ALTRINCHAM FC MATCH REPORTS
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played on Saturday, 3 October, 2020 at 3pm
behind closed doors
Referee Adam Herczeg, the man who postponed Alty's game at Spennymoor last season after the Robins had reached the ground nevertheless allowed this match to start in seemingly far worse conditions. But today he was to be congratulated in getting the game completed in poor conditions.
From the start the Popular Side was sodden and the ball was held up in many areas as rain steadily fell. Not surprisingly, the first half was a pretty mundane affair with the sides doing their best to play on the wet surface.
It was the visitors who had the better of the opening half hour without troubling the Alty goal but the hosts improved a little with Ceesay and Kosylo their main threat. Half-time was reached with game goalless and the referee instructing the home officials to try to dry out the offending areas of the pitch as best they could during the interval.
Altrincham were marginally the better side in the second half but, apart from a goal line clearance by a Weymouth defender after a goalkeeping error, there never looked like being a goal at either end.
Despite a break in play being needed, midway through the second half, to brush away surface water, the game was completed as the teams battled each other to a standstill. It was Altrincham's first goalless draw since April 2018, mirroring the first ever national non-league game played between the same two clubs back in 1979 as the Alliance Premier League came into being.
And so, for the seventh time in a row Altrincham had failed to win their first home game at the start of a new season!
REFEREE: Mr Adam Herczeg
ATTENDANCE: Behind closed doors.
Altrincham had been rocked by the departure of prolific goalscorer Jordan Hulme, announced just twenty hours before this match kicked off. They were also without injured and suspended winger Dan Mooney, their most expensive acquisition in recent years.
Over the summer Alty had also lost defender James Jones to Barrow and had released a number of other familiar faces including Max Harrop, Elliot Durrell and Craig Mahon. New arrivals at the club included goalkeeper Matt Gould, defenders Ritchie Sutton and Joel Senior, none of whom started today. However, two of the new players were in the squad, forwards Max Clayton and Matty Kosylo, as well as the returning former loanee Yusifu Ceesay.
Hancock had recovered from a knock to start, with Peers leading the attack following Hulme's shock departure fewer than 24 hours earlier. Mullarkey got the nod ahead of Sutton as Tom Hannigan's partner, whilst Sean Williams pipped Simon Richman to the midfield position alongside Jake Moult. At left-back Andy White started with Connor Hampson having to be content with a place on the bench.
ALTRINCHAM: (Red shirts with white frontal band, black shorts, white socks): 1. Tony THOMPSON, 20. Shaun DENSMORE, 2. Andy WHITE, 25. Toby MULLARKEY, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 15. Matty KOSYLO, 8. Sean WILLIAMS, 23. Tom PEERS, 10. Josh HANCOCK, 11. Yusifu CEESAY. Subs: 19. Max CLAYTON, 30. Simon RICHMAN, 3. Connor HAMPSON, 4. Ritchie SUTTON, 17. Curtis MILLER.
WEYMOUTH (Fluorescent yellow shirts and socks, carbon i.e. black shorts): 1. Jack Bycroft, 2. Brennan Camp, 3. Corey Jordan, 4. Josh Wakefield, 8. Jake McCarthy, 10. Josh McQuoid (c), 16. Andreas Robinson, 17. Calvin Brooks, 20. Cody Cooke, 23. Cameron Murray, 26. Ollie Harfield. Subs: 1. Gerard Benfield, 9. Ben Thompson, 15. Josh Leslie-Smith, 19. Jack Hoey, 24. Tom Whelan.
This was not the return to the top-flight of non-League football that either Altrincham not Weymouth had wished for; a behind closed doors match with players avoiding handshakes and everyone taking evasive measures to avoid Covid-19. And to make matters worse there had been persistent heavy rain which was to continue throughout the game and, even at kick off, the Popular side's surface was waterlogged.
This was the latest starting date to a football season in living memory, if not ever, caused of course by the pandemic restrictions.
There was a debut today for Altrincham's new kit which has abandoned the traditional red and white stripes in favour of an all-red shirt with a single, broad white chest panel. And the customary black socks had been replaced by white for today's game.
Today's match was the start of Altrincham's fifth spell at this level and Weymouth's third. Curiously this opening game of the season mirrored the very first weekend of national level non-League football in 1979 when, in the Alliance Premier League, it had been Weymouth who had hosted Altrincham and that had ended goalless. In that inaugural season of top-flight non-League football, Alty had gone on to win the championship with Weymouth finishing second.
