Match Report


Buildbase FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round replay match
played on Saturday, 10 December 2016, at 3pm


Altrincham deservedly advanced to a home tie against Macclesfield Town, in Round One Proper of the Buildbase FA Trophy, with this victory in Northumberland. Alty, despite losing Simon Richman to injury after only 14 minutes, put in a fine first-half performance, with Sean Miller, Shaun Densmore and Tom Hannigan, particularly excelling.

As a consequence, Alty went into the break 3-0 up. Miller fired the Robins ahead in the seventh minute with a superbly executed 35-yard lob over keeper McHugh from a fine through ball from Densmore. Shaun, in his 300th start for the Club, was making his first start for more than a year after serious injury.

Two goals in four minutes just before the break allowed Altrincham to go in for half-time with a 3-0 lead. The first of this brace came when, following a Densmore throw, the ball was worked via Hobson, then Lawrie, to Miller who scored from the edge of the box with a low shot in the 40th minute.

The third goal arrived in the 44th minute when Moult found Lawrie, whose cross from the right was smartly converted with a first-time shot by Hobson after a smart dummy from Reeves.

Just after the hour mark, the Spartans pulled a goal back when Rivers fed Armstrong, who scored with a low shot from the edge of the box. Alty weathered some further pressure and in the final minute the hitherto fairly quiet Robbie Dale jinked past three Alty defenders to score an impressive goal from right of the net.

In the four added minutes at the end of the match, Alty withstood severe pressure and were indebted to a fine tip over the bar from Tim Deasy from a close-range Pell header.


REFEREE: Mr Newhouse

Whilst Blyth made six changes from the team that drew at Moss Lane last Tuesday, Altrincham made three alterations. Amongst their changes, the Spartans were able to bring back their talisman Robbie Dale, as well as Turnbull who had been unavailable in midweek.

For Alty's part they were again depleted with the injury/illness absences of Cyrus and Wilkinson whilst McDonald was not eligible, so reserves Taylor and Foster were again in the squad and joined Harry Cain on a very young visitors' bench, which included Damian Reeves as its senior member.

But Alty were able to restore Shaun Densmore to the starting eleven for the first time in more than a year and he re-assumed the captaincy. Alan Goodall moved into midfield as did Sam Patterson in yet another new formation for Altrincham. Tom Hannigan had recoverd from the nerve problem that prevented his completion of last Tuesday's match.


BLYTH SPARTANS (Green and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) 1. Adam McHugh, 2. Chris Bell, 3. Michael Liddle, 4. Matthew Wade , 5. Nathan Buddle, 6 Richard Pell, 7. Jarrett Rivers, 8. Stephen Turnbull, 9. Sean Reid, 10. Luke Armstrong, 11. Robbie Dale. Subs: 12. Matty Pattison, 14. Ryan Hutchinson, 15. Andrew Cartwright, 16. Alex Hicholson, 18. Neal Hooks.

ALTRINCHAM (All yellow): 1. Tim DEASY, 2. Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 3. Andy McWILLIAMS, 4. Alan GOODALL, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. Jake MOULT, 7. Sam PATTERSON, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 9. Sean MILLER, 10. Craig HOBSON, 11. James LAWRIE. Subs 12. Damian REEVES, 14 Harry CAIN, 15. Laurence TAYLOR, 16. Will FOSTER, 20. Andrew DAWBER.


Mike Garnett provides a statistical summary of our previous encounters:


After Blyth had kicked off, the first goalmouth action saw a Liddle cross, from the left, fortunately deflect to Deasy in the fourth minute. Moments later, after a Wade foul on Richman, Moult's freekick was deflected out for a goalkick.

Altrincham then took a seventh-minute lead. A long ball from right-back Densmore found Miller up the inside-right channel. He quickly realised that keeper McHugh had advanced out of his goal and expertly lobbed him, in his stride, from some 35 yards (7 mins).

The sides traded fouls as, first, Moult was penalised against Reid, then Wade committed his second offence on Richman near half-way. Worse than either of these challenges was a robust, late foul by Armstrong on Hannigan on the Alty right touchline. The referee was showing leniency but then Richman went down after a challenge and, even before play could be stopped, the Alty midfielder was already signalling to the bench that he needed to be substituted. So Alty's already "thin" squad was now robbed of Richman's midfield energy, with what looked like a left-thigh injury.

Alty opted to replace the midfielder with striker Damian Reeves but only after resuming briefly with ten men and conceding a corner from a Blyth freekick (14 mins). Miller now seemed to have moved to the left with Reeves and Hobson up front, Patterson moved inside and Lawrie was on the right.

Pell then halted a good Miller run up the channel before Reeves tried to emulate Miller, as he spotted McHugh off his line, but his 30-yard chip was retrieved by the back-pedalling Blyth keeper. Alty were doing well so far, with Miller impressing up front. At the back, a great tackle in the box by Hannigan stopped Blyth after McWilliams had been beaten (21 mins).

A good Alty move now ended with a fine Miller shot from Densmore's ball, which was saved, a corner on the visitors' left resulting (22 mins). McHugh cleared the corner to Patterson who half-volleyed a shot well over the bar.

