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Altrincham were beaten by a better side today, at The Northolme. Gainsborough kept 32-goal Damian Reeves tightly shackled and fellow striker, Jack Redshaw, also found his chances limited, though he did nearly score in the second half when keeper Emery pushed his shot onto the post.
Gainsborough won a second-minute penalty, when Densmore clearly brought down an opponent on the outer edge of the box, but Joe Collister, making his Alty debut on loan from Tamworth, made a good save from a poorly hit effort. Trinity eventually took the lead in the 28th minute when a long ball left Hawes stranded and Mettam went on to beat the exposed Alty keeper.
Gainsborough doubled their lead after 62 minutes. Alty failed to clear the ball on the right and it was worked into the centre where Collister did well to beat out a shot. But the ball only arrived at the feet of the veteran ex-Mansfield winger, Ryan Williams, who blasted it into the net, with a brave Chris Lynch almost getting his head in the way of it.
Altrincham used substitutes Twiss, Holden and Watmore as they tried to get a goal back. But Alty's moves today were mostly too laboured or reliant on a long ball to be successful.
REFEREE: Mr Andrew Miller
Altrincham were again without goalkeeper Stuart Coburn and defender Marlon Broomes through injury. Adam Reid had kept goal capably in Coburn's place for two games but he gave way today to the experience of new loan signing Joe Collister from Tamworth. Up front, Jack Redshaw, recently loaned back to Alty from Morecambe, replaced Michael Twiss. Nicky Clee continued in the left-back role he adopted a few games ago, and Kieran Walmsley remained in right midfield. Duncan Watmore joined fellow Youth team member Adam Reid on the bench.
Gainsborough made a couple of changes, one of which saw former Alty loanee Luke Waterfall return to the starting line-up. Trinity had their captain, Gavin Cowan, suspended today.
Mike Garnett's record of previous games between the clubs tell us that Altrincham's tally is as follows:
Altrincham last met Gainsborough in April 2005, when a Colin Little goal secured a 1-0 win.
GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY (All Blue). 1. Michael EMERY, 2. Dominic ROMA, 3. Kevin SANDWITH, 4. Luke WATERFALL, 5. Andrew BOYCE, 6. Shane CLARKE, 7. Jonathan d'LARYEA, 8. Ryan WILLIAMS, 9. Leon METTAM, 10. Paul CONNOR, 11. Jamie YATES. SUbs: 12. Lee RIDLEY, 14. Lewis McMAHON, 15. Adam WATTS, 16. Jonathan WILLIAMS, 17. Michael LEARY
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Joe COLLISTER, 2. Matt FLYNN, 5. Adrian HAWES, 6. Mark LEES, 3. Nicky CLEE; 7. Kieran WALMSLEY, 8. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 4. Chris LYNCH, 11. James LAWRIE; 9.Jack REDSHAW, 10. Damian REEVES, Subs: 12. Adam FLYNN, 14. James HOLDEN, 15. Michael TWISS, 16. Duncan WATMORE, 18. Adam REID,
The sides switched ends after the toss-up and Alty found themselves playing into a bright sun, towards the clubhouse end of The Northolme. Early on, Trinity's left-winger, Yates, was allowed to advance up their left flank, as Flynn stood off and, though Alty managed to half-clear the ball after it was played into the box, it only led to Densmore tripping an opponent to concede a very early spot kick (2 mins).
But the penalty kick was poorly taken by Connor and Collister made a comfortable save, to his right, to give his debut a good start (3 mins). After this, at the other end, Flynn fired over the bar (4 mins). Next, a fine shot from Yates gave his side a corner - their third of the game at this early stage. But Alty now won a corner of their own, though it came to nothing (10 mins). However, Alty were now beginning to settle after being decidedly second best in the opening stages but an offside decision stopped Redshaw in his tracks.
The respite was short as a fourth Gainsborough corner arrived promptly but this was headed wide (13 mins). Alty manager Lee Sinnott was animated as he exhorted his team to get "tighter" to their opponents. But, despite another Altrincham corner, it was Gainsborough who continued to carry the greater threat as Sandwith's fine long-range effort forced an excellent save from Collister as he tipped the ball over the bar for a corner (20 mins).
Trinity kept running at an Alty defence which was all too prone to allowing them to do so. At the other end, Reeves was being kept quiet by Waterfall but Redshaw did manage to dribble into the box before losing the ball. Gainsborough now went close, as Connor's diving header went narrowly wide from Waterfall's header forward to him.
