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Vanarama National League match
played on Tuesday, 5 October, 2021 at 7.45pm


In front of almost 3,000 spectators at an ultimately sodden Moss Lane, Altrincham came back from three goals down but were unable to get an equalizer against an impressive Grimsby Town. The visitors started well before Altrincham enjoyed a good spell towards the middle of the first period. But the Mariners took a 27th minute lead when Hannigan's headed clearance was seized upon by the visitors and Bapaga rifled a rising shot into the roof of the net.

Heavy rain poured down at the interval and through most of the remainder of the game. It was to be the first ten minutes of the second half which settled the outcome, as Altrincham conceded twice.

In the 48th minute, Hannigan tried to dribble out of defence but lost the ball. The ball was then played into the box from the Grimsby right. Mullarkey, stretching, did well to divert the ball towards his own goal where Thompson did equally well to prevent an own goal, as he dived at at full stretch to his right. But the ball ran loose for Taylor to make it 0-2.

Then a superbly worked goal, twice involving the impressive McAtee, culminated in Clifton scoring to make it 0-3 in the 55th minute.

Moments later, Bapaga then got himself stupidly sent off through a second yellow card for blocking a throw-in and the rest of the game saw Alty launching wave after wave of attacks at the ten men. Nevertheless, the visitors remained dangerous on the counter.

Mooney then scored a fine goal, after a one-two with Hancock, to make it 1-3 (65 mins). And when Moult bundled the ball home from a Colclough corner (74 mins), Alty looked capable of a remarkable comeback. But a mixture of slowing the game down and solid defending allowed the ten men to hold on to the three points.


REFEREE: Mr Stephen Copeland
ATTENDANCE: 2,882 (1,251 in away section)

Altrincham made two changes. The one enforced change saw the injured Fitzpatrick replaced at right-back by midfielder Brad Jackson, who had filled in there earlier in the season as Alty contend with five defenders being out injured. And, in the number ten role, Josh Hancock came in for Matty Kosylo. So Joel Senior was again obliged to switch flanks to play as left-back.

League leaders Grimsby's starting eleven and squad were unchanged.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, white socks): 1. Tony THOMPSON, 24. Joel SENIOR, 25. Toby MULLARKEY, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 16. Brad JACKSON, 28. Dean FURMAN, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. Dan MOONEY, 11. Ryan COLCLOUGH, 10.Josh HANCOCK, 9. Marcus DINANGA. Subs: 2. Shaun DENSMORE, 15. Matty KOSYLO, 23. Tom PEERS, 17. Ben PRINGLE, 27. A-Jay LEITCH-SMITH

GRIMSBY TOWN (Pale blue): 1. James McKeown, 12. Ryan Sears, 6. Luke Waterfall, 26. Alex Hunt, 3. Adam Crookes, 22. Ryley Towler, 4. Ben Fox, 15. Harry Clifton, 7, Will Bapaga, 10. John McAtee, 29. Ryan Taylor. Subs: 5. Shaun Pearson, 8. Giles Coke, 14. Lenell John-Lewis, 17. Sebastian Revan, 18. Erico Henrique Esteves Sousa


After a wet night and morning, the game started in dry conditions only for rain to start well into the first half, intensify at the interval, and lash down for much of the second period on the Grimsby fans, most of whom were in the open end. They provided strog vocal support throughout but there were a couple of objects thrown onto the pitch by them during the game.


Altrincham kicked off towards the Grimsby supporters. A needless trip by Furman gave Grimsby the first threateninmg position of the game, from a freekick 40 yards out on their right. This led to a corner which came to nothing (5 mins).

But the visitors were having the better of the opening stages and a couple more corners arrived for them in quick succession, the latter one resulting in a wild shot, high and wide, by McAtee (10 mins).

Soon the same player struck a much better shot which went narrowly past the watchful Thompson's right upright.

However, Alty began to get into the game when Jackson won Alty's first corner (14 mins). McKeown punched this away to Colclough but his low shot ran back to the keeper (15 mins).

Next Bapaga jinked forward on the right but his shot went across goal (18 mins) before Mooney responded with a rising shot which cleared the bar (19 mins). Alty were having a good spell and enjoying the bulk of the possesion at this stage. Clifton's theatrics then exaggerated the impact of a Mullarkey foul and the Alty man was apparently booked (23 mins).

Though not contrary to the overall pattern of the game, yet against the run of play at that stage of the proceedings, Grimsby took the lead. Hannigan's headed clearance dropped to an opponent outside the box and it was fed to Bapaga who, from about 15 yards out, hit a firm, rising shot past Thompson's dive to his right, to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead (27 mins).

