men back for a Grays freekick. In the 86th minute Agombar replaced Cissoko before Grays messed up a decent cross when two of their own players collided in going for the ball at the back post (87 mins). Finally, at the fifth time of asking, Mr Handley lost patience with Dean and when he committed a routine foul on Kearney he saw a yellow card which arguably he should have had almost half an hour earlier (89 mins). Two more Grays fouls arrived in added time as Alty poured forward, the second when Kearney got kicked in the head. Following the freekick Young headed the ball on but Williams could only put his header wide. And with that the final chance had gone leaving Alty with a haul of five points from their past four games which manager Graham Heathcote had declared were all winnable.
ESPN statistics revealed a staggering 30 shots at goal in this game, 19 to Alty and 11 to Grays, but with only six Alty shots on target to Grays's four. Alty also won the corner count, 9-2 but possession was 50/50.
Altrincham and Grays have a good relationship following the Essex side's former chairman Micky Woodward helping us out when we appealed against our 18-point deduction in 2005, so we wish them well in their fight against relegation. On today’s showing Julian Dicks has made some good acquisitions in recent weeks as Grays put in a good performance today.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 GRAYS ATHLETIC 1|