STALYBRIDGE CELTIC (3) 5 ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
played on Saturday, 22 October, 2011, at 3pm
Two own goals helped Celtic to an eventually comfortable win against Altrincham, whose away form remains a cause for concern. Celtic took an early lead when Jennings fired in after holding off a Flynn challenge, right of centre. After Altrincham had gone close several times, getting behind the Stalybridge defence but failing to find the net, Celtic scored a second after 37 minutes. A shot from the right picked up some strong spin from a deflection. The ball looped across goal, came back off the far post and, apparently, also off Wilkinson's head or arm, at the back post. The ball went back across goal, but Coburn's attempts to knock it away only succeeded in turning it into his own net.
But, within a minute, Damian Reeves headed Alty back into the game after good work from Clee up the left. Just three minutes later, Marsh latched onto a ball, which span off Densmore, to get behind Alty's defence and score from left of goal.
The game was settled after 54 minutes when Marsh's cross from the right was turned into his own net, at the near post, by Williams. It became 5-1 in the 63rd minute when Jennings was left in acres of space to score with a sidefoot shot. Alty tried to get back into the game but, despite winning several corners, failed to make an impression against an impressive Celtic who gave Alty a lesson in finishing and minimising unforced errors.
REFEREE: Mr A Miller (Lanchester)
Altrincham were again unchanged. Injured captain Robbie Lawton warmed up on the pitch before the game and does not look far from match fitness.
Of all the teams in the BSB North, Stalybridge Celtic is the one to have played Altrincham the most and Mike Garnett has kindly supplied data on past encounters- quite remarkably in 133 encounters the two sides have scored exactly the same number of goals each.
Before the match Altrincham's sponsored walkers arrived atthe Bower Fold having raised important funds both for the club and former captain, Mark Maddox's benefit. Mark himself was one of the walkers and along with former team-mate, Chris Adams, he watched the match today.
At kick-off, Celtic lay in second place, ten points ahead of fifth-placed Altrincham. But the Bower Fold had not been a happy hunting ground for Altrincham in the league, it being more than a decade since the Robins last won on this ground in a league match.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC (Blue and white) 1. Jan Budtz, 2. Joel Bembo-Leta, 3. Andy McWilliams, 4. Rhys Meynell (capt), 5. Chris Lynch, 6. Jack Rea, 7. Stephen Brogan, 8. Greg Wilkinson, 11. Connor Jennings, 9. Phil Marsh, 10. Lloyd Ellams. Subs: 12. Callum Warburton, 14. Craig Hobson, 15. Arthur Gnahoua, 16. Mitchell Austin, 17. Tim Ryan.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks) 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Mark LEES, 6. Adam FLYNN, 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: 12. Chris LYNCH, 14. Simon RICHMAN, 15. Brian SUMMERSKILL, 16. Jack REDSHAW, 18. Adam REID (gk)
The game started, two minutes early, in bright sunshine and it was very surprising that Altrincham opted to change ends and face the bright sunshine falling along the length of the pitch; perhaps they wanted the advantage of playing down the Bower Fold's pronounced slope in the second half.
The opening few minutes were uneventful as each side tested out the other without anything resembling a serious goal threat at either end. In the seventh minute, Coburn's kick fell to a Celtic player some ten yards inside the home side's half. From there it was played forward to Jennings in the inside right channel. He got the better of a challenge from Flynn before driving an impressive shot between Coburn and the near post to make it 1-0 to Celtic.
Buoyed by their goal, Celtic now got with Coburn doing well to palm a swerving long shot from Ellams over his own bar for a corner. But Altrincham then had a chance to level the scores when Meynell failed to see his keeper advancing off his line and played a back pass well wide of the Danish keeper. But Reeves, collecting the ball to the far left of goal could not turn the ball into the empty net, instead it ran harmlessly across the goalmouth and was cleared (12 mins).
Next, a James Lawrie shot just cleared the bar as Alty looked to get back into the game (15 mins). Celtic's Jennings put the ball in the Alty net soon afterwards but was clearly offside and the effort was ruled out. Soon, Alty again got behind the back line of Stalybridge, but again no one was in the goalmouth to convert a low ball across the box, this time delivered by Clee from the left.
Indeed, Alty were playing some good football as the opening half of the first half came to an end. But when they broke forward Celtic looked dangerous and it took a fine tackle from Densmore to stop their next incursion (24 mins). Celtic now won two corners, the second coming from a fine block by Coburn of Wilkinson's shot (28 mins).
