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Vanarama National League North match
played on Saturday, 20 April 2019, at 3pm


On a sweltering afternoon and on a bobbly surface, Altrincham put in a mature performance to win 2-0 and secure a play-off place, barring two defeats and a complete meltdown of their impressive goal-difference in their two remaining fixtures. Right: Josh Hancock is congratulated on his goal by Ben Harrison.

After a goalless first half at Liberty Way in which relegated Borough actually came the closer to scoring when Caton's superb 25-yarder was brilliantly saved by Thompson, Altrincham took a fifty-fourth minute lead when Josh Hancock completed a neatly constructed move, at the second attempt, with a low shot from about 15 yards.

Alty went on to dominate the proceedings without further breaking down a resolute Nuneaton until added time. Then substitute Max Harrop bundled the ball home at the back post after Shaun Densmore had prompted an advance on the right.

Altrincham complete their league programme with a visit from Hereford FC on Easter Monday and a trip to Ashton United on 27 April.


REFEREE: Mr Aaron Bannister, who also reffed Alty's draw at Guiseley last December.

Andy White returned from suspension. Defenders Connor Hampson and James Jones had both been unable to complete the midweek game at home to Brackley Town, and neither started. Jones's concussion rules him out till the last day of the season whilst Hampson was a substitute today.

Yusifu Ceesay was not in the squad, having not trained in midweek, so Matt Chadwick made his full debut, on the right wing.

Josh Hancock had started on the bench on Tuesday but began the game today.

Ben Harrison started in the absence of Jones.

Borough had named Addison as no.5 but he was replaced at kick-off by no.14 Dunkley who played on the right wing. No. 9 Barlone played at centre-back. Former Alty man, Curtis Obeng was at no. 2.

Boro named only two substitutes, one of whom Tyrell Belford, was not only the son of assistant manager Dale Belford but also the nephew of former Alty striker Kyle Perry!


NUNEATON BOROUGH (Blue): 1. Cameron BELFORD, 2. Curtis OBENG, 3. Rhys SHARPE, 4. Josh LUNDSTRAM, 6. Ryan EDMUNDS, 7. Taylor ALLEN, 8.Jordan LUSSEY, 9. Luke BARLONE, 10. James CATON, 11. Devon KELLY-EVANS, 14. Dimitri DUNKLEY. subs: 12. Bekir HALIL, 15. Tyrell BELFORD.

ALTRINCHAM (Purple shirts and shorts, white socks): 1. Tony Thompson, 2. Shaun Densmore, 3. Andy White, 4. Ben Harrison, 5. Tom Hannigan, 6. Jake Moult (c), 7. John Johnston, 8. Sean Williams, 9. Jordan Hulme, 10. Josh Hancock, 11. Matt Chadwick. Subs: 12. James Poole, 14. Matt Harrop, 15. Connor Hampson, 16. Simon Richman, 17. Callum Dolan.


Altrincham travelled to Nuneaton in very different circumstances from their last league visit, which the Robins lost 4-1. On that occasion, it was early in a season (2016-17) in which Alty became relegation fodder. This time around, it was the hosts who are looking at relegation, which had now been mathematically confirmed.

Altrincham could not rise or fall in the league table today, regardless of the outcome of the match. At kick off they trailed Spennymoor by four points and led AFC Telford by three points and a far better goal difference.

Mike Garnett reminded us, before kick-off, of our record against Nuneaton Borough since its reformation as Nuneaton Town; and it made grim reading in the away fixtures.

Despite relegation, the Borough had not been losing heavily and, indeed, were in relatively buoyant mood following the recent good news of their financial salvation, which owed a lot to the efforts of manager Jimmy Ginnelly, who Alty had encountered last season as the boss at Barwell.


Altrincham kicked off on a very hot afternoon and it soon became apparent that the surface was dry and bobbly, which made a passing game difficult. After a quiet opening, as the players came to terms with the conditions, Hulme dribbled inside the box before Johnston shot wide in the first meaningful action (5 mins).

It was another five minutes before Johnston and Moult combined to set up Chadwick but his shot ran to the keeper from right of goal (11 mins).

