Match Report


Vanarama National League match
played on Tuesday, 5 April 2016, at 7.45pm


Altrincham dropped to 22nd in the Vanarama National League as they again let a 1-0 lead slip, this time against Dover Athletic. Alty were the better side in the first half and deservedly led thanks to a fiercely driven shot from Michael Rankine from Jordan Sinnott's lay off at a freekick just outside the box. The goal arrived after 36 minutes and Rankine might have doubled the lead, three minutes later, when put clear by Lawrie but his first touch was too heavy and keeper Walker got the ball.

The second half was a different affair as the visitors penned Alty back from the re-start. The got their reward when an attempted clearing header by Altrincham struck a Dover player and allowed Miller to score from six yards or so in the 67th minute. Eight minutes later Payne got past Havern to make it 2-1.

Alty brought on Reeves, Crowther and Heathcote but could not get back into the game. So, for the second time in a week a half-time position of safety for Altrincham had witnessed a drop of three places during the second half.

And there was post-match confusion as it emerged that Marcus Holness had been red carded after the final whistle following a challenge on a Dover player who had been winding down time at the corner flag very near the end of the game. Dover's Bellamy then tackled Holness, though no foul was awarded against either Holness or Bellamy at the time. Holness was then indirectly informed, in the dressing room, that he had been dismissed.


REFEREE: Mr Martin Coy
ATTENDANCE: 1,007 (33 in away end)

Adam Griffin was ill, so Scott Leather moved to left back and Jordan Sinnott returned at right-back. Up front Michael Rankine was preferred to Damian Reeves presumably in acknowledgement of tonight's opposition's style of play. Loanee Jimmy Phillips started as Josh O'Keefe moved to the bench.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, white socks) 17. Tim DEASY, 20. Jordan SINNOTT, 26. Marcus HOLNESS, 5. Luca HAVERN, 6. Scott LEATHER, 4. Jake MOULT (capt), 8. Simon RICHMAN, 26. James PHILLIPS, 15. Josh GINNELLY, 7. James LAWRIE, 9. Michael RANKINE. Subs: 10. Damian REEVES, 12. Sam HEATHCOTE, 14. Josh O'KEEFE, 19. Ryan CROWTHER , 23. Callum WILLIAMS

DOVER ATHLETIC (Blue shirts and socks and white shorts) 1. Mitchell Walker, 2. Sam Magri, 4. Chris Kinnear, 5. Sean Raggett, 6. Richard Orlu, 8 Liam Bellamy, 9. Ricky Miller, 17 Nick Deverdics, 18 Jack Parkinson, 23. Stefan Payne, 27 Craig Braham-Barrett. Subs: 14 Duane Ofori-Acheampong, 15 Jamie Grimes, 16 Tyrone Sterling, 26. Tyrone Marsh, 28. Connor Essam


Altrincham were in great need of a win after recent results had dropped them into the relegation places. For their part Dover were seeking to consolidate a play-off position.

Mike Garnett provides the data on previous clashes between Altrincham and Dover Athletic.

The reverse fixture had ended controversially as Dover grabbed a last-minute winner with Alty keeper Stuart Coburn injured in the build up. Stuart has not played since but it was good to see him involved in the warm up tonight. This was Altrincham's last evening home match of the season and the first of two home fixtures in this week.


To their credit, for this marathon midweek trek, Dover had brought a supporters' coach and, after the visitors' player-huddle had delayed the kick off by Altrincham, it was the hosts who defended the away end.

In a fairly uneventful opening a Dover freekick from the right by Deverdics led to an Altrincham throw, wrongly assigned by the referee to Dover (6 mins). An Alty freekick, 40 yards out, by Sinnott was soon followed by another awarded for a foul on Ginnelly near the left corner flag. Altrincham then had two successive corners with the latter ending with a Rankine shot being blocked (9 mins).

Following a Ginnelly run at the defence, Rankine chased the ball and went down in the box. No penalty was awarded but, for some reason, nevertheless, a Dover man was lectured (12 mins).

The best move of the game to date arrived when Rankine did well to get the ball and to play a superb long cross-field ball to Phillips on the right. This led to a superb 25 yarder by Lawrie, which Walker had to tip out for a corner (16 mins). From this, Havern had a shot blocked.

Leather had already impressed with a fine defensive tackle but he now turned provider with a header but centre-back Holness sidefooted his shot to the keeper as Alty got on top (17 mins). Next, a Rankine knock-down fed Ginnelly but he fired over the bar. Mr. Coy now had another conversation, this time with Rankine.

When a Dover man went down in the box, play continued (22 mins). After this a fine Lawrie through-ball located Ginnelly but the keeper gathered his effort at the second attempt.

. Alty were playing the better football of the two sides, who now traded shots as a Lawrie effort was blocked before Orlu's long-range effort was stopped and then gathered by Deasy (25 mins). Rankine was becoming understandably frustrated as, not for the first time, a foul against him went unheeded by the officials.

