ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 BARROW (0) 0
played on Tuesday, 21 September 2010, at 7.45pm
At the tenth attempt, Altrincham gained their first win of the season - and a clean sheet too - with a committed performance which was a vast improvement on last Saturday's showing at Eastbourne. With Denham, Welch and Danylyk restored to the starting line-up and Clee and Crowell both out injured, the first half ended goalless. However, Barrow had lost Wiles to what looked like a serious leg injury after only three minutes of play.
Alty got the breakthrough after 54 minutes when a long ball from keeper Coates found Denham. As Edwards challenged him, the defender handled the ball and a penalty was awarded. After conceding four spot kicks in their last five games, Altrincham made no mistake with their own penalty as Densmore rolled the ball past keeper Martin, who dived early. He and the other Alty players ran to Ken McKenna on the touchline to celebrate.
Almost immediately a Boyd freekick for Barrow came out off the underside of the Alty crossbar before it became 2-0 when a fine Alty move ended with Densmore's shot being beaten out and Reeves netting the rebound, his third goal of the season (64 mins). Coates had to save well from Cook and then the same Barrow sub hit the post as Alty at times rode their luck. But Alty, too, had their moments with Holsgrove going close and Densmore forcing a fine save before the final whistle sounded to the great relief of the home supporters who had got behind their team from the start.
Michael Welch was a deserving Man of the Match but captain Robbie Lawton's commitment was also an important influence on the performance tonight.
REFEREE: Mr R Merchant
ATTENDANCE: 1,042 (292 in away end)
Chris Denham missed Saturday's defeat at Eastbourne but returned tonight. Nicky Clee and Matty Crowell were out injured but Nicky Clee lapped the pitch before the game. Anthony Danylyk also returned to the starting line-up along with Michael Welch as Damian Reeves moved to the bench.
Alty started with three at the back and Marc Joseph deployed on the right of midfield, with Shaun Densmore moving more centrally in a 3-5-2 set-up.
Altrincham were still seeking their first win of the season in this, their tenth outing. The previous game had been a 5-0 reverse at Eastbourne.
Courtesy of Mike Garnett, the pre-match statistics revealed that, of the current Conference sides, Barrow are the club against whom Altrincham have played most games over the years - 67 in all.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. James COATES, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 2. James SMITH, 22. Michael WELCH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 15. Ryan BROWN, 10. Chris DENHAM, 23. James McCARTHY, Subs: 1. Stuart COBURN, 20. Sam HEWSON, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 8. Damian REEVES, 19. Danny HOLMES
BARROW (Yellow) : 21. Alan Martin, 2. Simon Spender, 24. Paul Edwards, 3. Mike Pearson, 5. Phil Bolland, 18. Simon Wiles, 6. Robin Hulbert, 8. Mark Boyd, 7. Paul Rutherford, 15. Danny Forrest, 9. Jason Walker, Subs: 19. Ciaran Donnelly, 1. Shaun Pearson, 17. James Owen, 20. Andy Cook, 12. Gregg Blundell.
Altrincham kicked off towards the away end and within 8 seconds Barrow had possession. But soon Alty won it back and a fine cross from Joseph fed Denham who got in a cross but there was no one in the goalmouth to get on the end of it, so it ran to keeper Martin (30 secs). This end to end start was to form a pattern for much of the game.
In the fourth minute, Wiles closed down Lawton on the Alty right touchline about 30 yards from the centre line and the ball cannoned off him. From what looked an innocuous incident, the Barrow man stayed down, just off the pitch. After treatment he remained prone and play continued. Soon, substitute Donnelly was readied to replace Wiles who was now placed on a stretcher with his left leg in a brace. It is to be hoped that his injury is not as serious as it appeared (6 mins).
As play continued, Densmore found McCarthy whose curling shot went narrowly wide of the Barrow goal (8 mins). Two minutes later, Walker headed wide for Barrow. For Alty, captain Robbie Lawton was leading by example but play soon stopped as Brown was tripped by Bolland, who received a lecture on his return to Moss Lane where he was briefly a player for the Robins.
