GLOUCESTER CITY (2) 5
ALTRINCHAM (0) 0
played at Cheltenham Town on Saturday, 10 September 2016, at 3pm
This was new manager Jim Harvey's first match in charge and hopes were high that Altrincham's performance would show an improvement on recent displays. But this match underlined the size of the problem confronting the new boss as Altrincham were comprehensively beaten by a Gloucester City which never had to rise above the level of competent to outclass their guests.
With Altrincham failing to trouble the City defence, they fell behind in the 26th minute when, following a corner, Deasy did well to beat out a Hopper shot but the ball fell to Knowles who scored from close range.
Altrincham almost got to half-time without further damage but Joe Parker doubled the Tigers' lead in the 44th minute. Hall's fine cross from the left was headed goalwards by Knowles. Deasy made another good stop but once more the ball ran loose and Parker swept it home.
Ironically, Alty's best spell of the game (when they at least enjoyed some possession for a while) presaged a three-goal salvo in a ten-minute spell from Luke Hopper for Gloucester. First, he outmuscled Moran and drove a shot past Deasy who was unable to take goalkicks after the interval and was clearly not as mobile as usual.
Three minutes later, in the 67th minute, Webb won the ball against Moran and Hopper volleyed home from eight yards to make it 4-0. And on 74 minutes, Webb outpaced Hattersley on the City left and his relatively tame shot beat the injured Deasy to complete the rout. Andy Dawber then came on to replace the stricken keeper.
Jim Harvey clearly has a major job on his hands to instil confidence in a side which week after week this season has seen changes in personnel in every game through either injury or selection. His record suggests he will succeed but he cannot do so overnight.
- 26 mins: Chris KNOWLES (Gloucester City 1 ALTRINCHAM 0)
- 44 mins: Joe PARKER (Gloucester City 2 ALTRINCHAM 0)
- 64 mins: Luke HOPPER (Gloucester City 3 ALTRINCHAM 0)
- 67 mins: Luke HOPPER (Gloucester City 4 ALTRINCHAM 0)
- 74 mins: Luke HOPPER (Gloucester City 5 ALTRINCHAM 0)
REFEREE: Mr Josh Smith
Altrincham have a defensive injury crisis with centre backs Danny Hall, Tom Hannigan and John Cyrus all injured as well as right-back Shaun Densmore. But it was a surprise that striker Danny Hattersley came into the side in central defence. So, yet again, it was a new look back line which started this game.
GLOUCESTER CITY (Gold and black) 1. Jasbir Singh (capt), 2. Keiran Thomas, 3. Lewis Hall, 4. Jack Deaman, 5. Sam Avery, 6. Chris Knowles, 7. Joe Hanks, 8. Tom Webb, 9. Luke Hopper, 10. Zack Kotwica, 11. Joe Parker, Subs: 12. Spencer Hamilton, 14. Antonio Alcaraz Zamora, 15. Craig Reid, 16. James Fitzgibbon, 17. Calvin Dinsley
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, red shorts): 1. Tim DEASY, 2. Sam PATTERSON, 3. Jon MORAN, 4. Sam HEATHCOTE, 5. Danny HATTERSLEY, 6. Adam GOODALL (capt), 7. James LAWRIE, 8. Jake MOULT, 9. Craig HOBSON, 10. Damian REEVES, 11. David LYNCH. Subs: 12. Simon RICHMAN, 14. Charlie JOYCE, 15. Harry CAIN, 16. Sean MILLER, 13. Andrew DAWBER
This was Jim Harvey's first game in charge though he had been instrumental in the tactical changes at half-time last Tuesday against Chorley.
Mike Garnett informed us of the record between Alty and our opponents before today's encounter.
- At home: P3-W2-D0-L1-F5-A2
- Away: P3-W0-D2-L1-F1-A3
- All: P6-W2-D2-L2-F6-A5
City kicked off on a dreary, drizzly afternoon at Cheltenham. The first surprise came when the Tigers won a second-minute corner and Altrincham left three men at the halfway line; Patterson on the right touchline, Lawrie on the left and Reeves in the centre.
A second corner followed the first and Parker totally misheaded a clear chance from five yards; it was a let-off that proved to be a sign of the defensive fraility of Altrincham throughout this match (4 mins).