Dover now improved and had a couple of shots blocked before Miller was allowed to fall over and floor Holness in the process during the build up to a move which ended with Dover striking the inside of Deasy’s left post (30 mins). Following Moult's impressive ball for Phillips, Braham was booked for a foul (34 mins). Then as Richman advanced up the middle he was fouled in the "D" of the Dover penalty area. Sinnott laid off the freekick to his right, to Rankine, who hammered a low, thunderous shot into the net to give Altrincham the lead (36 mins).

Rankine had a good chance to double the lead just three minutes later as Lawrie put the striker clear but he made a poor first touch and the ball ran to the keeper (39 mins). After Havern had been penalised on the Dover left, the visitors’ freekick was nodded narrowly over the bar (41 mins). A twenty-yarder from Rankine met a similar fate as half-time approached (43 mins).

The referee awarded two added minutes of play. In the second of these an impressive Sinnott ball was just reached by a Dover defender, who nodded it to his keeper. Half time arrived just after a Deverdics cross had been headed wide so Altrincham went for their break with what was a deserved lead. Half-time scores here and elsewhere meant that Altrincham were temporarily up to 19th in the table as they sucked their half-time lemons.


Dover kicked off towards the away end and immediately showed more tempo and resolve than they had exhibited before the interval. Soon, Holness had to head clear as Dover pressed and won a corner. The visitors continued to press and Alty were not aided by Mr. Coy who interpreted an incident in which Rankine appeared to be pulled over by Raggett to be a freekick to Dover (52 mins). A minute later, from a Braham cross, Payne punched the ball at goal and was deservedly booked for his cheating.

Next, goalkeeper Deasy had to punch clear a Dover corner before Lawrie skied a shot from 18 yards arising from a Rankine knock-down (58 mins). Then a good Rankine ball from the left led to a fine Sinnott shot which was saved.

But Dover took advantage of Havern's misreading of the flight of an aerial ball to draw a foul from the Alty defender, 30 yards out (65 mins). From the freekick the ball went off Holness for a corner which led to a pinball session in the Alty box, with the home net just about remaining unbreached.

But the visitors' pressure had its effect in the 67th minute. An Alty clearing header struck an opponent and broke for Ricky Miller to score from about six yards to make it 1-1.

Just after Rankine had shot wide following a decent Altrincham move, Damian Reeves came on to join Rankine up front, with Phillips the man withdrawn (73 mins). It got worse for Alty after 75 minutes when Payne got past Havern and scored with low shot to make it 2-1 for the visitors.

Five minutes later, Ginnelly shot well over the bar as Rankine was being held by Raggett but then Lawrie did win a freekick near half. With eight minutes remaining, Crowther came on for Ginnelly (82 mins). Next, a Moult 20 yarder just cleared the bar before Payne, looking yards offside, was allowed to proceed but the move came to nothing.

On 85 minutes Ofori-Acheampong replaced Miller for Dover. Referee Coy, whose decisions and lack of them had been queried more than once by the home players during the game, now was involved in a minute or more of pure farce. Dover's Chris Kinnear, son of the manager, sat down looking for treatment. When this had been administered and with Essam being prepared to replace him, he walked off to the far side of the pitch from the subs' bench.

Alty now introduced Heathcote for Lawrie (87 mins) but as Crowther won a corner, Dover could not get their sub, Essam (for Kinnear), onto the pitch. This was because of the inability of the fourth official to show the correct numbers on the electronic board, so play continued until Alty's kitman, not for the first time this season, showed the fourth official how to get the numbers correct on the board. The Dover boss was quite justifiably steamed up at the episode.

Finally, Essam replaced Kinnear (89 mins). There were to be six added minutes; arguably there might have been more given the protracted pantomime over the substitution. Dover won two successive corners and wound down time by trying to keep the ball in the corner area. Twice in these added minutes they hoofed the ball clean out of the ground to preserve their lead and then brought on Sterling for Braham in the fifth added minute.

Play ended with Dover again trying to keep the ball in the corner at the Alty end. After the whistle there appeared to be a minor fracas in that area and it later emerged that Holness had been retrospectively sent off for a robust challenge on a Dover man who was keeping the ball in play near the corner flag. The ball had run loose from Holness's tackle and Bellamy had then also made a robust challenge on Holness. However, the immediately adjacent linesman did not raise his flag at either challenge and the referee did not, it seems, blow for a foul. Then the final whistle was sounded. Holness only learnt of his dismissal later, which was apparently communicated to him by a third party in the dressing room.

Quite what will be the outcome of this bizarre episode remains to be seen. The result leaves Altrincham now relying on others to assist in their escape from the relegation trap door. Next up is a visit from Bromley before difficult away trips to Torquay United (on Tuesday night) and Eastleigh (on Saturday week).