ALTRINCHAM (1) 2 BRISTOL ROVERS (0) 1
played on Saturday, 16 August 2014, at 3pm
Altrincham secured a deserved win against Bristol Rovers in the first-ever clash between these two sides. The visitors started the game the better but fell behind after 19 minutes when Damian Reeves netted with a 20-yard drive. The goal raised Altrincham's confidence levels and they were the better side for much of the remainder of the game.
They went 2-0 up through a 65th minute own goal by McChrystal after good work from Nicky Clee to the left of goal. However 'The Gas' got a goal back from Mansell's 76th minute header. But Altrincham kept the Rovers at bay fairly comfortably after that and the visitors suffered a further blow when Sinclair was sent off after hauling down Crowther as he threatened to get into the box.
- 19 mins: Damian REEVES (ALTRINCHAM 1 Bristol Rovers 0)
- 65 mins: Mark McCHRYSTAL (own goal) (ALTRINCHAM 2 Bristol Rovers 0)
- 76 mins: Lee MANSELL (ALTRINCHAM 2 Bristol Rovers 1)
REFEREE: Mr Ross Joyce
Altrincham's Shaun Densmore was sidelined by a broken toe, so Peter Cavanagh, making only his third appearance for the Club, assumed the captaincy. But Scott Leather was available to make his first start of the season, after missing the last game through work commitments. He was deployed at right-back rather then his customary central position. Simon Richman (on the right), Nicky Clee (on the left) and Damian Reeves were also restored to the starting eleven, as Kyle Perry and Ryan Crowther reverted to the bench.
Rovers gave a debut to Dave Martin, signed on loan from Luton and made five other changes. Into the side also came Clarke, Mildenhall, Leadbitter, Parkes and Brunt, in a 4-4-2 formation. Injury ruled out Lockyer.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Stuart COBURN, 3. Adam GRIFFIN, 5. Gianluca HAVERN, 6. Scott LEATHER, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 9. Steven GILLESPIE, 10. Damian REEVES, 11. Nicky CLEE, 16. Tom MARSHALL 18. Sean WILLIAMS, 25. Peter CAVANAGH (capt). Subs: 4. Jake MOULT, 7. James LAWRIE, 14. Kyle PERRY, 12. Mike WILLIAMS, 19. Ryan CROWTHER.
BRISTOL ROVERS (All white, black, blue and yellow trim): 1. Steve Mildenhall, 2. Daniel Leadbitter, 3. Lee Brown, 5. Mark McChrystal, 6. Tom Parkes, 7. Lee Mansell, 8. Ollie Clark, 9. Ryan Brunt, 10. Matty Taylor, 16. Dave Martin, 24. Stuart Sinclair. Subs: 11. Jake Gosling, 14. Jamie White, 15. Neal Trotman, 23. Andy Monkhouse, 25. Will Puddy.
This was Altrincham's first ever match against Bristol Rovers. Neither side had won either of their opening two games as each adjusted to a change of division. It's a curious world in which relegated teams receive substantial parachute payments to play at a lower level than previously whilst promoted clubs receive no such boost to their finances to compete at a higher and more expensive level.
On the eve of the match, Rovers had signed winger Dave Martin on a loan from Luton Town.
Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road end and within two minutes, defender Parkes had been booked for bringing down Reeves as he was put through by Clee, who had won possession well. Against his former club, Gillespie's freekick from just outside the box, left of centre, was confidently saved by Mildenhall, back in the side after a family illness had kept him sidelined.
Bristol were to have the better of the opening stages, however, and they began to get in their stride as, first, Brunt was halted after Martin had started a promising move, then a long shot ran to Coburn. After a little Marshall hesitancy, Coburn had to smother the ball; it was to be a rare slip by Altrincham's big centre-back, who was to have his best game since arriving last mid-season.
The bearded Sinclair was impressing in the early stages and he fed Taylor, from whom Coburn had to beat out a shot (12 mins). Altrincham began to get into the game and Mildenhall soon had to smother a Gillespie feed aimed for Reeves. In the 15th minute, the lively Sean Williams fed Reeves before Griffin found Gillespie, whose shot deflected back to Griffin. His volley flew wide from left of goal.
The impressive Gillespie next saw his 30-yard shot saved, after Williams had again done well; moments later another Gillespie effort forced a full-length save as Alty were now gaining some impetus. Moments later McChrystal's clearing header fell to Reeves who drove home a low shot from 20 yards, an uncharacteristically long-range goal for the accomplished goal-poacher (19 mins). After the restart Reeves won a corner, but from a freekick at the other end, a Brunt header gained his side a corner, too.
