ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 NUNEATON TOWN (0) 0
played on Saturday, 24 September, 2011, at 3pm
Alty secured a hard-won but deserved victory with a strong second-half showing at Moss Lane. The start of the game was marked by a bizarre episode after six minutes when, following protests from the Alty bench to the fourth official, referee Simeon Lucas stopped the game to allow Nuneaton to change into Alty's yellow away strip! Before kick-off the referee had allowed the visitors to take to the pitch in red shirts with black hoops, red shorts and black socks to play Altrincham whose colours are red and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks.
In the early stages of the match Damian Reeves twice almost got behind the defence but, on each occasion, the keeper just got to the ball first. With Mr Lucas failing to punish fouls, including a blatant handball by Hadland, Alty should have gone ahead when Reeves did get to a through ball ahead of Collett, only to miskick as he tried to poke the ball past the stranded keeper (34 mins).
Borough almost stole the lead just before the break when Pugh headed badly wide at the back post, his effort ending up in the side netting.
Alty gradually built up the pressure in the second half, with Lawrie being denied by a fine save early in the half. After two successive Alty corners, Reeves got past his man well and was brought down in the box by Hadland, who was shown a yellow card. Reeves converted the penalty venomously (62 mins).
After Twiss had gone close to a goal, Densmore's persistence saw him rob substitute Aaron James, 35 yards out from the Nuneaton goal, on the Alty right. The midfielder's cross was met by a stooping header from Reeves, whose knack of getting into goalscoring positions has given him ten goals in eleven matches this season (76 mins). Alty allowed Nuneaton to come at them for the final ten minutes but, with Williams named as Man of the Match and the rest of the back line performing well, Alty kept a rare clean sheet
REFEREE: Mr Simeon Lucas (Darwen)
ATTENDANCE: 775 (83 in away end)
Four Alty players were unfit to start last Tuesday at Colwyn Bay - Robbie Lawton, Adam Flynn, Simon Richman and Chris Lynch - though Adam Flynn had been on the bench in Wales. However, Lynch had recovered and replaced youth team captain Matt Fearon today in the back line. With Josh Ollerenshaw now playing with Curzon Ashton, youth team keeper Adam Reid made his first appearance on the bench for a first-team league game. For James Lawrie it was potentially a last appearance for Alty unless his loan from AFC Telford is renewed next week.
Town's Robbie Burns sadly broke his ankle last Tuesday, but full-backs Graham Ward and Aaron James were available for selection. However Sam Belcher had left the club in midweek as a cost-cutting measure.
BGD This was Altrincham's first ever meeting with Nuneaton Town, though of course they had met Nuneaton Borough frequently over the years. Mike Garnett reminds us that our pre-match statistics against their forerunners, Nuneaton Borough, are:
The last league meeting with Boro' was the momentous Conference North play-off semi-final of 2005 which Alty won, away, after a penalty shoot out.
A curiosity of this, the eleventh game this season for each side, was that Nuneaton were making only their fourth trip away from home, whilst Alty had played six of their previous ten matches away from Moss Lane. Coincidentally, this was Alty's second successive game against a team lying fifth in the table, following the match with Colwyn Bay last Tuesday, which Alty had won 6-1.
Right: A baffled Nuneaton player (background) scratches his head as similarily attired Alty and Nuneaton players mingle near the referee just prior to the shirt change.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Chris LYNCH, 6. Mark LEES, 5. Rob WILLIAMS, 3. Ryan BROWN, 7. James LAWRIE, 4. Anthony DANYLYK (capt), 8. Shaun DENSMORE, 11. Nicky CLEE, 10. Damian REEVES, 9. Michael TWISS, Subs : 18. Adam REID, 15. Brian SUMMERSKILL, 14. Matt FEARON, 16. Astley MULHOLLAND, 12. Adam FLYNN,
NUNEATON TOWN (Red & black hooped shirts, with black backs, red shorts and black socks, subsequently changed to yellow shirts) 1. Neil Collett, 2. Simon Forsdick, 3. Eddie Nisevic, 4. Mark Noon, 5. Gareth Dean, 6. Guy Hadland, 7. James Armson, 8. Adam Walker, 9. Danny Glover, 10. Lee Smith, 11. Ben Pugh, Subs: 12. Mark Albrighton, 14. Lee Moore, 15. Gary Mills. 16. Alex Gudger, 17. Aaron James.
The crowd was surprised to see the visitors take to the field in colours remarkably similar to those of their hosts' kit. Nuneaton normally wear blue and white striped shirts and some leagues take exception to two teams being in stripes, even of a different colour. But for the referee to consider that there was sufficient differentiation between Nuneaton and Altrincham’s red and black kits today was a decision not shared by the crowd or the Alty bench. From before kick off, voices were heard both from the crowd and the Alty bench suggesting that it was difficult to differentiate between the teams.
After Nuneaton had kicked off towards the away end, Reeves almost got on the end of a through ball inside the first minute. Play in the first few minutes took place almost exclusively on the Popular side of the pitch but, after four minutes, Lee Sinnott had seen enough and voiced his concerns about the colour-clash to someone in the Nuneaton technical area. Eventually this person managed, via an assistant referee (linesman), to attract referee Lucas's attention and, after some discussion, he sanctioned a shirt change.
