ALTRINCHAM (1) 3 OXFORD CITY (1) 1
played on Saturday, 2 March 2013, at 3pm
An impressive second half performance from Altrincham, which included two goals and two more efforts hitting the woodwork, settled this match. Duncan Watmore was the key figure and it was fitting that he hammered home the last goal, in the 81st minute, from Damian Reeves's feed. A minute earlier Reeves had netted his second of the match after substitute Carl Rodgers and Nicky Clee, also in good form, had done well.
Earlier, City had taken a 20th minute lead when Felipe Barcelos finished from 12 yards after Stuart Coburn had only been able to push a testing, low cross out to the Brazilian forward. Alty had levelled five minutes before the interval when James Lawrie did well at the by-line, right of goal, to get the ball across the face of goal to where Reeves headed home at the back post.
REFEREE: Mr A. Scregg
Altrincham made one change as Duncan Watmore came back into the starting eleven and Carl Rodgers moved to the bench. With the attacking quartet of Reeves, Watmore, Mills and Lawrie all starting, the bench comprised defensive and midfield players only. Scott Leather and Patrick Lacey retained their recently regained places in the starting formation.
Alty captain Shaun Densmore was making his 200th appearance for the club but, just before kick off, his counterpart, the City captain Andy Ballard, had to drop to the bench with a knock, so Nick Stanley was drafted into his place. Oxford were also without long-term injury victim, striker Steve Basham.
The sides had only met just once previously, a 2-2 draw at City's ground at the start of this season.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts & socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 2. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 3. Nicky CLEE, 4. Patrick LACEY, 5. Gianluca HAVERN, 6. Scott LEATHER, 7. Simon RICHMAN, 8. James LAWRIE, 9. Ben MILLS, 10. Damian REEVES, 11. Duncan WATMORE, Subs: 12. Matt DOUGHTY, 14. Danny HALL, 15. Carl RODGERS, 16. Jake MOULT, 18. Stephen BULLEN.
OXFORD CITY (Blue and white hooped shirts, blue shorts and socks) : 1. Matthew Ingram, 2. Nick Stanley, 3. Paul Stonehouse, 4. Callum McNish, 5. Adam Learoyd, 6. Chris Willmott, 7. Declan Benjamin, 8. Darren Pond, 9. Ashan Holgate, 10. Jamie Cook, 11. Filipe Barcelos. Subs: 12. Andrew Gunn, 14. Mark Bell, 15. Josh Mulvany, 16. Andy Ballard, 17. Liam Malone.
On a sunny afternoon at Moss Lane, Altrincham started brightly and won a corner after just 20 seconds. From this, a Lawrie shot was beaten out by Ingram but, from the follow-up, Richman shot well wide. In the third minute, Oxford's first attack was repulsed, before Watmore was, likewise, halted at the other end.
It was becoming an open game as, next, Densmore had to concede a corner from a Stonehouse cross. City got the benefit of the doubt when a typical Watmore run ended when he was tripped, seemingly just inside the box. However, the referee judged the offence to be on the very edge of the side of the penalty area. So, no penalty was awarded and, perhaps more surprisingly, no card was shown to the culprit.
The first decent effort on goal after that was in the ninth minute when Ben Mills's firm header was saved after Lacey and Richman had linked to feed Densmore for a useful cross.
Jamie Cook was fouled 20 yards from goal in a right-central position in the tenth minute. The victim himself then produced an impressive freekick which struck the top of the bar. The next freekick soon went Alty's way when the Brazilian Barcelos tripped Densmore, but Alty's captain's deadball went to keeper Ingram.
In a pleasantly open game the main potential for a goal was coming through freekicks and, after a foul by Lawrie had given City an attempt from 30 yards out, the ball was laid off to Cook, who again hit the ball impressively to draw a fine save from Coburn (17 mins).
Patrick Lacey was getting in some firm tackles but his next challenge ricocheted out for an Oxford corner on their left. Following this, a low City cross from the right forced a stretching Coburn to push the ball out, where it fell to Barcelos who scored from about twelve yards (20 mins).
Nicky Clee skilfully beat two defenders and jinked along the byline before being halted. Three freekicks inside two minutes midway through the half underlined the scrappy nature of this phase of the game, after the bright opening spell.
