Match Report


Skrill North Match
played on Saturday, 4 January 2014, at 3pm


In Danny Higginbotham's debut game for Altrincham, the home side's change of formation to 3-5-2 did not produce the fluency of recent performances. Altrincham scored early in each half but then laboured for substantial periods of the game as Leamington deservedly got level. But an 85th-minute wonder goal by James Walshaw, deployed once more as a substitute, got the three points which lifted Altrincham into third place in the league table.

With Higginbotham at the centre of the back three, Altrincham got off to a good start, with Damian Reeves (making his 150th start for the club) heading home in the fifth minute from close range, after Tom Marshall had headed a ball back into the goalmouth from beyond the back post. They held onto the lead till the interval despite the Brakes seeing a lot of the ball. Alty made it 2-0 after 53 minutes when Kyle Perry also scored with a close range effort, after his initial shot had been blocked.

Just four minutes later Higginbotham conceded a penalty and Dodd calmly beat Coburn. After Magunda had levelled the score on 73 minutes, the visitors almost snatched the points with Alty grateful for Shaun Densmore's important clearance off the line. But then Walshaw, who had been on the bench for the third game running despite being the club's leading scorer, came on after 74 minutes and 12 minutes later struck a wonderful goal from 25 yards to seal the win.


REFEREE: Mr Joe Johnson

Altrincham gave a debut to Danny Higginbotham in the centre of a back three as Alty deployed a 3-5-2 formation in which leading scorer James Walshaw was again only a substitute. Carl Rodgers was ill and he was the one to make way for Higginbotham. Leather and Griffin moved forward as wing-backs and Clee occupied a central position.


ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, red shorts and socks) 1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Scott Leather, 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Danny Higginbotham, 5. Gianluca Havern (capt), 6. Tom Marshall, 7. Simon Richman, 8. Jake Moult, 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs: 12. Matt Doughty, 14. Shaun Densmore,15. Greg Wilkinson, 16. James Walshaw, 17. James Lawrie.

LEAMINGTON (Gold shirts and socks, black shorts) 1. Tony Breeden, 2. Ryan Higgins, 3. Stephan Morley (capt), 4. Joe Magunda, 5. Liam Daly, 6. James Mace, 7. Matt Dodd, 8. Craig Owen, 9. Stefan Moore, 10. Ricky Johnson, 11. Lee Moore. Subs: 12. David McNamee, 14. Kieron Morris, 15. Will Green, 16. Josh Green, 17. Lewis Fenney.


Altrincham had won the reverse fixture 1-0 in September.

Before kick off, Altrincham FC club chaplain, Rev Andy Barclay-Watts read the annual roll call of those connected with Altrincham FC who had died during 2013.


Just 35 seconds after the kick off, a Morley 30-yarder had to be palmed over the bar by Coburn for a corner on the Brakes' left. But, after the visitors' bright start, Reeves was almost put through at the other end and, soon afterwards, Moult won a corner, from which Altrincham took the lead. From the corner on the right, Marshall nodded back the ball from left of goal then via Perry's head, Reeves looped a further header over the keeper into the corner of the net (5 mins). It was Damian's fourth goal in the last four matches.

After a Perry shot had been saved, Higginbotham was caught holding and penalised 40 yards out. From the freekick, a Brakes' header went to Coburn. Though Altrincham had the lead and were having a fairly good spell, the visiting fans were giving their side good vocal support.

In the 17th minute, a Leather, Reeves, Clee and Griffin combination won Altrincham a corner on their left, which led to a second flag-kick, both taken by Moult. From the second kick Marshall tried an overhead kick but it went well wide of goal.

Goalmouth action was fairly scarce and it was not till the 24th minute that either keeper was recalled into action. This arose when a Perry ball flicked off Reeves and gave Leather a shot which was saved. At the other end, Marshall halted a mazy run by Dodd, who went down theatrically in the box but appeals for a penalty were in vain (26 mins).

