Match Report


Skrill North Match
played on Tuesday, 7 January 2014, at 7.45pm


Alty's hopes of going to the top of the table took a nosedive with a disastrous first half performance at The Northolme, which last season had seen one of their best 45 minutes of the season and a 4-0 lead.

Having acquired a trinity of new defenders in the past month, Alty are trying to find the blend which will tighten things up at the back. But, having now conceded seven times in two matches in which a back three has replaced their previous four-man back line, there is clearly a lot of training ground work to be done if that system is to be deployed successfully in future. Today their most accomplished central defender this season, Luca Havern, spent a large portion of the second half in right midfield.

Tonight, they fell behind in under three minutes as they failed to deal with an enthusiastic Trinity, for whom Toner fired home.

After both Kyle Perry and Damian Reeves had missed good chances, Perry equalised in the 15th minute. But more defensive fraility allowed Wootton to restore the home side's lead. Danny Higginbotham then dwelt on the ball and was dispossessed by Barraclough who went on to score Trinity's third goal, after 32 minutes.

Hopes of a second half recovery were stifled when Russell got past Marshall to score after 59 minutes. Alty's bad night continued when Walshaw had to be helped off, injured, just a few minutes after joining the match.

Perry scored his second goal sixteen minutes from time. When Davis was sent off for assaulting Perry in the 87th minute, Alty took advantage as Rodgers made it 4-3. But then an error by Marshall allowed Barraclough to score at the other end, deep into added time.

From the restart Clee scored from 25 yards, to make the final score 5-4. Poor defending and wasteful finishing meant that Altrincham could have few complaints at the outcome.


REFEREE: Mr David Richardson. For those who believe in omens, he was the referee when Alty were beaten at home by Leek Town in the FA Trophy earlier this season.

On the eve of the match, Gainsborough boss Steve Housham had jokingly asked any available centre-half to come along and offer his services free of charge as Trinity went into the match without a recognised centre-back. Trinity's last match had seen them pasted 1-5 at home by a Stockport County side which, itself, has struggled to find form this season.

On the contrary, Altrincham arrived with confidence built on the back of a five-game unbroken run, in which 16 goals had been netted.

Tonight, Alty started with what looked like a 3-3-2-2 formation in which leading scorer James Walshaw was again named as a substitute. The three central defenders arrived with credentials which suggested they would be as good a combination as you could wish for at this level. However, only one of the three had been at the club for more than three weeks and he had been playing in a back four for virtually all season.

The visitors were without the injured Simon Richman and the ill Scott Leather and Junior Smikle.



(Blue and white)
1. Phil Barnes, 2. Dominic Roma, 3. Josh Wilde, 4. Alistair Taylor, 5. Callum Howe, 6. Michael Leary, 7. Simon Russell, 8. Ciaran Toner, 9. Jamie Wootton, 10. Bradley Barraclough, 11. Liam Davis, Subs 12. Darryn Stamp, 14. Johnathan Williams, 15. Josh Lacey, 16. Josh Batty, 17. Lynton Karkach.


(Red and white striped shirts, red shorts and socks)
1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Shaun Densmore (capt), 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Danny Higginbotham, 5. Gianluca Havern, 6. Tom Marshall, 7. Jake Moult, 8. Carl Rodgers 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs 12. Matt Doughty, 14. Greg Wilkinson, 16. James Walshaw, 15. James Lawrie, 18. Adam Reid.


Altrincham arrived with confidence, on a five-match unbeaten run in which 18 goals had been scored. Also the Northolme had witnessed a fine performance last season, as Damian Reeves hit all four goals in a 4-2 win, marre donly by a floodlight failure which delayed the match by an hour.


Trinity kicked off and made a bright start. After two minutes Coburn had to tip a shot from the left for a corner. Soon afterwards, they took the lead when Toner fired home after Altrincham had failed to deal with some pressure on their central defence (3 mins).

Alty seemed to be using a 3-3-2-2 formation which, whilst it was to prove shaky at the back, produced several chances up front. In fact, after 6 minutes, Perry missed a great opportunity with an off-target header from a cross from the right. The game was being played at a high tempo by Trinity, who did not look like a side that had just been beaten heavily at home. Indeed, Alty were second best in the opening exchanges.

But the visitors had their second good chance of the evening when Densmore put Reeves clean through up the middle but, as Barnes advanced, he slid the ball past both keeper and the left post, with his right foot (13 mins). Yet another excellent chance came when Clee put Perry clear up the inside-right channel and he did well this time, scoring with his left foot with a shot across Barnes to make it 1-1 (15 mins).

Alty would go on to build from that platform was the expectation of the visiting fans, a view supported by the fact that the makeshift Trinity defence had now been opened up twice by a straight through ball up the middle. However, the end to end play continued as, now, Taylor did well and got in a shot which was blocked. Rather than Alty it was now Trinity who continued to press and they got their reward as Wootton, Taylor and Barraclough combined for Wootton to score as Alty failed to clear their lines (24 mins).

