ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 HEDNESFORD TOWN (0) 1
played on Saturday, 3 May, 2014, at 3pm
With the league's two highest-scoring teams locked at 0-0 and with extra-time looming, a crazy seven minutes saw the Pitmen take the lead through Tom Thorley's 78th minute header, before two goals in little more than a minute, from Damian Reeves and James Lawrie, transformed the outcome. It was harsh on Hednesford who had probably shaded the second half after Altrincham had had slightly the better of the first 45 minutes.
Town's goal came after James Lawrie had lost possession near halfway; Hednesford worked the ball up the left and a cross found Thorley unmarked to head home from close range. Alty levelled in similar fashion after 84 minutes, when James Walshaw's cross from the left was nodded home by Damian Reeves. The winner came a minute later, from another ball from the left, which Reeves headed back across the box, from where it was half-cleared to James Lawrie, who fired home confidently, with the aid of a slight deflection, from the edge of the box.
Altrincham now entertain Guiseley in the Play-Off Final next Saturday, after the Lions defeated North Ferriby United 1-0, to win 3-0 on aggregate.
- 78 mins: Tom THORLEY (ALTRINCHAM 0 Hednesford Town 1)
- 84 mins: Damian REEVES (ALTRINCHAM 1 Hednesford Town 1)
- 85 mins: James LAWRIE (ALTRINCHAM 2 Hednesford Town 1)
REFEREE: Mr R Jones
Hednesford had former Northwich Vics' man, Wayne Riley, suspended for this match, so Kris Taylor came in. The first leg, played last Wednesday, ended in a 2-2 draw but away goals do not count double in this competition.
Altrincham were unchanged.
ALTRINCHAM(Red and white striped shirts, red shorts and socks)
|1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Shaun Densmore (capt), 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Jake Moult, 5. Gianluca Havern, 6. Scott Leather, 7.James Lawrie, 8. Simon Richman, 9. James Walshaw, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs: 12. Tom Marshall, 14. Matt Doughty, 15. Greg Wilkinson, 16. Kyle Perry, 18. Russ Saunders.|
HEDNESFORD TOWN(White shirts and black shorts)
|1. Daniel Crane, 2. John Disney, 3. Darren Campion, 4. Ben Bailey, 5. Paul McCone, 6. David McPherson, 7. Kris Taylor, 8. Marvin Johnson, 9. Danny Glover, 10. Alex Melbourne, 11. Tom Thorley. Subs: 12. Marvin Robinson, 14. Paul Sullivan, 16. Francino Francis, 15. Michael Lennon, 17. Robbie Thompson-Brown|
Mike Garnett gives us the details of previous encounters between Altrincham and Hednesford Town
- At Altrincham P4-W1-D1-L2-F4-A6
- At Hednesford P6-W1-D3-L2-F8-A13
- All P10-W2-D4-L4-F12-A19
Om a sunny afternoon, a well-populated J. Davidson Stadium saw the visitors kick off towards their supporters at the away end. Immediately, a Bailey misheader combined with a slip by keeper Crane gave Altrincham an early corner on their right. Though this was cleared the ball came to centre-back Scott Leather, whose fierce, goalbound shot from 20 yards was tipped over the bar for another corner.
At the other end, Johnson, looking offside, got in a shot, which drifted wide. After 5 minutes, a Lawrie cross saw Walshaw unable to direct his header. Altrincham had made a bright opening before the first of what was to be a dozen or more Bailey long-throws rained in on the Alty penalty area.
In the 10th minute, Reeves turned smartly inside the box and was brought down for what home supporters saw as a clear penalty; but Mr. Jones thought otherwise and waved play on. Following this, Reeves had a shot blocked before some clever trickery from Clee led to his cross which Crane collected. Now Walshaw went down in the box but play continued and, on the counter, Glover’s nod to Thorley saw the latter drag a shot wide (11 mins).
Simon Richman, not for the first time this season, had to leave the pitch for treatment to a facial injury but he soon returned wearing the numberless "blood shirt". Play was now end to end as the visitors threatened with an overhit cross and then another Bailey throw which led to Thorley having a shot blocked.
Play continued fairly evenly as Lawrie fired over from edge of box (19 mins) before Richman had to clear from his own box, leading to another long throw, in the right corner, by Bailey. Alty cleared a freekick after a foul on Glover as Hednesford enjoyed a good spell, ending when Macpherson held Clee. From Lawrie's freekick, a misheader forced Crane to punch clear.
