CURZON ASHTON (1) 2 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
Jack Crompton Trophy
played on Saturday, 24 July 2010, at 3pm
After a promising display at Trafford last Tuesday, where Altrincham won 5-0, this was a very disappointing showing against more EvoStik League One opposition in the shape of Curzon Ashton. Four trialists were in Alty's starting eleven and a further three were on the bench for this Jack Crompton Trophy match but all seven had figured in earlier games this summer. Altrincham had gone the closer of the two sides to breaking the deadlock in the first half but after 43 minutes a mis-header backwards by Densmore conceded an unnecessary corner to Curzon. From this, two initial efforts were kept out by a save and a clearance off the line but the third chance was smashed into the net by Mack (44 mins).
Eight minutes after the break it was 2-0 when Robbie Williams was penalised for hand ball and McDonagh drove the resulting penalty past Stuart Coburn. On the hour mark, frustration got to James Smith who, having lost possession just outside his own box, took a hack at a Curzon player's shins. The referee leniently showed a yellow but the management immediately withdrew the defender. With substitutions every few minutes, the second half was nevertheless an improvement on the dismal first half, especially after Reeves made it 2-1 with a well taken goal after McLachlan's initial effort had been brilliantly saved by former Alty reserves' keeper, Craig Ellison (67 mins). One of few positives for Altrincham was a promising second-half appearance from Dale Johnson as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.
REFEREE: Simon Mather
Anthony Danylyk was on holiday and Nicky Clee, who missed Tuesday's game with a slight strain, was also absent for Altrincham but, otherwise, all the fit first-team squad was present for Altrincham, though four trialists were included in the initial starting eleven. All four had appeared in earlier games this pre-season and they comprised ex-Rotherham left-back Marc Joseph, giant former Grimsby defender Matt Heywood and midfielders Adam Nowland (ex-Blackpool) and Danny Holmes (ex-Burton). It was good to see Matt Doughty fit enough to do some running in the warm-up, following his cruciate operation.
Curzon included former Alty defender Cavell Coo and, on the bench, ex-Alty Reserves' keeper, Craig Ellison.
Jack Crompton, the former Manchester United goalkeeper, has close connections with both of the clubs involved in today's match and he and his wife Sheila had produced a handsome trophy and medals, for which the teams were playing today. Indeed, Jack is President of the Tameside club. This was the first in what promises to be an annual match against Curzon for the Jack Crompton Trophy. It was Altrincham's first visit to the Tameside Stadium (opened in 2005) but it was the fourth time in this pre-season that they had met an EvoStik First Division side, after trips to Woodley, Nantwich and Trafford.
The pitch at the Tameside Stadium was in superb condition whilst the match featured a clash between two of non-League's longer-serving managers in Gary Lowe (appointed 2000) and Graham Heathcote (appointed 2002).
Curzon had missed out on promotion last season in the play-offs but had lost regular scorer Mike Norton over the summer.
CURZON ASHTON (All blue): 1. David CARNELL, 2. Cavell COO, 3. Luke SMITH, 4. David BIRCH, 5. Adam JONES, 6. James OGOO, 7. Chris WORSLEY, 8. Luke MACK, 9. Chris McDONAGH, 10. Phil EDGHILL, 11. Michael O'CONNOR. SUbs: 12. Steve THOMPSON, 14. Adam BOWER, 15. Alexander DEAN, 16. Darryl DOOLAN, 17. Wayne CAHILL, 18. Craig ELLISON (gk)
ALTRINCHAM (Yellow shirts and socks, blue shorts): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 3. Chris DENHAM, 4. Mark JOSEPH, 5. Matt HEYWOOD, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 7. RObbie LAWTON (capt), 8. Danny HOLMES, 17. Adam NOWLAND, 18. Michael TWISS, 27. Ryan BROWN. Subs: 16. Fraser McLACHLAN, 17. Dale JOHNSON, 19. Andy GAMBLE, 20. Robbie WILLIAMS, 22. Damian REEVES, 23. Russell SAUNDERS (gk), 24. Adam CARDEN, 28. Danny ADAMS.
