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Vanarama National League North match
played on Saturday, 8 February 2020 at 3pm


Whether it was their heavy schedule of games catching up on them or for some other reason, Altrincham gave a poor showing against a Kettering team that has been transformed by manager Paul Cox since he inherited them at the foot of the table.

Mis-pass after mis-pass and a lack of tempo from Altrincham, combined with Kettering's hard work to close down their opponents and a smartly taken headed goal by Daniel Nti in the 19th minute had the visitors leading deservedly at the interval. After an excellent midweek performance to beat AFC Telford United the same Altrincham starting eleven were miles away from that level before they improved a little in the second half.

Barely landing a shot on target throughout the game, Alty were grateful to a header from Toby Mullarkey from a 63rd minute corner to salvage a point. Kettering did not settle for a point and continued to get forward without creating too many chances.


REFEREE: Mr James Westgate

Altrincham started with the same eleven who had set up an excellent 5-2 win over AFC Telford United in midweek. On the bench, injury to Simon Richman meant he was replaced by goalkeeper Joel Torrance.

Compared with the two sides' meeting just eleven days ago, for the Poppies there were four changes. Brett Solkhon, Aaron O'Connor, Jay Williams and Jason Law were missing from their starting eleven as Mitford, McGrath, Smith and Kennedy came in.


ALTRINCHAM (Red and 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. Daniel MOONEY, 8. Josh LUNDSTRAM, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Josh HANCOCK, 11. Craig MAHON. Subs: 12. Max HARROP, 14. Luke WALL, 15. Lewis WALTERS, 16. Toby MULLARKEY, 17. Joel TORRANCE

KETTERING TOWN (Pale blue and white striped shirts, pale blue shorts and socks): 1. Paul White, 2. Gary Stohrer, 3. Matthew Taylor, 4. Luke Graham (c), 5. Michael McGrath, 6. Ben Milnes, 7. Daniel Nti, 8. Tre Mitford, 9. Connor Kennedy, 10. Alistair Smith, 11. Lindon Meikle. Subs: 12. Aaron O'Connor, 14. Brett Solkhon, 15. Michael Richens, 16. Jason Laws, 17. Jordan Aghatise.


This was the return league match against The Poppies and was taking place just eleven days after the first encounter at Latimer Park, which had ended 2-0 to Altrincham thanks to first-half goals from Hancock and Hulme.

The late Mike Garnett's records tell us that the historical record of Altrincham against Kettering Town, is as follows:

Alty lay sixth going into the match whilst Kettering Town were eighteenth with eighteen fewer points but with one game in hand on their hosts. Alty had not lost a home league game since the opening day of the season, a run of thirteen games.

The injured trio of Simon Richman, Tom Peers and Andy White were all fit enough to make repeated laps of the pitch but none was fit enough for inclusion in the squad today. Midfielder Sean Williams was also still out injured.


On a bright afternoon, Kettering kicked off towards the Golf Road end and the first hint of goalmouth action was Mooney's wide shot (3 mins). Densmore then hit a shot over the bar from 20 yards (6 mins). But, overall, it was a scrappy start to the game after the excellent fare served up in midweek.

In the fourteenth minute the assistant referee on the main stand side called over the referee who booked Moult for an off the ball spat with Kennedy. Having not been booked in the league till fixture twenty, Moult has now picked up three cautions in the last nine games.

After this, Meikle's very wide shot summed up a lamentable opening quarter of an hour of the game, which was a shame given the sizable crowd which must have included many potential future spectators who would probably not be encouraged to return by this sort of performance.

When Moult dwelt on the ball near halfway, Meikle got up the left wing; he fed Kennedy, inside him, and his ball into the box was met by a stooping header from about 10 yards out at the near post by Nti, which wrong-footed Thompson and put Kettering one up (19 mins).

Immediately after this, the Poppies again threatened, getting to the right byline and protesting fruitlessly when a goalkick rather than a corner was awarded.

Two Alty players were then to be found on the deck, simultaneously (22 mins). The first, Mooney, had taken a knock to his right cheekbone and the second, Hampson, went down off the ball. Whilst Mooney's injury was simply treated by an ice-pack, Hampson needed protracted attention from the physio.

