Match Report


Blue Square Bet North Match
played on Saturday, 18 February, 2012, at 3pm


A new-look Altrincham squad, which included four players who were to make their Moss Lane debuts today, made heavy weather of overcoming a spirited Blyth side, which had the chances to take something from the game but lacked composure in front of goal. After a scrappy start in difficult breezy conditions, Altrincham went ahead in the 34th minute when Lawrie did well on the right and his low cross was put into the net by a stretching Marlon Broomes. When some tricky dribbling from Lawrie drew a foul challenge very early in the second half, Damian Reeves blasted the ball home for his 33rd goal of the season.

But Blyth then came back into the game and pulled a goal back when Armstrong headed home after 54 minutes. Despite having substitute Mason sent off by a straight-red offence, off the ball against Clee in the 84th minute, the ten men from Northumberland still had a lot of the attacking play but Altrincham hung on to claim the three points.


  • 34 mins: Marlon BROOMES (ALTRINCHAM 1 Blyth Spartans 0)
  • 47 mins: Damian REEVES (penalty) (ALTRINCHAM 2 Blyth Spartans 0)
  • 54 mins: Graeme ARMSTRONG (ALTRINCHAM 2 Blyth Spartans 1)

    REFEREE: Mr P Davidson



    Despite the season being well advanced, Altrincham fielded a back five which was largely new to the Moss Lane faithful. Loanee-goalkeeper Joe Collister and central defender Marlon Broomes had made just one previous start but, in each case, this had been in an away game, whilst left-back Mark Lynch was making his club debut. At right-back Kieran Walmsley was making his sixth start, of which only three had previously been in the back line, whilst Matty Flynn, who had six Alty appearances under his belt, was nevertheless starting for the first time at centre-back.

    Though today's central midfield was more familiar, Shaun Densmore and Chris Lynch had only started together three times in those positions previously. Nicky Clee reverted to the left side of midfield after his last three starts had been at left back, whilst James Lawrie was starting his first game in the no.9 shirt, in tandem with Damian Reeves up front, after previously playing on the flanks predominantly.

    As well as Mark Lynch, Alty had made another signing since their last game, in the shape of forward, John Miles, also from Stockport County. John was named on the bench today so there was no place for James Holden or Adam Flynn today, whilst goalkeeper Stuart Coburn continued his recovery from his elbow injury.

    Alty rested Jack Redshaw as he had been working hard with his new club Morecambe during the recent spell of Alty inactivity, so he was named on the bench today, as his loan spell back from the Shrimps nears its conclusion.

    Though the sides had met previously three and half weeks earlier only six Spartans and seven Alty players started both today's game and on that occasion.


    Mike Garnett's record of previous games between the clubs tells us that Altrincham's tally is as follows:

  • At Moss Lane P6-W4-D1-L1-F12-A6
  • At Blyth P9-W2-D5-L2-F12-A10
  • Total: P15-W6-D6-L3-F24-A16


    ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, balck shorts, red socks): 1. Joe COLLISTER, 2. Kieran WALMSLEY, 5.Matt FLYNN, 6. Marlon BROOMES, 3. Mark LYNCH; 7. Simon RICHMAN, 8. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 4. Chris LYNCH, 11. Nicky CLEE; 9. James LAWRIE, 10. Damian REEVES. Subs: 12. Mark LEES, 14.John MILES, 15. Michael TWISS, 16. Jack REDSHAW, 18 Adam REID (gk).

    BLYTH SPARTANS (Green & white striped shirts, black shorts, white socks): 1. Robert Birdsall, 2. Dan Groves, 3. Joe Kendrick, 4. Sebastian Anzavui, 5. Wayne Buchanan, 6. Jordan Mellish, 7. Shaun Utterson, 8. Neal Hooks, 9.Graeme Armstrong, 10. Glen Taylor, 11. Wayne Phillips. Subs: 12 Jamie Mole, 17 David Knight, 14. Sam Hodgson, 15. Phil Cave, 16. Lee Mason.


    On a cold but sunny afternoon, Blyth only arrived at Moss Lane after 2pm following traffic delays en route from Northumberland. Altrincham won the toss-up and elected to change ends, defending the Golf Road end in the first half, with the stiff breeze behind them for the opening 45 minutes. Inside two minutes Altrincham had won what was to be the first of eight first- half corners, but Richman's kick evaded everyone in the box.

    Play was pretty uneventful in the opening stages with keeper Birdsall's only serious action being a one-sided race to beat Damian Reeves to a hopeful through ball from Alty. But a second Alty corner arrived soon afterwards, which the Blyth keeper punched clear as he collided with Marlon Broomes (7 mins). After treatment for Birdsall, play resumed with a Spartans' freekick.

    A spell of cranial tennis, featuring six consecutive headers from one side to the other underlined the patchy quality of the game at this stage. It got a bit better when Nicky Clee, restored to his more attacking position on the Alty left, got in a cross which a Blyth defender had to head away from just in front of his own goal line, as Richman lurked next to him, giving Alty another corner (13 mins).

