Match Report


Vanarama National League match
played on Tuesday, 16 February 2016 at 7.45pm


Altrincham's hopes of climbing away from the relegation places were dealt a severe blow as they never looked like taking anything from this Cheshire Derby, which had been postponed from Boxing Day. Before kick off Alty had lost Jordan Sinnott with an ankle injury and during the first half also lost midfielder Simon Richman to injury.

Both teams arrived needing a win; Chester had won once in their last eleven league matches and Alty once in nine. But it was the visitors who dominated from the start whilst, during the first half, Altrincham did not once test new Chester keeper Thompson, who bizarrely was wearing Stuart Coburn's goalkeeping jersey.

It was another new Chester player, O'Brien who put the visitors ahead after 25 minutes, being afforded the time and space to control the ball and drive it home from a cross from the left. Mis-pass followed mis-pass as the home side failed to find any rhythm.

Chester's other second and third goals were virtually carbon copies of each other; in each case the ball was hacked into the net from a matter of feet after a melee following a corner. The first of these two goals came just before the interval from Astles and the second was scored on 76 minutes by Hannah, at the third attempt, after two blocks on the line.

It could have been worse as, almost immediately after the interval, Chester won a penalty which Hannah blasted over the bar. During the second half Alty threw on extra attackers in the shape of Reeves and Lawrie but were never seriously in the contest.


REFEREE: Mr Stephen Ross

Michael Rankine returned from his bout of flu at the expense of Damian Reeves while Jordan Sinnott had an ankle injury so Sam Heathcote came into the starting eleven at centre-back, prompting a move to right-back for Scott Leather. So Marcus Holness and Sam formed the ninth different centre-back pairing of this season, mostly caused by injuries. Dylan Mottley-Henry was not in the squad as he had been injured in training with his parent club Bradford City..

New Chester keeper, Tony Thompson from Morecambe, replaced Jon Worsnop and curiously was wearing an Altrincham FC goalkeeping jersey, complete with Davidson sponsorship logo and the name of "Coburn" on its back! Wigan loanee O'Brien also started for the visitors.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts white socks) 17. Tim DEASY, 6. Scott LEATHER, 12. Sam HEATHCOTE, 28. Marcus HOLNESS, 3. Adam GRIFFIN, 4. Jake MOULT (capt), 8. Simon RICHMAN, 19. Ryan CROWTHER, 15. Josh GINNELLY, 27. Jonathon MARGETTS, 9. Michael RANKINE. Subs: 10. Damian REEVES, 14. Josh O'KEEFE, 7. James LAWRIE, 23. Callum WILLIAMS, 22. Harry CAIN

CHESTER FC (All yellow) 13. Tony Thompson, 4. Danny O'Brien, 22 Ben Heneghan, 6. Ian Sharps, 7. Ryan Astles, 7. Craig Mahon, 10 John Rooney, 11 Jordan Chapell , 12. Sam Hughes, 26. Ryan Lloyd, 9 Ross Hannah, Subs: 23 James Alabi, 13. Kane Richards, 1. Jon Worsnop, 2. Ryan Higgins, 3 . Johnny Hunt,


Both teams were having rocky times in the league; Alty had won one of their previous nine league matches whilst for Chester FC the record was one win in eleven league games.

Mike Garnett provides the historical record between the clubs.


Steady rain had started falling for about an hour before kick off but the pitch, though heavy, was certainly not a significant problem.

With Altrincham defending the away end, Chester gained an early corner, but this was cleared (3 mins). In contrast to the electric start to last Saturday's match, the opening of this game reflected the presence of two teams struggling for their best form, with neither able to keep the ball.

The scrappy start continued until Mahon was allowed to run and his shot deflected off a defender and onto the wrong-footed Deasy's post before it was finally cleared (8 mins). For Alty Holness then did well to head back to Deasy ahead of Hannah.

When Griffin tugged down Mahon on the front edge of the box he was fortunate not to be cautioned. However, Hannah hit the freekick into the wall before Holness not only cleared but sprayed an excellent cross field ball to the right (14 mins). The visitors were looking the better side as, now, Heathcote headed clear. Alty's first effort was a Moult 20 yarder which comfortably cleared the bar after a decent build up (17 mins).

Alty won a freekick when Heneghan was all over Rankine but the hosts were largely on the back foot and their passing was just not clicking. Chester got the breakthrough when, following Mahon's involvement, Lloyd's cross from the left located the unmarked O'Brien in a central position. The debutant had time to control the ball and hit a firm shot past Deasy from about 15 yards (25 mins).