For Alty this 2020 encounter was a first game in the top flight since 2016 and for Weymouth, their last such game had been in 2009 when they were relegated in financial turmoil. Since then they had risen two divisions in as many seasons but that success had cost them their manager Mark Molesley, who had moved up to manage at EFL level at troubled Southend United.
Altrincham kicked off towards the unpopulated away end as the season got under way behind closed doors. It soon became apparent just how saturated parts of the pitch had been rendered by rain, which was to continue throughout the match. The area in front of the Popular side, especailly in the Golf Road direction was throwing up spray from the start.
It was the visitors who settled the better initially though conditions were preventing much in the way of fluency in the game. Alty's lacklustre start was compound by a series of silly minor fouls as the game reached the quarter-of-an-hour mark with nothing having happened of serious note.
And play continued in scrappy fashion before McQuoid went down in the box under a challenge but it was no penalty (22 mins). Ceesay was trying his best on the waterlogged left wing but Alty seemed less inclined to operate up the drier right-hand side in front of the main stand. It was not until the 28th minute that a shot was hit on target and that was from the edge of the box by McQuoid and was comfortably held by Thompson.
Kosylo was showing odd flashes of potential but neither he. Ceesay or Hancock were able to supply much service to striker Tom Peers. The visitors continued to have slightly the better of things as Thompson was required to punch the ball away from a Terras' freekick, seemingly catching McCarthy in the process (32 mins)
Wakefield cleared the danger when Densmore got up the right side but there was no serious danger of a break in the deadlock as the game neared half-time. A good piece of skill did allow Kosylo to get in a cross but it was overhit (39 mins).
Alty did improve in the closing stages of the first half though at the other end Cooke drove a low shot from the left into the Alty side natting (43 mins). And with the game into added time, Alty were fortimate that a header from a cross from the left hit White on the back before it could threaten the goal (45+1 mins).
Matty Kosylo got himself needlessly booked when he felled Robinson near the touchline near halfway (45+1 mins). After blowing thw whistle to end a workmanlike first-half in poor conditions, the referee spoke with Neil Brown and the Alty groundsman together with a number of club officials set about brushing surface water off the pitch as requested. This task occupied the hardworking group throughout the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0|
Before the game resumed Mr Herczeg consulted the groundsman and his helpers as well as the Weymouth bench before starting the second half. Rain was still falling steadily as the action got under way, watched by 744 viewers on the Alty TV streaming service.
After Weymouth had kicked off it was Altrincham who began to show a bit more purpose than before the interval. Indeed, they won the game's first corner after Ceesay had won back the ball near the left corner flag allowing Kosylo to swivel and hit a shot whoch earned a corner off a deflection (49 mins).
Folowing a foul by Ceesay in front of the vacant Sponsors' Lounge, the Weymouth freekick went stright to Thompson (53 mins). Moult became the second player to be booked when he tripped the lively Murray soon afterwards. A silly foul by the already booked Kosylo earned him a lecture rather than the second yellow that he might have seen on another day (56 mins).
Hancock then fed Peers who earned Alty's second corner of the afternoon. The corner was not collected by keeper Bycroft and bounced across the goalmouth (58 mins). Bycroft's shaky spell continued as he needed two attempts to field a low cross from Peers.
Kosylo was spared the risk of a second yellow when the manager hauled him off on the hour mark, giving Curtis Miller his first taste of National League top-flight football on the hour mark. Altrincham continued to look better than in the first half without seriously imposing themselves on the game.
From 25 yards Ceesay fired a shot high into Golf Road (63 mins). Four minutes later Densmore got up the right and fired a decent shot narrowly wide of the near post (67 mins). Next, in the 69th minute, the referee stopped play to order more sweeping of the pitch to remove surface water on the Popular Side before play resumed some two minutes later.
Curtis Miller showed promise on the right wing but his next excursion was halted by a Camp challenge. Weymouth's Robinson got a deserved booking for a cynical foul on Miller soon afterwards (76 mins).
The next five minutes saw three substitutions. Hoey replaced McQuoid (79 mins) before Richman came on for Hancock (80 mins), followed by Clayton making his debut as Ceesay was withdrawn (83 mins).
McCarthy wasted a 35 yard freekick for the visitors after a foul by Moult, hitting the ball miles over the bar (84 mins). Weymouth won a last minute corner which Mullarkey cleared and in added time Thomson came on for the visitors' Murray (90+3 mins).
The game ended after some 95 minutes in an honourable draw in a match ruined as a spectacle by the effects of the atrocious weather. Alty move on to play at Notts County on Wednesday night.
|Full Time: ALTRINCHAM 0|