The Robins themselves continued to look surprisingly frail at the back as, now, Barraclough was allowed to cross dangerously. But the chances also kept coming to get level once more. After Moult had shot miles over the bar, Reeves was again put through but, this time, the keeper blocked his effort (31 mins). Moments afterwards it was 3-1 to Trinity as Higginbotham, Alty's last man, dwelt on the ball 25 yards out in a central position and lost possession to the lively Barraclough, who advanced and fired past the exposed Coburn (32 mins).

Alty had now moved to 4-4-2 with Luca Havern at right-back and Adam Griffin on the left, Shaun Densmore was in right midfield and Clee was on the left flank. After 38 minutes, Trinity had to replace the injured Taylor by Williams but it did not disrupt them as they soon went close with a shot from the right.

Jake Moult now battled through the middle and, from this advance, Reeves's goalbound diving header was blocked. Following a foul on Russell by Marshall, the Alty man was booked (40 mins). Another half chance arrived, when Clee's quick throw found Perry, but he got the ball under his feet and shot wide.

A Marshall clearance to Trinity's Leary and a Perry handball followed as Alty's performance stuttered. So, the first half ended against a Trinity side which had no specialist centre halves. Alty had deployed three players in that category and found they losing 3-1! The formation had not worked and, to make matters worse, a series of chances had been spurned up front.

So, for the second year running, there had been four first-half goals in this fixture but, whereas Alty had led 4-0 at this stage last year, they trailed 1-3 today.


Alty were sent out into the chilly wind several minutes early for the second half. After just 17 seconds of restarting the game, Jake Moult started and finished a move up the middle, but he poked his shot wide. But it was another missed chance, at least the fourth tonight so far.

After Moult had lost possession, Coburn had to concede a corner as Altrincham continued to struggle. When, after 49 minutes, Havern conceded a foul on the Trinity left, Coburn caught the freekick. At the other end, a Densmore shot with his left foot went well wide before with Reeves won a corner which was poorly taken by Clee, low and short (52 mins).

But at least Alty now had a decent spell going forward as a Rodgers shot won a corner on the right, taken by Clee and dropped by Barnes, but a goalkick resulted. At the back Alty were still suspect as now a through ball evaded Higginbotham and Wootton's shot just cleared Alty's bar (55 mins).

Not long after Higginbotham had been penalised, 35 yards out on the left, Russell was played in towards goal. He sidestepped Marshall and scored goal number four (59 mins).

Alty responded as Moult's shot won a corner but Lee Sinnott now brought on Matt Doughty for Griffin at left-back and James Walshaw to add to the front line in place of midfielder Jake Moult (61 mins). Following a slip by Rodgers error, Wootton forced a good save from Coburn. After this, from 30 yards or so, Higginbotham put an Altrincham freekick into Trinity's wall (63 mins).

Altrincham were now gathering some momentum following their substitutions as, first a Doughty cross was cleared, then Perry was caught offside. By now, Havern was playing on the right of midfield, whilst further forward Perry curled a shot wide from right of goal. When a fine cross from Densmore on the right was met by Walshaw's volley over the bar it just seemed to be another missed chance but the striker had injured himself in the process (68 mins). After lengthy treatment he had to be helped back to the dressing rooms by physio Alan Ainsley and coach Ian Senior.

Now James Lawrie, who has started just two games since August, came on for Walshaw, after which Trinity scrambled a cross clear before Perry looped a ball over the bar. Alty continued to apply pressure via a Clee 25 yarder, which was saved. Moments later, Clee won possession 40 yards out and advanced up the inside left channel. He fed Lawrie who, in turn, located Perry who hit home his ninth goal of the season from 11(+8) appearances (74 mins).

It was now 4-2 and Alty were playing with three up front. But Trinity remained a danger as Davis proved when he fed Russell who forced Coburn to tip away his shot for a 77th minute corner. For the neutral it was a cracking game as next a Clee freekick gave his side a corner on before Trinity's Barraclough cut inside Densmore but Alty's captain recovered to block his advance. But despite Perry winning another corner, openings were not arising and fouls by Clee and then Marshall helped Trinity wind down the clock (83 mins).

When Perry was tripped on the front edge of the box, a melee developed into which Davis waded, raising his hands to push over Perry, who had just got up after How had pushed him over. Mr. Richardson consulted his assistants; he rightly sent off Davis but also cautioned three players, Howe and Wild for Trinity and Perry himself (87 mins). However, Howe had actually been the first to push over Perry and he was very fortunate to stay on the pitch. Eventually Densmore put the resulting freekick into the wall. But Alty did make it 4-3 when Higginbotham fed Rodgers who volleyed home from a central position (89 mins).

Walshaw's injury and the later fracas led to six added minutes being announced. It was all Alty now as Clee volleyed over the bar. Three minutes into added time, Neil Tolson was sent off by the ref, just after he had tried to speed up proceedings by retrieving the ball for the Trinity keeper. But the game was sealed by another defensive lapse. Trinity Man of the Match Barraclough beat Marshall and scored to make it 5-3.

Almost directly from the restart, a fine shot from 25 yards by Clee arrowed past Barnes to make it 5-4 (90+6 mins). A minute or so later this remarkable game ended. Despite their defensive failings, Alty had enough chances to have retrieved something from the game but defeat and the loss of Walshaw to injury made it a gloomy trip home for the Altrincham players, management and supporters.