Despite a bright start to each half of the game, Altrincham ended up soundly beaten by Mansfield Town - their heaviest home defeat since a 0-4 reverse against Rushden in November 2008. Alty fell behind against the run of play when former York man, Adam Smith, got up the left and his cross found Connor unmarked. His header back across goal looped perfectly into the net off the upright with 11 minutes gone. The goal prompted an improvement from the Stags who made it 2-0 in the 18th minute when Alty stood off Adam Smith, allowing him time to choose his spot, just inside the same upright that Connor had struck with the first goal. Alty, already without the injured Lawton, Doughty and Denham, lost Holsgrove after 32 minutes, injured by a foul tackle. McCarthy, making his debut, replaced him.
Reeves almost made it 2-1 in the first minute of the second half but after the first 10 or 15 minutes of the half the impetus went and the game drifted uneventfully. But in the closing stages Parker made in 3-0 with a tap in from Medley's cross (81 mins). Then in the third minute of added time, Parker got past Danylyk to the right by-line where the Alty midfielder brought him down to concede a penalty. Parker himself made it 4-0 from the spot to send Mansfield to the top of the table.
It is now more than six hours since Altrincham scored a goal and after they had gone behind the passing began to go astray. McCarthy (right) gave a promising showing on his debut and it was he who went closest for Alty with a curling shot which Marriott tipped over the bar. Also on the positive side, Alty only won one of their first nine games in 2008-09 yet rallied to finish fifteenth and the Robins have already had to play three of the current top four.
REFEREE: Mr P C Wright
ATTENDANCE: 1,261 (351 in away end)
Altrincham were without the injured Denham and Lawton as well as Doughty who is still on the way back from his cruciate operation last season. Johnson and Welch who started the last game were respectively not in the squad and on the bench today. Holmes and a less than fully fit Clee came into the starting eleven whilst McCready was replaced on the bench by McCarthy, a striker, signed last week from Warrington Town.
This was the sixth game of a season which after 78 minutes of the second game seemed to be going quite well. Alty were cruising at 2-0 against Darlington, having narrowly lost their first game away at Luton. The Robins then conceded twice to take a single point and since then they had not scored a goal or taken a point in three attempts before today.
Mansfield had started pretty well with three wins and a draw from five starts.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): Confirmed as 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 19. Danny HOLMES, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 15. Ryan BROWN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 18. Matty CROWELL, 11. Nicky CLEE, 8. Damian REEVES, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE Subs: 23. James McCARTHY, 21. James COATES, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 22. Michael WELCH, 9. Michael TWISS.
MANSFIELD TOWN (Blue & yellow stripes, blue shorts, yellow socks): 1. Alan Marriott, 2. Gary Silk, 5. Stephen Foster, 6. Chris Smith, 3. Kevin Sandwith, 7. Louis Briscoe, 8. Tyrone Thompson, 4. Gary Mills, 11. Adam Smith, 21. Keigan Parker, 23. Paul Connor. Subs: 25. Neil Collett, 16. Tom Naylor, 10. Kyle Nix, 9. Rob Duffy. 22. Luke Medley.
Under cloudy conditions at Moss Lane, Alty kicked off, defending the Golf Road End. In the second minute Holsgrove hussled Chris Smith into conceding a corner but this came to nothing. Soon afterwards, Connor earned a corner for the Stags but this was taken woefully, low and short, straight to an Alty player. Following this, Holsgrove skipped past Silk near half way and looked set to get behind the defence but the Mansfield man tripped him and got the yellow card that his challenge deserved (5 mins).
With both sets of supporters in good voice, Alty started the game brightly and a fine diagonal ball from Crowell to Brown, on the left, led to the midfielder's cross which gave Alty another corner. Clee hit the corner too deep (7 mins). Then Mansfield took the lead with their first serious threat. Smith, Joseph and Crowell got the ball to Clee inside the Mansfield half. But he was immediately challenged by Silk who broke forward with the ball and the ball came to Adam Smith on the left wing. His excellent cross found an unmarked Connor who leapt to direct a looping header back across goal and into the net off the upright to Coburn's right (11 mins).
Crowell was then almost immediately booked for a trip (12 mins). Though Alty won the next corner, the goal had shifted the balance of play towards the visitors. From this corner by Clee, Densmore sliced a shot wide (17 mins). Altrincham then allowed Adam Smith far too much time in the centre of the pitch just outside the box. The Mansfield man had time to pick his spot before driving a well-hit low shot into Coburn's right-hand corner - 0-2 after just 18 minutes.
Connor was then booked for a foul on Coburn which the linesman spotted (19 mins). Things got worse for Alty when Holsgrove was felled by Chris Smith about 30 yards from goal and the Alty man was left hobbling badly (21 mins). Alty nearly extracted a big price for the foul when Crowell's freekick was met by a towering leap from Williams which beat the keeper but was cleared off the line by a defender's head.
