Referee Mr S.J. West was again on the end of home crowd booing, just as he had been in November at Moss Lane, when he awarded Luton's winning goal despite protests that it had been cleared off the line. This time he awarded Bath a freekick when Jones appeared to go down without any contact from James Smith. He allowed the freekick to be taken very quickly, whilst he was still talking to Alty's players, and Bath scored the game's opener, through Phillips (35 mins).
A second controversial incident saw Wes Baynes sent off after 70 minutes when he brought down Mohamed, who had appeared to handle the ball as he went forward. Mr West and his assistant judged that Baynes's challenge had been inside the the Alty box and pointed to the spot. Leading up to this incident, the ref. had allowed "advantage" after the crudest of challenges by Jobarti on Piergianni inside the Bath half, only for Alty possession to be lost, and Mohamed to break free. To add insult to injury after sending off Baynes, he acknowledged the original foul and went back and booked Jobarti.
Coburn saved the penalty superbly. Next, when Densmore was "taken out" inside the Bath box a few minutes later, play was waved on before Mohamed made it 2-0 following a corner, nine minutes from time. The third goal for Bath was also mired in controversy as Clee was brought down and play again continued, leading to Phillips's goal in the 87th minute.
Despite all this incident, Alty's ten men had three good chances in the closing stages. Piergianni lashed a shot over the bar from 8 yards; Densmore headed wide in front of goal, and Reeves ballooned a shot over the bar at the back post. But overall this was a disappointing showing from Altrincham who, after a promising start, created few openings at the Bath end of the pitch until the closing stages and the visitors ran out deserved winners.
REFEREE: Mr S J West
stuart Coburn and Carl Piergianni had recovered from injury to start today, but Nicky Clee, Chris Denham and Anthony Danylyk were only fit enough to be on the bench. Craig Dootson joined the subs after signing for the club yesterday.
This was only Altrincham's second home league game in ten weeks. Alty were unbeaten in four league games in 2011 before kick off. They should have beaten Bath in the reverse fixture, having led 2-0 but they only drew 2-2.
The game was preceded by two ceremonies. Firstly, Awards were made by Altrincham FC chairman Grahame Rowley to Stuart Coburn, Robbie Lawton and Rob Williams. Stuart's was to commemorate 500 appearances for the club, Robbie's for 200 games and Rob was presented with his latest Wales semi-professional international cap.
The second ceremony was a minute's silence for three recently deceased people; footballers Richard Butcher of Macclesfield Town and Nat Lofthouse of Bolton Wanderers, and the fiancée of former Alty player, Richard Battersby, who had succumbed to cancer earlier in the week.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & White striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 26. Carl PIERGIANNI, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 19. Mark BEESLEY, 6. Shaun DENSMORE, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 8. Damian REEVES, 9. Michael TWISS, 17. Wes BAYNES, 20. Sam HEWSON, Subs: 11. Nicky CLEE, 15. Ryan BROWN, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 10. Chris DENHAM, 30. Craig DOOTSON
BATH CITY (Pale blue shirts and socks, white shorts): 29. Carl Pentney, 5. Gethin Jones, 3. Jim Rollo (capt), 14. Danny Webb, 15. Luke Ruddick, 8. Adam Connolly, 16. Marc Canham, 20. Sido Jombati, 23. Kaid Mohamed, 31. Ben Watson, 10. Lee Phillips. Subs: 2. Sekani Simpson, 1. Ryan Robinson, 7. Scott Murray, 6.Adie Harris, 11. Lewis Hogg.
Altrincham kicked off, attacking the Golf Road End, in front of a disappointing gate of 831. The game had a fairly quiet opening with Coburn's save from Exeter City loanee, Watson, the first real goalmouth action (7 mins). Altrincham’s supporters were giving their side good support as play continued in a fairly even fashion. Alty had one scare when Beesley was felled but play continued and Bath ended up with a shot at goal which went wide. Then Bath's Phillips fired over the bar from the edge of the box 12 mins.
Each side was passing the ball about fairly neatly but without making any decisive impression on the other. Twiss was then pulled down by a crude challenge around his midriff for which Webb surprisingly escaped without a yellow card, as the Alty forward outsmarted him with a clever turn near half-way.
Densmore made one of many excellent tackles by him in this match to stop a Bath attack before a Williams clearance gave Bath their first corner, following which Mohamed sliced wide (24 mins). Pentney was then fortunate as he made two unconvincing attempts to punch clear but though the ball fell to Twiss, he could only put the awkwardly bouncing ball over the bar.
