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Vanarama National League North match
played on Tuesday, 13 August 2019, at 7.45pm


When John Johnston netted in the 85th minute it was the sixth time that Altrincham had taken the lead in a match this season but they had surrendered that advantage on all of the previous five occasions. However, this time, they retained the lead to the final whistle and so secured a first win of the season, which lifted them eight places to eleventh. And Johnston's goal, which was Alty's sixth of the season, was the first that Alty have scored which was not netted by a member of the club's back four!

Altrincham first took the lead against Alfreton in the 23rd minute when a well-struck Connor Hampson effort deflected past the visitors' keeper. But Alfreton equalised eleven minutes later when Altrincham failed to deal with a deep cross to the back post, from where Wilde was allowed to hook the ball goalwards for Clarke to score from virtually on the goal-line. Altrincham regained the lead in the 41st minute when a Johnston freekick from the left found centre-back Jones beyond the back post. The tall defender steered the ball past Atkinson for his third goal of the season.

So, at half-time, Altrincham had shot up to the top half of the table but that position lasted only ninety seconds as they conceded their second poorly defended goal of the evening. Wilde's high cross from the left reached Clackstone, beyond the back post, and his ball into the goalmouth left East fewer than six yards out with only Drench to beat, which he duly did.

After a poor start to the second half Altrincham gradually got back on top but it was looking like a third draw on the bounce until the 85th minute. The decisive goal was made by a fine ball up the middle from a freekick by goalkeeper Drench, to Hulme. He relayed it to Johnston who smacked the ball home to make it 3-2. It was a goal that lifted Alty from 19th to 11th in the league table.


REFEREE: Mr Daniel Locker

Altrincham welcomed Josh Hancock and Sean Williams back from suspension but they remained without the recuperating Jake Moult. Phil Parkinson made three changes, two to accommodate Williams and Hancock and the third saw Nathan Arnold displace Lewis Walters on the left-wing. Whilst Walters was present but not in the squad, the other displaced players, Branson and Harrop, were on the bench. So Alty played without a substitute goalkeeper tonight, although Thompson had been involved in the warm-up.

For Alfreton, David Lynch returned to Moss Lane in the visitors' midfield.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Steven DRENCH, 2. Andy WHITE, 3. Connor HAMPSON (c), 4. James JONES, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. Sean WILLIAMS, 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Josh HANCOCK, 11. Nathan ARNOLD. Subs: 12. Max HARROP, 14. Tom PEERS, 15. Conor BRANSON, 16. Toby MULLARKEY, 17. Shaun DENSMORE

ALFRETON TOWN (All Blue) 1. Jack Atkinson, 2. Joshua Clackstone, 3. Josh Wilde (c), 4. David Lynch, 5. Dominic Smith, 6. Ryan Qualter, 7. Josh Thacker, 8. Bobby Johnson, 9. Danny Clarke, 10. Amari Morgan-Smith, 11. Daniel East. Subs: 12. Ben Tomlinson, 14. Shane Killock, 15. Tyler Williams, 16, Dale Whitham, 17. Nyal Blake.


In this fourth game of the season, Altrincham were seeking their first win of the campaign.

Alfreton arrived on the back of a 3-0 victory over Blyth Spartans and were seeking to improve on their visit last season when they conceded three early goals and lost 3-1.

Mike Garnett's records reveal the full data regarding matches between the two clubs before tonight's match:


For the second time in succession, Connor Hampson lost the toss and Alty were obliged to change ends. Whereas last Saturday that had meant facing a strong wind, this time around it meant that Alty played the first half looking into the evening sun.

After kicking off, Alty had the game's first shot on target as Johnston's rising shot was saved by Atkinson (4 mins). After an Alty freekick from 40 yards out had come to nothing, Alfreton gained the match's first two corners, the first won by their captain Wild and the second by Thacker (10 mins).

After a few minutes of being penned back Alty got forward and from Williams's pass Hancock got in a good shot which was blocked by a defender. Soon afterwards, a cross from the left was nodded down for Richman who also saw his shot blocked but a corner resulted (12 mins).

Alty's improvement after an indifferent start continued but there was no serious threat to either goal before Altrincham gained a 21st minute corner from a Johnston cross from the right.

After what had been a fairly even first quarter of the match, Altrincham took the lead in the 23rd minute. Having advanced on the right the ball was played inside, just outside the penalty area. Richman allowed the ball to run on to the better placed Hampson. He hit his shot well but it took a significant deflection off one of the bodies in the box and wrong-footed goalkeeper Atkinson before finding the back of the net.

