BRAINTREE TOWN (1) 4 ALTRINCHAM (1) 2
played on Saturday, 25 April, 2015, at 5.15pm
Altrincham's season ended with a fourth succcessive defeat after another lacklustre display and especially poor defending.
Mulley headed The Iron ahead in the 36th minute from a Sparkes freekick. Somewhat unexpectedly, Alty levelled four minutes later as Lawrie scored past a wrong-footed goalkeeper.
Two early second-half goals settled the outcome. Cox got them both in a four-minute spell (51 and 55 mins). The first came from a bad error by Havern, who missed a long ball and Cox half-volleyed home. Braintree's third was an unchallenged header by Cox from Sparkes's cross from the left.
Alty grabbed a potential lifeline when substitute Perry scored a fine goal with a low, drilled shot from wide left in the 78th minute. But when Mensah outsprinted Marshall the game was over at 4-2 (82 mins).
- 36 mins: James MULLEY (Braintree Town 1 ALTRINCHAM 0)
- 40 mins: James LAWRIE (Braintree Town 1 ALTRINCHAM 1)
- 51 mins: Jordan COX (Braintree Town 2 ALTRINCHAM 1)
- 55 mins: Jordan COX (Braintree Town 3 ALTRINCHAM 1)
- 78 mins: Kyle PERRY (Braintree Town 3 ALTRINCHAM 2)
- 82 mins: Bernard MENSAH (Braintree Town 4 ALTRINCHAM 2)
REFEREE: Mr Dean Treleaven
Altrincham welcomed back the suspended Jake Moult and Peter Cavanagh, though the latter was only named on the bench. Shaun Densmore and Stuart Coburn remained sidelined by injury. Ryan Crowther started.
BRAINTREE TOWN (Orange and blue) 1. Nick Hamann, 2. Mitch Brundle, 6. Alan Massey, 3. Samuel Habergham, 5. Matthew Paine, 8. Kenny Davis, 11. Daniel Sparkes, 16. Joe Maybank, 15. Simeon Akinola, 18. Jordan Cox, 26. James Mulley. Subs: 29. Carl Pentney, 17. Bernard Mensah, 9 Sean Marks, 19. George Pullen, 12. Michael Bakare.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks). 17.Dave Parton, 6. Scott Leather, 5. Gianluca Havern (c), 16. Tom Marshall, 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Jake Moult, 26. Jordan Sinnott, 19. Ryan Crowther, 7. James Lawrie, 11. Nicky Clee, 10. Damian Reeves. Subs: 14. Kyle Perry, 9. Steven Gillespie, 8. Simon Richman, 25. Peter Cavanagh, 18. Sean Williams.
In the two clubs' only previous encounter, Altrincham emerged 1-0 winners earlier this season at the J. Davidson Stadium. Alty went into this final match of the season in 17th place, just behind Braintree on goal difference.
After a minute's silence for the victims of the Bradford fire, 30 years ago, Alty kicked off on a sunny afternoon. The visitors started shakily as Griffin cleared a Havern mis-header inside the first minute.
Braintree were still on the front foot as a 25-yarder by Brundle had to be tipped over the bar for a corner on the right. Now, Alty goalkeeper Parton had to be treated after suffering a blow to the nose as he got a hand on the corner kick. Play resumed after physio Alan Ainsley had staunched the keeper's nose bleed (8 mins).
After Alty had appealed for a goalkick, play was allowed to continue but the resulting Iron shot went wide (11 mins). Alty were enjoying good vocal support amongst a poor crowd.
The sides traded freekicks; a Sparkes high foot against Moult and then Cox pulled Marshall back. On the left the ex-Harrow Borough man, Simeon Akinola, was proving a major threat. After his advance had been blocked by Havern on the edge of the box, the Alty captain was booked (15 mins).
Akinola's freekick flew across the face of goal. After that Griffin had to concede a corner after halting Maybanks. Next, a Paine shot from 20 yards was saved by Parton.
Certainly, Braintree had been the better side so far (20 mins). When Akinola beat Leather, his ball was just too long for Cox and went to Parton. Alty finally got forward for Reeves to win a corner on the right (23 mins).
When Clee tried to take a quick throw, Braintree's Brundle was rightly booked for deliberately blocking it (24 mins). Next it was Moult's turn to halt Akinola, who remained a danger to Alty on the Iron left.
