ALTRINCHAM (0) 2 CHELTENHAM TOWN (0) 1
played on Saturday, 5 September, 2015, at 3pm
With the game well into injury time, Alty lost substitute Ryan Crowther to injury, bringing to nine the number of their first team squad currently injured. They had started the game with six players sidelined (Havern, Coburn, Marshall, Richman, Clee and Griffith), then lost Josh O'Keefe in the first half of this match to a hip injury and had Scott Leather playing for more than half of the match with a suspected broken nose!
But, out of adversity, arrived a great outcome. 18 year-old centre-back Sam Heathcote, son of former Alty player and manager Graham, came on to make his debut as the injured Crowther's replacement and, in the fifth added minute, he calmly converted Michael Rankine's low cross from the byline to give Alty a trio of home wins this season against former Football League opposition.
Cheltenham had started the game brightly but half time was reached goalless, with Alty growing into the contest. The home side took the lead with a well-placed low shot from Crowther, following Densmore's advance up the right (59 mins). But Town equalised in the 82nd minute when Lawrie failed to clear and the ball was played in for Downes to head home.
Yet, despite their playing resources being stretched to the limit, Alty rallied to score the deserved late winner.
- 59 mins: Ryan CROWTHER (ALTRINCHAM 1 Cheltenham Town 0)
- 82 mins: Aaron DOWNES (ALTRINCHAM 1 Cheltenham Town 1)
- 90+5 mins: Sam HEATHCOTE (ALTRINCHAM 2 Cheltenham Town 1)
REFEREE: Mr Jason Whiteley
Following last Monday's game, Altrincham had six players sidelined by injury. They were centre-backs Tom Marshall, Luca Havern and Andy Parry, plus goalkeeper Stuart Coburn, midfielder Simon Richman and winger Nicky Clee. Of these, only Parry had recovered to play today but Anthony Griffith had now been added to those unfit to be considered. So, with six men out, Alty named three young players on the bench who had yet to play a league match for the first team.
Cheltenham named an unchanged starting eleven.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, white socks ): 17. Tim DEASY, 2. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 6. Scott LEATHER, 22. Andrew PARRY, 3. Adam GRIFFIN, 4. Jake MOULT, 14. Josh O'KEEFE, 7. James LAWRIE, 18. George BOWERMAN, 20. Jordan SINNOTT, 9. Michael RANKINE. Subs: 10. Damian REEVES, 19. Ryan CROWTHER, 12. Sam HEATHCOTE, 21. Joel SWIFT, 24. Rhain DAVIS
CHELTENHAM TOWN (All purple with yellow trim): 1. Dillon Phillips, 6. Danny Parslow, 5. Aaron Downes (capt), 2. Jack Barthram, 7. Danny Pell, 4. Kyle Storer, 14. Asa Hall, 11. Jack Munns, 10. Amari Morgan-Smith, 9. Danny Wright, 24. Rob Dickie. Subs: 8. Callum Kitscha, 19. Lee Vaughan, 8. Billy Waters, 27. Josh Cooke, 18.James Rowe.
Cheltenham arrived at Altrincham unbeaten this season.
Mike Garnett's record of games between the two clubs showed:
- At Altrincham: P8-W5-D1-L2-F18-A6
- Away: P8-W3D-L2-3-F10-A7
- All: P16-W8-D3-L5-F28-A13
Altrincham kicked off on a bright but cool afternoon, attacking the away end. Alty's brightest moments in the opening stages came via Bowerman on the left wing, as he twice got past Dickie. But Cheltenham started the game impressively, passing the ball around efficiently. In the eighth minute Morgan-Smith went down claiming a penalty, to no avail, after the lively Munns had advanced into Alty's box.
A Town corner was followed by Bowerman beating two defenders before being halted in the box. The visitors got caught offside twice before Leather halted Morgan-Smith after he had got past Densmore (15 mins). Two minutes later, play halted and Scott Leather had to be taken off for treatment to a nose injury. Alty played on with ten men for five minutes before the defender returned, playing on with a suspected broken nose (22 mins).
As Leather was unnecessarily made to wait to come back on, Pell fired over the Altrincham bar. Leather was soon in action, conceding a corner, which Wright headed over the bar (24 mins). Following a foul by Leather on Morgan-Smith, the freekick bounced across the box to Parslow but the ex-York defender shinned his effort very wide (28 mins).
Alty's injury woes continued as Crowther now had to come on for O'Keefe, who seemed to have a hip problem.
From an excellent ball forward by Griffin, Bowerman advanced and got in a cross from the left to Lawrie. His mishit shot was saved and then cleared by a defender (31 mins). But Alty continued to apply pressure as a Densmore freekick from the right had to be cleared by Storer. Next, Bowerman, this time on the right, gained his side a corner.
