Match Report


Pre-season friendly
played on Friday, 30 July 2010, at 7.45pm


Altrincham recovered from two goals down after 22 minutes, and the stretchering off of striker Michael Twiss, to lead 3-2 by the interval. With numerous trialists used in the second half, they could have added to their lead, but were unable to do so. Tranmere fielded a young side, with their first-team on duty tomorrow at Shrewsbury, but it took them only 6 minutes to take the lead. The impressive midfielder, Fraughan, played in Steve Connor who fired home. Despite playing some good football, Altrincham found themselves further behind when a corner from the right evaded Saunders and fell for Bakayogo to put into an empty net.

Alty pulled a goal back after 30 minutes when a Nowland cross from the right was bundled into the net at the back post with what looked like a combination of chest and arm by Marc Joseph. Johnson made it 2-2 in the 36th minute after keeper Collister was unable to hold Reeves's smart shot. And just two minutes later, Reeves himself scored from close range after a good move had culminated in Clee's feed being poked towards Johnson by Nowland.

Clee had a fine game for Alty and several trialists also impressed, including former Grays midfielder/defender Alsseny Cissoko and Hyde's ex-Everton, Colwyn Bay and NEWI Cefyn Druids' left winger Kevin Holsgrove.

Right: Cissoko (left) and Holsgrove are seen warming up before the game.


  • 6 mins: Steve CONNOR (ALTRINCHAM 0 Tranmere Rovers 1)
  • 22 mins: Zoumana BAKAYOGO (ALTRINCHAM 0 Tranmere Rovers 2)
  • 30 mins: Marc JOSEPH (ALTRINCHAM 1 Tranmere Rovers 2)
  • 36 mins: Dale JOHNSON (ALTRINCHAM 2 Tranmere Rovers 2)
  • 36 mins: Damian REEVES (ALTRINCHAM 3 Tranmere Rovers 2)

    REFEREE: Mr Neil Swarbrick.



    The programme named six trialists in a squad of 18 for Altrincham, including Josh McCauley, who had warmed up for Tuesday's game, but not played. On the team sheet the squad had grown to 19 with McCauley not named and three additional trialists included. These were Tom Schofield, the Knutsford FC wide midfielder who had impressed in earlier trial games, and two new faces. These were former Grays midfielder/defender Alsseny Cissoko, who had been trialling at Barrow last week, and Hyde FC's Kevin Holsgrove, a left-sided forward. In addition to two long-term injured players Matt Doughty and Tom Kearney who are not yet match-fit, Alty were without three other regulars; James Smith (unavailable), Anthony Danylyk (on holiday) and Chris Denham (injured).

    Tranmere's first team had a friendly at Shrewsbury lined up for the day after this match so they sent a squad of mostly young players, though new signing from Dutch football, Tim Cathalina, started and three or four others had some first-team experience.


    This was Altrincham's seventh pre-season game, with just one of the previous six being won. After Tuesday's home friendly had been played in sunny, shirt-sleeved weather, this game took place in steady rain for much of its duration but the pitch stood up very well to the day's bad weather.


    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Russell SAUNDERS, 2. Shaun DENSMORE, 3. Ryan BROWN, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 6. Adam NOWLAND, 7. Robbie LAWTON, 8. Adam CARDEN, 9. Dale JOHNSON, 10. Michael TWISS, 11. Nicky CLEE. Subs: 12. Matty CROWELL, 13. Stuart COBURN, 14. Tom McCREADY, 15. Danny HOLMES, 16. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 17. Alsseny CISSOKO, 18. Tom SCHOFIELD, 19. Damian REEVES.

    TRANMERE ROVERS XI (All lime green): 1. Joe COLLISTER, 2. Liam BENSON, 3. Zoumana BAKAYOGO, 4. Tim CATHALINA, 5. Will VAULKS, 6. Jay GIBBS, 7. Jack MACKRETH, 8. Matt POWER, 9. Steve CONNOR, 10. Ryan FRAUGHAN, 11. Jake SIMPSON. Subs: 12. Abou BAKAYOGO, 13. Andy COUGHLIN, 14. Dale JENNINGS, 15. David McNAMARA, 16. Ellis HEADING.


    Altrincham, playing 4-4-2 with Joseph and Williams the central defensive pairing, started the game brightly and, indeed, went on to play well for most of the ninety minutes. Nicky Clee, who was to be most spectators' Man of the Match, impressed early on when he won a corner and forced a decent save from keeper Collister. But with virtually their first attack, Rovers took the lead. Fraughan, who looked Tranmere's best player at this stage, played a clever ball behind Williams - to his left as the Alty defender moved to the right. This allowed Connor, a striker in the Chris Senior mould, to latch on to the ball and beat the exposed Saunders to put the Wirral side ahead just as the game went into its sixth minute.

    Williams atoned with an excellent tackle on Power, soon after this before more good work by Fraughan gave Mackreth possession but Saunders was out smartly to snuff out the danger. Densmore, too, made a good start to the game, executing a fine tackle to halt a Tranmere counter-attack (7 mins). Altrincham were playing some good football as the rain eased for a while but Fraughan again prompted a threat from Tranmere.

