Altrincham's FA Trophy campaign was aided by a power cut at the Tameside Stadium this afternoon. Alty could have been five down before the interval but two excellent blocks from Stuart Coburn kept the score down, and Curzon's McDonagh also spooned a shot badly over the bar from close range. However, Coburn was unable to keep out a ninth-minute freekick from Birch (seen right) or an Edghill goal after 40 minutes.
But, with the last action of first-half added time, Clee's trickery on the left led to a cross which Mark Beesley headed onto the inside of the upright from where it bounced back, but keeper Carnell was only able to help the ball into the net as he attempted to grab it.
The game had started in sunshine and with the floodlights on but they went off midway through the half as a power cut affected the local area. It was bright enought to complete the first half but, at the interval, referee Collin discussed the situation with both managers and set a deadline of 4.20pm for the game to resume. But the power remained off after that time and he had no choice but to abandon the match. Subject to confirmation, the replay is next Tuesday at the Tameside Stadium at 7.45pm. Alty can only hope that they won't defend as badly twice in succession.
REFEREE: Mr Jake Collin
Alty omitted Robbie Lawton, Damian Reeves, Michael Welch and Andrew Milne from their squad for this FA Trophy game. Former Alty Reserves' keeper, Craig Ellison, was on the Curzon bench, whilst ex-Alty Youth players Chris Curley and Chris McDonagh started for the hosts.
Alty had a lost a pre-season friendly here at the Tameside Stadium this summer, 2-1. And for this game Curzon arrived on the back of a five match winning run. Altrincham had lost their previous four league games, without scoring a goal and conceding fourteen in the process. It was a recipe for a potential upset.
CURZON ASHTON (Blue) 1. David Carnell, 2. David Birch (captain), 3. Sam Halligan, 4. Paul Booth, 5. James Blair, 6. James Ogoo, 7. Chris Worsley, 8. Chris Curley, 9. Chris McDonagh, 10. Daniel Broadbent, 11. Phil Edghill. Subs: 12. Daniel Shannon, 14. Matt Purcell, 15. Carlos Gazapo, 16. Grant Spencer, 18.Craig Ellison
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH (captain), 4. Marc JOSEPH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 15. Ryan BROWN, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 25. Matt SOMNER, 17. Wes BAYNES, 11. Nicky CLEE, 10. Chris DENHAM, 19. Mark BEESLEY. Subs: 21. James COATES, 9. Michael TWISS, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 20. Sam HEWSON
Ironically, given how the afternoon was to end, the match started with Alty kicking off in bright sunshine but with the floodlights unnecessarily illuminating proceedings. The visitors played three at the back, Smith, Williams and Joseph, whilst Denham and Beesley were the furthermost attacking force.
Altrincham had slightly the better of the opening five minutes but Curzon were the first to threaten a goal when Somner conceded a freekick a few yards outside the front of the box. Coburn was unable to catch Birch's kick which bounced just in front of him, to his left, but he managed to scoop the ball round the post for a corner (7 mins).
Moments later Brown conceded a freekick at a similar distance from Alty's goal. Birch again went for placement rather than power and this time he beat Coburn at his near post to put Curzon ahead (9 mins).
soon after this, it could have been 2-0 as the Alty defence parted to allow Broadbent a one on one against the Alty keeper. But Coburn blocked the shot impressively. Indeed, Curzon now gained the upper hand until a Beesley shot struck a defender (15 mins) and then a Williams header from a Densmore cross tested the keeper as Alty briefly improved (17 mins).
But Curzon again began to look the more dangerous as McDonagh was put through against Coburn but missed a sitter, firing well over from barely 6 yards (23 mins). By this point the floodlights had gone off and, given that the sun was shining, this might have been a deliberate move to save energy. But it soon became clear that the real cause was a power-cut affecting the ground and the local neighbourhood.
Alty then enjoyed a decent but unproductive spell which yielded a corner (28 mins). The Ashton keeper fumbled Clee's kick but the defence got the ball away, the move ending with Denham's cross which Joseph headed wide (29 mins).
A trip on Clee by Ogoo earned the Ashton man a booking. But Altrincham continued to play like a side lacking confidence, their forward movements were ponderous and their moves broke down in the final third of the pitch, whilst defensively they looked fragile.
Just after Nicky Clee had seen a shot saved, Densmore lost possession, about 35 yards out on the Alty right. Edghill advanced with the ball up the Ashton left and, as Coburn came to meet him at the near post, the Curzon man slotted the ball past him to double his side's lead.
Alty continued to labour as the game went into added time at the end of the first half. Then Clee, who had looked Alty's most likely player to spark a goal, made progress on the left. From his cross, Beesley got in a good header from the centre of the goalmouth which struck the inside of the back post before rebounding out. But as keeper Carnell attempted to grab it, he could only help the ball into the net to make it 2-1 (45+2 mins).
That was the last action of a poor first half from Altrincham, who were very fortunate to be just a goal adrift. However, with the power supply still off at the interval, Altrincham's best hope seemed to be an abandonment in the hope that they would play better on another day.
As the interval drew to its end, the referee and the two managers discussed the situation on the pitch, eventually deciding that if the electricity had not been switched back on by 4.20pm, the game would be abandoned.
Twenty minutes passed with the players keeping warm on the ever darkening pitch but there was to be no recovery of the electricity supply and, at 4.20pm, with a blast of his whistle, Mr Collin terminated proceedings, with Altrincham certainly the happier side with the official's decision.
|Half-Time: CURZON ASHTON 2 ALTRINCHAM 1|
Compiled by John Laidlar