ALTRINCHAM (2) 2 GLOUCESTER CITY (0) 0
played on Saturday, 2 February 2013, at 3pm
REFEREE: Mr Alf Greenwood
ATTENDANCE: 762 (66 in away end)
James Lawrie was still out of action and Danny Hall was also sidelined - both have suffered foot injuries. But Danny Mitchley had recovered from his injury and joined the bench. Nicky Clee was restored to the starting line-up, so Matt Doughty reverted to left-back as Scott Leather moved into Hall's central defensive role. Paddy Lacey was ill so there were places on the bench for youth team midfielders Oliver Riley and Callum Mooney, along with goalkeeping team-mate Stephen Bullen.
Three other Youth teamers, Alex Weatherby (defender), Adam Bezzina and Derryn Ofori (strikers) also warmed up with the squad today; all three have now signed BSBN forms.
Mike Garnett advises us of the historical record of games between Altrincham and Gloucester City
After wins against Vauxhall Motors and twice against Worcester City over Christmas, Gloucester City arrived at Moss Lane in good form. But they had not kicked a ball since New Year's Day due to bad weather. So they had three games in hand on Altrincham but were 12 points behind the Robins, who started the game having lost only once in their last nine league matches and went into this game in fifth place.
For their part, City had only three subs available today.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts & socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 3. Matt DOUGHTY 4. Carl RODGERS, 5. Gianluca HAVERN, 6. Scott LEATHER, 7. Simon RICHMAN, 8. Jake MOULT, 9. Duncan WATMORE, 10. Damian REEVES (Brooke 62), 11. Nicky CLEE. Subs: 12. Oliver RILEY, 14. Callum MOONEY, 15. Ryan BROOKE, 16. Danny MITCHLEY, 18. Stephen BULLEN
GLOUCESTER CITY (Sky blue shirts, navy shorts and sky blue socks): 1. Michael Green, 2. Sam Rawlings (Green 65), 3. Danny Andrew, 4. Matt Coupe (capt) (Hamblin 46), 5. Chris Holland, 6. Tom Webb, 7. Lewis Hogg, 8. Jack Harris, 9. Darren Edwards, 10. Adam Mann, 11. Bagasan Graham, Subs: 15. Neil Mustoe, 12 Mike Green, 14. Tom Hamblin.
On a dry and sunny but very cold afternoon, Alty kicked off towards the Golf Road end. Within a minute, Reeves found Richman and his feed resulted in a swivelling Moult volleying over the bar. Alty went on to make a bright start to the match. Next, Watmore found Clee whose cross just evaded Richman's head at the back post (3 mins). Then, another good Altrincham move ended as Moult was blocked as he was about to shoot; the same fate awaited Watmore moments later (4 mins).
Altrincham continued to dominate the opening stages as Richman was blocked in the box and, then, Reeves was brought down, giving his side a freekick 25 yards from goal. City scrambled the ball clear and on the counter-attack Edwards was played in on goal but he dragged his shot across the goalmouth from the left (7 mins).
This heralded an improvement in City's play after a rocky start. Indeed, City now won a corner from a deflected shot, after which a City cross flashed across Alty's goal from the left. In the 14th minute, Alty responded as Clee won a corner. Watmore had been felled in the build-up, so the referee now halted play to go back and book Rawlings.
The game was now settling into an even contest as a Clee shot was blocked and then a Moult curling shot was saved, followed by a Gloucester corner on the right. Next, after a good Densmore interception and advance on the right, you would have bet on Reeves scoring after he had done well to get the better of Andrew, but the 28-goal marksman, for once, miscued his shot wide (18 mins).
Altrincham had a let-off when Mann's cross was headed by Edwards onto the top of the crossbar (20 mins). After a quiet five minutes, Gloucester spurned another chance to score when Edwards got free again and fed Webb who, fortunately for Altrincham, miskicked with Alty keeper Coburn on the ground and the goal at his mercy. The ball trickled wide of the post for a goalkick (25 mins).
At the other end, the lively Watmore almost managed to flick the ball over Green but the keeper's fingertips just got the ball. Another uneventful, scrappy spell, of which there were several in this game, occupied the next ten minutes during which the only events of note were a 33rd minute Doughty cross, from which Reeves headed to the keeper, and a good interception by Coburn after Mann had got free in the Alty box.
As Alty gave the ball away cheaply, there were murmurings of concern from the home spectators. But things improved as half time approached, when Watmore got free of Rawlings but keeper Green beat out his shot (41 mins). After a good Rodgers clearance, followed by a throw, Richman was fouled just outside the box, a little left of centre.
Shaun Densmore expertly curled the resulting freekick over the wall and into the top left corner of the keeper's net (44 mins). Following the re-start, a goalbound shot by Clee was blocked for a corner on the Alty left, which Reeves impressively headed home from close range to double the lead (45 mins).
So, half-time arrived with Altrincham holding a two-goal lead which, to be honest, flattered them slightly. Indeed, had Gloucester taken their chances it could have been 2-0 the other way.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 GLOUCESTER CITY 0|
For City, Hamblin replaced Coupe at half-time. Altrincham again started well as Reeves put Clee through but his first touch saw the opening disappear. After City had wasted a freekick from 30 yards out, it took a good challenge by Havern to halt Edwards in the box. Alty's Carl Rodgers now found himself in the referee's book for a foul (49 mins).
Play briefly stopped as Leather needed treatment to his arm but, a few minutes later, a Richman shot won a corner on the right. However, there was another injury stoppage after 54 minutes when Damian Reeves was caught on the foot, it seemed, by an opponent. He recovered after treatment but was not to complete the game (54 mins).
Another spell of unproductive attritional play from both sides occupied the next few minutes before Doughty won a corner after a Watmore effort had been blocked. The improvement continued as Richman fed Moult, who shot just wide (61 mins).
Next, City won themselves a corner off Clee, at which point Reeves went off and Brooke replaced him. A second corner immediately followed for Gloucester, after which a City volley cleared the bar.
Following a fruitless Altrincham appeal for a penalty, as Richman went down in the box, City brought on Mike Green on for the booked defender, Rawlings. After 68 minutes, Watmore won Alty a corner after good work by Rodgers. The keeper only just reached Doughty's corner at the second attempt.
Play swept to the other end when Brooke lost the ball, leading to a City shot which hit Clee. Clee and Doughty had exchanged roles in the second half with Doughty now pushing forward up the left and Clee dropping to left-back.
A sublime run by Watmore as he drifted in from the left saw him glide effortlessly past a challenge but he saw his shot blocked by the keeper. In the 71st minute Duncan threatened again as he robbed Holland but, once more, the goalkeeper thwarted the teenager. Alty were now on top again, until a fierce shot by Mann won City another corner as Coburn diverted the ball round his near post. Another City corner soon arrived from which a City header cleared the bar (79 mins).
After a Doughty shot had been saved, City increased their corner count further but Holland headed this over the bar (81 mins). As Damian Reeves left the technical area to limp down the tunnel, Alty briefly laboured again but as the match went into two added minutes they did a professional job in keeping the ball at the Gloucester end of the pitch.
As chairman Grahame Rowley said after the match, Altrincham had given an impressively "dogged performance", against a strong Gloucester side, to earn three points which lifted them to fourth place in the league and extend their run to just one defeat in ten games. Just as satisfying is that they have now kept five clean sheets in those ten games, after previously struggling to stop opponents from scoring both this season and last (when only three clean sheets were kept throughout the league campaign).
Shaun Densmore was named Man of the Match, not least for his excellent goal. But once again defender Scott Leather also impressed.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 GLOUCESTER CITY 0|