ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 DARLINGTON (0) 2
played on Tuesday, 17 August 2010, at 7.45pm
The Quakers were very fortunate to take anything from this match. Alty were coasting, deservedly 2-0 up when, eight minutes from time, goalkeeper Coburn came to punch Gary Smith's cross from the right, collided with his captain Lawton - who afterwards had to be substituted with a back injury - and the ball drifted into the net for what was credited as an own goal. That gave Darlington a lift and in the 90th minute a good cross from the left by Gray was headed back across goal for a headed equalizer by Tommy Wright.
Earlier Chris Denham had seized on a Darlington mix-up, when keeper Russell was unable to deal with a poor back pass, as he was put under pressure from Alty's Damian Reeves. The ball ran loose to Denham, who kept his head to score (51 mins). Alty's second arrived in the 78th minute when Arnison fouled the newly introduced Kevin Holsgrove on the Alty left. Brown's fiercely driven, low free kick was diverted into the net by Dale Johnson who, likewise, had joined the game as a substitute. And then came the disappointing finale with Alty losing points, as they had on Saturday, to a very late strike. But overall they had put in a fine performance all over the pitch.
REFEREE: Mr S J Martin
ATTENDANCE: 1,099 (222 in away end)
Kevin Holsgrove was available after suspension but Michael Twiss remained sidelined by his pre-season injury.
Altrincham had narrowly lost at Luton on Saturday, whereas Darlington had hung to an early lead to win at home against Newport County 1-0.
Chris Senior, who left Moss Lane in the summer was in the Darlington squad tonight.
There had been five previous encounters between Alty and Darlington, with Alty yet to win!
Denham replaced Johnson in the starting line up and Holsgrove replaced McCready on the bench. Matty Crowell remained sidelined as the FA and the Austrlian authorities had failed to process his international clearance, more than two weeks after the application was submitted.
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, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 15. Ryan BROWN, 10. Chris DENHAM, 8. Damian REEVES, Subs: 21. James COATES, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 19. Danny HOLMES, 22. Michael WELCH, 14. Dale JOHNSON.
DARLINGTON (Black & white hooped shirts, white shorts and socks): 23. Sam Russell, 2. Paul Arnison, 18. Daniel Hone, 6. Ian Miller, 19. Kevin Austin, 21. Paul Terry, 4. Jamie Chandler, 20. Gary Smith, 10. Chris Senior, 7. Liam Hatch, 22. Richard Offiong, Subs: 9. Tommy Wright, 17. Michael Smith, 1. Kelvin Jack (gk), 24. Joe Clarke, 14. Josh Gray
The game kicked off on a sunny evening with former Altrincham striker Chris Senior in the visitors' starting eleven. If Luton Town thought Alty were a big side in the game last Saturday they are in for a shock when Darlington pitch up at Kenilworth Road. There was a pantomime before kick off when, as the two captains tossed the coin, the rest of the Quakers took themselves off to the touchline and started doing a wholly unnecessary warm-up routine which was only stopped when the referee blew his whistle to indicate we were here for a game of football and not a training session. Presumably it was some sort of "mind game".
Within 15 seconds of Darlington kicking off, play came to a halt as Hatch lay prostrate in the Alty half. He resumed after treatment. Keeper Russell twice had to come out to kick clear in the opening two minutes. After freekicks for fouls on Denham and Clee, Alty won the game's first corner from a Densmore freekick. Russell opted to punch this clear rather than catch it but before long Densmore chipped a shot over the bar and Denham got to the by-line to earn another corner, as Alty threatened the more of the two sides.
Joseph conceded a freekick for a challenge (14 mins) before Gary Smith's freekick earned the first of two corners in quick succession. Darlington’s improvement continued as Chandler got forward but his shot was deflected narrowly wide for another corner.
Alty regained some momentum when a routine cross from Lawton was unnecessarily put of play by a defender. The best chance of the game to date fell to Senior whose snap volley was well hit, but directly at Coburn (23 mins). Play switched to the other end, where Reeves was clearly held, but all he got was a corner not a penalty. From this, taken by Densmore, Williams's header cleared the bar but offside was given anyway (24 mins). Alty were upset when Denham was put through by Brown only to be tripped as he got free, but the referee awarded a freekick for offside to Darlington.
