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AET, Altrincham won 7-6 on penalties

Vanarama National League North
Promotion Play-Off Qualifying match
played on Wednesday, 1 May 2019, at 7.45pm


After Blyth had deservedly taken a deserved two-goal lead inside the first half-hour, Altrincham gained a lifeline when Johnston converted a penalty, awarded for handball, seven minutes later. However, the visitors' lead remained intact until the third of four added minutes at the end of the regulation ninety minutes.

Alty's 93rd minute leveller took the game to extra time and, with no further goals being scored, penalties followed. Twelve perfect penalties made it 6-6 from the spot until substitute Wrightson saw the thirteenth effort saved by Tony Thompson. Josh Hancock then converted Alty's seventh kick to put the seal on a victory which had seemed highly unlikely earlier in the evening.

Alty had started the evening poorly, showing little invention and frequently mispassing and miscontrolling the ball in the opening stages. In the 11th minute Jarrett Rivers put Blyth ahead, on merit, when he drifted across the box from the right, played a one-two, and then smartly netted. A superbly struck 25 yarder from full-back Nicholson made it 2-0 to the Spartans in the 28th minute.

Seven minutes later, when a Williams shot struck a Blyth man's arm, Alty were awarded a penalty which Johnston converted to make it 1-2.

Alty had the better of the second half but time seemed to have run out as they sought an equalizer. However, in the third added minute, Hancock got free and scored from about 12 yards to send the match into extra-time. Alty had the better of the first period of extra-time, before Blyth finished the second period strongly. What turned into the 14 kicks of a penalty shoot-out followed, with Alty emerging the winners 7-6 and so earning a trip to Chorley on Sunday for the semi-final.


Penalty Shoot-out

  1. 0-1 Reid netted as Thompson guessed wrongly.
  2. 1-1 Moult likewise bamboozled the Blyth goaklkeeper to score.
  3. 1-2 Rivers converted with a shot which went in off the crossbar.
  4. 2-2 Jameson went to his left but Densmore's effort just beat him.
  5. 2-3 Likewise, Thompson goes the right way but Liddle scores.
  6. 3-3 Poole levels the shoot-out scores for the third time.
  7. 3-4 Buddle scores confidently.
  8. 4-4 Johnston repeats his earlier success from the spot in normal time.
  9. 4-5 Atkinson finds the top corner of the net.
  10. 5-5 With a miss meaning instant defeat, Harrop scores.
  11. 5-6 Another high shot, this time from Laing, restores Blyth's lead.
  12. 6-6 Harrison, presumably brought on for his spot-kicks, nets.
  13. 6-6 Thompson's dive to his right blocks Wrightson's effort which was not badly hit.
  14. 7-6 Hancock steps up to score the decisive spot-kick.

REFEREE: Mr James Bell, who earlier this season had officated at Kidderminster Harriers in Altrincham's 3-2 defeat.

As expected, Phil Parkinson made changes from the much-altered side which had drawn at Ashton at the weekend. Back into the starting eleven came Thompson, Hampson, Hannigan, Hulme and Ceesay. There was no space in the squad for Callum Dolan and Matt Chadwick.

Andy White had already been ruled out by injury last week but otherwise there was, apparently, a full squad available,


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Tony Thompson, 2. Shaun Densmore, 3. Connor Hampson, 4. James Jones, 5. Tom Hannigan, 6. Jake Moult (c), 7. John Johnston, 8. Sean Williams, 9. Jordan Hulme, 10. Josh Hancock, 11. Yusufi Ceesay. Subs: 12. Max Harrop, 14. James Poole, 15. Simon Richman, 16. Ben Harrison, 20. Elliot Wynne.

BLYTH SPARTANS (Grey): 1. Peter Jameson, 2. Alex Nicholson, 3. Michael Liddle, 4. Kieran Green, 5. Nathan Buddle, 6. Jordan Watson, 7. Jarrett Rivers, 8. Connor Oliver, 9. Daniel Maguire (c), 10. David Atkinson, 11. Jamie Holmes. Subs: 12. Louis Horner, 14. Ryan Hutchinson, 15. Sean Reid, 16. Louis Laing, 17. Adam Wrightson.


For this "eliminator" to decide who would travel to Chorley in Sunday's play-off semi-final, Blyth Spartans arrived in magnificent form, with seven straight wins under their belt. Alty, however, despite only one defeat in twelve, had only won two of their last six league matches.

