ALTRINCHAM (0) 0 CRAWLEY TOWN (0) 1
played on Saturday, 21 August 2010, at 3pm
Losing to a side which has just spent well in excess of a quarter of a million pounds is no disgrace for a part-time side like Altrincham but the attitude displayed by the visitors, particularly after scoring their goal in the 62nd minute, left a very sour taste. It was summed up in the six minutes of added time which even referee West could not avoid awarding, to compensate for the visitors' blatant timewasting. With less than five of those minutes elapsed, the Crawley management duo, who had performed their normal double act throughout the game, stood - yet again - well outside the technical area yelling at the referee and pointing at their watches. Similar gamesmanship saw two of their players booked for blocking Alty throws in added time. And how keeper Kuipers avoided a card for his "winding down the clock" will be something only Mr West will know.
The game itself was one of attrition and was decided by a superb freekick scored by Masterton from thirty yards, though the award in the first place was questioned by Alty. Referee West somehow failed to award a penalty during the game, the most blatant cases being when Williams clearly held a Crawley opponent and when Alty's Reeves was put in a headlock by Kuipers.
In the first half, Crawley struck the bar twice and, had they played with the flair and class that spending so much money should bring to a side at this level, defeat would have been quite acceptable. But if this sort of behaviour is the way the Sussex side aim to get into League Two, they are not going to make any friends on the way.
REFEREE: Mr R J West
ATTENDANCE: 766 (61 in away end)
Captain Robbie Lawton was out with a rib injury following Stuart Coburn's collision with him on Tuesday night. Striker Michael Twiss remained sidelined by his pre-season injury and after more than three weeks, Altrincham had still not received international clearance from Australia for Matty Crowell to play. So every fit member of the squad made up the sixteen today.
In contrast, Crawley's recently acquired wealth, after a season of apparent penury, was such that they could afford to have £100,000 signing Kyle McFadzean on the bench. Former Brighton goalkeeper Kuipers returned after his suspension for a sending off last Saturday.
Altrincham had drawn the corresponding fixture 0-0 last season. Today's game pitted two clubs against each other who had yet to win a game this season.
Robbie Lawton's place went to Michael Welch and Tom McCready came onto the bench; otherwise there were no changes for Altrincham. Stuart Coburn took over as captain.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN (capt), 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 2. James SMITH, 22. Michael WELCH, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 11. Nicky CLEE, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 15. Ryan BROWN, 10. Chris DENHAM, 8. Damian REEVES. Subs: 21. James COATES, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 19. Danny HOLMES, 14. Dale JOHNSON, 17. Tom McCREADY.
CRAWLEY TOWN (White shirts, purple shorts and socks): 1. Michel KUIPERS, 16. Glenn WILSON, 5. Adam QUINN, 6. Danny HALL, 2. Simon RUSK, 26. Scott NEILSON, 22. Pablo MILLS, 11. Steven MASTERTON, 8. Sergio TORRES, 9. Matt TUBBS, 10.Liam ENVER-MARUM. Subs: 18. Barry COGAN, 12. Nick JORDAN (gk), 24. Jai REASON, 27. Kyle McFADZEAN. 14. Craig McALLISTER.
Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road End on a bright and warm afternoon but the early minutes were pretty nondescript from both sides as each sought its first win of the season. Alty had deployed Denham and Clee in attacking positions along with Reeves. Alty had the first real chance of note as Brown found Denham and his cross was deflected by Hall, the ball beating keeper Kuipers but just going wide of his left upright (7 mins). From the corner by Clee, Kuipers, the Dutch keeper, fumbled the ball and, throughout the game he was to prove less than impressive (7 mins).
Another Alty corner resulted from this episode before a 25-yard freekick from Masterton deflected off Williams for Town's first corner, on their left. But Alty went close again when Clee fed Denham and his smart turn and excellent volley only went wide by a narrow margin (10 mins). Considering their expenditure of at least £300,000 Crawley were not looking a class above Alty at this stage. Play then stopped briefly when Densmore took the full power of another Masterton freekick in the stomach (13 mins).
Altrincham had a fortunate escape when Williams's bear-hug on a Crawley striker inside the box, in full view of the referee, failed to elicit a penalty decision. For once Steve Evans's annoyance was understandable though he was certainly not reticent in expressing his anger (17 mins). As the Crawley manager continued his tirade against the referee, this time after another decision had gone against his side, play continued in a manner that quietened both sets of supporters, if not the management, with its lack of significant action.
Next, it was Alty's turn to be upset as, first, Danylyk was felled and then Reeves, the referee playing an apparent advantage which did not benefit the home side as much as the alternative of a free-kick award on the edge of the box might have done. The Alty boss and Michael Welch then exchanged some heated words before Densmore fouled Torres. Masterton's freekick led to a header against the Alty bar (27 mins). Alty replied with a good attack in which Denham and Reeves exchanged passes but Denham's final shot was sliced very wide (29 mins).
