ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS (1) 1
played on Tuesday, 15 March, 2011, at 7.45pm
Altrincham showed great spirit to come back from an interval deficit with two goals in as many minutes, just before the hour mark. Altrincham had dominated the first half, without seriously threatening a goal, against a poor looking FGR side but then gifted the visitors the lead. The FGR goal, in the 27th minute, arrived when Coburn came out towards the front of the box for a ball which his defenders looked to have covered. But, just as against Darlington at the start of the season, the resulting mix up between keeper and defenders allowed Styche to loop a header into the unguarded net.
Alty wobbled after that and manager Ken McKenna cut a forlorn figure as he sat on the Alty bench at half-time. But his and Stuart Bimson's team came out fighting and deservedly levelled when Baynes's corner came back into the goalmouth off an Alty player at the back post and Marc Joseph slotted a low shot into the net (57 mins). Then Nicky Clee did well on the left and his cross/shot came back off the far post and was scrambled home by Michael Twiss (59 mins).
Coburn had to make a couple of decent stops but otherwise Altrincham had more of the attacking play as they recorded a well deserved victory to keep alive their hopes of survival. Steve Connors was a merited Man of the Match.
REFEREE: Mr R L Metcalfe
ATTENDANCE: 598, (19 in away end)
Altrincham welcomed back Stuart Coburn, James Smith and Nicky Clee in place of Craig Dootson, Jon Bateson and Ryan Brown. But Greg Young (ankle), Sam Hewson (ribs), as well as the longer-term injured duo, Shaun Densmore and Chris Denham, were out injured.
Matt Somner, who had enjoyed a loan spell at Alty earlier this season, was in the FGR midfield tonight.
Mike Garnett informs us of the past record of matches between Alty and FGR:
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white stripes, white shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 26. Carl PIERGIANNI, 17. Wes BAYNES, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 18. Steven CONNORS, 11. Nicky CLEE, 8. Damian REEVES, 9. Michael TWISS, Subs: 30. Craig DOOTSON, 3. Jonathan BATESON, 15. Ryan BROWN, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 19. Mark BEESLEY
Forest Green Rovers (Green): 1. James Bittner; 3. Scott Bartlett, 5. Luke Jones (capt), 6. Craig Armstrong, 10. Ross Dyer, 20. Gavin Caines, 18. Chris Stokes; 25. Wayne Turk, 27. Keiron Forbes, 28. Matt Somner, 9. Reece Styche, Subs: 12. Lewis Young, 19. Yan Klukowski, 11. Steve Davies, 16. Danny Hall, 23. Jeffrey Imudia.
Before kick off Forest Green Rovers went through the pitch side stepping routine and bonding huddle which seems to be becoming increasing prevalent at Conference level but it was Altrincham who kicked off towards the Golf Road end and started the game the better in front of Moss Lane's second lowest home gate of the season. But, for a Tuesday night, it was good to see that 19 FGR fans had made the not inconsiderable effort to undertake the 278-mile round trip from Gloucestershire for this twice rearranged game.
Soon, Steve Connors and Nicky Clee were impressing for Alty with the on-loan midfielder from Fleetwood having an early shot at goal, which went wide (4 mins). Indeed, it took FGR three attempts to clear Alty's next attack before two Clee long throws, from the left, yielded the game's first corner, taken disappointingly, from the left, by Baynes.
Some FGR probing was seen off by Alty's defence before the quarter-hour mark and though Altrincham then gained the upper hand once more, there were no clear openings presented to either side as the game reached the 27th minute. At that point what looked a fairly innocuous long punt forward towards the outer edge of the Alty box led to a visitors' goal which was against the run of play. Goalkeeper Coburn came out for the ball for which Williams was also positioning himself to clear and the two Alty men came together, leaving FGR's Styche with an unchallenged header into the vacant net.
Naturally, the goal lifted the visitors and deflated the Robins who now conceded two corners in succession on their right flank. These were both poorly taken by Forbes to the consternation of his bench but when Coburn then miskicked a clearance, Somner struck the base of the keeper's left hand post in what proved to be a turning point of the game (31 mins).
At this stage, Alty's confidence was visibly slipping as errors grew more frequent and supporters feared a repeat of several games this season where a bright start has been undermined by an opposition goal and a dip in form from the Robins. After 37 minutes Coburn had to save from Dyer from a Forbes feed. The game then meandered towards half-time before Alty regained some of their earlier composure for the final few minutes of the first half.
In the 41st minute Alty won the first of two corners, taken by Clee, but both were seen off by Rovers. Clee and Baynes had now switched wings but half-time arrived after a minute of added time with Altrincham trailing despite having had the better of the opening 45 minutes.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1|
Alty boss Ken McKenna came out to the dugout well before the start of the second half and cut a forlorn figure as he awaited the emergence of the team and backroom staff. Indeed, the gloom around the ground was almost tangible during the interval but clearly the management had succeeded in rousing the players and they came out in a positive frame of mind for the second half.
However, an early Alty corner by Clee was taken too short (49 mins). Then a good feed from the left by Clee allowed Reeves a shot from the edge of the box but he put it wide of the keeper's left post (50 mins). Next, good work on the left from Piergianni led to a chance for Baynes but he ballooned his volley yards over the top of the away end (56 mins). However, the game was to be turned on its head in the next few minutes.
Altrincham won a corner on the left and the ball seemed to come back, involuntarily, off an Alty player at the back post, into the goalmouth, where Marc Joseph was on hand to slot it, low, into the FGR net to make it 1-1 (57 mins). This made the defender joint second top scorer for Alty in the league this season with three goals, underlining how goalscoring had been one of Alty's major problems this season.
But within two minutes Joseph had been knocked back down to joint third in the scoring charts when Michael Twiss notched his fourth league goal of the season. This time, the goal came from the threat of Clee on the left, whose shot-cum-cross struck the inside of the back post and rebounded into the goalmouth where, in a melee, Twiss poked it into the net (59 mins).
FGR now brought on Jeffrey Imudia as a substitute for Scott Bartlett (59 mins) but there was little significant in the action before the visitors introduced a second new player when Steve Davies replaced Craig Armstrong (65 mins).
Altrincham continued to look comfortable with their lead before they, too, made a change with Anthony Danylyk coming on for Michael Twiss in the 71st minute. Lawton was then booked (75 mins) but the Alty crowd had been lifted by the two goals and was giving the team good vocal support. FGR raised themselves to apply some brief pressure as the game approached its final ten minutes, at which point Marc Joseph needed treatment for injury.
Altrincham responded by winning two successive corners (86 mins) at which point Ryan Brown replaced Baynes (87 mins). As always when the margin is only a single goal, the final minutes for Alty, which included four added minutes, were a little jittery though Danylyk was unlucky to get booked (90+2 mins) when one or two serial offenders had escaped without censure earlier in the game.
Altrincham won two very late corners, the first won by Connors whose industrious performance earned him the deserved Man of the Match award from the sponsors. After almost five added minutes, the whistle went to confirm the acquisition of three vital points for Altrincham, which kept them in touch with the teams just above them.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 1|