Mike Garnett's records told us the historical record of Altrincham against Blyth Spartans:


In front of an animated crowd of considerably more than twice as many people who had attended when Blyth visited Altrincham eight weeks ago for a routine league match, the visitors won the toss and obliged the hosts to kick off playing toward Golf Road.

The early stages saw both sides making mistakes but it was the visitors who were playing the better, despite Watson conceding the game's first corner to Altrincham (7 mins). Both sets of supporters were proving vocal with Blyth having brought very good numbers for such a long midweek trip.

Soon after Jameson had saved a Densmore effort, Rivers picked up the ball in the inside-right position 20 yards from goal. He drifted in-field, across the front of the penalty area, before playing a one-two with a team-mate. From the left of the box, Rivers slotted the ball past Thompson to give Spartans an eleventh-minute lead.

Altrincham continued to labour to settle into any sort of rhythm before Johnston got past two men to prompt the winning of the first of what proved to be three home corners in succession, all of which came to nothing (18 mins).

Blyth responded with a corner of their own, which was likewise ineffective.

On the Alty left Ceesay lost possession allowing Rivers and Oliver to feed Nicholson. From comfortably outside the box the Blyth full-back hit a superb shot which beat Thompson just inside his right-hand post to make it 2-0 to the visitors (28 mins).

A foul on Hampson just outside the box produced a Johnston freekick which came to nothing (31 mins). Such was Alty's ineffectiveness at this point that, when play stopped for a Blyth man to be treated, the home side's outfield players gathered for an onfield conference to try and sort themselves out (32 mins).

After a Blyth corner, the visitors hooked the ball narrowly over the bar. A turning point in the evening now arrived as a superb 60-yard diagonal ball from Moult, in midfield, reached Johnston on the far right-wing. His cross was cleared out to Williams, 22 yards or so from goal. The midfielder struck the ball well, with it striking a Blyth arm as the player fell.

The referee decreed the handling as deliberate and a penalty was awarded. From the spot, Johnston just beat Jameson as he dived, low, to his left. At 1-2 Alty had got themselves back into the game (35 mins). During the taking of the kick, Hannigan was receiving physio treatment on the touchline.

Alty's confidence rose a little after the goal and now Ceesay, who had had a poor start to the game, did well and fed Hulme, who won his side a corner. However, Spartans responded a few minutes later with their own (42 mins).

As two additional minutes started, Ceesay was fouled and Nicholson was booked (45+1 mins). But Altrincham reached half-time still a goal adrift and needing a much better second-half performance if they were to match their visitors.


Blyth kicked off towards their sizable following in the Carole Nash and Family end of the ground. Inside two minutes Blyth almost extended their lead as Maguire got into the box and his cross just evaded a team-mate in the goalmouth.

As in the first half, Alty started slowly with mis-passes again in evidence. When Oliver got round Densmore on the left byline he fed Holmes, whose shot flew wide (51 mins). Alty's curate's egg of a performance was epitomised as Moult lost possession only for a fine Hampsom tackle to win it back, but he promptly lost possession again.

Things looked up when Ceesay got forward and fed Hulme but, as he cut in from the left, the striker fired miles over the bar (54 mins). Goalkeeper Jameson was already winding down the clock before Alty won a 58th minute corner to cheer their vocal fans. After this, Williams skied a shot as far over the bar as Hulme's earlier effort (59 mins). And the woeful shooting continued when a foul on Moult gave Johnston a freekick from the left which he, too, sent into orbit (60 mins).

Two minutes later, James Poole replaced the largely out of sorts Ceesay (62 mins). Alty's faltering performance continued as an off-balance Jones played a very much underhit back-pass towards Thompson. Thankfully the keeper was alert and dashed out to block, but Blyth then inexplicably passed the ball rather than trying to beat the covering defenders with Thompson out of position. Only a corner resulted for Blyth (63 mins).

Midway through the half Hannigan advanced and Hampson's resulting low cross only just evaded the stretching Hulme at the back post (66 mins). After both Blyth's Holmes and Alty's Hampson had gone down for treatment, the Spartans man was replaced by the nippy Wrightson (69 mins).

