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EvoStik Premier match
played on Thursday, 19 April 2018, 7.45pm


Despite losing Shaun Densmore to injury in the first half, Altrincham took a giant stride towards the title with these three points at Shaw Lane. Altrincham took a deserved lead in the 40th minute when Johnston finished superbly at the back post.

But, as in the reverse fixture, Alty conceded just before half-time from the penalty spot, Reeves converting the spot-kick (43 mins).

In an often physical encounter, Alty kept out Shaw Lane in the second half without too many alarms before applying some pressure of their own. This culminated in a close range winner by Hancock after good work, left of goal, by Hulme (83 mins).

One more point should ensure the championship on goal difference regardless of all other results.


REFEREE: Mr Mike Barlow

Altrincham were without the injured James Jones, Ben Harrison, Tim Deasy and James Poole, but left-back Connor Hampson returned, albeit at centre-back, whilst Max Harrop replaced Simon Richman in midfield.


SHAW LANE AFC (Blue shirts and shorts, red socks) 1. Ed Wilczynski, 2. Alex Byrne, 3. Ben Gordon, 4. Kelvin Lugsden, 5. Jake Skelton, 6. David Norris, 7. Godwin Abadaki, 8. Kieran Lugsden, 9. Chib Chilaka, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Ollie Dyson. Subs 12. Gavin Rothery, 14. Tyler Williams, 15. Matty Davies, 16. Myles Wright. [Only four substitutes named].

ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, white socks) 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Shaun DENSMORE, 3. Connor HAMPSON, 4. Tom HANNIGAN, 5. Andy WHITE, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Max HARROP, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Tom PEERS, 11. Josh HANCOCK, Subs: 12. Simon RICHMAN, 14. Chris MERRIE, 15. Sam HEATHCOTE, 16. Theo BAILEY-JONES, 20. Andrew JONES


This was Alty's first visit to Athersley Recreation FC's Sheerien Park, the home of Shaw Lane. Despite many recent postponements at the venue over the winter, the pitch looked in decent condition for the time of year. The travelling Altrincham support comprised a high proportion of the attendance.


Alty kicked off and won a first-minute corner, off Kieran Lugsden, from which a defender had to kick the ball off the line. Despite the shirt-numbering, Alty were deploying Hampson (no.3) at centre-back, with Hannigan, and it was the makeshift central defender who had to concede the game's first corner, to Chilaka, after five minutes.

As he ensured that an aerial ball went out for a throw, Shaun Densmore fell badly on the touchline and needed treatment. As physio Ryan Murray flexed Densmore's leg, the right-back remained lying on his back. Shaun briefly resumed play after the treatment but then went down and had to be replaced by Richman, the midfielder slotting in at right-back (9 mins).

The game now became pretty disjointed with the ball frequently in the air and nothing in the way of flowing football. After an Abadaki fierce cross had diverted to Thompson, another bout of head tennis ensued before Gordon handled on the very edge of box. He was booked but Harrop hit the freekick into a wall which was barely seven yards away as a result of the baby steps taken by the referee to measure out the distance (17 mins).

The game was low on quality but, when one of the Lugsdens brought down Johnston on the edge of the box, nothing was awarded, though JJ was in need of prolonged treatment (20 mins). Hulme was so irate at the referee's failure to award a freekick that he smashed the "bounce-up" firmly out of play to demonstrate his opinion.

Following this, the referee, who generally handled a volatile game well, spoke to both captains, presumably to try and lower the game's mounting temperature. Next, Hulme won a corner off Kelvin Lugsden (22 mins). From the corner, a Hampson shot had to be tipped round the base of the post for another corner, which was cleared.

Alty were on top and they went close to a goal as Hancock's cross from right found Johnston who, under pressure, poked a difficult chance over the bar from close range (25 mins). Another lecture followed for Kelvin Lugsden before Hulme was fouled 25 yards out.

Following the freekick, Hannigan's stab at goal had to be cleared off the goal-line (27 mins).