    It was Blyth's Armstrong who got in the first decent shot at goal, a long range effort which was held, chest-high, by Collister (14 mins). Next, a Walmsley cross from the right produced another home corner but Clee's kick was caught on the wind and drifted beyond the back post. The best move of the game to date produced what seemed to be a finely finished goal by Reeves after good work from Clee on the left and Lawrie. But the linesman ruled the goal out for offside, the assistant referee telling assistant manager Neil Tolson after the match that Reeves’s “backside had been offside". Well, that's got to the bottom of that moment of controversy, then.

    A slip by Walmsley gave Blyth a half chance but in a pattern which recurred throughout the afternoon, the visitors lacked a sharp edge up front. There was almost a freak goal at the other end when a mishit shot by Lawrie took an extravagant leap off a divot before finding the keeper's arms (24 mins). When Reeves got onto a long ball but seemed to be held by the retreating Mellish as he diverted the ball out for a corner, no penalty was awarded (27 mins). But things had been evened up as moments earlier Broomes survived what looked a clearer case of holding in the penalty area at the other end.

    With Alty still misfiring they nevertheless won a freekick on the front edge of the box. But a rehearsed routine only led to Densmore's effort striking the wall after Clee's dummy (31 mins). Two more Alty corners came in the next few minutes between which Groves was lectured for persistent offending. Following the second of these corners, Alty's sixth of the afternoon, Lawrie got past his marker on the right by-line and laid the ball back into the box where centre-back Marlon Broomes sidefooted it into the corner of the net to the keeper's left to give Alty the lead (34 mins).

    Then another good Altrincham move ended with a Lawrie shot which beat Birdsall but smacked against his left upright and was cleared (39 mins). Altrincham were now on top and from another freekick just outside the box, Walmsley hit the ball narrowly wide (40 mins). Two more corners followed after which a Richman header was saved. Moments later, as the game went into added time, Richman was booked for sliding into a tackle near half-way. There was then a stoppage as Chris Lynch and a Blyth player collided. Lynch resumed after treatment but soon Blyth’s Buchanan was briefly off the pitch being treated for a cut head.

    So, half-time arrived with Alty deservedly leading but not having played at their best, whilst Blyth were clearly not going to lie down.


    Blyth were out very early for the second half, at which point the floodlights came on before Altrincham kicked off the second half towards the Golf Road end. Within two minutes Lawrie danced into the box from the right and went down under a challenge; after a pause referee Davidson pointed to the spot. Damian Reeves smacked home the spot kick for his 33rd goal of the season (47 mins).

    Briefly Alty looked comfortable and Blyth's woes continued as Utterson was booked for a foul (51 mins). But two minutes later Blyth had scored. Chris Lynch, who otherwise had a good game, lost the ball and a brilliant shot from Phillips crashed against the Alty upright. But the danger was not cleared and the ball came back in from the right where Armstrong, unmarked, headed downwards into the corner of the net at the back post (54 mins).

    Altrincham now wobbled, conceding two corners in succession (57 mins). Alty were now playing into the wind and also heard a gale of criticism of the match officials from the Blyth section of the directors' box. From a few minutes of apparently total control of the game, Alty had been forced onto the back foot. Next, Taylor curled a shot wide when he should have done better (62 mins). Blyth continued to press and after another corner for the visitors, Taylor again went close after Armstrong’s shot had won the flag kick (68 mins). Mason now took over from Utterson for the Spartans and two minutes later forward Mole replaced defender Mellish. At the same time Alty brought on Redshaw for Richman (71 mins).

    Altrincham finally relieved the pressure as Matt Flynn's goalbound header was tipped over the bar for a corner, from which the same Alty player headed narrowly off target (73 mins). Reeves then got clear but seemed to be impeded as he shot so only a corner resulted from which a Densmore header was saved by the keeper.

    Lawrie was now operating on the right after Redshaw's arrival as the game remained finely balanced. Out of nothing, in the 84th minute, substitute Mason was shown a straight red card, apparently for stamping on Clee after a challenge. A minute later Alty brought on Miles for his debut as Chris Lynch was withdrawn (85 mins). But it still took a fine save from Collister to keep the scores level. The Alty keeper now needed treatment as he collided with the post in keeping the ball out. A second Blyth corner followed as their performance belied the fact they only had ten men.

    Five added minutes were announced during which an Alty counter-attack gleaned a corner. Alty hung on to claim all three points but a spirited Blyth had pushed them all the way and they have every chance of climbing out of the relegation places if they play with such conviction for the rest of the season. For Alty it was not a brilliant performance but, given the experimental nature of the side, it was a deserved victory.

    After the game, assistant manager Neil Tolson said "This was a game we might have lost three months ago. So the fact we took the points shows the progress we have made".