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27 September, 2020

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Altrincham play their last pre-season game but their first home fixture in their preparations, against Salford City under-23s, on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Although the match is behind closed doors, Alty hope to be able to stream the game live to their supporters.

ON THIS DAY: 27 September

Altrincham's last game on today's date, 27 September 2014, was one to forget as they crashed 0-4 at home to Kent side Welling United at the J. Davidson Stadium. In this Vanarama Conference match it turned out to be a sorry afternoon for the Robins which was compounded by a red card for Tom Marshall, injury to Sean Williams and a forthcoming suspension after a fifth booking for Peter Cavanagh.

Dave Parton had been ruled out after suffering concussion at Barnet the preceding week, so Stuart Coburn had returned in goal. Shaun Densmore made his first start, following injury, whilst Jake Moult gave way to Sean Williams in midfield. The main surprise was that the previously ever-present Gianluca Havern was moved to the bench, so Scott Leather moved inside to centre-back.

Starting without Gianluca Havern for the first time this season, but with captain Shaun Densmore restored to the starting eleven after injury, Altrincham started brightly. But they fell behind in the 13th minute when Harry Beautyman got in behind the defence to lob keeper Coburn.

After 34 minutes Gallagher and Marsh carved open Alty up the middle with a one-two and Marsh scored to make it 2-0. In added first-half time, it became 3-0 to The Wings after Lawrie lost the ball in midfield and Gallagher's low shot left goalkeeper Coburn flat-footed.

Six minutes from time, Tom Marshall hauled down substitute Nouble and Bush's freekick deflected off Clee into the net. Ironically, before his dismissal Marshall had been the Altrincham player who had enjoyed most pitch-time that season.

The nearest Alty came to a goal was when Densmore's freekick came back off the underside of the bar just before the interval.

Above, Shaun Densmore's freekick comes back off the underside of the crossbar.

So, it was now three successive defeats that season, thirteen goals conceded and none scored for Altrincham, who dropped to 23rd.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Shaun Densmore (capt), 6. Scott Leather, 16. Tom Marshall, 3. Adam Griffin,7. James Lawrie, 18. Sean Williams, 25. Peter Cavanagh, 11. Nicky Clee, 14. Kyle Perry, 10. Damian Reeves. Subs: 9. Steven Gillespie, 15. Greg Wilkinson, 12. Mike Williams, 4. Jake Moult, 5. Gianluca Havern.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

At Chesterfield "The Spireites lost 1-0 at home to Guiseley in their final pre-season game. It was a strong Spireites side that started the game, with the likes of Will Evans, Jonathan Smith and Scott Boden all featuring. Keeper Kyle Letheren and striker Nathan Tyson were missing from the squad.

It was a great start from the Spireites who kept hold of the ball well in the early stages... The Spireites were causing Guiseley lots of problems from corners early on in the game... After early Spireites pressure, it was Guiseley who scored in the 32nd minute after Evans misplaced a pass, which allowed Kaine Felix to go through on goal. He chipped the oncoming Dylan Wharton only to hit the post, but his effort was followed up by Wafula who put the ball into the open net...

The Spireites went into the break with work to do. Chesterfield made two changes at half time, with Curtis Weston and Tom Denton coming on in place of Mandeville and Rawson...

The Spireites now prepare for the big kick-off next Saturday at Wealdstone.

Spireites: Wharton, Cropper, Yarney, Evans, Hollis, Buchanan, Butterfield, Smith, Mandeville, Boden, Rawson. Subs: Hutchinson, Maguire, Denton, Brook, Weston, Rowley, Sharman, McKay"

Yeovil Town’s "pre-season campaign ended in defeat against AFC Bournemouth U23, but the Glovers produced a spirited performance...

After falling behind in the first half, goals from Rhys Murphy and Josh Staunton clawed Yeovil back into the game in the second half.

A late red card for Gabby Rogers sealed Town’s fate as AFC Bournemouth capitalised just minutes later, netting an 88th minute winner.

Darren Sarll opted for a blend of youth and experience in his starting eleven. Ahead of Adam Smith who began between the sticks, Ryan Burke, Lee Collins, Luke Wilkinson and Dan Leadbitter lined up in defence.

The midfield saw starts for Alex John, Matt Worthington, and Lawson D’Ath. In front of them was a three-pronged attack of Gabby Rogers, Rhys Murphy and Courtney Duffus.

Yeovil Town: A.Smith (Trialist A); Burke, Collins, Wilkinson (Lee), Leaditter (Heaton); John (Staunton), D’Ath (Dickinson), Worthington; Rogers, Duffus, Murphy (Lloyd)".

In other matches on Saturday Woking beat Hampton & Richmond 3-1, whilst Weymouth fell to a 1-0 defeat against Ebbsfleet United.

Wealdstone "fell to a 1-0 defeat to National League South side Slough Town at Grosvenor Vale in the final game of pre-season, with Jack McKnight's penalty separating the two sides.

Connor Smith wore the captain's armband...

The visitors rallied before half time with... Togwell heading over from close range in the last action of the half.

Slough made a host of changes at half time and they had an instant impact. Ada Okorongheye played in Warren Harris who was brought down by Jack Cawley. McKnight converted the 48th minute penalty, sending Isted the wrong way...

