MACCLESFIELD TOWN (0) 2
ALTRINCHAM (1) 1
played on Wednesday, 4 January 2017, at 7.45pm
For this FA Trophy replay, Altrincham lacked no fewer than fourteen first-team players; seven were out through ineligibility (Kyle Brownhill, Gary Jones, Elliot Newby, Andy Owens, Clayton McDonald, Sam Heathcote and Nicky Clee), five through injury (Simon Richman, albeit he was an unused sub., Sam Patterson, Craig Hobson, Alan Goodall and Sean Miller) and two more were rested (keeper Tim Deasy and captain Shaun Densmore). Nevertheless, a team in which six graduates from the youth team and reserves (Cain, Foster, Taylor, Palmer, Graham and Callum Jones) were all given significant game time did Altrincham FC credit against a strong Macclesfield side who, discounting Man of the Match, Danny Rowe, were generally unimpressive.
So, just four players who had begun Saturday's league match also started tonight (Cyrus, Hannigan, Moult and Reeves). And it was the underdogs, Altrincham, who took a 25th minute lead with a fine goal, fired into the top corner from 20 yards or so by Harry Cain.
Macc equalised early in the second half through substitute Whitaker before the Silkmen earned an away tie at AFC Sudbury with a goal seven minutes from time from Rowe.
- 25 mins: Harry CAIN (Macclesfield Town 0 ALTRINCHAM 1)
- 49 mins: Danny WHITAKER (Macclesfield Town 1 ALTRINCHAM 1)
- 83 mins: Danny ROWE (Macclesfield Town 2 ALTRINCHAM 1)
REFEREE: Mr Joe Johnson
ATTENDANCE: 548 (101 from Altrincham)
As explained above in the Summary, Altrincham were without fourteen first-team players for this FA Trophy replay.
Those making their first appearance in a first-team squad for Altrincham were winger Darius Palmer and Joshua Graham from the under-18s' youth team and, from the reserves, Callum Jones.
Macclesfield, on the other hand, fielded eight of the team which had started in their recent win over National League title contenders, Tranmere Rovers.
MACCLESFIELD TOWN (Blue and white) 24. Ryan Boot, 3. David Fitzpatrick, 4. Neil Byrne, 5. George Pilkington, 8. Paul Lewis, 9. Chris Holroyd, 10. Jack Sampson, 11. Danny Rowe, 12. Dan Cowan, 14. Kingsley James, 16. Mitch Hancox. Subs: 25. Richie Wellens, 23. Danny Whitaker, 15. Ollie Norburn, 19. Sam Madeley 13. Craig Ross
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Andrew DAWBER, 2. William FOSTER, 3. Andy McWILLIAMS, 4. Jake MOULT (c), 5. John CYRUS, 6. Tom HANNIGAN, 7. James LAWRIE, 8. Laurence TAYLOR, 9. Greg WILKINSON, 10. Damian REEVES, 11. Harry CAIN. Subs: 12. Simon RICHMAN, 14. Darius PALMER, 15. Joshua GRAHAM, 16. Callum JONES, 20. Andrew JONES.
Mike Garnett reminds us that "Discounting the wartime seasons (1914-15 & 1939-40) and those Cheshire Senior Cup-ties played when Macc, as members of the Football League, did not field a 1st XI in County Cup matches, the statistics for competitive matches as I have them since Altrincham F.C. took its present name in 1903 are:
- Home P107 W50 D27 L30 F221 A164
- Away P96 W27 D26 L43 F135 A190
- Neutral P7 W5 D0 L2 F15 A13
- Overall P210 W82 D53 L75 F371 A367
The winners of this tie play AFC Sudbury, away, in the next round.
Macclesfield kicked off on a sub-zero night at the Moss Rose, where just one of the stands was sufficient to accommodate the gate of 548, which included a creditable 101 from Altrincham.
Foster made his first start for the first-team, at right-back, having graduated via the Youth Team as a centre-back and, later continued his development in the Reserves' back-line. In front of the back four was fellow ex-youth and current reserve midfielder Laurence Taylor, starting his third match after previous starts in a CSC match (away at Crewe last season) and an FA Trophy appearance (away at Blyth this season). Taylor was partnered by Jake Moult, whose suspension does not start till next Sunday.
With Lawrie on the left and Wilkinson on the right, Reeves and Cain were the more forward players with Cain the more advanced of the two.
Both Foster and Taylor started well but the first potential threat on either goal came when Lawrie was penalised 25 yards from his own goal for a nudge on an opponent. However, Lewis's freekick went straight into the Alty wall (8 mins).
For the visitors, Wilkinson threaded through a couple of promising balls, one to Cain who was halted and the other, which ran to keeper Boot (12 mins).