Darlington keeper Russell had an edgy night and pressure from Reeves led to him kicking a clearance into touch. Play now stopped for the big defender Austin who was down in his own area. After treatment he was subbed at left-back by Clarke (29 mins). Four minutes later a good cross from the left was tipped over his bar by Russell for an Alty corner, which Joseph nodded wide. Hone then accidentally kicked Denham in the face but no "foot up" decision was made by the referee. With half time approaching, Coburn comfortably fielded an Arnison freekick (37 mins).
Denham and Reeves then fed Clee whose excellent left foot shot just cleared the bar from the edge of the box (41 mins). Just before the break Senior went in late on his former team-mate, Coburn, as he had joked he would do in a pre-match interview! The Alty keeper tapped Senior playfully on the head in response as the freekick was awarded (44 mins). The half ended with a minute's added time and a Brown shot which went wide.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 DARLINGTON 0|
Russell’s shaky performance in goal continued as Densmore robbed him very early in the second half but the referee gave a freekick to Darlington. Darlington then won a corner as Senior got away with a push on Williams. Densmore who had impressed in the first half with several threatening advances and crosses from the right, now excelled at the back as he stopped Offiong who looked likely to score from inside the box; a corner resulted (49 mins).
Alty took the lead in the 51st minute when a back pass made life difficult for Russell, to the left of goal. Reeves harried the keeper and the ball came to Denham. A defender closed him down but the Alty man kept cool and slotted the ball into the net to give Alty the lead. Soon after this, Hone was booked for a poor challenge on Reeves. Miller escaped a similar fate when he brought down the hard working Brown soon after this. But Darlington threatened as Terry forced a save from Coburn (57 mins).
Darlington won a corner as they pressed for a leveller but a fine tackle from Brown saw off the next incursion into the Alty half. But Alty almost doubled their lead when a quick and firm cross from the right by Densmore only narrowly cleared the head of the unmarked Reeves in front of goal (61 mins). Alty continued to work hard all over the pitch, closing down their opponents. Mark Cooper now withdrew Senior for Josh Gray (63 mins).
Darlington picked up another booking when Joseph was fouled by Hatch who was lucky to get away with a sarcastic clap following his card. Alty captain LAwton then committed a foul and was booked though this seemed to be for dissent after the award of the freekick (69 mins). Darlington then won two corners before Alty made a double change. Johnson and Holsgrove (making his debut) replaced Reeves and Clee (74 mins). Two minutes later, Darlington striker Wright replaced Offiong (76 mins). Holsgrove was soon making a mark and it took a foul by Arnison to stop him; a foul which made Arnison the third second-half booking for the visitors. Brown took the freekick, driving the ball low and hard across the goalmouth where Dale Johnson diverted it into the net to double Alty's lead (78 mins). As on Saturday when Welch set up an Alty goal within minutes of coming on, here substitute Holsgrove had won the freekick and fellow sub, Johnson, had scored from it (78 mins).
Alty looked pretty comfortable for the next few minutes but then they gifted Darlington a lifeline. A routine throw from the right by Arnison went to Darlington's best player, Gary Smith, but his cross seemed innocuous enough, with Lawton underneath it ready to head clear. But keeper Coburn opted to come to punch it away. However, the normally reliable Alty keeper collided with his captain as the ball sailed on into the far corner of the net. Press reports gave it as an own goal but arguably it drifted in from Smith's cross (82 mins). To add to the disappointment, Coburn had injured Lawton in the back in the process and the Alty captain had to be replaced by Holmes (84 mins).
Immediately after the goal, Johnson was getting free on the half way line when he was felled by the already booked Hone. Mr Martin gave a freekick but curiously took no further action against the big defender (85 mins). The goal had lifted the Darlington players but it was within seconds of the completion of the ninety minutes before Gray did well on the left and crossed the ball into the box. Wright rose well to plant a header back across the keeper into the far corner of the net to make it 2-1 (90 mins).
Five minutes of added time were played, at the end of which Densmore was apparently booked, but Altrincham held on to a point from a game in which they deserved, and should have taken, all three. For the second time in a week, Alty had been undone by a late goal and so finished the night 17th in the league with just one point from two games, when a win tonight would have had them sixth with four points. On the positive side, Altrincham had played well, worked hard and not been intimidated by their visitors' ex-League stature.
Footnote: The official record says that in addition to Densmore and Lawton, Danylyk was also booked during this game, for an "aggressive attitude".
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 DARLINGTON 2|