A 59th minute header from Damian Reeves gave Altrincham the points at Field Mill against a misfiring Mansfield team, which was reeling from a 7-2 reverse on New Year's Day. The goal followed a short corner by Baynes to Brown, with Joseph heading Baynes's resulting cross from the back post for Reeves to convert. Seven of the side which drew with Wrexham did not start this game. Injuries to Denham, Twiss, Smith and Piergianni ruled them out, and the on-loan Somner was not to play against his employers, whilst Beesley and Danylyk dropped to the bench. Nevertheless, Alty worked hard all through the game and restricted Mansfield to one serious threat - a header from Cook which Coburn pushed brilliantly over the bar.
REFEREE: Mr P Hodskinson
ATTENDANCE: 2,229 (away end 93)
Altrincham made seven changes from the side which started against Wrexham. They were without injured striker Denham, injured defenders Smith and Piergianni while TWiss was also carrying a knock, so management options were fairly limited in selecting a starting eleven. With Twiss not in today's squad there was a rare start up front for Reeves. Baines returned but Somner was not available to play against his employers; Clee returned after injury and Brown, Hewson and Lawton also all came back into the side as Ken McKenna had half an eye on a heavy January fixture list and the need to rotate his squad.
Altrincham had not scored for five league games, a sequence which had yielded just one point. Mansfield had lost 7-2 at Grimsby following a 5-1 win at Cambridge so their form today was unpredictable.
MANSFIELD TOWN (Yellow and blue striped shirts, yellow shorts and socks): 30. Kevin Pilkington, 2. Gary Silk, 33. Rhys Day, 3. Kevin Sandwith, 34. Steve Cook, 29. Adam Murray, 11. Adam Smith, 19. Steven Istead, 7. Louis Briscoe, 23. Paul Connor, 9. Robert Duffy. Subs: 25. Neil Collett, 16. Tom Naylor, 4. Gary Mills, 21. Keigan Parker, 22 Luke Medley
ALTRINCHAM (All white): 1. Stuart COBURN, 27. Andrew MILNE, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 17. Robbie LAWTON, 20. Sam HEWSON, 11. Nicky CLEE, 17. Wes BAYNES, 15. Ryan BROWN, 8. Damian REEVES, Subs: 19. Mark BEESLEY, 21. James COATES, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 22. Michael WELCH, 16. Anthony DANYLYK.
After an even and fairly uneventful opening, Connor headed wide and then the same Mansfield player forced a fairly routine save from Coburn, following Duffy's knock down (8 mins). But Alty went closer in the 10th minute when a Williams header was cleared off the line from a Baynes corner.
In contrast to the vocal support from the Alty fans, the home crowd was distinctly quiet as Alty made a decent start to a difficult fixture. Indeeed, Alty went close again when Pilkington had to claw away a Williams header from a Clee long throw as Alty were now having the better of the game (17 mins). Injury stoppages for Duffy and then Hewson broke up play for the next few minutes.
Next, a Connor and Duffy combination led to the ball dropping into Coburn's arms before a Clee shot was comfortably saved by Pilkington at the other end (26 mins). Joseph was impressing for Alty at the back before Reeves fired wide from a Baynes feed. But play overall was pretty low key as Alty's injury-weakened team held its own well against a club with promotion aspirations.
For the third time, Williams outsmarted the home defence but this time his header skimmed wide, reducing the home fans to silence as their team laboured. Play continued scrappily towards the interval. But the Stags finished the half with two corners, with Day heading the first over the bar. However, half time arrived with the game goalless.
Overall, Alty had been more than a match for Mansfield in a game of little real quality.
|Half-Time: MANSFIELD TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
It was bitterly cold as the teams emerged for the second half. It was The Stags who started the better and, after Clee had conceded a freekick, Coburn produced a breathtaking save to push Cook's powerful header over the bar (51 mins). On the counter-attack, Clee headed wide at the back post from a Baynes cross from the right.
Pilkington then dropped the ball under an aerial challenge from Williams with the Alty defender poking the loose ball wide but he was penalised, in any case. However, Densmore soon forced a corner off Cook, on the Alty left. Baynes took this short to Brown who returned the ball and from the resulting cross by Baynes, Joseph rose well at the back post to nod the ball back into the goalmouth, from where Reeves headed home from close range to give Altrincham the lead with their first goal in the league for some nine hours (59 mins).
For Reeves, it was his eighth goal in eleven starts (and 10 substitute appearances) for Altrincham this season.
Mansfield immediately brought on the pacy Medley for Duffy (60 mins) and the Stags soon won a corner, followed not long afterwards by the replacement of Briscoe by Parker for the hosts. With continuing good vocal support, Alty defended resolutely as Mansfield went forward.
After 70 minutes Holsgrove replaced Clee, who had gone down injured and Mills replaced Istead for Mansfield, at the same time. Mansfield continued to frustrate their support with unforced errors and, though they won two corners, it was one of their players, Parker, who became the game's first booking when he brought down Holsgrove as he threatened to get clear up the left on a counter-attack.
After 79 minutes, Danylyk replaced Hewson in Alty's hard-working midfield as Mansfield now played briefly with 10 men whilst Cook received treatment behind the Alty goal. Cook returned later to hobble through the closing stages. Baynes then won a corner but was injured in the process by a block tackle. As he could not take the kick, Holsgrove came across from the left and for some reason got booked, presumably for time-wasting though the referee then allowed Sean Riley on to attend to Baines's injury (85 mins). Otherwise, the 23 year-old referee had an impressive game.
Beesley now replaced Baynes (87 mins) before Densmore got booked as he fouled an opponent in midfield (88 mins). Five minutes of added time were awarded and, despite one or two minor alarms, Alty rode them out successfully to record a much needed win. They showed plenty of spirit throughout and with their second successive clean sheet will look to build on this result at Rushden next Saturday.
|Full-Time: MANSFIELD TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|