ALTRINCHAM (0) 0 OXFORD UNITED (0) 1
played on Saturday, 10 April 2010, at 3pm
Above: Robbie Lawton feels the brunt of Chapman's freekick.
After holding the visitors to a goalless first half, Altrincham will have been disappointed to have lost this game early in the second half to slack marking from a corner, which allowed James Constable a free header (53 mins). Oxford had the better of the first half without forcing Stuart Coburn into any really serious action, though an Oxford header did strike the cross bar.
Alty had rotated their small squad with a view to tough games against the top two (Stevenage and Luton) later this week, so leading scorers Chris Senior and Chris Denham only joined the game just before the hour mark. With Williams also pushed forward, Alty pressed hard in the closing stages but could not get an equalizer. Brown's excellent burst forward was one of their best chances but his final shot was a disappointment. But overall there could be few complaints at the outcome, as Oxford became the only side to beat Alty home and away this season.
REFEREE: Mr J Collin
ATTENDANCE: 1,356 (368 in away end)
Altrincham's April fixtures are formidable with four successive games against top five teams. After a last-minute defeat by York last Monday, today it was Oxford United, followed by the top two, Stevenage (Wednesday) and Luton Town (Saturday). And with Nicky Clee still injured, as well as longer-term absentees Dale Johnson, Matt Doughty and Tom Kearney (all of whom were at today's game), the 16-man squad comprised the whole of the available squad, apart from youth teamers Bennett and Smart, neither of whom has appeared yet in the Conference. So, Graham Heathcote and Ken McKenna rotated their squad today. Alty started with both their leading scorers (Senior and Denham) on the bench, starting instead with Colin Little and John McAliskey up front.
Oxford, too, had made some changes with Sam Deering returning to the starting line-up. Ex-Altrincham player Lewis Chalmers was on the bench. He is currently at Oxford, on loan from Aldershot.
Oxford had narrowly won the reverse fixture 1-0. They arrived at Moss Lane after a poor run had seen them lose a commanding lead at the top of the BSP and they were now resigned to a play-off place.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 5. Greg YOUNG, 27. Ryan BROWN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 21. Peter DORAN, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt); 9. Colin LITTLE, 17. John McALISKEY, Subs: 19. Chris SENIOR, 10. Chris DENHAM, 18. Michael WELCH, 13. Russell SAUNDERS [gk], 24. Adam CARDEN
OXFORD UNITED (Yellow and blue) 21. Ryan Clarke, 2. Damian Batt, 6. Mark Creighton, 14. Jake Wright, 18. Anthony Tonkin, 19. Francis Green, 7. Adam Chapman, 4. Danny Bulman, 20. Sam Deering, 10. Jack Midson, 9. James Constable (capt). Subs: 24. Matthew Green, 1. Billy Turley, 3. Kevin Sandwith, 16. Rhys Day, 17. Lewis Chalmers,
Oxford kicked off, on a warm, sunny afternoon, attacking the end populated by their own supporters. Apart from Stuart Coburn uncharacteristically spilling a routine catch in the third minute, there was nothing much to report till Peter Doran had a shot saved (4 mins).
However, the visitors began to have the better of proceedings with Batt posing a threat on the right. Williams conceded a corner, when a shout to him would have told him that he could let the ball run out for a goalkick. A second corner was won from the first but a foul gave Alty a freekick after this. Oxford’s first real chance arose after 10 minutes when a cross from the right by Batt, who had got past Brown, led to an impressive overhead shot at the near post by Green, but his effort went wide.
After a Coburn goalkick, the ball immediately came back and Constable got in two shots which were well blocked by Young, who was to win another Alty Man of the Match award. Oxford continued to go forward and a Batt shot was stopped from reaching Coburn when it hit Midson en route (15 mins). After an impressive pull down by McAliskey, the big striker undid his good work with a poor pass. Oxford then went up the left, through Deering, and via Tonkin and Constable, Midson poked the ball into the net from close range, but he was clearly offside and the effort was ruled out (19 mins).
Oxford continue to press but Batt wasted a decent opening with a very poor shot, wide, before a mis-pass from Doran gave Oxford possession from which they gained another corner (24 mins). Soon after this, Coburn made an impressively nonchalant one-handed catch from a cross before Alty won a freekick, slightly fortunately, when McAliskey slipped (27 mins). Brown’s freekick from 45 yards was fielded by goalkeeper Clarke, his former Northwich team-mate.
