NANTWICH TOWN (2) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 2
played on Saturday, 17 July 2010, at 3pm
This should have been a much improved performance on the game at Rhyl the previous evening when trialists had comprised virtually the entire Altrincham squad. But for 45 minutes the performance from Alty was poor as the UniBond side outplayed their Conference visitors. It was 2-0 to the Dabbers at half-time but it might have been 4-0.
Nantwich went ahead after 18 minutes when Kyle Blake planted a 25 yard freekick past a motionless Russell Saunders from right of goal (10 mins). And this was after the home team had been denied what looked a very clear penalty. A fine move up the left by Nantwich made it 2-0 after 28 minutes; the first shot was well stopped by Saunders; the follow-up was cleared off the line by Densmore, but Marvin Robinson, the former Hucknall striker, made it 2-0 with the third attempt.
With Town carving open Alty almost at will and the visitors reduced to aimless balls forward, more composed finishing would have put Nantwich out of sight before the interval.
The interval team talk apparently turned the game round, though for the first few minutes of the half Alty still looked second best. However, after 54 minutes, a superb freekick by Ryan Brown arrowed into the far, top corner of the Nantwich net to make it 2-1. And less than a minute later it was 2-2 when Michael Twiss finished off a good Alty move. Altrincham made numerous changes to give trialists some time on the pitch and they finished the stronger but a draw was the least Nantwich deserved.
Altrincham started with ten of last season's first-team players, plus trialist and former left-back Danny Adams. Regular players Stuart Coburn (on holiday) and both Adam Carden and Nicky Clee (who played last night) were the only absentees apart from the injured Matt Doughty. Tom Kearney and Dale Johnson- though Dale did make a brief appearance in the closing stages of this game.
This was Altrincham's first visit to Nantwich's relatively new ground and the opposition included ex-Altrincham players Kevin Street and Darren Tinson, now player-managers for the Dabbers. Also in their squad was Chris Rowley, former Alty reserves' goalkeeper and ex-Youth player Sam Madeley. But there was no sign of Jake Sedgemore, who was named in the team list in the programme. Former Crewe winger Rodney Jack was a well-known face in the hosts' line-up.
This was Altrincham's second away friendly inside 24 hours after their disappointing 1-0 defeat at Rhyl. But that defeat was excusable given that the squad was almost entirely trialists; today it was basically Graham Heathcote's first-team minus Nicky Clee, Stuart Coburn and the injured Johnson, Kearney and Doughty. However, Dale Johnson did make his first brief appearance late in this game following his cruciate injury last season.
The game was played in dry and bright conditions but a blustery wind made life difficult for the players.
NANTWICH TOWN (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts and socks): 1. Ben CHAPMAN, 2. Kevin STREET, 3. Ashley CARTER, 4. Chris FLYNN, 5. Darren TINSON, 6. Kyle BLAKE, 7. Omar MAHMOUD, 8. Tom PARKES, 9. Sam ASPINWALL, 10. Marvin ROBINSON, 11. Rodney JACK. Subs: 14. Glyn BLACKHURST, 15. Nathan SOUTHERN, 16. Chris ROWLEY (gk), 17. Sam Madeley.
ALTRINCHAM (Yellow shirts and socks, blue shorts): 1. Russell SAUNDERS, 2. Shaun DENSMORE, 12. Robbie WILLIAMS, 22. James SMITH, 3. Danny ADAMS; 20. Robbie LAWTON, 26. Anthony DANYLYK, 8. Chris DENHAM, 27. Ryan BROWN; 17. Damian REEVES, 25. Michael TWISS. Subs: 21. Michael CARR, 18. Marc JOSEPH, 15. Adam NOWLAND, 11. Tom SCHOFIELD, 11*. Andy GAMBLE, 14. Danny HOLMES, 8. Fraser McLACHLAN, Dale JOHNSON
Altrincham started in 4-4-2 formation, with Adams (at left-back) the only new face alongside ten of last season's squad. After an uneventful opening, Alty's first shot was Brown's dragged effort, wide of goal, from a Reeves lay-off (6 minutes). Nantwich were denied what looked a clear penalty after 8 minutes when Robinson was pulled down in the box in the 8th minute. The respite was short. Lawton fouled a Nantwich player not far outside the front of the box. Blake's freekick cleared the wall and arrowed into Saunders's top right corner, with the keeper left motionless (10 mins).