Caton's deflected shot gained Nuneaton the afternoon's first corner, which was then headed over the bar. Next, a testing cross from Chadwick was just reached by keeper Belford ahead of Hulme. Williams was now orchestrating things in the Alty midfield but there were no real openings being created before White had to hobble off. That was in the 21st minute, which was, coincidentally, the very same time that Alty had lost James Jones in the previous Tuesday's match.

After resuming play with ten men, Alty belatedly brought on Hampson to replace White at right-back (23 mins). Obeng was now played into the Alty goalmouth soon afterwards but a poor touch allowed Thompson to collect the ball.

Altrincham finally got a decent shot on target when Chadwick fed Williams, whose well-struck shot was parried for a corner, which came to nothing (25 mins). There was then some silliness as Hulme and keeper Belford were involved in a spat which earned the Alty man a deserved lecture alongside his captain.

Amidst the mundanity of the game, Hulme's superbly executed half-volley from 30 yards out, left of goal, stood out as an admirable exception, the effort dipping just wide of Belford's back post (30 mins).

Soon after this, Hulme had needed treatment as he stretched towards a ball which ran on to Belford. Next, the Alty striker went down under a challenge in the box but no penalty was probably the right decision by the referee.

Alty again failed to work Belford when Williams blasted over the bar from Hulme's lay off (35 mins). After an unproductive Alty corner, the visitors began to get a grip on the game but a neat move up the right involving Densmore only ended with Johnston's hooked effort over the bar (41 mins).

Next, a Johnston cross just missed the back post before Nuneaton responded with the shot of the game. It arrived from Obeng's feed as, from 25 yards out, Caton lashed the ball towards the top corner, to Thompson's right. He made a superb save and impressively held the ball, despite its force knocking him backwards (44 mins).

Johnston now won a corner, which was taken short and led to a wild cross-cum-shot from Johnston himself (45 mins). Two added minutes witnessed Thompson again doing well as, this time, he came out to block a Nuneaton incursion, although offside was ultimately signalled in any case.

In the third minute of added time Hancock fed Johnston who swept his shot towards goal but Belford blocked it well with his legs.

Alty had been the better side in the firt half but the hosts had produced the best shot at goal.


After a scrappy opening to the half, Johnston got into a dangerous position in the box, only to lose his footing in the goalmouth (48 mins). Lussey's foul on Williams, after the midfielder's shot had gone, earned him a lecture and gave Alty a freekick from 22 yards. Williams took it himself and the effort was deflected into the side-netting for a corner, followed by a second which also came to nothing.

However, Altrincham then put together a good passing move which culminated in Hancock's shot from a central position near the edge of the box. This was blocked but came back to Hancock who, this time, hit a low shot into the net to break the deadlock (54 mins).

Altrincham won a couple more corners soon afterwards and continued to mount some sustained pressure as the hour-mark passed.

Hulme then latched onto a long ball and cut inside to his right before lashing a shot past Belford but it came back off the crossbar (62 mins).

A minute later, Williams's good work set up Hancock whose good shot was equally well saved by Belford.

Midway through the half, Poole replaced Johnston (67 mins). Alty continued to press and won two more corners, the second arriving just after Harrop had replaced Hancock in the 75th minute.

Next, Nuneaton brought on Halil for Caton (77 mins). Nuneaton had shown little as an attacking force in the second half before Obeng got in a decent shot from outside the box, which cleared the bar (83 mins).

A fine ball from Harrop to Chadwick ended disappointingly when the former Ashton man lost possession. In the 89th minute Nuneaton brought on Tyrell Belford, a goalkeeper, as an outfield player. Alty then won a comical freekick, in the ninetieth minute, when Hulme's arms were simultaneously grasped by two different players on either side of him!

In the second added minute Densmore got forward on the right and cut in, towards the box. After a melee inside the goalmouth Harrop got the ball into the net at the back post to make the final outcome 2-0 (90+2 mins).

A combination of the heat, the playing surface and the efforts of the Nuneaton players had made it a hard-earned victory for the Robins. They are now all but mathematically certain of a place in the play-offs as their competitors have far worse goal differences.