ALTRINCHAM (2) 2 KETTERING TOWN (0) 0
played on Tuesday, 16 March 2010, at 7.45pm
Out of adversity - once again Alty had only 16 fit players available - came an excellent performance from Altrincham who thoroughly deserved the points against fifth-placed Kettering. In fact, in a ten minute spell before the interval Alty might easily have scored three more goals than the two which actually counted. John McAliskey opened the scoring when he netted from close range after Man of the Match, Nicky Clee, had got to the by-line left of goal, following an excellent feed by Adam Carden, who made an impressive first start for the Robins. And Shaun Densmore made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the 42nd minute after Thelwell had foolishly pulled back Chris Senior inside the box. McAliskey struck the bar and Senior twice went close as Kettering went to pieces before the interval.
Before that Kettering had looked dangerous going forward but less than certain at the back. They made a game of it in the second half but Coburn in the Alty goal was only seriously troubled once when he had to tip over a header very late in the game. A bonus for Graham Heathcote were the performances of Carden and Doran in midfield, two young players new to the side and stepping up from lower-level football, whilst at the back Young and Williams were superb, and well supported by Densmore and Brown.
REFEREE: Mr P Curry
ATTENDANCE: 690 (36 in away end)
Alty had only the same sixteen fit players as last Saturday but made two changes; Little and Denham were replaced by Adam Carden, making his first start, and John McAliskey. The Robins' eleven included seven players who had moved up from lower level football over the past year or so.
Kettering included two ex-Alty loan players. James Jennings, who had turned down an offer from Alty to join the Poppies last year, played at left-back, whilst Jordan Hadfield was in midfield.
This was the second of three matches in an a week at Moss Lane for which the opposition was a top-six club. Kettering arrived at Moss Lane with an excellent away record and having beaten Altrincham 2-0 at Rockingham Road earlier this season.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 5. Greg YOUNG, 27. Ryan BROWN, 21. Peter DORAN, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 24. Adam CARDEN 11. Nicky CLEE; 19. Chris SENIOR, 17. John McALISKEY, Subs 9. Colin LITTLE, 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 18. Michael WELCH, 8. Clive MOYO-MODISE, 10. Chris DENHAM,
KETTERING TOWN (Blue and yellow): 31. Nathan Abbey,2. Alton Thelwell, 3. James Jennings, 4. Darren Wrack, 6. John Dempster, 8. Jordan Hadfield, 11. Kwesi Appiah, 12. Greg Taylor, 14. James Dance, 17. André Boucaud, 22. Marcus Kelly, Subs: 15. Patrick Noubissie, 20. Danny Thomas, 16. Elliott Charles, 10. Jean-Paul Marna, 25. Pascal Ebigbo.
Kettering Town kicked off towards the away end at Moss Lane but Altrincham soon put together some good passing movements on the excellent surface produced by groundsman Neil Brown. However, it was the visitors who first threatened when the lightning-paced Marcus Kelly got to the by-line, left of goal but his cross fortunately evaded his team-mates (4 mins). Soon afterwards Dance turned well before firing just over the Alty bar as the Poppies showed their attacking potential.
Nicky Clee was soon impressing for Altrincham but after making an excellent turn his shot at goal only bisected the angle between corner flag and goal (8 mins). Peter Doran, too, was much in evidence as he harried in midfield and took every opportunity to go forward when in possession. A foul on Clee earned Greg Taylor an early booking (11 mins). From Clee’s resulting freekick the ball fell in the box for Williams but he miskicked and the ball ended up with keeper Abbey (13 mins).
Kettering won their first corner on the quarter of an hour mark and moments later Wrack had a shot but his effort was well clear of the crossbar. Clee was busy in all areas of the pitch, going forward, taking throws and freekicks and, now, covering defensively as he made a good block on Dance's shot (18 mins).
Next, Adam Carden, who was settling in well in midfield shot wide for Alty. Coburn was then called into action, saving a low effort from Kelly (25 mins). At this stage Altrincham were having difficulty keeping the ball upfield for long periods and the game went through a spell in which there were few chances as the half-hour mark passed.
That all changed when Carden advanced up the middle and played the ball left to Clee, as a Kettering tackle caught Carden late. The referee played an excellent advantage which allowed Clee to advance towards the by-line from where his excellent low cross gave McAliskey the chance to net from close range at the near post to make it 1-0 (33 mins). The goal almost opened the floodgates as Altrincham now dominated the period before half-time. From a Clee corner, Young had a header blocked, followed by a blast from Peter Doran which went wide (38 mins). Next more excellent work from Clee gave McAliskey a header which had power but was slightly off target (39 mins). Kettering then committed suicide when Thelwell needlessly pulled back Senior as the ball was running to keeper Abbey to the left of the Kettering goal. The referee pointed to the spot.
