ALTRINCHAM (0) 0 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER (1) 2
played on Thursday, 9 August 2012, at 7.45pm
Altrincham put in their poorest performance of pre-season in losing 0-2 to an FC United side which showed more determination throughout. Both goals were headers. The first arrived in the 20th minute and was scored by Neville direct from a corner, which had arrived after two magnificent saves in succession from Alty keeper Stuart Coburn.
Alty deployed Damian Reeves as their lone out and out striker but they scarcely troubled FCUM keeper Worsnop. Eleven minutes from time, Carlos Roca, the smallest man on the pitch, headed home the visitors' second goal, converting Johnson's cross from the left, to complete Alty's misery. Hopefully, the old adage that you should not read too much into pre-season games will prove to be correct but Altrincham will need to be much better than this when they face Brackley in nine days' time.
REFEREE: Mr T Kirk
Altrincham were again without Duncan Watmore, who has been on holiday, as manager Lee Sinnott selected the same starting line-up that faced Wrexham at the weekend, except that Nicky Clee returned at left-back, as Matt Doughty moved to the bench.
FC United included former Alty winger Carlos Roca on their bench. Their side also had a strong presence from ex-Curzon Ashton players, notably Mike Norton, Adam Jones and Dave Birch.
This was Altrincham's final pre-season game and followed a good showing against Wrexham the previous Saturday. FCUM had knocked Altrincham out of the FA Trophy last season and were looking for a repeat of that outcome against a team one rung higher in the footballing pyramid.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts and socks): ALTRINCHAM : 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 5. Gianluca HAVERN, 6. Danny HALL, 3. Nicky CLEE, 7. Simon RICHMAN, 4. Carl RODGERS, 8. Scott PHELAN, 9. James LAWRIE, 11. Patrick LACEY, 10. Damian REEVES. Subs: 12. Scott LEATHER, 14. Matt DOUGHTY, 15. Ryan BROOKE, 16. Danny MITCHLEY, 17. Sam GRIMSHAW, 18. Adam REID (gk).
FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER (All blue): 1. Jon WORSNOP, 2. Kyle JACOBS (capt), 3. Lee NEVILLE, 4. Dave BIRCH, 5. Adam JONES, 6. Dean STOTT, 7. Matty WOLFENDEN, 8. Jake COTTRELL, 9. Mike NORTON, 10. Jerome WRIGHT, 11. Nicky PLATT. Subs: 12. Stephen JOHNSON, 13. Ryan HOWLEY, 14. Carlos ROCA, 15. Daniel GRIMSHAW, 16. Scott CHEETHAM, 17. Charlie ANDERSON, 18. Kris AMADI.
Altrincham again deployed Damian Reeves as a lone frontman, with James Lawrie (left) and Simon Richman (right) in support and Patrick Lacey positioned centrally in advance of the midfield pairing of Scott Phelan and Carl Rodgers. FC United started the better and in just the third minute they went close as a cross from the left found Norton. He fed Platt who steered his shot narrowly wide of goal.
After Richman had been felled, the resulting freekick led to Altrincham's first corner, on their right. Altrincham's best earlier chance came in the 10th minute when a quick-thinking Clee found Reeves unmarked left of goal but Damian was unable to steer his shot on target. Understandably, having missed much of pre-season, the 44-goal man of last season has not yet reached maximum sharpness this summer.
At the back, Havern and Hall were again looking a solid partnership for Altrincham at the back but further forward two freekicks in succession earned for fouls on Lacey, led to freekicks which came to nothing. FCUM were likewise prodigal when a foul by Phelan on Cottrell gave the visitors a freekick 28 yards out; Wright curled the kick well wide of the target (18 mins.
Altrincham were indebted to Stuart Coburn for a magnificent double save as he blocked, first Wright and then Norton as they fired goalbound efforts at him. A corner resulted to the visitors but Altrincham did not take advantage of their goalkeeper's heroics, allowing FCUM to score as Neville, unmarked, headed home the flag-kick from their right (20 mins).
Lawrie then got in an underpowered shot at the other end but it was FCUM who continued to make the running. Altrincham were soon grateful, once more, to their goalkeeper as Coburn just got to a through ball ahead of Norton (28 mins). Norton won a corner soon afterwards and, after Lacey had shot wide from a neat lay off by Reeves, FCUM gained another corner (33 mins).
Altrincham were lacking creativity until a couple of minutes before the interval when Clee got the ball to Reeves but the striker was unable to connect properly and the chance went begging (43 mins). Half time arrived with FCUM deservedly ahead and Altrincham needing to shake things up at the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 1|
Three changes were made at the break as Leather, Doughty and Brooke replaced Clee, Rodgers and Phelan. Clee's departure probably owed something to a hand injury, suffered when an opponent trod on him, after the Alty man had committed a foul in the first half. Brooke joined Reeves up front, Densmore and Richman moved to central midfield, whilst Leather and Doughty occupied the right- and left-back slots respectively.
After a few minutes of sparring, a smart headed interception by Richman set him off towards goal but he fired wide (51 mins). Alty captain Shaun Densmore then needed treatment for a head injury after going for a ball in the FCUM box but until a fierce rising shot from Brooke cleared the bar, Altrincham had given FCUM keeper Worsnop little to worry about (57 mins).
A Matt Doughty cross earned Alty a corner but this came to nothing . At the other end, Norton got clear but Alty's covering defenders just managed to see him off (60 mins). Altrincham made another change after 65 minutes as Danny Mitchley replaced Damian Reeves (65 mins). Mitchley was soon instrumental in a couple of good passes before United made a triple change with Roca, Grimshaw and Anderson replacing Jacobs, Wolfenden and Cottrell (67 mins).
A fine ball from Mitchley gave Richman an opening but his shot was blocked for a corner (71 mins). Mitchley headed Lawrie’s corner well off target. But things did improve a bit as, now, Doughty's testing cross almost reached Brooke before Worsnop intervened. One or two meaty tackles were coming in from United not least Norton’s challenge on Leather. United promptly withdrew their striker, along with Neville, allowing Johnson and Amadi to join the game (74 mins).
A fine run forward from Lawrie ended as his feed for Brooke was blocked. At this point Sam Grimshaw came on instead of Simon Richman (76 mins). But Altrincham continued to look shaky as a mis-headed clearance by Leather went to Amadi whose rasping shot just cleared the crossbar. The reprieve was short as Alty allowed Johnson to get in an excellent cross from the left which Roca, the shortest man on the pitch, headed home unchallenged from 15 yards (79 mins).
After this a fine run and shot by Grimshaw lifted the Alty spirits a little. Next a freekick won and taken by Lawrie was held comfortably by Worsnop, before his counterpart, Coburn, had to save from the lively Amadi at the other end. Cheetham and a no.19 came on now for FCUM (86 mins) as Birch and Platt gave way. The game ended soon afterwards with Altrincham having no complaints at their defeat by an FC United side which showed more passion and organization than their opponents.
Pre-season is a time of experimentation and this summer has been no exception for Altrincham. Amongst the experiments have been the deployment of Damian Reeves as a lone frontman, which to date has not worked, and the use, (as in part of last season), of Nicky Clee at left-back. Whilst Nicky again proved himself a more than capable player in that role, his deployment so deeply down the pitch does come at a cost to Altrincham's attacking options and it will be interesting to see how The Robins line up in the first game that really matters, against Brackley Town, on 18 August, when Duncan Watmore will be available again. The Brackley scout will not have been impressed by what he saw, tonight, from his team's first league opponents of the 2012-13 season.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 2|