    Carden, on the right wing, and Johnson then did well to feed Twiss but just as he was about to get onto the ball in the six yard box, a tackle from Bakayogo prevented him scoring at the cost of a corner. However, in the process, Twiss ended up off the pitch beside the goal, injured. After assessment by physio Sean Riley, a stretcher was summoned, and Alty's new signing was carried off with an ankle injury. Whilst he was being treated, Nowland's corner came out to Clee, but his half-volley comfortably cleared the bar (16 mins). Soon, Reeves came on to replace Twiss for Alty (18 mins).

    Next, a Fraughan freekick, conceded by a foul by Brown, hit the Alty wall and went for a corner on the right. Saunders was unable to claim the corner and it dropped to the unmarked Bakayogo who smashed it into the roof of the net from very close range to make it 2-0, a scoreline which was harsh on Alty on the balance of play but was attributable to defensive lapses (22 mins).

    By this stage Alty had gone to a back three with Densmore in the centre of the back line, Williams on the right and Joseph to the left. An Alty corner soon arrived, followed by a second which seemed actually to have come off Joseph. When Bakayogo fouled Reeves on the front edge of the box, Nowland's good freekick was deflected out for another corner. Clee's corner was half cleared to Nowland and his curling cross from the right was bundled home by the falling Marc Joseph at the back post. It had a suspicion of handball about it as well as striking the defender's chest (30 mins).

    The Alty pressure continued with their fourth corner in as many minutes following more impressive work by Johnson. After this a Clee shot was well held by Collister (34 mins). Alty drew level after 36 minutes when Reeves smartly got in a shot which the Tranmere keeper saved, but could not hold. Johnson converted the loose ball from close range to make it 2-2 (36 mins). All four goals so far had been close range efforts. Just two minutes later, Altrincham had turned 0-2 into 3-2 when a good move involving Johnson, Clee and Brown ended with Clee feeding Nowland from the left of the box. Nowland's instinctive poke went across the box to the right where quick reactions from Reeves saw him, too, poke the ball but this time, it went into the net (38 mins).

    Before half time Carden could have made it 4-3 when Reeves and Clee combined on the left but from Clee's cross, Carden at the back post, missed the target with his header (44 mins). Half-time arrived to conclude a very entertaining game with Altrincham good value for their narrow lead.


    At the interval, Altrincham brought on Holsgrove and Crowell for Carden and Brown. One of several feisty challenges from Tranmere saw Benson receive a deserved lecture for a lunge on Holsgrove. The Hyde man was soon impressing with his good speed for a big man and his ability to hold onto possession. He got in an early cross from the left which yielded a corner. Then, Fraughan committed a poor challenge on Densmore which earned him, too, a deserved lecture (49 mins).

    From a Tranmere corner, Saunders saved well from a Bakayogo header but the poor marking led manager Graham Heathcote to remonstrate with his players. Saunders then made a good save after a fine ball from Benson had led to a cross into the box. Soon, however, the young keeper gave way to Stuart Coburn (56 mins).

    Cissoko now came on in place of Densmore and was soon impressing. Alty had two corners in succession, now, the second arriving after Williams won a header and Reeves saw his effort deflected (59 mins). Tranmere made a triple change as Abou Bakayogo, McNamara and Healing came on (61 mins). The other Bakayogo was one of the players withdrawn, as was Fraughan.

    After 62 minutes Alty brought on McCready for Nowland before Holsgrove saw a shot go narrowly wide. McCready soon won possession and fed Reeves who was fouled just outside the box. Nothing came of the freekick but a corner soon arrived from which Williams put the ball over the bar. At this point, former Burton midfielder Danny Holmes replaced Dale Johnson (66 mins). A good Alty move ended with the keeper holding Clee's effort at the second attempt as the home side stayed on top.

    Holsgrove impressed again as he got to a ball ahead of the keeper but, from wide left, he could not find the net (70 mins). More impressive Alty play ended with a right-foot shot from Clee which cleared the bar and then Crowell’s well taken freekick was saved by the keeper at the foot of the post (74 mins).

    Cissoko had been impressing with his control and willingness to prompt forward movements but his one mistake of the night saw a corner conceded when he shinned an attempted clearance. Crowell then tried an ambitious 50 yard lob, which cleared the Rovers' bar before McCready fired narrowly wide from long distance. In the build up to this, Holsgrove again did well on the left by-line, holding off a sustained challenge and working the ball to Clee to feed McCready via Crowell (75 mins).

    Holsgrove then did well to win a corner off Vaulks before Schofield came on for Lawton (77 mins). Reeves had the ball in the net from a Williams header soon afterwards but it was ruled out for offside. Reeves then went close again from a Crowell feed as Altrincham continued to impress. A superb diagonal ball from the right by Schofield found Holmes in the box but he was unable to find the target (84 mins). Lawton now came back on as Clee left the pitch (84 mins). Another feisty challenge by Tranmere, by Power on Crowell, led to a bit of a skirmish and a lecture for the offender (86 mins). The final whistle soon arrived to signal a deserved win for Altrincham.

    Graham Heathcote and Ken McKenna will have an unenviable task in the next week or so to decide on which trialists can be taken on within the club's limited resources. The debuts of Cissoko and Holsgrove saw them make impressive bids to be included in the final selection process.