As Holsgrove hobbled on, Mansfield began to get the upper hand and, next, Briscoe was allowed to advance unchallenged but he shot narrowly wide (24 mins). Foster was fortunate that Mr Wright did not consider him the last man when he tripped Reeves as the Alty man threatened to get free up the inside-right channel; a yellow card was produced for the defender. Reeves needed treatment but was eventually able to continue.
Foster then conceded an unnecessary corner with a poor header and from Clee's kick, Crowell tried an ambitious volley which he struck well, but wide (29 mins). A trip on Joseph underlined the visitors’ physical approach and an earlier victim, Holsgrove, now had to give way to his injury and leave the field, to be replaced by James McCarthy, who was making his debut (32 mins).
Coburn then had to make a fine save after good work by Connor before play stopped for treatment to yet another Alty casualty; this time it was Densmore, inside his own box (33 mins). Alty were giving the ball away too frequently to make an impression on Mansfield but Clee and Brown did combine well to force a save from Marriott. Holmes and Clee then fed Crowell but his shot cleared the goal by a big margin (40 mins).
When Parker fouled James Smith, the two then went head to head with the Mansfield man then pushing Smith in the chest. He was lucky to escape with no more than a joint lecture with Smith (42 mins). In the second of three added minutes at the end of the half an underhit back pass from James Smith caused Coburn a problem but he emerged with a goalkick as an opponent challenged. Alty won a corner after this but there was no time for it to be taken as the half-time whistle sounded.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANSFIELD TOWN 2|
As in the first half it was Altrincham who started the better of the two sides. Indeed Reeves went very close to scoring inside the first minute from Brown's low cross from the left but, as he arrived at the near post at speed, he could not direct the ball the right side of the post to score. Next a well hit effort from 35 yards by Crowell forced a save from Marriott (49 mins). Alty's bright start continued as they won a corner through McCarthy. Joseph headed the corner wide as it came in from the left (50 mins).
Adam Smith soon threatened for Mansfield but Alty's back three saw him off. Mansfield remained on the back foot as Clee fired a shot over the bar. Marriott then came out to clear but only found Clee nearly on half way on the Alty right. he quickly lobbed the ball forward to the edge of the box where Reeves rose with a defender who both cleared the ball and flattened Reeves in the process. Mansfield counter-attacked and won a corner.
Michael Twiss now came on for Clee, who has not been fully fit this season (57 mins). McCarthy then showed some more good skill to gain Alty a corner which Marriott managed to palm away (59 mins). After a Mansfield corner had been and gone, McCarthy again impressed, finding Brown but the midfielder was closed down in the opposition box (62 mins).
The visitors now made a double substitution with Medley and Nix coming on for Briscoe and Adam Smith (64 mins). After Alty's bright 15 minutes, the second half now went quiet as Mansfield took the sting out of the game and Alty lost their impetus. The game drifted along without any real incident until Danylyk was brought on to replace Holmes, who had had a solid game in midfield for Alty (71 mins).
Mansfield now won two successive corners and when Medley went down in the box under Densmore's challenge, Stags' boss David Holdsworth held nothing back in a tirade against the assistant referee involved. Now Duffy came on for Mansfield's Connor (76 mins). Altrincham almost got a goal back in the 78th minute when McCarthy drifted in from the right and fired an excellent left-footed curling shot at goal which Marriott only just managed to tip over the bar for a corner (78 mins). It was to be Alty's last moment of hope and three minutes later the Alty defence parted to allow Medley to advance on the left. His low cross gave Parker a tap-in from close range to make it 3-0 to the visitors (81 mins).
Mansfield then won three corners in two minutes as Alty looked a beaten side. From a Brown freekick Twiss headed over the bar (87 mins) but that was the best Alty could muster at this stage. Silk then shot narrowly wide for Mansfield before three added minutes were announced. After a Mansfield corner the ball soon came back to Parker on the right. He got past Danylyk into the box, right of goal, and the Alty midfielder brought him down to concede a clear penalty. The Alty midfielder was booked before Parker himself drove the spot-kick past Coburn to make it 4-0 for the Stags.
Mansfield went to the top of the table with this result whilst Alty became four points adrift at the bottom. In mitigation, Altrincham have had more than their fair share of injuries this season and having lost half a dozen players over the summer, they have not had a settled side this campaign. Indeed, seven outfield players who had not made a start for the club before this season have already had to be blooded by the Altrincham management this season. On the plus side, McCarthy looked a useful prospect on his debut today and it is to be hoped that he can help to break Alty's goal-scoring duck which has now extended to 372 minutes without a goal.
|Half-Time: Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 MANSFIELD TOWN 4|
Compiled by John Laidlar