A half chance arose when Watmore found Densmore but he lifted his shot well over the bar (27 mins). Up front Mills was getting little change in the air from the visitors' centre backs and the next moment of note was when Holgate, who has more than a passing resemblance to Ruud Gullit, won a corner on left.
Watmore was beginning to make an impression as he now got past Stonehouse and into the box but Ingram came out smartly to block the teenager (31 mins). Moments later, from Lawrie's pass, Watmore's slick turn left his marker flat-footed but his left-foot shot just cleared the bar.
After a McNish shot had been blocked, Nicky Clee made a great run up the left which left two defenders on the deck in his wake but his cross was cleared (36 mins). There was then an odd incident as City's Holgate walked off the pitch as play continued. With no apparent injury, presumably, he had a medical problem of some kind. Whatever the reason, Bell now replaced the City striker (39 mins).
Next, Coburn came way out of his goal, to his left, and though his opponent got to the ball first, Stuart emerged with possession and cleverly dribbled it clear, to the delight of the home fans. Moments later Alty had equalised. Densmore found Lawrie who, from the right byline, got in a chip towards the back post, which Reeves headed home from close range to make it 1-1 (40 mins).
City won two successive freekicks as the game approached first-half added time, but the Alty wall held firm to keep out the second kick, from 20 yards, by Cook. So, a fairly entertaining first half ended with the sides level.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 OXFORD CITY 1|
The second half started with an early City corner, won by Pond but then Mills fed Lawrie, who advanced into the box but put his shot wide (48 mins). Another good Altrincham move then ended as Ingram just managed to fall on the ball as Reeves's pass caused danger to the visitors.
Altrincham were beginning to create a dominance which was to last for much of the second half. First Reeves was halted after a fine ball from Lawrie and, then, another excellent run by Clee got him to the byline. Unfortunately, his excellent lay off to Reeves came to nothing as the normally lethal striker lifted the ball over the bar (52 mins).
Next, another impressive Watmore run brought promise but the advance ended as Lacey lifted his shot well over the bar. The pressure continued as Reeves was felled by Wilmott but Clee's 25-yard freekick hit the wall. City showed they still posed a threat when a long shot from Benjamin went close (56 mins).
After a Densmore cross had won a corner, a Cook freekick for City won them a flag-kick, too. Yet another excellent dribble from Watmore saw him get round the keeper but a defender just nipped in to clear for a corner. Alty made a change as loanee Ben Mills went off and Doughty came on, allowing Clee to move further forward up the left (63 mins).
After a Lawrie corner had been cleared, Malone for McNish was a change made by Oxford. But they could not stem Alty's attacks and, in particular, they had no answer to Watmore who was now played in on goal and was unlucky to see his effort from left of goal come out off the inside of the far post (65 mins).
And a minute later the other upright was struck by a well-hit Lawrie shot as it looked like bad luck would dog Altrincham throughout the game. Next a Doughty overlap added to the one-way traffic. But then Densmore was penalised and quite harshly booked for a transgression in the Oxford half (70 mins).
Next, Watmore almost got onto the end of a long punt from Lacey but the keeper got to it just in time. After 73 minutes Rodgers replaced Lacey in midfield as Alty's pressing continued, with Clee now winning a corner, followed in quick succession by two more, the last being nodded over the bar by Rodgers (75 mins).
A route one kick from Coburn was cleverly nodded on by Rodgers but Lawrie blasted the chance over the bar. Chances were going begging until the 80th minute when Rodgers and Clee did well, the ball coming back off the post, before falling for Reeves to score with a close-range header to give his side the lead.
Within a minute it was 3-1 as Reeves's lay-off from the right was driven firmly home from the edge of the box by Watmore (81 mins). Two minutes later Moult came on for Watmore who had transformed a game yet again to clinch the Man of the Match award.
After City's Pond had made space well but fired over, another incisive run from Clee to the byline ended as Richman's shot was blocked (85 mins). City kept going till the end but were unable to break down a resolute Alty back line with Havern and Leather again impressing in the centre.
So, Alty's four-game run without a win ended with a well deserved victory. They remained seventh after their closest rivals (Gainsborough and FC Halifax Town) also won today. Next up, is an away game at Droylsden where the number of ex-Alty men in the ranks is likely to prompt an upturn in the relegation-threatened club's performance.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3 OXFORD CITY 1|