A Rowe shot then deflected narrowly wide for a home corner before the veteran defender Pilkington had to halt the pacey Cain on Alty's right. On 17 minutes, Reeves almost nipped in smartly ahead of Boot for a ball from Wilkinson but the keeper got the ball (17 mins). At the back John Cyrus and Tom Hannigan were performing well but Town continued to have more of the forward momentum, as was to be expected (22 mins).
Altrincham were growing into the game and from a Cyrus clearance, and then a good ball by Wilkinson, Reeves was again just beaten to the ball by a diving Ryan Boot (24 mins). Alty then won a freekick not far from halfway which they took quickly. This time, another well timed run by Reeves got him to the ball just ahead of Boot who did enough to direct the ball to the Alty right. From there it was played back to Cain who hit a fine shot, which deflected off the back of Hancox, and looped over Boot's left hand into the net to put Altrincham ahead (25 mins).
Macc soon responded with a corner for which Alty drew all ten outfield men back, Foster making an initial clearance before Reeves booted the ball upfield (27 mins). Dawber was having relatively little to do for Altrincham as his defence kept Macc at bay, with Holroyd's header wide from a cross from their right being Macc's best effort as the game passed the half-hour mark (31 mins).
Alty then kept the ball well as they moved forward towards the left with a dozen or so passes before Wilkinson mispassed the ball backwards to an opponent. But Dawber made a comfortable save to the resulting shot at goal. A Sampson foul on Foster was soon followed by a Macc foot-up offence against Hannigan and a foul on Lawrie near halfway (38 mins).
Hannigan had to cover superbly as Sampson, looking well offside, threatened the Alty goal. After a stoppage for treatment to two separate injuries, Taylor for Altrincham and Lewis for Macclesfield, play resumed with the Macc midfielder having to be replaced by Whitaker (42 mins). Next a Fitzpatrick cross won a corner off Cyrus, after which Byrne was flagged offside as he headed well wide (43 mins).
In the two minutes of added time, there was a great sliding block by Cyrus of a Rowe shot before the same Alty defender manfully blocked another fierce Macclesfield shot. The half ended with another Cyrus clearance and a Taylor tackle, which won the ball.
So, Altrincham held a first-half lead after a fine performance from a starting eleven unfamiliar in many cases with its own team-mates' playing styles.
|Half-Time: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0|
With the temperature getting colder by the minute, Alty kicked off towards the away end. Soon after a Macc man had gone down on the edge of Alty's box, to no avail, Macclesfield levelled the score. Macclesfield got the ball in to the centre from Rowe on their left. Although Cyrus cleared, Whitaker scored with a clever lob into the far corner of the net (49 mins). Indeed, Macclesfield were consistently to use the left wing, where Rowe excelled, whilst few threats came from their right flank.
Alty's defence rocked temporarily as Rowe ran at them and McWilliams did very well to clear a shot off the goal-line (51 mins).
Altrincham made a change as youth teamer Palmer replaced Cain, leaving Reeves as the lone striker now. As the hour mark passed, Macclesfield were enjoying more of the ball as Altrincham struggled to keep possession with a number of unforced errors from senior players.
Rowe continued to threaten with a shot which cleared the bar (64 mins). On an Alty counter-attack, Lawrie, who otherwise had a quiet game, was wrongly given offside as he threatened to get clear into the box. Moments later Lawrie was pushed over but no foul was given (68 mins).
McWilliams was doing well but from his feed, Palmer mishit a cross. Reeves now won a header but lacked support to take advantage of the loose ball. Alty then brought on debutant Callum Jones to replace Foster at right-back (71 mins).
Three minutes after this, Sampson was replaced by Wellens for the hosts. Alty created a chance in the 79th minute when Palmer got into the box but he fired wide from twelve yards whilst, at the other end, Rowe fired a ball across the face of goal (80 mins).
Another Rowe advance, left of goal, seemed to carry relatively little threat but with the defence seemingly freezing, the wide man rolled a low shot across goal and into the far corner of the net to give Macclesfield the lead with just seven minutes remaining.
In the 85th minute Altrincham gave Josh Graham a debut, as he replaced Taylor who had again given a solid and reliable performance in central midfield, where he rarely gave the ball away. As time ticked away, Wilkinson fired well over the bar from 30 yards for an Alty side which now had Cyrus pushed forward.
As three added minutes started, Palmer hit a half-chance over the bar and, then, a Cyrus header ran to goalkeeper Boot. After Hancox had been booked for a foul, a Lawrie shot won a corner for which goalkeeper Dawber went upfield but the game ended as Jones shot wide with Altrincham's last half-chance of the game (90+3 mins).
It had been a creditable performance by a largely inexperienced Alty side against a strong Macclesfield team which, had it lacked the excellent attacking play from Rowe, would have struggled to win the game with any degree of comfort.
|Full-Time: MACCLESFIELD TOWN 2|