ALTRINCHAM FC MATCH REPORTS
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ALTRINCHAM (4) 4
STOURBRIDGE (0) 1
played on Tuesday, 6 March 2018, 7.45pm
In a superb first-half performance, Altrincham secured a 4-0 lead, with the visitors not troubling home keeper, Tony Thompson.
After a bright start the opening goal came in strange circumstances when Hampson's left-wing cross flew across the face of goal, keeper Gould letting it go. The ball struck the inside of the back post and entered the net (14 mins).
A minute later it was 2-0 as Hancock crossed, low to Johnston, who laid the ball off to Poole, who scored with a firm, low shot.
Ten minutes later, Hulme's low cross from the right was turned in at the back post by Poole to make it 3-0 in the 25th minute.
The fourth goal arrived after 38 minutes following White's advance on the right. The ball came to Johnston, who fired home a low shot from the edge of the box. It was arguably Altrincham's best 45 minutes at home this season as their slick passing on a soft surface brought ample rewards.
The second half was a less bright affair in more ways than one. Shortly after the first half had ended there was a partial power failure. Strangely, all the floodlight pylons stayed working albeit not with their full complement of lights but the lights and power went off in the main stand and some, but not all, other parts of the ground.
Fortunately, there was sufficient light on the pitch for the game to continue but a defensive mix-up shortly after the restart allowed Shearer to score for the visitors.
Although the visitors were more in the game in the second half Altrincham, nevertheless, dominated substantial portions of it but failed to add to their first-half tally.
- 14 mins: Connor HAMPSON (ALTRINCHAM 1 Stourbridge 0)
- 15 mins: James POOLE (ALTRINCHAM 2 Stourbridge 0)
- 25 mins: James POOLE (ALTRINCHAM 3 Stourbridge 0)
- 38 mins: John JOHNSTON (ALTRINCHAM 4 Stourbridge 0)
- 47 mins: Luke SHEARER (ALTRINCHAM 4 Stourbridge 1)
REFEREE: Mr Lewis Smith
With Shaun Densmore still out, following his recent knock, Andy White remained at right-back in an unchanged starting eleven. On the bench, the only change saw Sam Heathcote replace Josh Amis who has gone out on loan.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Andy WHITE, 3. Connor HAMPSON, 4. James JONES, 5. Ben HARRISON, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Max HARROP, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. James POOLE, 11. Josh HANCOCK. Subs: 12. Tom PEERS, 14. Simon RICHMAN, 15. Mason WALSH, 16. Tom HANNIGAN, 17. Sam HEATHCOTE
STOURBRIDGE (Grey shirts, black shorts and socks) 1. Matt Gould, 2. Arron Hayden, 3. Aris Christophorou, 4. Paul McCone (c), 5. Stuart Pierpoint, 6. Arron Forde, 7. Tom Tonks, 8. Connor Gater, 9. Luke Benbow, 10. Kamin Anderson, 11. Luke Shearer. Subs: 12. Edilson Antonio, 14. Louis Hall, 15. Josh Cooke, 16. Jaken Evans, 17. Yannick Gomes
This was the first-ever meeting of the two clubs and came after the fixture had been postponed the previous Tuesday and after the reverse fixture had been postponed after Alty and their supporters had arrived at the War Memorial Ground..
Despite the awful weather recently, the ground staff had worked hard to provide an eminently playable surface following the postponement of this same fixture last Tuesday. Stourbridge won the toss and elected to attack the sparsely populated away end in the first half. It was disappointing that the two best supported clubs in the division had to meet on a chilly Tuesday night and in competition to live Champions' League football on TV.
Altrincham started brightly and inside the second minute, Johnston had won a corner on the right. After firing over the bar a minute later, an Alty freekick by Poole was followed by a Hancock shot which was blocked, but a corner followed this (4 mins). Next, Harrop fired over the bar from 20 yards as Alty remained on top. Hancock had made a lively start to the game and he now cut in from the left and belted a fine shot at goal, which keeper Gould saved well (7 mins).
The pressure on the Glassboys continued as Poole's cross located Johnston but he misconnected in front of goal. Soon after this, another flowing Alty move ended in a wild shot. Stourbridge then survived a spell of pinball inside their box. A goal looked likely but when it arrived in came in curious fashion. Left-back Hampson advanced on the left and sent in a strong cross-ball. Keeper Gould let it go, only to see it thump against the inside of his left-hand post and into the net to make it 1-0. It was Hampson's first goal for the club (14 mins).
Within a minute of the restart it was 2-0 as Hancock's ball found Johnston in a fairly central position. He laid the ball, right, to Poole who netted efficiently from somewhere near the penalty spot (15 mins).