Crawley then won a corner after which they should have had a second, as Danylyk headed the ball out, but in one of many dubious decisions by Mr West, a goal kick to Alty was awarded. Once again, you could have some sympathy with Mr Evans's verbal tirade at the officials. Smith and Denham looked the pick of Alty's players as the game moved beyond the half-hour mark. But a Densmore shot over the bar was the nearest to any goalmouth excitement (36 mins). With the game a stalemate the crowd remained subdued and Graham Heathcote attempted to stir things up by telling his players to talk to each other more.
Crawley hit the bar for a second time when Neilson was allowed to turn and shoot on the volley (44 mins). After a minute of added time the half ended with a low shot from Brown which Kuipers saved comfortably (45+1 mins).
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 0|
Alty kicked off the second half, with the supporters having been allowed to switch ends during the interval. A piece of over reaction from Torres earned him a freekick against Danylyk, a prelude to further so called "professionalism" from the visitors. Altrincham soon threatened when Reeves rode a challenge to get to the by-line but his cross from the right by-line found no support in the box. Excellent cover from Smith saw off a Crawley attack at the cost of a corner (52 mins). Masterton then went down off the ball for treatment, as Altrincham's Holsgrove came on for Brown (56 mins).
A Clee freekick went straight to Kuipers before Graham Heathcote told his team "It's too flat, step it up a gear!". On the hour mark, Crawley brought on Craig McAllister up front to replace Marum. Soon after this there was a penalty incident every bit as clear as the one Crawley had been denied in the first half. This time Reeves challenged for the ball against Kuipers, and the keeper failed to collect, dropped the ball, and as both players went down the Dutchman grabbed the Alty man round the neck to stop him getting up. Quite how Mr West failed to see this defied belief (61 mins). It was to prove a crucial decision as, moments later, Welch was penalised for a foul on McAllister, just under 30 yards out and fairly central. Masterton hit a superb unstoppable free-kick past Coburn's right hand to give Crawley the lead (62 mins).
Alty immediately brought on Johnson for Reeves up front (63 mins). Next, a cross from Masterton was not taken by Coburn and as Alty attempted to clear the danger a Crawley player went down in the box to the left of goal. Steve Evans was incandescent, once again, that a penalty had not been given for what he claimed was a "two handed push". After this Tubbs went down cheaply to win a freekick for Crawley but this time Masterton could not find the target. Now, Crawley threw on a £100,000 purchase as their next substitute, Kyle McFadzean replacing Torres in midfield (67 mins).
A Quinn foul on Johnson now went unpunished before Alty replaced Danylyk by Holmes (69 mins). Rusk was the next Crawley man to go down, theatrically, under Johnson's challenge which allowed Mills to waste some time before he took the freekick (72 mins). Holsgrove then got the better of Wilson to earn a corner and after this Kuipers claimed a foul. Soon after this Denham and Holsgrove combined before the ball came to Joseph who sliced his shot wide (76 mins). Kuipers now went down holding his hand which he had apparently hurt in failing to gather the ball after Alty's earlier corner. He had lengthy treatment from the physio before taking an age to get his gloves back on, in a manner reminiscent of Paul Cuss’s lengthy replacement of his gloves when Emley came to Moss Lane some years ago. Kuipers then wasted even more time claiming not to know how or where to restart the game (78 mins).
Play moved into the final ten minutes and when Joseph made what looked a good tackle on the right, on half way, he was booked by Mr West to the Alty bench's disbelief (82 mins). Kuipers continued to waste time as he now suddenly lacked the strength to poke the ball back into play after it had landed on the top of his net and needed several attempts to do so. Mr West still failed to take any action. A foul by McFadzean gave Welch a freekick 30 yards out but he drove it into the wall (85 mins). Crawley got a respite from Alty's pressing when Welch fouled an opponent (88 mins) at which point Masterton was replaced by former Oxford man, Jai Reason (88 mins).
Welch now moved forward as Alty went for an equalizer and Mr West tacitly indicated that he had noted the time wasting by awarding six minutes of added time. In the first of these minutes Alty won a throw, deep in their own half, only for Neilson to stop Clee taking it and he received a yellow card for his action. But Matt Tubbs then did exactly the same as Neilson by blatantly stopping another Clee throw-in and he, too, was deservedly booked (90+5 mins). By this time, with clearly a full minute of the six left to play, both Steve Evans and his assistant, Paul Raynor, were outside the technical area yelling at the referee, arms aloft and pointing at their watches, as if Mr West were somehow playing more than the allotted time. It is sad to see a team with such supposed talents at its disposal reduced to such attempts to influence the match officials.
With the game into its seventh added minute, Mr West did blow for time, leaving Altrincham now second from bottom in the league table after Crawley's first win of the campaign. Few would dispute that Crawley deserved the points from an attritional game - they hit the bar twice as well as scoring the only goal - but their attitude won them no friends at Moss Lane this afternoon.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 1|