Altrincham were fortunate when Flynn appeared to trip an opponent inside the box but the referee surprisingly waved away Trinity's appeals. But moments later Alty had surrendered a goal anyway. It came when a long diagonal ball from d'Laryea cleared Hawes and left Mettam clear. He advanced into the box before beating the unprotected Collister (28 mins).
Altrincham failed to create any chances at the other end until the 34th minute when Redshaw got into a promising position but delayed his shot and lost the ball. But now Collister had to make a decent save from Mettam's 30-yarder. Next, from a Densmore freekick 45 yards out, Hawes timed his run to get in a header but the keeper saved it (36 mins). Moments later the keeper dropped the ball and gave Alty a fortuitous corner from which a Flynn foul on Emery gave the home side a freekick.
Redshaw soon won Alty another corner but this was cleared before Clee gained his side a freekick (42 mins). This was cleared back to the taker, Lawrie, whose effort cleared the bar (43 mins). Half-time soon arrived with Gainsborough having been good value for their lead. The Robins had rarely threatened and had made little use of the flanks in their attacks.
|Half-Time: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 1 ALTRINCHAM 0|
Early in the second half, Connor took a knock that needed treatment, before Clee, likewise, was caught by an opposition challenge (51 mins). Next, Mettam got free and forced a fine save, with his feet, by Collister. Mettam blasted the rebound over the bar.
Altrincham almost levelled after 52 minutes when Redshaw drifted across the box before seeing his low shot diverted onto the post by keeper Emery, from where it was cleared. It was the nearest Alty were to come to a goal (53 mins).
A rare threat from a quiet James Lawrie saw him get the ball across the face of the Trinity goal, but too fiercely to be converted, before a Trinity corner was caught well by Collister. Play was fairly even at this stage but Trinity soon wrapped up the match. Flynn delayed a clearance and was closed down. Following the resultant Alty throw, deep in their own half, possession was lost. Alty were then unable to halt an advance into the box from the Trinity left and, though Collister saved an initial effort from Yates, the ball came out to Williams. The ex-Mansfield man lashed the ball at goal, almost taking off Lynch's head as it flew into the net from the edge of the box (62 mins).
Gainsborough now made a change as McMahon came on for Mettam (63 mins). Things almost got worse when Densmore lost the ball inside the Trinity half and Williams almost scored again. Altrincham now brought Twiss on for Flynn (67 mins). So, Alty now adopted a 4-3-3 set up and, after 71 minutes, James Holden came on for Lawrie.
Next, D'Laryea's foul on Redshaw gave Alty a promising freekick just outside the box but Walmsley hit the dead-ball well over the bar from just outside the "D". Alty were seeing a lot of the ball now as Gainsborough settled on their lead, but the visitors lacked the guile and width to create a real opening. However, some good work from Densmore then did lead to Redshaw cutting in from the left of the box but he hit his shot beyond the far post (78 mins).
Altrincham made a final change when they gave a league debut to 17 year-old Youth team striker, Duncan Watmore, who became Alty's 20th league debutant this season as he slotted into the right flank position.
Before last Tuesday, Michael Twiss had played in 21 league games this season without a single caution. He then got himself booked at Blyth and, today, he seemed on a mission to pick up a caution, committing no fewer than five fouls in the first 17 minutes that he was on the pitch and seeing yellow, inevitably, after 84 minutes.
Despite finding space out on the right, inexplicably Watmore did not receive the ball for several minutes but, twice in the closing stages, he did well to get low crosses into the goalmouth. But despite these, and a late Alty corner, the visitors failed to score in a league game for only the third time this season. And so came to an end a run of three wins and a draw, as well as Damian Reeves's amazing sequence of scoring goals in ten successive league matches as, ironically, an ex-Alty loanee, Luke Waterfall, kept him quiet today - though the service he received did not aid his cause either.
As things stand, Alty look to be a little short of the quality needed for a play-off position but, given the necessarily extensive turnover in players since relegation last season, a settled side and a decent run of results in the final 15 games could still see them make it to a top five place. And one consolation today was a fine performance from debutant keeper Joe Collister, whose saves prevented a bigger defeat.
|Full-Time: GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 2 ALTRINCHAM 0|