Both sets of fans were in good voice as the game continued at a good pace. The visitors were conceding regular freekicks at this stage but neither side could create a clear opening. When Densmore, who appeared to be relishing his more central midfield role, was held by Bolland, Coates's resulting freekick eventually found its way to Denham. On the edge of the box, Denham beat Pearson and shot at goal but his effort curled wide of the far post from right of goal.
At the other end, a snap shot from Walker went wide (26 mins) and the usually reliable striker wasted a better chance on the half hour mark when a fine cross from the left by Edwards was headed wide by him. Alty then enjoyed a good spell which was interrupted when Boyd went down off the ball and limped off after treatment (35 mins). Barrow then won two corners, between which Welch shot wide at the other end.
In the 40th minute, James Smith was racing back alongside Barrow's Walker, who was pulling him. Smith, however, found himself penalised and was not pleased. His dissent earned him a yellow card (41 mins). Smith was still clearly angry a minute or two later after the freekick had led to Bolland heading wide from an offside position. Indeed, so incensed was Smith that captain Robbie Lawton had to be summoned by the referee to calm him down (43 mins).
In the two added minutes at the end of the half Joseph was caught in the face in a challenge for which he was penalised. Boyd, from 40 yards, produced a fine curling freekick which went through the ruck in the goalmouth and was gathered by Coates at the back post.
So, for the tenth time in ten games, Alty had failed to score in the first half of a game but they had put in a spirited performance which was a significant improvement on the showing at Eastbourne 72 hours or earlier.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BARROW 0|
No player changes were made at the interval, which Barrow started the better of the two sides. Danylyk got in an excellent long-range shot which Martin held (51 mins). Barrow then enjoyed some pressure which ended with a Barrow player going down cheaply in the box and not getting the penalty he was looking for. From Donnelly the ball came to James Coates and the Alty keeper launched a long ball which accurately found Denham on the edge of the Barrow box. As he brought the ball under control he was challenged by Edwards, who handled the ball - this time Mr Merchant did judge the incident to be a penalty, for Altrincham.
After Edwards had been booked, Shaun Densmore scored comfortably as Martin dived too early. So, for the first time in eight games, Alty had a lead. But it almost disappeared immediately. Smith conceded a freekick just outside the box and Boyd, who takes a superb freekick, beat Coates only to see his effort come down, and out, off the underside of the crossbar (57 mins).
In the 59th minute Cook replaced the former Halifax man, Forrest, for Barrow. Soon after this Walker took a dive in the Alty box and was promptly booked by Mr Merchant (63 mins). A minute later Damian Reeves came on for Alty in place of McCarthy. Both sets of fans continued to give great support tonight as Barrow now pushed forward and Altrincham looked a danger on the break. Soon, from one such attack, Reeves fed Denham but the keeper just got to the ball first (66 mins).
Next, Williams did well to put off Donnelly just enough to force him to miscue as he got into the Alty box. Alty then had an alarm as Reeves went down in the Barrow box, but play continued.
Robbie Lawton then earned a spontaneous round of applause from the Main Stand as he successively chased down three Barrow players in midfield. Joseph then fed Reeves who got the ball back via Danylyk and Joseph before putting Densmore through on goal. Densmore's shot was beaten out by Martin but fell to the incoming Reeves who netted his third goal of the season (50% of the team's total), a very decent return from six starts and four appearances from the bench (74 mins).
Alty fans recalled that they held a 2-0 at a similar point against Darlington in game two of the season and had ended up with a draw. Barrow now introduced Gregg Blundell for Simon Spender (75 mins) but Alty delayed the introduction of Holsgrove who had been warming up for five minutes. As with their first goal, Alty again could easily have conceded soon afterwards. This time it was Coates whose fine long range shot forced a good save from Coates (77 mins).
Finally Holsgrove replaced Denham (78 mins). Play was sweeping from end to end. Blundell went close after 83 minutes when he struck the post with a deflected shot and Coates saved the follow up well. As the game drew to its conclusion, Michael Welch was named as Man of the Match which was the cue for him to make three important clearances in the closing stages.
This was an impressive display of Alty's team spirit after what could have been a morale sapping run of nine winless games culminating in a 5-0 pasting at Eastbourne last Saturday. The way Densmore and colleagues immediately ran to hug Ken McKenna after the first goal underlined the message from Robbie Lawton in the match day programme that the team are fully behind the acting manager.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 BARROW 0|