Next, Wilkinson was booked for a late challenge on Williams (31 mins). Then Reeves threatened for Alty but again found himself without support though he did win a corner on the left. Densmore's flag kick was met by Williams but he headed comfortably over the bar (34 mins).
Nevertheless, Altrincham were looking capable of getting back into the game when they fell further behind, to a goal which owed quite a bit to good fortune for Celtic. A shot from the left struck someone on the way and span viciously across the goalmouth before striking the back post. There, Wilkinson apparently got a touch on the ball - with his head according to Celtic followers, with his hand according to Alty supporters - but whatever the case, the ball was directed across the goal line rather than over the line. But the unfortunate Coburn, in attempting to bat it away with his arm as he faced his own line, could only divert it into the net to make it 2-0 (37 mins). With Wilkinson already booked, a handball decision would have presented the referee with an interesting decision to make.
More or less straight from the re-start, Altrincham scored with good work on the left from Clee culminating in a looping header into the net from Damian Reeves, his 15th league goal of the season (37 mins). It was the fifth successive league game in which Damian had scored.
Had Alty kept the margin to one goal at the interval it was quite likely that they would have emerged from this game with some reward but they conceded again in the 40th minute. The goal came as Marsh latched onto a long ball which span off Densmore to let Celtic's leading scorer behind Alty's defence and he scored impressively from left of goal; 3-1.
So half time arrived with Alty trailing by two but not having played badly. The differnce had been that Celtic had been clinical in their finishing whereas Alty, who had got behind the defence three times, had failed to convert their chances.
|Half-Time: STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 3 ALTRINCHAM 1|
There were no team changes at half-time as Altrincham started well, though they wasted an early corner with a poor delivery. The visiting supporters, who had swelled the attendance to more than double the average at the Bower Fold, were in good voice as a throw from Clee was nodded on by Williams and fell for Reeves but he failed to connect properly and the ball ran to Budtz (48 mins).
Bridge got some respite as Meynell needed treatment for injury but the game was effectively decided a couple of minutes later. Alty allowed Marsh to get the ball in plenty of space near the right corner flag. His low cross was diverted ionto his own net, at the near post, by a stretching Rob Williams to make it 4-1, a score which somewhat flattered the hosts at this stage but emphasized Alty's deficient defending (54 mins).
As Alty tried to get back into the game, a Twiss header went just wide but then the visitors were fortunate that Marsh did not make the most of another chance. Just after Clee had gone close with a shot from the left, Alty made a double change on the hour mark. Up front, Redshaw replaced Twiss and in midfield, Anthony Danylyk gave way to Chris Lynch, with the captain's arm band passing to Shaun Densmore.
Williams's unhappy few minutes now saw him booked for a foul on Jennings (62 mins). And a minute later it got worse for Altrincham when a good move involving Ellams and Brogan led to Jennings receiving the ball 25 yards out and in space, in the inside left channel. He took careful aim and sidefooted a firm shot into the corner of the net to Coburn's left. At 5-1 Alty's fate was well and truly sealed now (63 mins).
Two minutes later Redshaw seemed to be pulled down in the box but the referee showed no interest in a penalty award (65 mins). Next, Richman replaced Brown as Alty adopted a back three (68 mins).
When the lively Redshaw was tripped by Chris Lynch, the Celtic defender received a yellow card. Three Altrincham corners followed from the freekick for this offence but Altrincham could not capitalise on them (74 mins).
In the 75th minute, Ellams was replaced by Gnahoua and after a few more minutes of play Celtic continued their ride towards the final whistle with another change as Wilkinson came off and Warburton went on (81 mins). Alty's next half chance foundered when Reeves attempted a back-heel inside the box, which did not come off, but they did win a corner as the final five minutes approached. Following the corner, Redshaw fired over the bar from 25 yards (85 mins).
As Altrincham tried to narrow the margin of defeat, Celtic wound the clock down with another substitution, as Austin came on for Marsh (89 mins). Despite three added minutes, Celtic maintained their four-goal margin which underlined their credentials as title favourites this season.
Altrincham had still looked to be in the game even at 3-1 down early in the second half but a combination of poor defending and wastefulness going forward ensured that Celtic were the deserved winners. Alty remain with just one away win this season and that is a record that must be improved if they are to entertain hopes of getting back into the play-off positions before the end of the season.
|Full-Time: STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 5 ALTRINCHAM 1|