Oxford now committed a series of minor fouls which gave Alty freekicks and helped them back into the game. But Alty's set pieces today were to be disappointing. However, the Robins almost got a breakthrough, against the run of play, when a Coburn punt was nodded on up the middle by McAliskey, setting Little running into the front of the box but he was crowded out by the keeper and a defender (32 mins).
Two more Oxford corners followed this and, from the second, an Oxford header at the back post by Midson hit the crossbar. Alty responded with a Little shot, which was blocked, at the other end (34 mins). This prompted a decent spell from Altrincham, with Doran and then Brown getting forward. When Little was felled from behind, Alty manager Graham Heathcote complained to the fourth official as no freekick resulted. Williams then impressively beat Midson twice in the air in a minute. As half time approached Densmore got in a good cross from the right but it went across the goalmouth, just evading McAliskey at the back post (40 mins).
When Bulman caught Danylyk with a studs up tackle, the former Crawley man was booked (44 mins). Two minutes of added time produced an Oxford corner which Coburn punched clear but half-time arrived with Alty having seemingly taken the sting out of the visitors who had dominated the first half-hour. Nevertheless, Coburn had not had a real save to make as his defence covered him well.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 OXFORD UNITED 0|
Before play resumed, Robbie Williams was presented with his Wales semi-pro international cap by Alty chairman Geoff Goodwin.
When play started, Young tripped Constable just outside the box as Oxford gained an early freekick. Chapman blasted this at the wall with poor Robbie Lawton taking the full brunt of it (49 mins). An Oxford corner soon followed but was cleared. However, a Batt cross then struck Young to win another corner, on the Oxford right. Despite having all ten outfield players back to defend it, Constable was left unmarked and had a free header from 10 yards or so, which entered the net to give Oxford the lead (53 mins). It was a disappointing goal to concede.
Brown got in a wide shot soon after the re-start before Alty won their first corner from Danylyk’s deflected shot. At this point Alty brought on Senior and Denham for Lawton and Little (57 mins). Next, a Brown cross-cum-shot was just caught under the bar by the back-pedalling Clarke, who looked nervously at his feet on the goal line after catching the ball. Clarke was the Vics' keeper who dropped a similar cross at the feet of Jody Banim in Alty's encounter with the Vics at Moss Lane last season.
After Coburn had saved from a Midson flick on the hour mark, Constable produced a fierce shot which Coburn beat out superbly, but the flag went up anyway (61 mins). Next, Matt Green replaced Midson for Oxford (63 mins). Oxford continued to have the better of the game, without posing any serious threat, until Densmore had to make a smart interception to steer a ball from Constable back to Coburn. Alty then worked themselves forward but a poor cross from the right by Densmore ended any threat.
Adam Carden now came on for McAliskey (69 mins). Alty's best effort of the game followed as Young fed Senior who, in turn, located Denham, to the right of goal. His shot forced a good save, at the second attempt, from Clarke at the near post (72 mins). A minute later Lewis Chalmers came on for Frances Green.
Alty won a freekick for one of 19 fouls awarded against the visitors. But Doran lifted this over the bar from the edge of the box (77 mins). After 80 minutes Matt Green replaced Deering for United as Alty began to sustain a bit of pressure. Constable should have been booked after committing another foul and kicking the ball away but he escaped with a lecture and much pointing to the sites of his previous misdemeanours by referee Collin.
Chris Senior picked up a needless booking when he deliberately handled a through ball which had been played too far ahead of him; with Doran behind him he would have done better to let the ball run (83 mins). Alty continued to press but without much incision. A foul by Batt on Senior yielded a freekick which in turn led to Alty's second corner of the game. From Doran's kick the ball was half-cleared to Denham, whose volley missed the target (87 mins). Williams was now playing in an advanced position as Alty went for an equalizer but it was his defensive partner Brown who next threatened. He made a fine run forward on the left but finished with a weak shot (90 mins).
The four minutes of added time saw Altrincham press forward but without success. And so Oxford recorded their eighth 1-0 league win of the season whilst Alty lost by a single goal for the tenth time this season in the league. Alty dropped to 12th as they go into games against the top and second-placed teams in the league in the next week. Though losing for the second successive game against a full-time play-off side, Altrincham were far from disgraced today.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 OXFORD UNITED 1|