Alty were indebted to Coburn soon afterwards when Watson got past Piergianni and Williams to fire a shot at the Alty keeper (27 mins). Reeves was then put through but tackled just as he was shooting (30 mins). Not long afterwards, one of several surges forwards by Alty's on-loan defender from Peterborough, Carl Piergianni, produced Altriuncham's first corner of the game. Baynes's pinpoint corner located Hewson, unmarked outside the box, but his shot was blocked.
After Beesley had gone down in the box without a penalty award, Bath got to the other end. As Jones drifted across the front of the box, Smith got a foot to the ball, but the Bath man took a stride before collapsing to his knees. From his vantage point behind Smith, Mr West gave Bath a freekick which the home crowd greeted with derision as no contact had been made with the Bath man. The referee, whilst still talking to the Altrincham players, allowed Bath to take a very quick short freekick to which they were not alert. Though Coburn beat out the first shot, the ball fell to Phillips who converted from close range (35 mins).
Following this controversial goal, Alty were on the back foot and the home crowd were now quieter after their earlier vociferous support. Half-time arrived and referee West was roundly booed off the pitch for his freekick decision which had led to the Bath goal. Having said that, after a promising opening, Alty had not reacted to the quickly taken freekick. During the latter stages of the half, some of the home crowd had been getting a bit restless, urging their side to go forward rather than construct patient build ups, and this added to the pressure on the players.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BATH CITY 1|
The second half started fairly evenly with the best early effort being Beesley's shot which Pentney held low down (52 mins). Lawton then did well and won a corner as Alty enjoyed a decent spell. Indeed, Beesley soon got in another shot, which rose over the bar (54 mins).
The sides cancelled out each other's efforts as the second half continued. Although Alty won another corner (65 mins). Bath broke away after this and it took a smart kick clear from Coburn to stop Mohamed getting on the end of a long ball forward for Bath.
Alty made a double change in the 68th minute when Clee and Denham replaced Lawton and Twiss. Twiss had been having a good game, winning plenty of headers, whilst his partner Reeves had been kept under control by Bath.
As Alty then advanced up the left, a crude challenge from Jobarti took out Piergianni. The Alty defender did not make a meal of it and the referee allowed play to continue. Unfortunately, Alty lost possession and soon Mohamed was racing free towards goal, amidst claims for handball. Baynes had done well to get back in pursuit but his challenge took the Bath man's legs on the edge of the Alty box. Not only did Mr West award a penalty, he also showed Baynes a red card. Having gone 24 games without a red card, the Robins now suffered their second dismissal in as many matches (69 mins).
Mr West then went back and booked Jombarti, which was scant consolation for Altrincham. Before the penalty kick could be taken, Mr West also booked Alty's Smith, presumably for dissent. Mohamed himself took the spot kick, but Coburn did well to push it away from low down to his left (71 mins).
Had Mr West's "advantage" produced an Alty goal, he would have been saluted but Jombarti's foul was arguably so crude as to have warranted stoppage of the game and that was what annoyed the home fans. Immediately after this, Hewson was judged to have fouled a Bath player just outside the box but Canham's freekick went to Coburn. The home fans' ire increased when Densmore was bundled over inside the Bath box but play was waved on (74 mins).
Next, Murray came on for Bath for Watson (76 mins). Altrincham had a great chance to equalize in the 79th minute when a freekick was relayed by Williams, inside the Bath box, to Piergianni. From about 8 yards out, the on-loan defender connected well with the ball but shot well over the bar (79 mins).
A minute later, Coburn was on the end of a back pass and elected to take a touch with his foot but, before he could then complete the clearance, he was closed down and conceded a corner on the Bath right. The low corner-kick was cleverly back heeled by Jombarti and fell for Mohamed who scored with a rising effort from close range (81 mins).
Bath wound down time by bringing in Harris for captain, Rollo (86 mins). After this, Connolly fired narrowly wide (86 mins). However, Bath now scored a third goal which, like the first and the penalty award, was tainted by controversy. Clee advanced up the left for Alty before being brought down. No foul was given and Mohamed got forward on the break, with Phillips finishing off the move (87 mins).
Nevertheless, Alty had two good chances to score after that. First of all, Denham fed Clee and his excellent cross was headed wide from close range by Densmore (89 mins). Then Reeves got free, right of goal, but ballooned his shot well off target (90 mins).
There was time in the second of three added minutes for Connolly to shoot narrowly wide before Mr West blew the final whistle. Though two of Bath's goals and the unconverted penalty were products of controversial decisions by the referee, Altrincham had not done enough to deserve the points. They had played neat first-half football but lacked penetration and width to break down the visitors. Home games look to be the key to Altrincham's survival this season but just two wins from 12 matches at Moss Lane this season is a poor return and next Tuesday's visit of Hayes and Yeading now becomes an even more important fixture than ever.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 BATH CITY 3|