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Vanarama National League North match
played on Saturday, 17 August 2019, at 3pm


Altrincham's stuttering start to the season continued with a poor showing against a Brackley Town side who themselves were not at their best. New loan signing Ashley Hemmings started for Altrincham, and had a quiet game, but the visitors never got going in a first half in which their build ups were laborious and they failed to land a shot on goal before the break.

Brackley took the lead on the half-hour mark. A routine throw-in on their left led to Byrne picking the ball off a team-mate's toes before turning and, from outside the box, hitting a low shot across Drench and into the net, off the inside of the back post.

Altrincham improved to some extent in the second half but they wasted a lifeline when John Johnston's 66th minute penalty was well saved by Lewis, to his left. The spot-kick had been won by Jordan Hulme who was brought down on the left by-line.

The introduction of Max Harrop helped to improve Altrincham's attacking moments and he produced a fine shot which Lewis saved well. But, at the other end, Brackley presented several chances, the easiest being for Ndlovu who mishit badly from a clear opening.

One win in five games left Altrincham seventeenth in the table.


REFEREE: Mr Kristian Silcock

Today was Josh Hancock's 100th game. Conor Branson replaced Simon Richman in midfield whilst Ashley Hemmings was preferred to Nathan Arnold or Lewis Walters on the left-wing.

Unlike Altrincham who had to omit from their squad players such as Shaun Densmore, Tony Thompson and Lewis Walters, Brackley Town necessarily named all sixteen of their first-team squad.


BRACKLEY TOWN (Red shirts and socks, white shorts): 1. Danny Lewis, 2. Ellis Myles, 3. Connor Franklin, 4. Shane Byrne, 5. Kelvin Langmead, 6. Gareth Dean (c), 7. Matt Lowe, 8. Glenn Walker, 9. Lee Ndlovu, 10. James Armson, 11. Shepherd Murombedzi. Subs: 12. Carl Baker, 14. Tendai Daire, 15. Dan Holman, 16. Luke Fairlamb, 17. Thierry Audel

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


Mike Garnett provides the record between Brackley Town and Altrincham, both of whom reached the play-off semi-finals last season.

Alty went into this game with five points from their four matches this season whilst The Saints had one point fewer.

Brackley had had a difficult summer, with a fire destroying their clubhouse building, whose burnt-out roof remains as an indication of the severity of the conflagration.


On a sunny but breezy afternoon at Brackley, for the third game running it was Altrincham who kicked off, this time attacking the right-hand end as viewed from the main stand.

Inside two minutes, Johnston had won a corner but, two minutes later, they had Tom Hannigan booked for a foul on Lowe, not far outside the penalty area.

Following this, Drench exchanged passes with a team-mate but found himself closed down and, although he just about managed to stab the ball away, the referee awarded a corner despite the ball clearly clipping the foot of an opponent before going out of play. Nevertheless, it was poor play from the visitors (5 mins).

After an uneventful spell, Hancock hit a 25-yard shot which was not very far off the target (12 mins). Drench's shaky start continued as he now kicked an intended pass into touch (15 mins).

The game meandered on with nothing to get the pulse racing as the two sides cancelled out each other's efforts. But, after 23 minutes, Ndlovu outpaced Hannigan and was fouled by the already booked Hannigan who escaped with just a freekick as punishment. From the right byline, just outside the box, right of goal, Brackley took a poor freekick.

The hosts were looking the more threatening as Alty's slow build-ups failed to trouble the Brackley defence significantly. Next, Armson cut in and fired narrowly wide (26 mins) before Hulme was halted in the Town box from a Johnston feed. The Alty no.7 was the main instigator of Alty's forward movements.

Just before the half hour, a Lowe shot was deflected for a home corner. Soon after this, Brackley had a throw-in, on their left, twenty five yards from the corner flag. From this seemingly innocuous position the ball ran loose and, facing away from goal, Byrne took it off the feet of Murombedzi, 25 yards out, near the left touchline. Byrne, facing away from goal, turned, took a few paces infield and hit a fine, low shot across the crowded goalmouth. The ball found the far corner of the net, going in off the inside of the far post (30 mins). It was the first time this season that Alty had not scored the opening goal in a match.