Not long afterwards, Wilde made a mess of an intended back pass and Atkinson, under good pressure from the advancing Johnston, was unable to prevent its going for a corner. A second corner followed and there should have been a third but the referee awarded a goalkick despite Hannigan's strong protestations.

Alty were now on top and won freekicks as, first, Richman was brought down clumsily and, a few minutes later, there was a foul on Jones near the centre of the field. Hulme took this freekick far too quickly and possession was lost. The ball was worked forward but a lob to the back post should have been dealt with by the home defence. However, they allowed Clackstone to hook the ball towards the back post from the right byline where Clarke had a simple task of scoring from very close range. So, once more, Alty had failed to hold a lead (33 mins).

When Johnston was tripped on the edge of the visitors' box, Qualter became the first player to see a yellow card (35 mins). Alfreton resorted to a strong challenge, Smith scything down Arnold and earning a deserved caution (38 mins). Following treatment to the winger, Johnston took the freekick, from left of goal near the byline just outside the side of the pnealty area.

Johnston's freekick went beyond the back post where Jones steered it home for his third goal of the season. He is Alty's leading scorer this season and, impressively, two of his goals have been coolly taken with his feet rather than being headers as might be expected from a tall centre-back (41 mins).

Johnston now tormented the Alfreton defence before putting a shot narrowly wide. Next, Jones was adjudged to have fouled an opponent and it looked to be just inside the box. But whatever injustice Alty felt at the award was offset by Mr Locker ruling that the challenge had been just outside the penalty area. After protests from the visitors, the referee consulted his assistant but his decision was unaltered.

And the visitors' sense of victimhood was deepend when Johnson's freekick not only hit the post but the follow-up prompted an unanswered appeal for handball against Hampson.

Two added minutes of play before the interval included an Alty corner before the hosts left the field a goal to the good and just about deserving that margin. So, at the break, Alty had risen from 19th to 12th in the table.


Killock came on for Johnson for Alfreton at the interval. And, after kicking off, the Reds were level inside ninety seconds as for the fifth time this season Altrincham failed to hold the lead.

Again it was a poorly defended goal from Altrincham's perspective as Wilde's looping cross found his defensive counterpart Clackstone and, from him, the ball came to East, as Jones failed to make contact with a challenge. East was left just a few yards out, with space and time, and after a header had been blocked by Jones he duly hit the loose ball past the exposed Drench to make it 2-2 (47 mins).

Alfreton continued to have the better of the second half with Alty reduced to a speculative 35 yarder by Hancock which came to nothing (50 mins).

After their below-par start to the half, Alty stabilised and a good move ended with an underpowered Hancock shot to the keeper. Then a move up the right ended with a smart back-heel by Hulme which earned a corner (54 mins).

Alty's catalogue of short corners gained another lamentable example as possession was lost before a cross could be played. And this lapse led to Wilde firing in a fine 25 yarder at the other end, which was well saved by Drench's legs at the cost of a corner. Alfreton soon won another corner after a Williams miskick (58 mins).

The visitors continued to press and, as the hour mark neared, they gained another corner from Lynch's cross. Alty were penned back before, at the midpoint of the half, Hampson got forward and his cross only just evaded Hulme in the goalmouth.

Hulme won another corner (71 mins) as now Alty had improved and were holding the upper hand. The hosts soon made a double change with Peers and Branson replacing Arnold and Williams (73 mins).

Morgan-Smith now hacked down Jones but escaped a card. And, just after play had resumed, the same Alfreton man caught Jones late again but the referee and the assistant both apparently failed to see it. At this point Whitham replaced East for Alfreton. (78 mins).

The referee then stopped play to book Hulme, the official making a "mouthing" gesture as he produced the yellow card (82 mins).

With the game looking like ending in Alty's third successive draw, a superb freekick up the middle from goalkeeper Drench located Hulme. He chested the ball down and found Johnston who cut in from left of goal and smashed a shot past Atkinson from around 16 yards, into the nearside top of the net to make it 3-2 (85 mins). It was Alty's sixth goal of the season, with all the previous ones being scored by Altrincham defenders, apart from an own goal by Chester.

Immediately, Blake replaced Clarke for Alfreton and, two minutes later, Harrop came on for Alty's Hulme (88 mins).

Johnston was now the farthest forward for the hosts as five added minutes were decreed. In this time Altrincham won a corner and successfully got to the final whistle as, for the first time this season, they did not let a lead slip.

Altrincham deserved to win but Alfreton had played their part in an entertaining game. Johnston's late goal helped Altrincham move up eight places from kick-off's starting position of 19th, to the heady heights of 11th.