GLOUCESTER CITY (0) 1 ALTRINCHAM (0) 1
played on Saturday, 3 September, 2011, at 3pm, at Cheltenham Town FC
In a game of awful quality Altrincham again failed to hold a lead, succumbing to an equalizer in the fifth minute of added time, a header from Davies after a cross from the left. Alty had taken the lead after 53 minutes when Clee drove the ball home after Reeves had won the ball and Twiss rode a challenge. Alty then tried to soak up some Gloucester pressure but failed to do so.
REFEREE: Mr Adam Bromley (Plymouth)
Anthony Danylyk's suspension does not apply till our game at Solihull, so he was able to play today in an unchanged starting line-up. Alty signed striker James Lawrie on loan from AFC Telford in the days before this match and he was named on the bench. Gloucester's Darren Mullings was sidelined by a shoulder injury and was replaced by Matt Rose. Veteran Tom Webb came back into the side and Matt Lock made his debut.
Mike Garnett reminds us that although we have never played Gloucester City, we have visited their current home ground at Cheltenham Town on previous occasions. He writes that:
"We have of course played at Whaddon Road, Cheltenham in the 'medium distant' past. Our record there is played 8, won 3, drawn 2, lost 3, goals F10-A7. Our last appearance there was on April 18th, 1992 for Cheltenham Town 0 Alty 2 (in the GM Vauxhall Conference). If you wanted to take an optimistic line you could say we haven't lost at Whaddon Road since 1988 (August 29th - 1-2 [GMVC]), but that is rather playing with words!!".
On their website, Gloucester City explain that "We were forced to leave Meadow Park Stadium in Gloucester after the devastating floods of summer 2007 left the ground beyond repair. Everyone at the club is committed to returning to Gloucester as soon as possible, and in early 2011 a new stadium design was released to the public". Since then Gloucester have played at Forest Green and Cirencester Town before moving to Cheltenham's ground, which is about ten miles from Gloucester city centre.
City had only four players on the bench.
GLOUCESTER CITY (Amber & black stripes) 1. Kevin Sawyer, 2. Mike Green, 4. Matt Coupe, 5. Tom Hamblin, 3. Tyler Weir, 6. Tom Webb (c), 7. Matt Lock, , 8. Matt Rose, 11. Steve Davies, 9. Darren Edwards, 10. Will Morford. Subs: 12. Adam Mann, 14. Sam Rawlings, 15. Scott Claridge, 16. Neil Mustoe
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts, red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 6. Mark LEES, 5. Paul JONES, 3. Ryan BROWN, 7. Simon RICHMAN, 8. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. Anthony DANYLYK, 11. Nicky CLEE, 10. Damian REEVES, 9. Michael TWISS. Subs: 18. Josh OLLERENSHAW (gk), 12. Chris LYNCH, 15. Astley MULHOLLAND, 14. Brian SUMMERSKILL, 16. James LAWRIE
For some reason Alty elected to change ends which left them to face the second half sun and so it was the Tigers who kicked off in their temporary Cheltenham home, where just one end and one side were open to spectators. The absence of any ballboys meant that play was often broken up as players had to retrieve balls from the unpopulated areas - in one case goalkeeper Sawyer even had to go down an exit tunnel to get one back.
But the general standard of play - too much head tennis, too many long balls, too many misplaced passes - made this game, by some distance the worst spectacle of the season so far. The flow of the game was not helped by injury stoppages; Simon Richman went down under a fair but strong challenge in the first minute and, though he limped back into action, he soon had to be replaced by Chris Lynch (4 mins). The substitution arived just after City had won the first corner of the afternoon but a Ryan Brown freekick, one of many to litter the first half, yielded a corner for Altrincham too. Like the other half dozen taken in the first half by Alty, the delivery from it was poor.
However, Mark Lees did get in a shot soon afterwards but it went wide (7 mins). Moments later a long ball set Reeves free in the box but he miskicked badly and the ball ran comfortably to Sawyer. Reeves redeemed himself soon afterwards by winning a corner, which this time was directed straight out of play, landing on the roof of the net. The travelling fans were doing their best to raise the tempo but play continued to be disjointed with the referee allowing several dubious challenges to go unpunished, as when Lynch was hurt by a foul which was not given.
Another Alty corner, another wasted opportunity, arose in the 16th minute. When Reeves needed treatment after a challenge he became the third Alty man to need the physio's attention in the first 17 minutes of this match. Next, Lawton was hobbling as the game stuttered on. But Alty had a great chance to go ahead in the 20th minute when Lynch scooped the ball over the bar from six yards.
Next, Densmore shot wide as Alty were looking the better side but the game was still not one for the purist. Another Alty corner came and went after which Clee did force the keeper to make a good save with his feet from his right-footed drive (32 mins).
The litany of wasted corners continued in the 38th minute - this one badly overhit beyond the back post. Another soon followed and again it was too strongly hit beyond the back post. Altrincham were the better side but were failing to make it tell as the game drifted towards half-time. The referee punished the spectators by adding four and a half minutes of play at the end of the half which, not surprisingly, had ended, 0-0.
|Half-Time: GLOUCESTER CITY 0 ALTRINCHAM 0|
The referee, having allowed things to go in the first half, now booked two players in the first three minutes of the second half. First in the book was Lawton, who seemed hard done by (46 mins), followed by City's Webb (48 mins) for a foul on the Alty captain.
After Clee had failed to clear the ball, Coburn had to make the save of the game, pawing away a Gloucester effort from close range (51 mins). Alty fans' hearts were in their mouths moments later when Jones pulled down an opponent in the box but the linesman flagged for an earlier pull on the Alty defender.
But then came a well worked goal. Lawton's clearance came upfield where Reeves battled well on the right to get the ball for Twiss. Though fouled, Twiss got the ball across the box- thanks to an excellent "advantage" played by the referee - where Clee drove it low into the net (53 mins).
Gloucester's response was two substitutions in as many minutes as, firstly, Mann came on for Lock (56 mins) then Claridge replaced Rose (58 mins). The changes added a bit of bite to the home side's attack and they soon won a corner. But Alty came closer to a goal when Densmore fed Lynch, whose rasping shot from right of goal was tipped over the bar by Sawyer for a corner (64 mins).
But the overall quality of the game remained poor. Next, Danylyk needed treatment and was replaced by new loan signing Lawrie from AFC Telford (72 mins). He went into a central striking position as Reeves moved to the right. Lawrie then went down in the box but did not get a penalty before a strong shot from Twiss was saved (74 mins).
Rawlings now replaced Morford for Gloucester (75 mins). Alty were then fortunate when Mann miskicked in front of goal (80 mins). Next a fine tackle from Alty's best player, Lees, halted another City probe. Alty now made a change as Summerskill was brought on to right midfield for Clee (85 mins).
Alty were unlucky when Lawrie was played in on goal but the flag went up against Twiss who was not involved in the move (89 mins). But Gloucester were now pressing and won two successive corners but Alty saw them off just before five added minutes started. Gloucester kept pressing with Brown and Lees each making good clearances before a cross from Green, on the right, was headed on towards the back post where the unmarked Davies headed it into the Alty net (90+5 mins).
An injury time penalty had robbed Alty of any reward at Harrogate and the Robins had then lost two-goal leads to both Vauxhall Motors and Guiseley and now, an equalizer deep into stoppage time had again deprived them of points. It is turning into a season of wasted opportunities for Altrincham, a season in which draws seem to be a disappointment rather than an achievement.
|Full-Time: GLOUCESTER CITY 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|