DARLINGTON (0) 0 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
played on Saturday, 26 March, 2011, at 3pm
Altrincham absorbed plenty of Darlington pressure for spells in the first and second half but the introduction of Johnson and Clee early in the second period proved vital. Alty owed a debt to Coburn for three fine saves and Joseph again marshalled the back line well. Reeves should have shot Alty ahead shortly before he did score the game's only goal, a header from a Clee cross from the left with three minutes remaining of normal time.
REFEREE: Mr Wigglesworth
ATTENDANCE: 1,967 (101 in away end)
Greg Young returned from injury and Anthony Danylyk made his first start for some time.
Mike Garnett informed us of the past record of matches between these sides:
The reverse fixture this season ended 2-2 after Alty had led 2-0.
DARLINGTON (White and black hoops): 23. Sam Russell, 25. Aaron Brown, 2. Paul Arnison, 3. Dan Burnham, 4. Jamie Chandler, 6. Ian Miller, 20. Gary Smith, 29. Aman Verma, 7. Liam Hatch, 17. Michael Smith, 31. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson. Subs: 10. Chris Senior, 32. John Campbell, 33. Danzelle St Louis-Hamilton, 28. Adam Quinn, 21. Paul Terry
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. James SMITH, 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 4. Marc JOSEPH, 22. Greg YOUNG, 26. Carl PIERGIANNI, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 18. Steven CONNORS, 8. Damian REEVES, 9. Michael TWISS, Subs: 14. Dale JOHNSON, 30. Craig DOOTSON, 3. Jonathan BATESON, 11. Nicky CLEE, 17. Wes BAYNES,
The pitch was heavily watered by sprinklers before kick off, to the extent that part of the touchline was flooded and areas of the pitch were also left soggy. Darlington kicked off but immediately conceded a freekick as the two sets of supporters exchanged banter, the Alty fans taunting Darlington - who had just reached the Trophy Final - that the Robins had already been "One, two, three times to Wembley"!
The opening few minutes were fairly even, with Altrincham matching their hosts, who had lost just once in their previous 19 matches. Coburn comfortably pouched the first decent shot on target of the game, an effort from Bridge-Wilkinson (9 mins). After Connors had been lectured for a foul, Darlington's Arnison was deservedly cautioned when he grabbed Piergianni round the neck - red cards have been produced for lesser offences in some games (12 mins).
Joseph then did well to clear, at the expense of a corner, before Coburn had some fortune when he failed to hold a Darlington cross. The Alty keeper was the busier of the two and his next action was to catch a cross from Aaron Brown. Steve Connors now needed treatment after appearing to be caught in the face as he went for a 50-50 ball (18 mins).
Coburn then made a good save from a Burn shot as Darlington pressed forwards (21 mins). Alty did then get to the other end but Connors fired wildly off target. Two more Darlington corners arrived, the second after a fine block by Williams from the equally tall Michael Smith.
After Danylyk had been booked for a late tackle in midfield (27 mins), Alty then put together their best move to date, which ended with Twiss firing over the bar (29 mins). Coburn was soon back in action, tipping Michael Smith's headed effort over his bar for another corner (31 mins). Burn headed wide from the corner and then Williams found himself in the book after he had got the ball but his opponent had gone down (33 mins).
From a freekick Connors fired over the bar and then Alty's Reeves did well to get the energetic Connors into the box, but his shot was saved (40 mins). The resulting corner was cleared before Alty allowed Brown to progress unchallenged but his shot cleared the visitors' bar (41 mins).
In the three added minutes, Williams made two important challenges and Arnison fired wide but Alty got to half time all square.
|Half-Time: DARLINGTON 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Darlington ground staff inexplicably re-watered the pitch at half time and the hosts came out a little before Alty emerged from the dressing rooms. The floodlights came on as the dull weather continued and the early exchanges in the game did little to brighten things up, with a sustained passage of scrappy play.
Eight minutes into the half, Alty made a double attacking change as Clee and Johnson replaced Twiss and Danylyk (53 mins). As this occurred, the injured Bridge-Wilkinson received treatment before going off and being replaced by Terry. Following a Clee throw, Connors fired narrowly over the bar (56 mins). Then Hatch forced a fine save from Coburn (58 mins).
After Dale Johnson had won a freekick, Alty went close from a corner with Young just unable to get a touch at the back post (59 mins). Former Alty striker, Chris Senior came on for Chandler (60 mins). Alty made their last change as Bateson came on for Williams (63 mins). Coburn now saved well from former team-mate Chris Senior but play was now end to end as Clee and Johnson, ably supported by runs from Smith, helped Alty to get forward.
Steve Connors was booked, after being penalised for a foul and then exchanging words with the ref (67 mins). Darlington now enjoyed some more pressure, with Coburn saving well from Brown, and they next brought on Campbell for Smith (68 mins). Alty then relieved the pressure and almost scored when Clee did superbly on the left and from his cross, Reeves's volley at the back post was sliced wide from ten yards (74 mins).
Paul Terry was then booked fora foul on Johnson (76 mins) but when Alty won a throw for Nicky Clee, they did not send up any defenders to supplement the forwards in the box. Connors, who again had impressed, was now hobbling badly, as Darlo went close from a corner (83 mins).
At the other end, Reeves was clearly brought down in the box but no penalty was awarded and then it got worse for Alty when Johnson's shot seemed to cross the line before keeper Russell kicked it clear (85 mins). But there was still time for Altrincham to convert their late pressure into a goal as Clee again did well on the left and from his cross Reeves headed firmly home at the back post, the ball flying diagonally across goal into the far corner (87 mins).
With Steve Connors hobbling and all three subs used, Alty were faced by the signalling of four added minutes at the end of the ninety. But, apart from a booking for James Smith (90+2), they rode these out fairly comfortably to record an excellent away win and enhance their fight to stay up - they have now won three games in succession and face a vital clash with Southport next Tuesday at Moss Lane.
Stuart Coburn's saves kept Alty in the game but this was a fine team performance which left the travelling supporters and management delighted at the final whistle.
|Full-Time: DARLINGTON 0 ALTRINCHAM 1|