When Habergham's cross flew over Marshall, Cox headed well over the top, but worryingly unchallenged. Braintree threatened again after a Davis chip reached Cox, whose fine shot just evaded Parton's dive to his right but it went narrowly wide for a goalkick as the keeper covered his angles well (28 mins).
Play continued fairly unexceptionally before Akinola outpaced Leather, who fouled him on the front corner of the box (35 mins). Sparkes's freekick from the left was headed into the net by Mulley to give Braintree the lead (36 mins).
A Moult trip on Akinola saw the Alty man lucky to escape a card but it cost Alty yet another freekick on the Iron's left. Next, a Braintree corner arrived off Leather, from which Davis headed wide. Many of Alty's problems were still coming via Akinola on the left wing and crosses were being defended poorly (38 mins).
However, Altrincham then equalised. Crowther went up the left and his cross eventually fell for Lawrie. With goalkeeper Hamann wrong footed, Lawrie tucked a low shot into his bottom right corner from the outer reaches of the box (40 mins).
Crowther soon threatened again but now his chip was just too long for Reeves who was running in the box (42 mins). When Cox fouled Havern as he headed clear, the Braintree man was booked (44 mins). Moments later, Reeves was penalised as he robbed a defender and lobbed the keeper, the ball going into the net.
The fourth official showed a board displaying zero minutes of added time before the tannoy announced three added minutes. In added time, Moult's foul on half way got him booked; the fourth card of the half.
And card number five arrived as Paine was cautioned after fouling Reeves. The ref had allowed advantage after an earlier foul on Lawrie and he should also have booked that offender. The freekick from 35 yards out in a central position was blasted over the clubhouse roof by Sinnott (45+3 mins).
|Half-Time: BRAINTREE TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM 1|
The Iron kicked off under the floodlights. The referee soon penalized Griffin for hands after he claimed the ball had already gone out of play.
As in the first half, Alty were penned back in the opening stages. When Leather lost the ball upfield, Braintree broke up their left but Akinola's cross was just put wide by Cox (49 mins).
Disaster struck as Havern missed a long ball and Cox half-volleyed home to make it 2-1 (51 mins). Two minutes later, a Sparkes shot kissed the top of Alty's crossbar. And Alty were in a real mess at the back after Akinola got round Leather and Griffin had to hack clear. The pressure got its rewards as a Sparkes cross from the left gave Cox an unchallenged header into the net to make it 3-1 (55 mins).
Just before the hour, a good Clee dribble allowed Reeves to win a corner on the right. At this point, Perry came on for Crowther (60 mins). Although a second corner soon followed, nothing came of either. It was the home side that looked the more threatening as a Cox 30 yarder was well hit but too high.
Altrincham now had a better spell, as a Marshall shot was blocked after a Clee freekick. Then Clee again did well but, though Lawrie span well, he sliced his lob over the bar (67 mins). After 70 minutes Reeves won a corner and, from a throw by Clee, Marshall's nod found Reeves but he hit a difficult chance over the bar.
On 76 minutes, Mensah replaced Sparkes. Soon afterwards. Sinnott was booked for a foul in the centre of the pitch; the sixth card of the game. Alty continued to falter as a Moult dummy only left Braintree with the ball.
However, when Clee fed Perry, the striker hit a low and hard shot from wide left and it flew into the net off the inside of the far post as Reeves stretched for it in the goalmouth; 3-2 (78 mins).
Braintree's Pullen came on for Mulley but then Griffin conceded a corner on The Iron right. Any hopes of a comeback from Alty were ended when Mensah outsprinted Marshall and scored with a low shot after 82 minutes. Again Parton had no chance of stopping it.
Although Alty soon gained a corner, time ticked by before Clee was booked for a foul (85 mins). Braintree's final change brought Marks on for Massey (86 mins). Though Alty got forward now, they could make no impression in the closing stages and in the four added minutes.
And so, an overall successful season ended in a disappointing way; a fourth successive defeat and a seventeenth-place finish. Manager Lee Sinnott will be only too aware that plenty of work needs to be put into improving the defensive area of the pitch where 73 goals conceded and a goal difference of minus 19 tell their own story.
|Full-Time: BRAINTREE TOWN 4 ALTRINCHAM 2|