Just after a weak 25-yarder from Hemmings had run to keeper Lewis, Alty conceded their second needless corner of the match, this time through Andy White's miscontrol (35 mins). As usual all eleven players were brought back to defend it.

After more uneventful fare on the pitch, Johnston overhit a pass back from 35 yards out, which might well have conceded his side's third give-away corner of the game, but the chasing White was judged to have kept the ball in play, though that decision was very debatable (42 mins). Next, Sean Williams's pass to his right struck the referee which prompted the implementation of the new rule whereby play is stopped and possession is awarded to the team that last had the ball.

Shortly before the interval, a slip-up by Brackley gave Alty a corner off Franklin. This came to nothing and, in a clear example of the benefits of leaving a man upfield at corners, Brackley broke forward on the counter-attack and it took a desperate rush off his line by Drench to kick the ball clear as Armson was about to get to it, just outside the penalty area, with only the keeper to beat (45+2 mins).

Half-time arrived with Altrincham yet to muster a serious effort on goal after a lacklustre first-half.


Altrincham started the second half with a bit of the tempo that had been woefully absent in the first half, other than from Johnston and Williams.

Inside the first minute Williams and Hancock combined to feed Hemmings, who took an unnecessary touch inside the box before shooting and, as a result, saw his shot only win a corner. After this, Johnston got into the box and won a corner, only for the officials for the second time in the match to get it wrong and award a goalkick (48 mins).

But the errors continued as Williams mislaid a pass to Byrne and a Brackley corner resulted (51 mins). Another home corner soon followed and Dean was allowed a free header which Drench could only push away for a defender to complete the clearance (53 mins).

Next, Jones lost possession and was fortunate that Ndlovu's resulting shot was poor and ran to Drench. For Alty, Hancock fed Hemmings but his control let him down and the ball went out for a throw to Brackley.

On 57 minutes Harrop replaced Hancock, prematurely ending the forward's one hundreth appearace for the club. Almost immediately Harrop prompted Alty's best shot to date as Williams fired narrowly wide (58 mins).

Brackley, however, were having the better of the half as the hour-mark passed. However, at last, Alty landed a decent shot on target in the 64th minute when Hemmings forced a good save from Lewis. But, straightaway at the other end, Brackley should have doubled their lead. First, Lowe was played in by Armson, against Drench, but the keeper beat the ball away, only to Ndlovu who looked certain to score from left of centre. But the out of touch striker again fluffed his shot which ran easily to the Alty keeper (65 mins).

And in what was proving to be by far the most eventful few minutes of the afternoon, Alty went down to the other end, where Hulme's skilful dribbling on the left byline first put his opponent on his bottom and then drew a foul. Johnston took the resulting penalty but Lewis saved well, diving low to his left (66 mins).

Immediately, Branson gave way to Richman in midfield (67 mins). A wild shot over the bar from Hemmings (69 mins) was the nearest Alty came to levelling the score before Harrop cut in from the right and hit a rasping shot which Lewis saved at the cost of a corner. But Hemmings wasted the corner, kicking the flag-kick onto the roof of the net. Now Peers replaced Hemmings (77 mins).

Harrop continued to add some urgency to Altrincham's play and his cross was only just too long for Richman to reach inside the goalmouth. Now Brackley made a swap as Fairlamb replaced Armson (79 mins). Dean was then booked for a foul on Harrop befoe a Johnston lay-off saw Richman shin the ball over the bar (82 mins).

Alty were showing some belated urgency as, now, a Harrop shot was blocked but fell for Hampson whose well-hit effort was impressively saved by Lewis and then hacked away by his defence. However, offside was the assistant referee's judgment (85 mins). Just after Johnston had cut inside and fired over the bar, Baker replaced Walker for the Saints (87 mins). In the final minute, before four more were decreed as added time, Hampson lost the ball and Byrne got in a fine shot which Drench beat away for a corner.

Two minutes into added time, Daire replaced Lowe for the hosts as they saw out the closing stages in the Alty half.

Had Altrincham exhibited the tempo shown in the closing stages they might have emerged with something from this game but for too long they played harmless crossfield and backward directed passes which gave the hosts ample time to close them down. Whilst Johnston's penalty miss was ultimately costly, Brackley did waste a number of chances themselves; in short, Altrincham could not complain at the outcome which left them down in seventeenth place in the league after five matches.