Liddle then joined his full-back team-mate Nicholson in the referee's notebook for a foul on Johnston (73 mins). Altrincham now went close when a goalbound Moult shot was deflected over the bar for a corner (75 mins). But the Blyth bench was up in arms soon afterwards when Maguire went down in the box but play was waved on as they appealed for a penalty, with the Alty defence at sixes and sevens (76 mins).

Richman now came on at right-back for Williams as Densmore moved to midfield (77 mins). A minute later Reid came on for Spartans' Green. Densmore was soon penalised for a foul on Wrightson but Oliver put the freekick over the bar (80 mins). Densmore soon made amends with a fine effort which yielded a corner.

With just five minutes left, Laing replaced Oliver for the visitors. Two minutes later Hancock had a great chance to settle it from 12 yards but put the ball disappointingly wide. Johnston continued to show great energy on the right and he won a late corner (89 mins).

Four added minutes were signalled and they seemed to drift away until inside the third minute, when Jones advanced and fed Poole who flicked the ball on for Hancock, near the penalty spot. To the delight of the Moss Lane faithful, he fired home in a moment reminiscent of Greg Wilkinson's late, late goal in the play-off against Guiseley in 2014. The home support erupted as Hancock dashed towards the Popular side and was submerged beneath his team-mates (90+3 mins).

But Blyth very nearly scored a winner in the fifth added-minute as Thompson had to produce a fine save, to his left, to push away a goalbound shot from Maguire. So, extra time was the outcome.

After 90 mins: ALTRINCHAM 2

Blyth kicked off towards their travelling supporters but Altrincham nearly snatched the lead in the first added minute. Johnston's run set up Densmore who, in keeping with his team-mates earlier in the game, put his shot into the darkness, miles over the bar. It was the fourth such launch into space by the hosts.

Immediately, Blyth responded as a header from Reid hit the Alty crossbar. Moments later Moult and Reid collided and with Hampson also going down off the ball, the pitch resembled a battlefield (93 mins). All the players recovered, however.

On 95 minutes, Horner came on for Maguire, under the rules which allow a fourth substitute in extra time nowadays. Eleven minutes into added time a Hancock shot deflected off the keeper and landed on the roof of the net, as Alty finished the first half of extra time on top.

The second period of extra time began with Hampson, who had needed treatment at the interval, replaced by Max Harrop, necessitating another change of formation. Altrincham continued to have the better of things till Blyth moved up a gear and won two corners (114 mins). From the first of these a goalbound Blyth header had to be headed off the line by Densmore.

At the other end, Alty's wayward shooting continued to reach for the stars as, once again, Hulme fired miles over the bar (115 mins). Hancock then had an on-target effort saved before centre-back Ben Harrison came on up front to replace Hulme (118 mins). And so, to penalties...

After extra-time: ALTRINCHAM 2

The toss for the penalty shoot-out favoured Blyth as, not only did they get to take the first kick, but also had the benefit of taking them in front of their supporters at the away end of the ground. Curiously, neither of Alty's two top scorers were first-choice penalty takers; Hulme was actually subbed in the closing stages when spot-kicks were looking inevitable and Hancock only took his side's seventh attempt.

  1. 0-1 Reid netted as Thompson guessed wrongly.
  2. 1-1 Moult likewise bamboozled the Blyth goaklkeeper to score.
  3. 1-2 Rivers converted with a shot which went in off the crossbar
  4. 2-2 Jameson went to his left but Densmore's effort just beat him
  5. 2-3 Likewise, Thompson went the right way but Liddle scored
  6. 3-3 Poole levelled the shoot-out scores for the third time
  7. 3-4 Buddle scored confidently
  8. 4-4 Johnston repeated his earlier success from the spot in normal time
  9. 4-5 Atkinson found the top corner of the net
  10. 5-5 With a miss meaning instant defeat, Harrop scored
  11. 5-6 Another high shot, this time from Laing, restored Blyth's lead
  12. 6-6 Harrison, presumably brought on for his spot-kicks, netted with a low effort.
  13. 6-6 It was an unlucky thirteenth penalty of the night for Blyth as Thompson's dive to his right blocked Wrightson's effort, which was not badly hit
  14. 7-6 Hancock stepped up to score the decisive spot-kick

So, Alty earned an away semi-final at Chorley on Sunday, 5 May. It was hard luck for Blyth who had looked in control before Alty's fortunate break with their first-half penalty which brought them back into the game.

Final Score: ALTRINCHAM 2
Altrincham win 7-6 on penalties