However, Altrincham were now on top and, from a Cavanagh cross, an Alty corner soon followed (25 mins). Mansell did get in a 25-yarder, which Coburn saved, before Gillespie robbed the dawdling Parkes and from his well hit shot, Mildenhall parried the ball onto his right post for a corner. Gillespie has yet to score in the league this season but, as in pre-season, he has hit the goal frame on more than one occasion.
More impressive work from Gillespie fed Richman, but he shot wide from 18 yards out, right of goal. Once again Cavanagh was impressing in midfield and, like Gillespie, has been an astute signing. At the back, Marshall was excelling and the whole team was closing down the opposition impressively.
As half-time approached some of the Rovers' fans in the Main Stand were growing a little restive as they saw their side appearing second-best to a part-time club. When their former player Gillespie first battled to win possession and then advanced purposefully at goal, it must have upset them even more.
The interval arrived, after one additional minute, with Alty deservedly one up after Rovers had started the game the better.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1 BRISTOL ROVERS 0|
As in the first half, Rovers started the second period with attacking intent as Taylor fired over the bar from the left. Two corners soon followed but the next effort was a poor shot from Taylor which bisected the line between the right corner-flag and goal (51 mins).
Once again, the ponderous Parkes was robbed of possession by the keen Gillespie. After 58 minutes, the visitors, without a goal this season, brought on Gosling to help to break their duck. He replaced Leadbitter.
Around the hour mark, after Clee had got past Sinclair, a Richman shot was blocked before a cross from the left was met, at the back post, by a header from Brunt which hit the outside of the post (63 mins). Now Lawrie came on for Sean Williams.
Immediately a Reeves dribble was halted in the box, after which a Lawrie shot was deflected and Gillespie won his side a corner on their right. This was poorly taken by Lawrie but got played into the box where Havern saw his shot blocked. The ball ran to the left of goal where the efforts of Clee contrived to induce an own goal from McChrystal to give Altrincham a 2-0 lead (65 mins).
From a Martin cross, Coburn was fouled and hurt by Brunt's late challenge. As the keeper received treatment, Brunt was substituted by Monkhouse but not before the big striker could be cautioned by Mr. Joyce (67 mins).
Next, a Richman shot won a corner on Alty's left but there was soon another injury stoppage as Cavanagh and an opponent collided, leaving both hurt. At this point, White replaced Clarke. However, soon after the resumption following the injuries, a ball from White on the left was headed home by Mansell to give the visitors hope of a late turnaround (76 mins). The already prepared Perry came on immediately for Gillespie for Altrincham (76 mins).
Griffin now had to head clear as Rovers raised themselves for a late onslaught, which actually never materialized. Altrincham kept the visitors on the back foot as Reeves almost got to a Perry flick, and then a Cavanagh loop forced Mildenhall to back pedal as the ball dropped just over the crossbar.
Another fine tackle by Marshall was followed by Crowther's appearance on the left, for Clee, (81 mins). Unfortunately Clee got himself booked for taking too long to exit the pitch, a booking that may be rued later in the season. Alty continued to use attack as the best from of defence, with Perry feeding Reeves who forced a fine, one-handed save to gain a corner (82 mins).
The corner was cleared to Richman who sliced wide from 19 yards. Next, Crowther found Lawrie, who seemed to be pushed over in the box, but his appeals were in vain (84 mins). At the other end Bristol man Taylor was booked for a dive in the Alty box. As time ran out, Perry won a freekick on the left and, then, a Cavanagh 30-yard dipper went wide. From a Lawrie feed, Crowther took advantage of poor defending and was about to get clear into the box when he was pulled back by Sinclair. The Rovers' man saw the inevitable red card for his denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity (89 mins).
In the four minutes or more of added time, another Parkes error led to defensive panic and soon Altrincham had won a corner through Crowther (90+2 mins). Altrincham got a second needless yellow card when Reeves was booked for "unsporting behaviour" deep in the opposition half (90+3 mins). The final action of note saw Griffin fouled and a resulting Richman shot going close.
So, Altrincham had got off the mark with their first points of the season and had put in an impressive team performance to do so, with Marshall outstanding at the back, Cavanagh impressive in midfield and Gillespie and Reeves a constant threat up front.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 BRISTOL ROVERS 1|