With Senior having seen Alty’s most recent penalty saved, at Wrexham, it was Shaun Densmore who took over the spot-kick responsibilities. The England "C" international beat Abbey with a low shot into the keeper’s bottom left corner to make it 2-0 (42 mins). This goal prompted an amazing spell before the interval during which Alty could have scored three more, as the visitors temporarily fell apart.
Firstly, Carden got in a cross which went across the face of goal then McAliskey won a corner. From Clee's corner, McAliskey volleyed against the top of the cross bar (44 mins). The pressure was briefly relieved as Kelly got forward only for Danylyk to make a great recovery tackle. Then at the other end Senior got onto an underhit back pass from Thelwell before colliding with Abbey but appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears (45 mins). But Kettering safely negotiated a minute of added time to go in trailing by two goals when it could have been much worse.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 KETTERING TOWN 0|
For the second half, Kettering made a double change as Marna and Thomas replaced Appiah and Wrack. After an early freekick for handball against Jennings, the Kettering left-back then took out Densmore and ran up the right wing where Carden deliberately tripped him as the ref blew his whistle for the Kettering man's challenge. Jennings had the gall to protest against his deserved booking and, after the linesman's intervention, Carden also saw a yellow card (50 mins).
The first part of the second half was also disrupted by brief stoppages for treatment to Doran and Clee. Clee then took advantage of an error from Taylor to win a corner from which McAliskey nodded a header to the keeper (59 mins). But Alty had a scare when Kelly cut in and put in a cross which went across the face of the Alty goal, just evading two incoming attackers (60 mins).
Marna had improved Kettering's attacking options but it was Alty who won the next corner when Hadfield curiously yet seemingly quite deliberately, headed the ball out rather than towards his keeper. Hadfield's woe increased as he soon found himself booked when he brought down Clee in full stride (67 mins). In the 71st minute John McAliskey went off to be replaced by Chris Denham. Next, Danylyk had to do a smart bit of defending to concede a corner as Kettering threatened. Graham Heathcote now shouted to his team to adopt 4-1-3-2, with Danylyk as the one instructed to keep close to the lively Kelly.
Senior got in a good shot from 25 yards but Abbey saved it comfortably before another Clee surge ended with a return pass from Denham which the Yorkshire-based winger pulled wide of the target (73 mins). Abbey was then penalised for handling a back pass which gave Alty a freekick near the penalty spot. So, all the Kettering team lined up on the goal line making it virtually impossible to score. In fact, Densmore's strike hit Hadfield, amidst claims for hands which went unanswered.
A great ball from Carden fed the overlapping Doran on the Alty right but only a corner resulted (77 mins). After a complete farce with the fourth official's electronic board which variously showed Alty's no.18 being replaced by himself, no.18, then by no.19, it was actually no.11, Clee who was withdrawn in favour of Welch (no.18) (77 mins). Two minutes later Ebigbo replaced Dance who, as he trudged off, petulantly aimed a verbal broadside at the linesman for reasons best known to himself.
Kettering then won a corner but Greg Young and Robbie Williams were proving equal to anything that Kettering could throw at them. Hadfield then went off for treatment as Alty continued to look a threat on the break. Senior now set Carden free on the right but he produced a disappointing chip (89 mins). With Clee named as a merited Man of the Match, Boucaud's shot at goal was so high it cleared the Golf End terracing roof (89 mins).
After a very quiet evening, Alty keeper Stuart Coburn produced an excellent last-minute tip over the bar from a Kettering header by Dempster (90 mins). A surprisingly long five minutes were announced for added time, during which Kettering won four corners but with game actually running into the seventh minute of added time, the whistle finally sounded.
This was one of Altrincham's best home performances for a long time and all the more noteworthy for being achieved with a squad comprising the club's only 16 fit players. It was all the more creditable that the win came without the injured Doughty, Kearney, Lawton and Johnson and that seven of the Alty starters tonight had joined the club from at least one level lower down the Pyramid (Brown, Williams, Doran, Danylyk, Carden, Clee and McAliskey) and four of these (Brown, Doran, Carden, McAliskey) had only 16 previous starts between them for the club. For that, the management as well as the players themselves deserve accolades.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 KETTERING TOWN 0|