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Pre-season friendly match
played on Tuesday, 1 August 2017, at 7.45pm


After a dominant first half, in which Altrincham repeated their Saturday performance at Bradford of four goals in a twenty-minute spell, Winsford enjoyed a much better second period. But Altrincham will be especially pleased to have secured their first clean-sheet of the summer despite the disruption implicit in their use of eight second-half substitutes.

At the attacking end, it is now 18 goals in the last six friendlies for Alty and, with five pre-season wins so far, the team has already secured one more victory than in the whole of their league season in 2016-17.

With trialist Joel Bembo-Leta making a surprise return in the starting line-up at right-back, the visitors took an eleventh-minute lead when a fine cross from Hulme was headed home by Hancock. The second goal followed in the 17th minute when Poole slid the ball, to his right, to Peers who netted smartly.

Hancock scored again after 26 minutes, firing home from outside the box after a Densmore overlap up the left. The fourth goal came from an underhit backpass; Winsford keeper Heywood got his foot to it ahead of Peers but the ball ricocheted off the Alty forward and into the net.

REFEREE: Mr Daniel Issawi

Altrincham welcomed back Simon Richman who had been working abroad and therefore been unavailable. Shaun Densmore captained the side but was playing tonight in an unaccustomed left-back role as trialist Joel Bembo-Leta returned to occupy the right-back berth.

Winsford player-manager Lee Duckworth included himself in the United starting eleven, which included Polish under-18 international full-back, Damian Skolorzynski, a man with Champions' League experience. At the heart of the home defence was former Altrincham FC youth and reserve player, Will Foster.


WINSFORD UNITED (All blue) 1. Ross Heywood, 2. Damian Skolorzynski, 3. Lee Duckworth, 4. James Rothwell, 5. Chris Middleton (capt), 6. Will Foster, 7. Scott Taylor, 8. Ryan Steele, 9, Jordan Johnson, 10. Callum Gardner, 11. Mike Koral. Subs: 12. Perry Bircumshaw, 13. Lewis Moston (gk) 14. Brandon Moores, 15. Jardel, 16. Liam Collins, 17. Dean Clarke, 18 George Riley

ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Joel BEMBO-LETA, 3 Shaun DENSMORE (capt), 4. Ben HARRISON, 5. James JONES, 6. Simon RICHMAN, 7. Tom PEERS, 8. Laurence TAYLOR, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. James POOLE, 11. Josh HANCOCK. Suis; 12. Tom HANNIGAN, 14. Sam SHERIDAN, 15. Jake MOULT, 16. John JOHNSTON, 17. John DISNEY, 18. Tolani OMOTOLA, 19. Josh AMIS, 20. Tim DEASY


Twenty years ago Altrincham and Winsford United were rivals in the Northern Premier League. 2017-18 finds Altrincham back in that League whilst Winsford compete in the Premier Division of the Hallmark NW Counties League, two tiers below.

The pitch at the Barnton Stadium was in excellent condition, whilst the stadium is little changed from our previous encounters. Altrincham supporters were given a friendly welcome by their Winsford hosts and, in return, Alty wish Winsford every success in the coming season. United actually kick off their campaign on Saturday; not in the league but in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup.


Winsford kicked off in bright sunshine and after a second-minute lecture for Alty's Harrison and Winsford's Johnson, the opening few minutes were relatively uneventful. The first real action for either keeper came when the hosts' Heywood comfortably saved a Hulme effort from 20 yards (6 mins).

But it was the Blues who gained the match's first corner, which had to be conceded by Densmore. In the counter-attack by Alty, following the corner, keeper Heywood had to race out to head clear. In the Alty midfield Richman was showing no signs of rustiness after his work-enforced lay-off.

It was in the eleventh minute that Altrincham took the lead. After a good ball forward by Harrison, a fine cross by Hulme from the right allowed Hancock to arrive in the goalmouth, slightly left of centre, and head past Heywood.

Winsford soon responded as a Koral cross from their right won his side another corner, this time off Bembo-Leta (14 mins).

Alty were soon threatening again, however, as a Poole lob from 20 yards only just cleared Heywood's bar (16 mins). Then, following a poor goalkick by the home side, Alty won themselves a corner on the right. This skimmed off Bembo-Leta's head for a goalkick. But Alty were soon threatening again and, this time, the industrious Poole slid a clever ball to his right, to Peers, who netted smartly with a low shot to double Altrincham's lead (17 mins). Altrincham were now playing some attractive football and it was not long before a shot by Richman had to be saved (20 mins). Both of Alty's centre-backs have the ability to make forward runs and this time it was Jones who advanced but a resulting cross by Hulme was cleared. Next Jones's centre-back partner, Harrison played Bembo-Leta into the opposition box but Heywood smothered the ball (25 mins).