But clear openings were not arising at either end, with Lawrie's 30-yarder the best effort of this period. Clee was twice halted as he tried to get forward and then Crane collected a Griffin cross. With Altrincham enjoying the ascendancy, Densmore and Richman combined to win a corner, which Leather headed but which Town cleared (37 mins).
A Glover shot to Coburn was followed by McCone's sliced clearance as Reeves harried him energetically. Shortly before the break, Lawrie did well to find Walshaw but he sliced the ball. Then Clee miscued a shot over the bar after a good feed from Lawrie.
In the one minute of added time, Hednesford won a corner after the otherwise impeccable Havern trod on the ball. The corner came off McPherson at the back post and onto the Altrincham crossbar from where it was cleared.
Half-time arrived with the game goalless but Altrincham having had slightly the better of the attacking threat.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 HEDNESFORD TOWN 0|
With both sets of supporters in good voice, Altrincham kicked off the second half, attacking the away end. From a long throw from Bailey, a Melbourne shot won a corner, which was cleared for yet another predictably long throw from Bailey (48 mins).
For Altrincham, Clee fed Walshaw but he was given offside as he chipped his shot over the bar. But the second half lacked the spark of the opening half as if the players sensed the importance of the game and opted for security rather than risky offensive play.
After 55 minutes, Hednesford's Thompson-Brown replaced Macpherson. The nearest to a goal before the hour mark came when Moult, who spent much of the game in a deep position, got in a 30- yard shot which deflected over Crane but landed on the roof of the net, to earn a corner. This was taken poorly by Lawrie who had a game of mixed fortunes; some excellent play interwoven by misplaced passes (60 mins).
Alty's next effort of note was a wild volley by Walshaw which hit the third-floor window of a house on the Chequers estate. It wasn't any better at the other end as a Johnson shot bisected the angle of corner flag and goal (67 mins).
McCone conceded a corner as Walshaw closed in; from Clee's corner, Leather headed over the bar before Hednesford threatened with another Bailey long throw, which was prodigious but predictable. On 70 minutes a Walshaw dribble was halted inside the box before an Alty mix up led to Thompson-Brown curling his cross wide.
When Taylor tripped Lawrie, the Hednesford man became the first booking of the game. Clee's 30-yard freekick cleared the bar. The Pitmen now made another change as the experienced Robinson, who numbers almost 20 clubs in his CV, replaced Taylor. Play was getting a bit nervy on the field as the occasion seemed to weigh heavily on everyone.
In the 78th minute Lawrie lost possession with a misplaced pass from just inside his own half. Town worked the ball up the left and from a cross the unmarked ex-Worcester player, Tom Thorley headed home from close range.
Almost immediately, Tom Marshall replaced Griffin as Altrincham moved to 3-5-2, with Densmore getting forward (82 mins). After Moult had conceded a freekick, Robinson headed narrowly over from Thorley's freekick.
Altrincham got forward and Walshaw received the ball in the left of the box. His pinpoint cross was headed home by Reeves from close range to level the scores (84 mins). Just over a minute later, an Alty ball from Clee on the left was headed back across the goal, sideways, by Reeves. As Alty's Simon Richman tried to pounce on the ball it was blocked and came out to James Lawrie who scored with a firm shot from 12 yards to mark a quite remarkable turnaround (85 mins).
Immediately, despite the risk of the game going to extra time, Reeves was taken off and Perry came on, whilst Town removed Glover for Sullivan (87 mins). Coburn had to be alert to tip a Hednesford 30-yarder round his left post for a corner. Goalkeeper Crane came up for the corner and only just failed to get his head on the ball, after which a surprisingly long five added minutes were announced.
Although Hednesford pressed forward they could not get an equalizer and, so, Altrincham advanced to the Play-Off Final. It was hard not to have some sympathy for Hednesford, who had pushed Altrincham all the way and who seemed to be on their way to the Final before Alty's late double salvo.
The Robins now host Guiseley in the Final at the J. Davidson Stadium next Saturday. Guiseley will arrive with a record of only one defeat in their last twenty games but Altrincham have an almost equally good record, having tasted defeat just twice in their previous 20 matches, one of those reverses being against the champions AFC Telford United.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 HEDNESFORD TOWN 1|