The goal prompted a return to Grimsby having the better of things and Altrincham's plight almost got worse when Thompson was closed down as he delayed his kick clear but the ball rebounded to safety. After Mooney had wasted a freekick for a foul on Hancock (32 mins), Grimsby won another corner. They got an unchallenged header from this but the effort was put well wide.

As half-time approached rain was now falling steadily and Grimsby soon earned another corner (40 mins). After this, Mullarkey needed treatment before continuing. Then, as Senior got forward, Bapaga's professional foul, pulling back the Alty left-back, earned him a booking (43 mins).

As the game went into two added minutes Dinanga suffered a head blow from a crude Grimsby challenge and had to go off with a blood injury. He disappeared down the tunnel and did not re-appear till the second half.


Rain lashed down during the interval, after which Dinanga came out for the second half in an unnumbered "blood" shirt.

Alty started the half poorly as they conceded an early corner (46 mins). Moult headed this clear but, then, as Hannigan attepted to dribble his way up the field he lost possession, some thirty five yards from his own goal on the Alty left.

The ball was worked to the Grimsby right, from where a low cross was directed towards a player in the box. Near the penalty spot, Mullarkey made a valiant attempt to cut it out. However, stretching and facing his own goal, he could only divert it towards the far corner of his own net. Thompson made a fine save to keep it out, diving to his right. However the keeper could not hold the ball and it was put into the net by Taylor to make it 0-2 (48 mins).

Alty had yet seriously to trouble McKeown but, in truth, neither had Grimsby put much pressure on Alty's keeper, Thompson at this stage. Both of the visitors' goals had come from Altrincham losing possession in their own defensive third rather than from Grimsby unlocking their defence.

Alty were rocked for a few minutes and soon Thompson had to save from Bagapa. But there was little the hosts could do to stop the third goal as Grimsby put together a slick pasing move up the middle, twice involving McAtee, before Clifton finished it off with a well-struck goal to make it 0-3 (55 mins).

The boisterous, if very wet Grimsby fans soon had their delight tempered, however, as Bagapa impeded an Alty throw and was shown a second yellow card and dismissed from the pitch (56 mins).

The impetus immediately switched to Altrincham who now won three successive corners, the last ending in a Furman shot which McKeown saved comfortably (59 mins).

As the rain continued, Altrincham's first change entailed the more attacking Pringle replacing Furman in midfield (60 mins). And with rain pouring down, Leitch-Smith soon replaced Dinanga, who had seen little of the ball throughout the game (62 mins).

Another Alty corner followed before Mooney fed Hancock, who showed strength to hold off a push. He returned the ball to Mooney who swept the ball home, left-footed, from right of goal, just outside the box. So it was 1-3 and Alty tails were up (65 mins)>

However, Grimsby remained dangerous on the counter with McAtee impressively playing a one-two. As a result, Thompson had to make a good block, with the ball then looping just wide of his left post for a corner (66 mins). Grimsby were now slowing the game down, McKeown in particular. But when Colclough lost possession McAtee looked certain to score as he attempted to round Thompson, but the keeper made an accomplished dive at his feet to push the ball away and then gather it safely (70 mins).

Grimsby boss Paul Hurst now brought on Souda for Taylor (70 mins) before McAtee again threatened with an audacious chip, from wide on the right, which just cleared the bar from 20 yards (72 mins). Alty now won two successive corners between which McKeown deservedly saw yellow for more timewasting (74 mins).

But Alty had the last laugh on the keeper as the second corner, from the left by Colclough, produced a goal when Jake Moult bundled it home from close range (74 mins). At 2-3, the game was on a knife-edge with the Alty supporters now in the vocal ascendancy.

The rest of the game was largely a series of Alty forward movements against the ten men, in what was at times lashing rain. Yet McAtee in particular was still a threat at the other end, with Thompson having to block the forward again (81 mins).

Curiously, it was McAtee who was withdrawn next, being replaced by another forward in John-Lewis (83 mins). At this point an object thrown from the Grimsby end hit Tony Thompson. The referee took charge of the object and handed it to the fourth official. The Grimsby fans were clearly rattled by Alty's comeback.

Alty made a final change on 85 minutes as Kosylo replaced Hancock. However, led by ex-Alty loanee and captain, Luke Waterfall, the visitors kept Alty at bay and then won a dangerous freekick just outside the Alty "D" when Pringle held Clifton (88 mins). Hunt's freekick just missed the top corner of the net.

Four added minutes were declared which was not a generous apportionment, given the number of substitutes and the blatant timewasting, but Altrincham were unable to complete what would have been a remarkable comeback.

Grimsby had shown why they are top of the League but Altrincham had underlined the improvement in their standard of play this season in a performance which belied the patched-up defence from which Hampson, White, Digie, Bunney and Fitzpatrick all remain sidelined.