The veteran ex-Alty men Tinson and Street, the latter playing at right-back, were performing well whilst Jack and Mahmoud on the wings were a constant trouble to Alty. After the goal Densmore saw a shot saved (12 mins) but the visitors were misplacing passes and resorting to ineffective balls forward rather then a measured passing game. Saunders did well to beat out a Nantwich shot (14 mins) before a Brown effort went well wide at the other end. Mahmoud should have made it 2-0 after a good pass from Robinson but he shot wide (18 mins).
Nantwich won three corners in two minutes (21-23 mins) before Saunders had to go full length to save another Dabbers' effort. Altrincham were creating nothing up front and Twiss was driven to come deep to get the ball. When Smith pushed an opponent and was penalised he reacted petulantly by kicking the ball away. The lenient referee showed no card (24 mins). Denham did go close for Alty (26 mins) but it was soon 2-0 to the hosts. A swift move up the left saw Saunders make a fine save, beating out a firm shot. The follow-up was cleared off the line by Densmore, only for Robisnon to lash the losse ball into the net (28 mins). The margin did not flatter Nantwich.
Alty's lacklustre play continued as they failed to build any coherent moves. Tinson got a free header from a corner which Saunders held and then Robinson was given a free header from a Carter cross but put it wide instead of making it 3-0 (33 mins). Jack continued to torment Alty and the visitors' performance was underlined by three misplaced passes in quick succession (36 mins).
Alty did win a late corner but Nantwich should have scored again on the counter attack after Densmore's flag kick had been cleared. This time, Jack fired narrowly wide (42 mins). There was still time for the Dabbers to threaten again when a fine cross from Street should have been headed in by Aspinwall but he inexplicably failed to connect with the ball (43 mins).
After their poor performance, Alty could only get better in the second half.
|Half-Time: NANTWICH TOWN 2 ALTRINCHAM 0|
At the interval Alty brought on another trialist, former Rotherham defender, Marc Joseph, at left-back for Adams. And former Blackpool midfielder Adam Nowland replaced Danylyk. The second half started with a good Alty move but Denham slipped as he was about to shoot (46 mins).
But Aspinwall then got past Brown and hit a firm shot just wide for Nantwich (49 mins). After a Nantwich corner, Alty gained two for themselves in succession. Soon afterwards a foul on Reeves gave Alty a freekick to the right-centre of goal, 28 yards out. Ryan Brown sent a superb left-foot shot into the very top corner of the net to make it 2-1 (54 mins). Amazingly, within a minute it was 2-2 as a neat move was ended by a wellplaced low shot from Twiss to equalize (55 mins). Parity was hard on Nantwich at this stage.
On the hour Blackhurst replaced Tinson for Nantwich and three minutes later Michael Carr, the former Northwich captain, replaced Robbie Lawton for Altrincham. Carr went on to impress. After 67 minutes, Chris Rowley replaced the Nantwich keeper. Ex-Alty Youth midfielder, Andy Gamble then came on for Reeves (68 minutes) and the youngster was to make his mark with an energetic performance and a couple of good crosses.
Next, another ex-Alty Youth from the season before last, Sam Madeley, came on up front for Nnantwich instead of Aspinwall (71 mins). Alty were now on top but the substitutions continued. Tom Schofield, a local player, replaced Densmore (74 mins) and a minute later there was a well received return for Dale Johnson, making his first appearance for Alty after his long lay off with a cruciate ligament injury. Dale replaced Twiss, who had shown some good touches playing in the hole behind Reeves and Denham.
Nantwich's Southern now replaced Robinson (77 mins) before ex-Burton man Danny Holmes replaced Alty's Brown (78 mins). Schofield showed some promise on the Alty right and the Robins won a couple of corners. From the second a Carr header was cleared off the line. Then a Nowland freekick just cleared the bar for Altrincham (86 mins).
McLachlan, another trialist (ex-Morecambe), made a late appearance in place of Denham (88 mins). The last significant action was an impressive catch by Saunders from a Nantwich corner but the final whistle left the score at 2-2. For Altrincham it was a proverbial "game of two halves", with the first half being best forgotten. The second half trialists showed varying degrees of promise with Carr probably the pick of them.
|Full-Time: NANTWICH TOWN 2 ALTRINCHAM 2|