After a Johnson header had gone wide, the visitors enjoyed a good spell and won a corner off Richman on the half-hour mark. Alty had to scramble the ball away and they remained on the back foot for a while. There was a stoppage when Richman went down for treatment and he was unable to resume. As Altrincham played on with ten men, Johnson won a corner, at which Shaun Densmore came on for Richman (37 mins).

Leamington continued to do more of the pressing forward but when the lively Dodd beat Griffin, his cross was cleared. There was further danger when a Brakes' punt went over Marshall's head but the defender recovered to win a goalkick off Stefan Moore (42 mins).

Half time arrived with Altrincham having failed to build on their very early goal. The 3-5-2 formation did not produce a fluid performance and Altrincham were slightly fortunate to reach the break ahead.


Alty kicked off the second half but should have doubled their lead immediately. Before manager Sinnott had emerged from the changing rooms, Reeves blasted a shot over the bar from 12 yards out in a central position after Leamington had failed to clear an attack (46 mins)>

Soon, Reeves had another chance when he was put through one-on-one against the keeper but Breeden blocked the shot to concede a corner (48 mins). After Moult had overhit the corner, Stefan Moore advanced purposefully and, from 20 yards, fired in a strong shot which forced Coburn to make a smart tip over the bar for a corner (49 mins).

Altrincham had revamped their formation at the interval with Scott Leather now on the right of the back three as Luca Havern moved to occupy a position just in front of the back line. From there, Havern now fed the ball forward. Reeves went up to contest the ball in the air and succeeded in unsettling Breeden to the extent that the ball fell to Perry. From a right-central position Perry's shot was blocked but the loose ball looped up and the Alty striker headed home from close range (53 mins).

The lead had lasted little more than two minutes when referee Johnson awarded the visitors a penalty for holding by Higginbotham, following a Leamington throw. From the spot, Dodd rolled the penalty to the keeper's left as Coburn dived to his right. So it was now 2-1 (57 mins).

Altrincham continued to look out of sorts for the next few minutes. First of all, Havern barged over Dodd and was booked for the fourth time this season. From Morley's freekick to the right of the box, a long throw and then a corner resulted for the visitors. Next a cross just evaded Magunda, a lesson from which Alty did not learn. But now Morris replaced Lee Moore for the Brakes (65 mins).

After Densmore had been fouled by Moore, a Densmore cross was glanced wide by Reeves (72 mins). Leamington got their reward for taking the game to Altrincham after a Clee foul on Dodd gave them a freekick, right of goal, about 30 yards out. From this, the ball curled across the Alty box and, as he had done earlier, Magunda arrived late but this time he poked the ball into the net to level the scores (73 mins).

Immediately Alty took off Perry and brought on Walshaw for the final 16 minutes. Alty's leading scorer had played for barely 60 minutes in the previous three games combined but he soon showed that his lack of game time had not adversely affected his performance.

A foul on Clee saw Owen booked and from the freekick, 40 yards out by Griffin, Marshall nodded home but was penalised for a foul (76 mins). Another chance fell to Reeves in the 79th minute when he was again put through against keeper Breeden. But though he lifted the ball over the advancing Breeden, the ball went wide of the net.

Another foul on Clee, by Daly, led to a freekick on the left edge of the box, taken by Densmore. This led to a corner on the right, which Marshall misheaded. Then at the other end the ball ran off Marshall for a Leamington corner. The Brakes got in a fierce header from the corner but Densmore did well to clear it off the line (84 mins). It was to prove a turning point.

Just after Leamington's McNamee replaced Johnson (85 mins), out of nothing Walshaw got his side out of gaol with a cracking goal struck from a central position 22 yards from goal (86 mins).

Now Wilkinson replaced Reeves (87 mins). But Leamington were not finished yet and Altrincham had to scramble a threat clear before the visitors made a final change as Green came on for Owen. In the three added minutes Higginbotham conceded a freekick 20 yards out in a central position but Morley's freekick cleared the bar.

So Altrincham gained all three points from performance that was far from their best this season and moved up to third place. Playing in an unfamiliar formation and with three players in the starting eleven who had been at the club for less than a month it was perhaps not surprising that things did not all run smoothly but Altrincham have got themselves into a strong position to strengthen their challenge for a promotion place this season.