On resuming, in keeping with the performance of many of his team-mates in this match, Hampson immediately gave the ball away (25 mins). As Alty continued to look a shadow of the side which had been doing so well recently, a cry from the stands of "Wake up, Alty" accurately summed up the mood.

Taylor then became the first player to be booked, for fouling Mooney (28 mins). Kettering continued to close down Alty effectively whilst the hosts seemed to lack the enegry to get forward with any alacrity and their passing was poor. As Mooney made a rare incursion forward he went down under a seemingly fair challenge from McGrath but the referee both awarded a freekick and booked the offender, which was doubly harsh (37 mins).

Neither goalkeeper was being tested and play soon ground to halt again when Hampson had to be replaced. With Andy White and Simon Richman both out injured, the only defender on the bench was Mullarkey and the centre-back had to take over as the left-back (41 mins). This was just the latest in a sequence of injury-induced first-half substitutions required by Altrincham at Moss Lane in recent games.

Altrincham's inability to find their team-mates with any consistentcy continued right upto the interval. As the home spectators were obliged to watch nearly four minutes of added time to a half whose end could not come soon enough for them, Nti put a freekick just wide of the post (45+4 mins).

Kettering's interval lead was deserved and home fans could only hope for something better in the way of a team performance in the second half.


Alty did, indeed, start the second half with a slightly better tempo, with a blocked Hancock effort and then a Jones run which led to Hulme being halted in the box (50 mins).

Densmore then produced the best ball of the match so far to feed Hulme, who turned and shot, to win a corner (53 mins). From the corner, Mullarkey had a free header but put the ball over the bar.

Mooney, who had had an impressive debut on Tuesday, never attained those heights in this game and he now found himself booked after going down, looking for a foul and then protesting to the referee when he didn't get the decision (56 mins).

James Jones then had a torrid time as, inside ninety seconds, he twice passed the ball to an opponent and between those mistakes put another ball into touch (58 mins). But he was far from alone in the litany of unforced Altrincham errors today. Whoever chose today's Man of the Match had a difficult decision to make.

Next into the referee's book was Kennedy for fouling Moult (59 mins). Alty had an escape soon aftewards when a cross from the left gave Mitford a close range chance but he hooked the ball weakly to Thompson's arms; it was a rare bit of action for either keeper during the afternoon (61 mins).

Densmore, Mooney, Lundstram and Mahon then combined in a rare bit of quality to put Hulme free, running at keeper White. But White won the one and one, his legs deflecting the ball out for a corner on the left. From the corner, Mullarkey rose unmarked to head home an equalizer that was just about deserved after a slightly improved Alty performance in the second half (63 mins)

Four minutes later, White just got to a through ball ahead of the chasing Hulme. Another four minutes later, O'Connor replaced Mitford for the visitors (71 mins). With the linesman flagging for what looked a clear offside against O'Connor, Mr Westgate allowed the game to continue but fortunately nothing came of the Kettering attack. When Stohrer intercepted yet another wayward Alty pass he should have done better as he advanced on goal but he scooped his effort over the bar (74 mins).

The visitors certainly were not settling for an away point and they soon won a corner from a deflected Milnes effort. On 78 minutes Alty made a double change as attacking players Harrop and Walters came on for Mahon and Mooney (78 mins).

When Hulme did not get a penalty decision after being held by McGrath, the red mist descended and, in the next piece of action, he was booked for an off the ball spat with a Kettering player (81 mins).

There seemed little real prospect of Alty winning the game and, indeed, it was Kettering who won the next corner (84 mins). Three added minutes were decreed during which a fierce shot from Taylor stung Thompson's palms before the keeper gathered the ball at the second attempt (90+2 mins). The game ended with a Kettering corner as a disappointing match for Alty came to its conclusion.

Five testing games in a fortnight may have had a major contribution to this below-par Altrincham performance but things get no easier next week, with two long trips; to Spennymoor on Tuesday and Blyth on Saturday. And with Hampson now added to the injury list, which already comprised Simon Richman, Tom Peers, Andy White, Sean Williams and Steven Drench, manager Phil Parkinson will be hoping that one or two of the above may be fit to participate in those games.