ALTRINCHAM (0) 0 MANCHESTER UNITED XI (1) 2
played on Tuesday, 3 August 2010, at 7.45pm
A goal in each half from a slick-passing young Manchester United reserve team, managed by Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer, decided this game. Many of the United supporters seemed as interested in the faces in the stand as the football, with United's new Mexican striker, Javier Hernández ("Chicharito"), good-naturedly signing countless autographs and posing for photos. Robert Brady put United ahead on the half-hour from 30 yards with a shot which left Stuart Coburn wrong-footed. Joe Dudgeon made it 2-0 after 75 minutes after Keane's effort had come back off the bar. Alty had some decent chances themselves; James Smith almost chipped the keeper after a fine run and interchange with Denham, and Denham himself lost control when he, too, was put through on goal.
Above left: Chris Denham in competition with United's Magnus Eikrem.
REFEREE: Mr Karl Evans
Altrincham started with just five regulars from last season in Coburn, Smith, Densmore, Lawton and Denham plus Johnson, who missed much of that campaign with injury. The only completely new face in the squad was Brian Smyth, who came on at left-back. The other trialists had all played various games this summer for Altrincham. Of these, left-winger, Kevin Holsgrove was starting his first game after impressing as a substitute last Friday against Tranmere, whilst former Burton man Danny Holmes, was deployed in the back four rather than in midfield where he had previously figured in pre-season. Anthony Danylyk and Nicky Clee were away on holiday whilst Ryan Brown has been striken with shingles.
United included trialists Louis and Sam Barnes in their defence.
This was a home game for both sides as Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United Reserves play their home league games at Moss Lane, Altrincham. There may have been no really big names in the United team but in the stands was their new Mexican signing "Chicharito" Hernández who was much in demand from the United supporters.
ALTRINCHAM (Yellow shirts, blue shorts and yellow socks): ALTRINCHAM: 1. Stuart COBURN, 17. Shaun DENSMORE, 20. Danny HOLMES, 22. James SMITH, 15. Marc JOSEPH, 20. Tom McCREADY, 18. Matty CROWELL, 21. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 8. Chris DENHAM, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 14. Dale JOHNSON. Subs: 13. Russell SAUNDERS, 25. Damian REEVES, 26. Robbie WILLIAMS, 17. Brian SMYTH, 4. Adam CARDEN, 6. Tom SCHOFIELD.
MANCHESTER UNITED XI (Red shirts, black shorts, red/black socks): 1. Sam JOHNSTONE, 2. Sam BARNES, 3. Louis BARNES, 4. Craig CATHCART, 5. Oliver GILL, 6. Robert BRADY, 7. Oliver NORWOOD, 8. Ravel MORRISON, 9. Will KEANE, 10. Magnus EIKREM, 11. Nicholas AJOSE. Subs: 12. Ezekiel FRYERS, 13. Conor DEVLIN, 14. Rodrigo POSSEBON, 15. Jesse LINGARD, 16. Scott WOOTTON, 17. James DUDGEON.
On a sunny evening, the game kicked off a little late, but with United soon settling into a crisp, passing game on the excellent Moss Lane surface. The visitors won two early corners before conceding a needless one to Altrincham when a harmless cross was knocked out of play (4 mins). Alty's first shot of note came from Lawton from a McCready feed, but the keeper saved it (5 mins). Coburn likewise had to make save a couple of minutes later before Lawton did well to stop Ajose as he latched on to a ball from Keane. After another United corner had come and gone, Morrison sat down on the pitch for treatment.
Right: On more than one occasion, Dale Johnson was clearly held in the box but got no penalty.
Alty had a great chance to go ahead when a fine ball forward from Lawton was flicked on by Johnson and this set Denham free but, for once, his control let him down as he was clean through on the keeper (13 mins). For all their possession, Alty were getting in as many shots as their opponents, the next being a decent volley from Crowell which Johnstone saved. Another good chance came Alty's way when James Smith, whose forays into the opposition half are usually rare, won possession and advanced up the middle. He played a one-two with Denham which set the defender in against Johnstone. He lifted the ball over the keeper but Johnstone just got a glove on it to deflect it out for a corner. But Alty had now twice carved open the central defence of United (16 mins).
The injured Morrison now gave way to Lingard, a 17 year-old from Warrington. Next, Keane fired over the bar under a challenge from Holmes but Holmes was later drawn into a foul which gave United a freekick 30 yards out on their left. For Alty, Johnson's well hit shot was saved by Johnstone (24 mins). After United had won another corner, off Holmes, a flare was lit in the away end which prompted the two policemen on duty - a rare sight at Moss Lane - to emerge and observe proceedings from the players' tunnel but there was no hint of any serious crowd trouble.
Alty's third good chance came and went on the half hour when a great shot from Denham was fumbled by Johnstone onto his cross bar but the keeper was fortunate to see the ball rebound to him. Alty were not to have such luck when the same bar was struck in the second half by United.
Play immediately switched to the other end but there seemed little danger when Brady got the ball 30 yards out. The united midfielder thumped an excellent shot into the net which left Stuart Coburn wrong-footed (30 mins). United threatened again soon afterwards but this time a cross from the right went behind the goal. Alty then won two corners themselves but there was no serious threat of a goal for either side before the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANCHESTER UNITED XI 1|
United brought on five subs at the interval; Devlin replaced Johnstone in goal, Gill gave way to Wootton, Dudgeon replaced Barnes, Eikrem was replaced by Brazilian player, Rodrigo Possebon and Fryers came on for Ajose.
As a sizeable crowd swarmed around Hernández in the stand, not everyone saw Dale Johnson threatened immediately the second half started. He was very clearly held in the box but the referee gave nothing, just as he had done in the first half, too (see photo). Four minutes into the half, McCready gave way to Reeves, who joined Denham and Johnson as Alty's attacking trio.
Holsgrove, who had often been playing deep in the first half, soon impressed in the second with a fine run which took him towards goal but he blazed his shot into Golf Road (59 mins). Alty then won a threatening freekick 22 yards out but a rehearsed move completely failed to work as Densmore played the ball straight to Lingard. Just after the hour mark Alty made a double change with Williams and Smyth, making his debut, coming on in defence and Johnson and Holmes going off. Smyth settled in on the left of the back line.
Denham then won a corner with a shot which was deflected over the bar (64 mins). A better freekick routine soon led to Densmore firing in a shot which was well saved at the foot of the post by Devlin.
United now replaced Louis Barnes by Wootton (65 mins). After an Alty corner had come and gone, Coburn made a magnificent double save, first from Possebon and then the follow-up from Dudgeon (71 mins). When Possebon had fired in another shot, Graham Heathcote was not happy that he was being given chances. The warning was not heeded as a Densmore headed clearance fell to the Brazilian. His shot rattled Coburn’s bar but rebounded out to the left of goal where Dudgeon rifled it home to make it 2-0 (75 mins).
Now Carden came on for Denham (77 mins). Soon, a fine ball from Carden on the right by-line allowed Joseph a shot which went narrowly wide (79 mins). Crowell had a shot saved as Alty gave a good account of themselves but they wasted another promising freekick, won for a foul on Reeves. This time the lay off for Crowell allowed United to close down the midfielder before he could get his shot away (81 mins). Alty now brought on Knutsford FC's Tom Schofield for Crowell (82 mins).
After this Johnson was again clearly held in the box to no avail. Smyth then covered well at the back for Alty but Altrincham were unable to get an equalizer. Nevertheless, they had done well with a side made up of trialists and first-teamers to give the slick United squad a good run for their money and providing an entertaining game.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANCHESTER UNITED XI 2|