The home keeper was soon busy again, this time kicking the ball clear ahead of the advancing Hancock. But he was powerless moments later as a Densmore overlap and cross from the left saw the ball come out to Hancock, who made it 3-0 with a fine 20-yard finish (26 mins).

As Alty continued to dominate, Winsford conceded again. This time an underpowered back-pass left keeper Heywood in danger. He came out towards the edge of his box and got to the ball first but his attempted clearance only ricocheted back off Peers's legs and into the net to make to 4-0 to the visitors with only half an hour elapsed.

After Johnson had been booked for Winsford, Alty continued to press but they did not trouble Heywood for the next period of the game. Eight minutes before the break more skill from Poole allowed him to beat two men but he then lifted his shot miles over the bar from the edge of the box.

Winsford had now stabilized themselves, after conceding four times in twenty minutes, and won themselves a corner, which was headed over the Alty bar (39 mins). Alty replied by winning a freekick and then a corner. Taken by Poole, the corner located Harrison but his header ran to the keeper (41 mins).

Next Bembo-Leta got forward to win a throw, from which an Alty corner followed. Again Harrison got a head to the corner but the ball was cleared (42 mins). Just before the break a testing cross from Koral came in but it was Alty who had the last chance of an entertaining half when Richman played Hulme into the box. He rounded the keeper and went down, as Heywood challenged him, but the referee did not award a penalty (45 mins).


At the break, goalkeeper Deasy came on for Thompson before Alty kicked off the half. Winsford soon won a corner, off Harrison, which was cleared to Steele, who fired well over (46 mins). But the hosts had come out with determination and were to put in a much improved second-half performance.

Winsford threatened again as Johnson put in a fine shot from an excellent Taylor pass as the home side continued on the front foot (50 mins).

Alty now made two more substitutions as Omotola replaced Hulme up front and Disney came on at right-back for Bembo-Leta (53 mins). When James Jones was beaten and appeared to push a Winsford man over in the box, Alty were fortunate to escape without a spot-kick award (54 mins). An impressive surge forward by Richman followed but he was unable to find Omotola in the box. Winsford responded with their best move of the game, so far, which was only halted inside the Alty box.

It was Winsford's turn, next, to make some changes as Steele and Middleton went off and Riley and Bircumshaw came on, with Duckworth moving to centre-back (57 mins). Alty were not as slick as in the first half and, now, Omotola was twice caught offside inside a minute.

Next, Richman put Peers running forward but his shot went just wide from right of goal (59 mins).

A mass substitution for Alty took place on the hour-mark as Harrison, Richman, Taylor, Hancock and Hulme went off, and Hannigan, Johnston, Amis, Moult and Sheridan came on. A minute later Winsford swapped Skolorzynski and Johnson for Jardel and Moores, as referee Issawi came to the touchline to ask for the floodlights to be illuminated.

Play resumed with Poole's wild challenge on Bircumshaw and the Alty man was cautioned (62 mins). Soon afterwards Poole committed a more minor misdemeanour and it was promptly decided to take him off and bring Hulme back on to play the "hole" role (64 mins).

Hannigan's fine ball allowed Johnston to advance and cross the ball, but Amis was well tracked by Foster and unable to turn the ball into the net (66 mins). Soon, right-winger Johnston won a corner from another Hannigan ball.

A Heywood kick struck Hulme which led to a Sheridan shot, which was diverted by Amis and prompted a fine save by the home keeper (68 mins). When Winsford's Taylor dived in on Disney, who did well to evade the lunge, the offender joined Poole in the referee's book. And, like Poole, the booked man was promptly withdrawn by his manager.

Alty were not producing the goal threats of the first half and it was Deasy who now had to make a smart save under his crossbar from a 20 yarder by Moores (73 mins). When a Heywood clearance went to Hulme, he was unable to locate Amis with his pass. Next Hulme turned well and did find Amis, whose shot was saved.

With 12 minutes remaining, Winsford changed their keeper as Moston came on for Heywood. After a Moult ball had been cut out by Bircumshaw, Hannigan cleared the danger in his own box from Winsford's counter-attack (81 mins). Next, Winsford lost the ball near their own box and Amis forced a save from sub keeper Moston (83 mins).

The final minutes did not change the scoreline in a second half in which Winsford had worked hard to contain an Alty side which never reached the heights of its first-half performance. But Phil Parkinson will have been pleased with the first clean sheet of pre-season and another four goals scored at the other end. The final test is on Saturday when Alty travel to Trafford.