Curzon started the game with some slick passing on the excellent surface, two long passes from David Birch being the standout moments in the early stages of the game. But it was Altrincham who had the first real chance to score. Twiss expertly chested the ball forward to Denham, setting him free of the defence. But as the keeper advanced, Denham pulled his shot wide of the keeper's right stick (11 mins).
At the other end, Ogoo saw a shot saved by Coburn (13 mins). Then in another Alty attack, Denham caught a defender as the two of them and the keeper came together for the ball on the outer edge of the box. The keeper seemed to fall awkwardly and had to be replaced by Ellison (15 mins). At the same time, Denham limped off to be replaced by Reeves.
Next, a good ball forward by Heywood was moved on by Twiss to Reeves who, as he got into the box, seemed to be bowled over, but no freekick was forthcoming. Alty manager Graham Heathcote was not happy with his charges and gave them detailed instructions from the touchline (20 mins). Though Curzon were playing neat football they were not creating any openings whereas Alty were not producing much fluid play yet creating the better chances. Next, a good ball found Nowland but his first-time flick did not quite have the elevation to get past Ellison's hands (30 mins). Soon after this, a defensive mix up saw Reeves improvise a quick shot, with his back to goal, but it went wide.
Just two minutes before the end of the first 45 minutes, Densmore mis-directed a back header out of play for a corner as he tried to locate Coburn. This unnecessary corner, Curzon's first of the game, was to prove costly. The corner kick came from the Ashton left to the back post where it was kept out twice by a clearance on the line and a save before, at the third attempt, it fell for Mack who fired it firmly into the net to give Curzon the lead (44 mins).
Almost immediately, Altrincham won a corner at the other end but from Densmore's kick, Heywood headed over the bar (45 mins). So, half-time arrived with Alty trailing 0-1.
|Half-Time: CURZON ASHTON 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Having started the game with a back four, Alty were now playing with three at the back and five in midfield, with Holmes occupying a position behind the main midfield four. Two minutes into the half the first of numerous substitutions occurred as Williams came on for Heywood. After Reeves had threatened for Alty, a cross from the right by Curzon's Mack was handled by Robbie Williams and Mr Mather pointed to the spot. McDonagh converted the penalty confidently to give his side a 2-0 advantage (53 mins).
Now Johnson and McLachlan came on for Alty in place of Twiss and Holmes (54 mins). A minute later Curzon brought on Thompson for Birch and four minutes after that Saunders replaced Coburn in Alty's goal.
James Smith then had a moment of madness as, first, he lost possession to Mack just outside his own box and then took a wild kick at the shins of the Curzon player before getting involved with another player. Graham Heathcote immediately indicated that he would withdraw the defender but, first, the referee showed him a yellow card which really would have been red in a competitive game (60 mins). Smith then walked off directly down the tunnel, being replaced by Adams.
The substitutions continued as Cahill and Bower replaced Ogoo and Luke Smith for the home side (64 mins). Dale Johnson began to impress after his long injury lay off and from his fine run to the by-line right of goal, he laid the ball inside to McLachlan who made a hash of his shot (66 mins). However, the ex-Morecambe man soon made amends when Densmore now crossed from the right and McLachlan's goal-bound shot was brilliantly beaten out by Ellison. It fell to Reeves, who converted impressively to make it 2-1 (67 mins).
Now Gamble, from the Alty Youth team of last season, replaced Lawton and Dean came on for Curzon's Edghill (68 mins). A minute later, Adam Carden, whose 25th birthday it was, replaced Brown. Adams used his experience to clear coolly for Altrincham as their performance improved. Doolan replaced McDonagh for Curzon (75 mins) before each side won a corner. Joseph got in a decent shot from 30 yards which Ellison saved at the second attempt (80 mins). Then Johnson had a good effort also stopped by the Curzon keeper (85 mins). But, despite some pressure and a late effort from Carden, Altrincham could not muster an equalizer.
If this were really the best that Altrincham could show you would be worried about the upcoming season but pre-season games involving a mix of trialists and first-teamers returning from their summer holidays, playing against teams lower in the Pyramid but keen to prove their capabilities are not always a good indicator of what lies ahead once the real action starts. After five away-friendlies, of which only one was won, Altrincham now move to a sequence of home games against League and Premiership club elevens and these should given a truer indication of where we stand for the 2010-11 season in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
|Full-Time: CURZON ASHTON 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|