The home side's rugged approach continued as now Hancock was fouled. As Alty remained in the ascendant, Peers won a corner, which Hulme headed over the bar (32 mins).

Shaw Lane responded as an Abadaki ball won a corner, on the SLA left, which was followed by a home freekick, 25 yards out, but Byrne's kick cleared the bar (35 mins).

The Ducks gained another freekick when Abadaki was fouled 30 yards out on the left.

Shortly after a Harrop shot had deflected to the keeper, an Alty ball from right of centre was missed by a defender and came towards Johnston as he advanced towards the back post. He seemed to have poked the ball too far towards the by-line but he stretched and impressively clipped the ball into the net from the tightest of angles, left of goal, to give Alty a deserved lead (40 mins).

Following an SLA freekick from wide right, Alty were unable to clear the ball and as they attempted to do so in a melee, the referee awarded a penalty. Reeves netted from the spot against his former club to make it 1-1 (43 mins). Just as in the reverse game, the Ducks had levelled from a penalty just before the interval (43 mins).

Following a foul, there was a booking for Kelvin Lugsden before three added minutes commenced. In the second of these added minutes, Hampson was booked for a foul on SLA's right.

As expected from this fixture, it had been a less than fluent spectacle in the first half. Having battled to get ahead it was very disappointing for Alty to find themselves pegged back by a penalty.

Half-Time: SHAW LANE AFC 1

There was an early scare as Hampson let a ball go inside the Alty box but Thompson cleared the danger with a kick (46 mins). The next ten minutes witnessed seven free kicks, four conceded by Altrincham, as the game offered plenty of physical effort but not a lot of refinement at this stage.

Just before the last couple of fouls in this sequence, the referee completely missed a blatant push on Hampson by Chilaka which allowed the burly striker a header which went just wide (55 mins).

The game improved briefly as a fine run by Johnston led to a cross and a Hulme header which was cleared away for a corner (58 mins). This signalled the start of Altrincham regaining the ascendancy. An Alty corner soon followed, won by Johnston on the hour mark, and it was immediately followed by a freekick apiece for fouls.

Theo Bailey-Jones now came on for Peers, after 64 minutes, before Hancock fouled Abadaki and Harrop was booked for a foul on Kieran Lugsden (68 mins).

Alty continued to concede freekicks when Hancock was again penalised. The visitors had battled hard but, so far, had created little this half in the way of chances.

An Alty freekick by Johnston, from left of goal, yielded a corner but this time he took it poorly (74 mins). Next, ex-Guiseley man Rothery was now introduced by the Ducks to replace ex-Harrogate striker Chilaka (76 mins).

After Johnston had fired over the bar, Byrne stopped Alty taking a throw and was booked (80 mins).

Alty turned up the pressure with two successive freekicks and then a corner, which was fired across the goalmouth (82 mins). The ball then came to Hulme, left of goal, where he did well to evade challenges before working the ball into the goalmouth, where Hancock was able to stab the ball home amid a melee, to give Altrincham the lead (83 mins).

Three minutes later, with the excellent travelling support still celebrating, Heathcote came on for Johnston (86 mins).

Thompson was warned for timewasting as he wound down the clock and then kicked into touch. Shaw Lane's last half chance then came, but Dyson's cross was headed wide (88 mins).

Added time of three minutes was declared, and duly played, with Alty managing the closing moments well. After the final whistle, the team and supporters celebrated a vital win which edged them to within a point of the championship, barring any remarkable collapse in goal difference over the final three games.

It had been, almost literally, a battling performance and all the more creditable for being achieved with three regular defenders (Harrison, Jones and, for 81 minutes, Densmore) missing and midfielder Richman at right-back and left-back Hampson performing in central defence.

Alty were to make their final away trip to Grantham in considerably fewer than 48 hours after this match ended, followed by home games with Marine and Hednesford Town to complete the season.

Full-Time: SHAW LANE AFC 1