Altrincham were unfortunate not to win this game after a good performance against a young Wigan side. In the second half Damian Reeves could have had a hat-trick as he hit both the post and the crossbar, as well as being stopped by a last-ditch tackle. As usual with young sides from Premiership clubs, the focus was on passing the ball around accurately rather than direct football and, so, the first half passed with relatively little goalmouth incident. With the introduction of substiutes at half-time, Altrincham upped their game and went close on several occasions.
REFEREE: Mr Neil Swarbrick
Altrincham included all of their squad for 2010-11 except for the injured Michael Twiss and Matt Doughty. On the bench, Michael Welch was a surprise inclusion, having been released earlier in the summer. It was also good to see Ryan Brown back in action following a recent bout of shingles.
Wigan brought a young side but had veteran keeper Mike Pollitt in the side - Mike had briefly been at Altrincham in the 1990s.
This was the ninth and final pre-season game for Altrincham. In the previous eight, only two of which had been won, the important thing had been to review a large pool of trialists and decide on those to be signed up. Tonight, it was for the eight newly signed members of the squad (minus the injured Twiss) to settle into a system with the pre-existing Altrincham players.
Graham Barrow, the Wigan assistant manager was a welcome visitor with this young Wigan side. After an impressive playing career at Moss Lane, Graham had, more recently, been Graham Heathcote's assistant at Moss Lane.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 2. James SMITH, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 11. Nicky CLEE, 18. Matty CROWELL, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 15. Ryan BROWN, 10. Chris DENHAM. Subs: 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 14. Dale JOHNSON. 21. James COATES, 8. Damian REEVES, 19. Danny HOLMES, 17. Tom McCREADY, 23. Michael WELCH.
WIGAN ATHLETIC XI (Blue shirts, shorts and socks): 1. Mike POLLITT, 2. Michael GIRVAN, 3. Liam WILLIS, 4. Jordan ROBINSON, 5. Roman GOLOBART, 6. Jonathan BREEZE, 7. Joe HOLT, 8. Callum MORRIS, 9. Tom OAKES, 14. Callum McMANAMAN, 15. Daniel REDMOND. Subs: Josh WELSBY, Conah LEWIS, Ryan ASTLES, Jordan RUGG, Tim CHOW, Abian SERRANO, Sean MYLER.
The game kicked off on a bright but breezy evening but there was little real incident in the opening stages as the sides passed the ball about economically without any threat of scoring at either end. The first half chance arose when Robbie Lawton got half an opening but was forced right of goal. The ball was worked back via Crowell to Brown and from his cross from the left, Clee rose well but headed over the bar (12 mins). Then Joseph fed Denham who got into the box but he saw appeals for a penalty for handball by a defender turned down.. Next, an excellent Densmore cross just evaded Clee and Brown in the goalmouth as the Wigan defence allowed the ball to bounce inside the visitors' box (20 mins).
Densmore again impressed, soon afterwards, winning possession and crossing into the box. Wigan got an unlikely corner when Smith's intended back pass went out of play and they won a second corner soon afterwards. For the Latics, midfielder McManaman was proving the pick of the bunch. But there was little further threat to either goal before half time.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 WIGAN ATHLETIC XI 0|
Altrincham made three changes at the interval. Denham, Brown and Lawton gave way to three attacking players in Reeves, Holsgrove and Johnson. Soon, from another Densmore cross the ball came to Danylyk whose well struck shot went only narrowly wide (49 mins). Wigan won two corners in quick succession.
Altrincham almost took the lead in the 58th minute when Johnson battled through a clear hold from a defender to feed Reeves whose early shot beat the keeper but struck the post to the keeper's right. Holsgrove then threatened as Alty got the upper hand. Alty made a four-man change after 61 minutes when Coates replaced Coburn in goal and Holmes, McCready and Welch also came on.
After a McCready interception, Alty won a corner and a second corner followed from a Reeves header after which he needed treatment to a facial injury (69 mins). Johnson was then hauled to the ground by an opponent but the referee gave no freekick to the Alty management's annoyance. More good work from Holsgrove led to a Clee volley which cleared the bar (75 mins).
After this period of pressure, Wigan enjoyed a good spell. But eight minutes from time Reeves again hit the woodwork. This time his superb header from the edge of the box, from an excellent Crowell cross, smacked firmly across the cross bar (82 mins).
Wigan brought on two subs with just four minutes left to play, after which James Smith was lectured for protesting at the award of a freekick just outside the Alty box. Coates made a good save at the foot of his left post but the closing minutes were marked by one or two feisty tackles from the visitors; one of the subs flattening Holmes, for example. But Alty almost snatched a deserved win in the 90th minute when Reeves was again in the right place at the right time. The striker got free in the box but an excellent tackle from Willis stopped him as he was about to shoot.
So, the game ended goalless but, particularly in the second half, Alty had given their supporters hope for a decent season in the league, starting next Saturday at Luton Town.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 WIGAN ATHLETIC XI 0|
Compiled by John Laidlar