A rare Stourbridge advance was halted before a Hancock 25-yarder deflected to the keeper. At the other end, there was a wild shot from Benbow. Gould then collected an Alty freekick from Poole before a White shot won a corner as Alty played some lovely passing football, at pace. The corner was overhit but retrieved by Harrison whose shot was sliced over the bar (22 mins).
Hulme was the provider of Alty's third goal in the 25th minute when his low cross, from right of goal, flew across the goalmouth and was turned into the net at the back post by Poole.
The pressure on the visitors continued as Johnston won another corner, after which a Harrop shot was blocked. At the other end, White had to be alert to see off a Stourbridge threat before the game went through a relatively calm spell. In the technical area, however, manager Phil Parkinson was more vocal than usual as he urged his team on.
After the half-hour mark, the impressive Poole played in Hulme and another corner was won, from which a Harrop volley was blocked (32 mins). Alty's pressing continued with even centre-back Harrison getting in on the act with a direct run up the middle before he took a tumble.
Altrincham made it 4-0 after 38 minutes, when White advanced on the right and the ball was relayed to Johnston, who fired into the net with a firm, low shot from the edge of the box.
Hall was prepared as a Stourbridge substitute but he did not come on at this stage (41 mins). When Pierpoint chopped down Hancock, soon afterwards, the former Brackley man was booked (44 mins). Next, Hulme and Johnston combined well to win a corner on the left, which yielded another one. But half-time arrived with the score still 4-0. Altrincham's pacy, often one-touch passing, their good movement off the ball and a determination to regain possession when it was lost, combined to make this the best 45 minutes of football from Altrincham this season.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 4 STOURBRIDGE 0|
Before the players and spectators could wallow in the first-half performance, the tannoy suddenly went off as did the lighting in the main stand and various other parts of the ground. Curiously, some lights and power stayed on and, fortunately, this included the eight floodlight pylons. Although some of the floodlight bulbs went off, each pylon retained at least one light and the pitch remained adequately lit. Following discussions involving the match referee and club officials, the match resumed. The partial power failure was not limited to the football stadium as some streetlights and other lights had also gone off in the surrounding area. Spectators would have noted on their way to the ground that there was a workmen's hole dug on Moss Lane just outside the ground which may, or may not, have had something to do with the power problem.
For the second half, Stourbridge made a change as Christophorou was taken off and Hall came on (46 mins). In the strange circumstances of the power problem, Alty seemed to have lost their concentration as the half began and conceded a goal within two minutes of the restart. It came as Thompson and a defender seemed to get in a mix-up and Shearer slotted the loose ball home to make it 4-1 (47 mins).
The goal lifted the visitors who now got forward a little more than they had managed to do in the first 45 minutes but without seriously threatening another goal.
When Hulme was fouled, former Telford man McCone was booked. Gradually Altrincham became more fluent without approaching the heights of their first-half performance at this stage. When Harrop played in Hulme, keeper Gould managed to stop him scoring (56 mins). Evans now replaced Tonks for the Glassboys (57 mins).
After the hour-mark, Johnston got into the box before Hancock fired just over the bar. Altrincham soon won three corners; the first of these was gained by Hulme and the second arising from a Harrop cross (66 mins).
When Hancock was held a visitors' player was booked and the resulting freekick, by Johnston, gained his side another corner as Alty now dominated once more. Just after Jake Moult had won possession, the visitors made their final swap as Antonio came on for Shearer (74 mins).
Next, Johnston beat his man and forced a save before a sweeping move started by Hulme ended with a corner being gained from Poole's shot (79 mins). When Thompson unnecessarily dallied over taking a goalkick, Mr. Smith spoke to him for timewasting, an offence which was hardly necessary in the circumstances (81 mins). After this Harrop played in Hulme with a superb through ball but Alty's leading scorer miscontrolled it with only Gould to beat (82 mins).
Alty continued to dominate possession as, now, Johnston surged into the box but the keeper just managed to stop his shot (83 mins). A late flurry saw Benbow have two successive shots blocked by Altrincham defenders.
Three minutes from time, White was booked, before Richman came on for Harrop in central midfield (87 mins). A couple of minutes later after Poole seemed to have been sandwiched by two opponents, a small-scale melee ensued with play eventually resuming with a bounced ball (90+2 mins).
So Altrincham extended their lead at the top of the table to ten points, albeit Shaw Lane now have three games in hand and have yet to play Altrincham twice. This was as good a performance as had been seen at Moss Lane in many a year and it will have reinforced confidence in the team as they seek to retain their league leadership to the end of the season.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 4 STOURBRIDGE 1|