A freekick for a foul on Hobson came and went; the big striker had done well before being halted illegally. Miller was not just impressing going forward but now epitomised the team's work ethic by getting right back to his own goalmouth to stop a Rivers advance (27 mins).

Next, Densmore halted Dale at the cost of a corner as the Spartans began to enjoy a better spell. Soon, a Pell cross came off McWilliams for a corner, followed soon afterwards by an Armstrong shot which also gained his side a corner, from a Dale feed (33 mins).

But this spell of sustained Blyth pressure ended when Densmore prompted a good move which culminated in Hobson almost getting on the end of a ball from Lawrie which went across goal from the right (34 mins). Just after Miller had been halted on the edge of Blyth's box, play switched and a Dale shot drifted wide from right of goal, 20 yards out.

A collision between Hobson and Buddle led to a stoppage for treatment to both men, Hobson's problem seeming to be his left leg. But moments after play had resumed, a throw by Densmore found Hobson. Via Lawrie, the ball reached Miller who scored Alty's second goal from the edge of the box with a low shot (40 mins).

Two minutes later Hutchinson replaced Buddle, who had not recovered fully from his collision with Hobson (42 mins). A further two minutes after this, Moult found Lawrie and his cross from the right was cleverly left by Reeves in the goalmouth, a dummy which allowed the unmarked Hobson to advance and plant a firm, first-time shot past McHugh and make it 3-0 (44 mins).

Three added minutes witnessed, firstly, the impressive Miller again get to the by-line before, at the other end, Hannigan's flying header cleared potential danger. As the game went into a fourth minute of added time, Deasy stopped a shot but Hannigan had to be alert to clear the loose ball.

So, a weakened Alty side, which had lost Richman early on, had put together as good a forty-five minutes as the team has played all season, with Miller outstanding but the whole team showing a commitment and endeavour which was epitomised by their returning captain, Shaun Densmore.


Blyth came out early for the second half before Altrincham kicked off. After Reeves had won a throw on the left, Miller superbly beat no fewer than four men as he jinked along the left by-line before his lay off was blocked (46 mins). He was not alone in excelling as Hannigan got in a vital tackle at the other end, on Armstrong.

But then a Moult foul gave away a freekick on the front edge of his own box. However, Deasy held Dale's freekick, low down (48 mins). Not for the first time, a challenge by Armstrong was very late on Hannigan and he was now belatedly booked (51 mins). After McWilliams had halted Rivers, Blyth continued to press until Armstrong won a freekick against Moult (56 mins).

For Alty, Reeves turned in the box and almost got clear but on the hour mark Hobson headed a fine cross from Goodall into the net after a good build-up. But he was given offside and from almost being 0-4, it immediately became 1-3 as Rivers fed Armstrong, who scored with a low shot from the edge of the box (61 mins).

After this, once more, Miller jinked into the box but his cross was cleared. The referee now called across Hobson and his captain, Densmore, before booking Hobson for something that was not altogether clear (63 mins). Blyth now had their tails up and Alty were opened up, only for Dale to chest down the ball before turning and hitting a great chance straight to Deasy's arms (64 mins).

Another great Hannigan tackle halted Rivers before the defender was fouled. Now Spartans brought on the South African, Pattison for Wade (66 mins).

Altrincham were defending well and they seemed to be stabilizing after conceding Blyth's goal. Indeed, after Moult had blocked a home move, Densmore got forward and won a corner. Now young Laurence Taylor came on for Densmore who had been making his first start for more than twelve months and had not yet got 90 minutes in his legs. Taylor went into central midfield with Patterson moving to right-back (69 mins).

The Spartans resumed on the front foot after this and a Blyth cross flew across the face of goal before Deasy had to block a shot (71 mins). After 73 minutes, Cain replaced Hobson and, on the counter-attack, Altrincham continued to have their moments. Further back, Alty continued to defend well with Patterson then Taylor clearing their lines. As time ticked away a wild Dale effort from 35 yards, right of goal, went well over the bar (85 mins).

When a Blyth cross from left was spooned over the bar from close range, it seemed that Blyth's late pressure would get no reward (87 mins). On the contrary, in the 89th minute, Cain won the ball well but Lawrie's shot went just wide on the volley. But, far from being all over, the game had a late twist as the so far disappointing Dale now beat three men on the Blyth right and scored a fine goal (90 mins).

With four added minutes having started, Blyth lay siege to the Altrincham goal. A corner was half-cleared before Deasy superbly tipped a close-range Pell header over his bar for another corner. A third corner arrived for Blyth off Goodall before a fourth flag-kick arrived after desperate blocking by the visitors' defence (90+3 mins). This was cleared by Reeves as Alty had everyone back in their own area. The final act of note was a freekick won against McWilliams, but this was nodded comfortably to Deasy by a Spartans' man.

So, Altrincham had hung on for a win in a game which they had dominated for an hour. But with the loss of Richman and the need to withdraw Densmore who had just returned from a year's lay-off, they unsurprisingly lost some of their energy. Nevertheless it had been a fine performance achieved both through individual moments of brilliance, especially from Miller, and a collective team spirit which belied many of the previous performances so far this season.

The loss of Richman adds to interim manager Matt Doughty's selection problems but with the assistance of Robbie Lawton and Graham Heathcote, there is genuine hope of an upturn in fortunes.