An uneventful period of low quality football passed before Hall's wild shot cleared the terrace roof behind the Alty goal (12 mins). For Alty, Hattersley was looking competent in his unaccustomed defensive role.
More uninspiring play followed with Gloucester enjoying most of the possession and, consequently, having the forward momentum while Alty were causing Singh and his defence no real problems.
Then Hopper was allowed to turn but he shot across the face of goal and a corner followed. Following this, Deasy did well to beat out a well-struck, goalbound Hopper shot. But the ball ran loose and fell for Knowles, who put his side 1-0 ahead (26 mins).
On a rare advance Reeves did well but, with no support, lost the ball. Next a Hanks freekick was almost diverted into his own net by Heathcote but went for a corner. At last, Altrincham won a corner themselves, through Reeves from a Patterson feed (32 mins).
Altrincham remained second best, with their attempts at forward movement too ponderous. On 41 minutes, Hobson tripped an opponent, as he got onto Knowles's long ball, deep in Alty's half and was booked. The resulting fiercely driven frrekick yielded a corner which came to nothing for Gloucester.
But Alty could not reach the break without further damage. From a Hall cross from the left, Knowles's header prompted a smart save by Deasy but, again, the ball ran loose and Parker netted it to make it 2-0 (44 mins).
Alty could not complain at the 0-2 interval score after a performance which had shown few signs of improvement on recent defensive frailties.
|Half-Time: GLOUCESTER CITY 2|
There were no Altrincham changes of personnel at half time but they did rearrange their back line as Patterson moved to left-back, with Moran (left central), Hattersley and Heathcote (right back). An immediate low ball across the face of Alty's goal did not bode well (46 mins).
Goalkeeper Deasy was now not kicking, with Moran taking his goalkicks. Whether this was a recurrence of a leg problem he had at the end of last season was not clear.
There was success of a sort after 51 minutes as Altrincham finally landed a shot on target! A long shot from Heathcote hit Reeves and his effort was comfortably saved by Singh (51 mins).
Just before the hour, Altrincham won a rare corner through Hobson. The visitors now began to find their men a bit better and to keep the ball though they still lacked a cutting edge or speed in their forward movement. But as Jim Harvey and his temporary assistant Matt Doughty conferred - presumably over a substitution - Hopper outmuscled Moran and drove a shot past Deasy whose mobility was clearly impaired (64 mins).
And then as substitute Sean Miller prepared, Gloucester scored a fourth. Webb nodded the ball on as he and Moran went for it and Hopper volleyed home from ten yards to make it 4-0 (67 mins).
Miller came on for Lynch (68 mins) and it was not long before Hopper completed his ten-minute hat-trick. Webb outpaced Hattersley up the inside left channel and Hopper's weak shot beat the injured Deasy. So it was 5-0 after a spell in which Alty had been in disarray at the back (74 mins).
Next Richman came on for Hobson (75 mins). Too late in the game, Alty put together a good move as Moult got forwards and Reeves saw a shot blocked at point-blank range but he was given offside anyway (76 mins).
With twelve minutes left Dawber replaced the injured Deasy in goal whilst for Gloucester, Zamora came on for Kowica and Reid for Parker.
Almost immediately, Zamora hit the bar after Hopper had got past Moran, who was having a torrid time against the City striker (80 mins). Then, Moult from 45 yards chipped Singh but the keeper got back to collect the ball.
City threatened again as a 25-yarder fizzed past Dawber's post after Hopper had again held off defensive challenges. Hopper left to rich applause on 85 minutes, replaced by Fitzgibbon.
Lawrie then won the ball and gained a corner, from which a second followed (88 mins). Despite there being six second-half substitutions, referee Smith showed compassion on Alty by declaring just a minimum of one added minute.
So Altrincham had again taken a good hiding and had shown no immediate signs of a revival in their fortunes. Injuries are clearly a factor in their defensive fraility and they in turn have contributed to the absence of a settled side. Jim Harvey's track record suggests that he will bring about an improvement but he cannot be expected to be an overnight miracle worker.
|Full-Time: GLOUCESTER CITY 5|