Two minutes later Richman went down for treatment and had to be replaced by O'Keefe (29 mins). Alty continued to labour but dealt with a couple of Chester crosses before Crowther gave the ball away and Holness was lectured after a freekick was conceded. Rooney's fine freekick from just outside the penalty area was beaten out by Deasy (37 mins).

Alty had yet to test the new Chester keeper as a wild Ginnelly shot way flew off target (40 mins). Then another Alty move broke down before Margetts lost the ball, which led to a Rooney shot having to be saved (42 mins). But soon after another mis-pass, this time by Griffin, Alty produced a good move as Rankine fed Crowther who finished well into the bottom corner of the net but he had been flagged offside (44 mins).

Two added minutes were proclaimed as Alty conceded a freekick in their right corner. This was whipped in towards the near post but Deasy tipped it over the bar for a corner. From the corner, to the near post, a ruck developed almost on the line from which Chester's Astles somehow hooked the ball over the line from very close range (45+2). Had Altrincham got to the break just one behind, there would have been hope but the second goal gave Alty a decidedly uphill task for the second half.


And the second half started poorly as Alty kicked off towards the away end but, inside a minute had conceded a penalty, as Chapell was granted the freedom of Moss Lane to run straight up the middle. He went down somewhat unconvincingly under a belated challenge inside the box but a spot kick was awarded. However, for the second time in 72 hours a visiting striker blasted a spot kick off target at the J. Davidson Stadium. This time it was Hannah, who hammered his effort well over the bar; the ball hit the hoardings above the Golf Road end (47 mins).

Four minutes later Mr. Ross showed leniency as he failed to book Hannah when he deliberately booted the ball away after an offside decision. Alty were soon caught on the counter attack but this time Chester missed the target. Successive fouls on Holness and Moult eventually led to a Crowther cross which won a corner. The awkwardly bouncing ball fell to Leather but he hooked it wide of the target (56 mins).

On the hour mark Altrincham just about survived a melee in the box before Rankine won another corner, followed by a second. Nothing came of this but, at least, Alty were getting forward with a little more promise now. On 63 minutes, Crowther gave way to Reeves and just after this an excellent Ginnelly cross yielded another corner on the left. Keeper Thompson flapped at this but gathered the ball. Holness was booked for apparently jostling Thompson in the aftermath (65 mins).

When Rankine misheaded a ball sideways, Chester broke forward but a foul by Rooney halted their progress. After 72 minutes Rankine gained another corner from which Leather nodded wide. Although Margetts mis-passed the ball from a throw in into touch, he was far from the only culprit in his team's misfiring performance.

At the other end, O'Brien won a corner. The ball was played towards the goal-line where a scramble saw Hannah twice have efforts blocked on the line before he dispatched the ball into the net at the third attempt to make it 3-0 to the visitors (76 mins). Two of the Chester goals had now come in this way from on the line melees.

Alty now looked a team without confidence and this was underlined when Ginnelly, a rare spark on a disappointing night, got a cross in from the byline, right of goal. First, O'Keefe miskicked a presentable chance in front of goal and then Margetts spooned his shot well over the bar (78 mins). Hannah was booked for a foul on Heathcote before Lawrie replaced Margetts (80 mins).

After Heathcote had advanced up the middle and fired over from 30 yards, Chester brought on Higgins for O'Brien, who had gone down with cramp (84 mins).

A Lawrie shot gave some hope but it flew just over the bar off the keeper for a corner. After this a foul on Ginnelly was followed by Rankine being felled on the edge of Chester's box, for which Sharps was booked (87 mins). Rankine put the freekick into the defensive wall.

On ninety minutes, Chester brought on Alabi for Hannah. In the first of the four added minutes, Rankine forced a save from the left, after which Chester's Richards replaced Mahon (90+2 mins).

And so a wretched evening ended for Altrincham, only to be compounded off the pitch by news of Boreham Wood's away win which leaves them just a point behind Alty and by the FA Trophy win for Torquay United which means that our scheduled trip to Devon on 27 February will now become a midweek 500-mile round trip. Whilst Jordan Sinnott and Luca Havern should be in contention for the scheduled match against Guiseley this Saturday, Simon Richman awaits an x-ray on his foot before his immediate future is determined.