Alty kitmen John Skelhorn and Luke Pickering had already brought a complete set of Alty's yellow away shirts to the touchline, complete with hangers, and the crowd was treated to the spectacle of all 11 opponents changing their tops at pitch-side, whilst the Nuneaton bench were also given new shirts (6 mins). Thankfully removing their tops did not prompt the showing of 16 yellow cards but the farcical scene did little to enhance the image of a semi-professional league.
So the game resumed with all 22 players bearing the Davidson logo of Altrincham, which will have pleased the home-shirt sponsors, as well as Alty's kit suppliers SK Kits, though not the company which recently took on the task of laundering Alty's match-day kit, which saw its workload doubled at a stroke.
After this stoppage, Nuneaton won a corner, which Lees cleared. Then, for the second time inside ten minutes, Reeves's excellent timing got him almost on the end of a through ball but goalkeeper Collett just beat the Alty man to the ball (10 mins). Play was fairly even in the opening stages but Nisevic was fortunate not to see a card when he felled Densmore after 15 minutes.
Walker was then judged to have sprung the Alty offside trap but he wasted the opening with an overhit cross from the left (16 mins). Referee Lucas's lenient attitude was seen again when Hadland clearly held Reeves without sanction, followed almost immediately by Dean's second foul of the game (18 mins). So, when Hadland quite blatantly handled the ball near the touchline, without being halted, even Brian Flynn of Radio Robins was moved to break off from commentary to shout down from the press box, "That was handball, referee" (25 mins).
Alty were now on top as a Twiss cross was held by the keeper. Once more, Reeves outfoxed his marker but once again Collett just reached a through ball ahead of Alty's leading scorer (31 mins). Soon afterwards, Lawrie fed Reeves but his shot went just wide. The half chances kept coming for Reeves, in no small part due to his intelligent positioning and running, but he should have converted the next opportunity when, this time, he got onto a through ball before Collett but, as he attempted to flick the ball past the advancing keeper, he made only partial contact with the ball (34 mins). However, the frequently occurring gaps through the middle of the visitors' defence were greatly encouraging to the home side.
The next few minutes were frankly dull as the sides cancelled out each other's efforts but there was yet another potential one versus one between Reeves and Collett in the 40th minute though, again, the ball just reached the keeper before the Alty man could get to it.
But it was Nuneaton who almost snatched the lead in the 42nd minute when Glover was judged onside and his cross found Pugh at the back post, from where he should have headed the ball into the net, but he only found the side netting, to Alty's relief. Just before the interval, Glover made a very late challenge on Densmore and Mr. Lucas produced a yellow card (44 mins).
Half-time arrived with the teams deadlocked at 0-0.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 NUNEATON TOWN 0|
The second half started with Densmore chasing down Collett and the keeper's clearance rebounding to safety off the Alty player. Alty went closer in the 47th minute when Reeves fed Lawrie, whose goal bound shot was very well stopped by the keeper, a corner resulting. Town now progressed up the right before a fine tackle from Lees stopped their progress (49 mins). Clee, who had ended the first half limping, suffered a further knock when fouled by Forsdick; he appeared to hurt his neck as he fell but he resumed after treatment from Danny Fishwick (51 mins).
Just after Clee had volleyed well over the bar, Borough made their first change with Moore replacing Smith (53 mins). The crowd was enlivened after a few minutes of dull play when a nine- pass Alty move ended with Lawrie lifting his shot over the bar. Altrincham were now beginning to set the pace but Lynch had to make a good tackle to halt a Nuneaton counter-attack.
As the game reached the hour mark, Alty won two successive corners after Brown had made an intelligent overlap up the left. Alty's increased pressure soon got its reward when Reeves turned smartly past his marker and as he raced clear into the box, he was clearly brought down. Hadland only saw a yellow card for the offence as it was deemed to be reckless but not denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. However, Reeves extracted full punishment as he blasted the resulting penalty into the net to make it 1-0 (62 mins).
Soon afterwards, Hadland was all over Reeves again but Mr. Lucas did not see any foul by the booked defender (65 mins). Nuneaton now made a change as former FGR and Mansfield Town man, Gary Mills replaced Armson (66 mins). After this, Clee won a corner as Alty set the pace. A foul by Walker on Reeves gave Alty a freekick from which Densmore's fine cross from the right was just glanced off Reeves's head by a defender, for an Alty corner (70 mins).
Reeves was pushed over again soon afterwards before Nuneaton made another swap, when James replaced Nisevic on the Nuneaton left (73 mins). Alty went close to a second goal when Brown, Densmore and Danylyk combined well to feed Twiss, who sidefooted his effort just wide of the far post (75 mins).
Alty's second goal came from the persistence of Densmore on the Alty right wing. He dispossessed the recently introduced substitute, James, and put in a low cross which Reeves, who yet again had found space well, stooped to head home - recording his tenth goal of the eleven-game season to date and his fourth goal in as many days this week (76 mins). Just after this, Clee saw an effort deflected narrowly wide for a corner as Alty continued in charge.
But then Alty took their feet off the pedal and Nuneaton pushed forward in the closing ten minutes, winning a corner in the 83rd minute but still failing to test Coburn in the Alty goal. Alty's defence kept the visitors at bay, with Rob Williams named as Man of the Match. The visitors won another corner as the three added minutes started but the final whistle soon cameto confirm Alty’s third win in their last four games as their stuttering season takes a turn for the better, despite the injuries still affecting several of the squad.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 NUNEATON TOWN 0|