Alty kept going forward as Bowerman found Crowther, whose shot was charged down amidst hopeful appeals for hands. Cheltenham's response was a Barthram volley, which flew well wide and then a Pell cross, which Munns headed wide (36 mins).
After Morgan-Smith had won a corner off Parry, Hall sliced his shot over the bar. A minute later as Morgan-Smith threatened to get clear, Parry was booked for a foul on him, just outside the penalty area (40 mins). As the interval approached, Rankine started a good move but Alty overdid it, trying to walk the ball into the net as Crowther, deep in the box, elected to try and pass back to Densmore when he should have shot (44 mins). However, Lawrie won a corner after which his rasping shot from right of goal cleared the bar comfortably (45 mins).
In the two added minutes, Munns fed Wright, who poked the ball past Deasy but Parry got it back to the prostrate Alty keeper. The injury ravaged Alty side had acquitted itself well in the first forty-five minutes.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0 CHELTENHAM TOWN 0|
Loanee defender Andy Parry started the half well, halting Morgan-Smith before his fellow-centre back Leather blocked a shot. Jordan Sinnott responded as he set Crowther running up the right but his cross found no one. It was Cheltenham who started the half the better with Morgan-Smith now dragging a shot wide before Wright took advantage of Lawrie's error to get clear but a great block by Deasy denied the forward a goal, though a corner did result (50 mins).
Storer fired wide after the corner and, then, a Morgan Smith shot was so wild that it landed in Golf Road. At the other end Bowerman fed Griffin, whose cross was cleared in the visitors' goalmouth. Following a Densmore freekick 30 yards out on right, awarded for a foul on Moult, a Sinnott shot forced Phillips to tip the goalbound effort round his right post for a corner.
After Deasy had blocked well from Barthram, on a breakaway, Densmore cleverly headed the loose ball back to Deasy. The game was entertaining as, now, Bowerman won the ball and fed Rankine who turned and hit a bullet shot into the side netting. The pressure got its reward when Densmore advanced on the right and via Lawrie, the ball came to Crowther who, from outside the box, stroked it into the net, just inside the post to keeper Phillips's right (59 mins).
Following the restart, a Crowther break gave Densmore a first-time shot but it ran to the keeper. Altrincham were now looking comfortable with their lead and, soon, Bowerman got into the box to win a corner. Shortly afterwards, a Griffin half volley won a corner on the right. The pressing continued as goalkeeper Phillips had to come out to head clear of Rankine (68 mins).
Cheltenham's poor spell continued as Parslow fouled Lawrie and was booked.
The visitors finally settled after falling behind as Pell won a corner, taken by Munns, but headed wide by Downes (71 mins). Just after Hall had hacked down Lawrie near half way, the Town man was replaced by Waters (73 mins). A Leather block gave Cheltenham a corner, which Dickie poked wide after the ball had ricocheted in the Alty box.
Alty were now on the back foot as Parry and then Densmore cleared before a melee in Alty's box led to a Town corner. A Morgan-Smith appeal for a penalty fell on deaf ears. The Cheltenham pressure finally produced an equalizer as Lawrie failed to clear the ball with a poor header and Cheltenham played it back into the box, where Downes headed home to make it 1-1 (82 mins).
Immediately Cheltenham brought on Vaughan and Cooke for Dickie and Pell (83 mins).
Just after Rankine had done well and forced a full-length save by Phillips, with the keeper only holding the ball at the second attempt, Altrincham introduced Reeves for Bowerman (85 mins). Although referee Whiteley had a generally good game his decision to penalize Moult for handball was very questionable, but it gave the visitors a freekick from 20 yards out. Storer wasted this with a poor effort over the bar (87 mins).
In the final minute of normal time a Rankine dribble was only halted on the edge of the box. Alty's injury woes continued as Crowther hobbled after a knock. Four added minutes were announced after which a Town shot won a corner. Crowther, hobbling badly, went off and 18 year-old centre-back Sam Heathcote came on for his debut (90+3 mins).
Alty continued to press before Lawrie was halted and Reeves was unable to poke the ball home at the back post. With the game into the fifth added minute the ball was played to Rankine who burst along the byline into the box. His low cross found Heathcote whose dream debut was completed as he hit a low shot into the box from 12 yards or so (90+5 mins). So despite the huge injury list, Alty had shown great character to overcome one of the promotion hopefuls.
O'Keefe's injury is likely to sideline him for a couple of weeks but Crowther should be fit for Saturday.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2 CHELTENHAM TOWN 1|