On the hour mark, the National League South champions then introduced a bulk of the championship-winning regulars from last season but they couldn't make their mark on the game and the Rebels held out to gain an away win.

WEALDSTONE: Isted, Williams, Wishart (Mendy, 61), Charles, Trialist T, Cawley, Trialist (Trialist, 79), Smith (Green, 61), Hughes (Emmanuel, 46), Trialist W (Parish, 61), Trialist U (Lewis, 61). Unused subs: Everett, Askey.

Sutton United "will go in to the National League season on the back of an unbeaten pre-season campaign after a third consecutive away draw against National League South opposition. In what looked on paper to be their toughest of six pre-season games, Sutton produced probably their best half so far to lead at the break, but were pegged back by an improved Dorking side in the second half and would have been beaten but for a glaring miss from Dorking’s Alfie Rutherford in the last five minutes...

Will Randall came in to meet a right wing cross with a header which flew just too high, but it was the winger who provided the breakthrough just before the half hour mark when U’s again forced the home side in to an error, and this time Harry Beautyman came forward before finding Randall, who cut in and hit a shot between the keeper and his near post...

[Sutton] gave Wes Fogden too much space to collect a pass in from the left, turn and shoot beyond Dean Bouzanis in to the corner of the net.

As Dorking continued to enjoy the better of things... Sutton came close to regaining the lead when Howes made another good stop to keep out Beautyman’s free kick...

The best chance of a winner fell to Rutherford inside the last five minutes as Bouzanis came out of his penalty area but lost his footing as he challenged the Dorking striker, handling the ball but failing to halt Rutherford’s progress towards an empty net, which he missed with a shot that clipped the outside of the post.

Sutton: D Bouzanis, J Barden, B Wyatt, C Eastmond, C Rowe(sub C Dundas 66), R Milsom(sub K Davis 64), D Ajiboye(sub triallist 75), T Sho-Silva(sub triallist 64), O Bugiel(sub C Kealy 75), H Beautyman, W Randall."

At Stockport County "The Hatters rounded off the most unusual of pre-season schedules with another encounter behind closed doors at Edgeley Park – registering, in the process, a sixth successive friendly victory to set themselves up in great shape and spirits for the start of the National League campaign at Torquay next Saturday.

Goals late in each half, courtesy of a John Rooney penalty and another strike in the closing stages by substitute Nyal Bell, saw off Kidderminster from the National League North after the visitors had taken an early lead.

County took to the field in the intermittent late September sunshine, showing two changes from the side that had kicked off at York a week previously with Connor Jennings and Mark Kitching replacing, respectively, Alex Reid and the injured Jordan Williams...

But the visitors, with their first attempt... Morgan-Smith’s half-volley from the left edge of County’s box, flew past Ben Hinchliffe, with the aid of a deflection, to give ‘Kiddy’ the lead.

The Hatters responded by enjoying a long spell of possession without creating clear-cut opportunities... But a minute ahead of the break, Rooney converted the equaliser that their efforts deserved, as Kitching was tripped in the visitors’ area by Keith Lowe, and County’s number eight made no mistake from the penalty spot...

Bell, fresh from his 86th-minute goal-scoring heroics against York, once again struck decisively for the winner late on – firing home Sam Minihan’s low cross from the right to make it six of the friendly best for the Hatters...

Team (4-4-1-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Hogan (Capt.), Palmer, J. Jennings; Thomas (Bell, 77), Rooney, Maynard, Kitching (Reid, 90 + 2); C. Jennings; Bennett (Keane, 83). Unused Subs: Southam-Hales, Barnes."

Solihull Moors' "Adam Rooney bagged a brace as Jimmy Shan’s side recovered from a goal down to beat Leamington 3-1 and finish pre-season on a high.

In their last game before their league opener at Woking, Moors trailed to an early Danny Waldron strike but Rooney’s header soon had the sides back level. And with half-time approaching, Joe Sbarra found the net from close range to fire Moors into the ascendency before Rooney slotted his second on the hour mark.

Shan made no less than nine changes to the side that claimed a 2-0 midweek win at Hereford with Rooney resuming his role as the focal point of the Moors attack...

Solihull Moors: Boot; Coxe, Williams, Howe, Gudger, Cranston (Miccio,77); Storer, Gleeson; Sbarra, (Trialist,62) Ball (Trialist, 62); Rooney"

Less fortunate were Notts County who "were beaten 3-0 by York City in our final pre-season friendly ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

First-half goals from Akil Wright and Jake Cassidy were added to after the break by Alex Wollerton on an afternoon which could have been very different had Pete Jameson not made an excellent save to deny Ruben Rodrigues when the midfielder burst through one-on-one at 0-0.

Notts starting XI: Pilling, Kelly-Evans, McCrory, Rawlinson, Lacey, Reeves, Rodrigues, Boldewijn, O'Brien, Sam, Knowles

Subs (all used): Slocombe, Brindley, Graham, Chicksen, Doyle, Thomas, Wootton".

FC Halifax Town "drew 0-0 away at Vanarama National League North side Curzon Ashton this afternoon.

On a cold afternoon in Ashton Under Lyne, the Shaymen were held to a draw but gave valuable minutes for the players ahead of the new season which is scheduled to start next week...

Town have one final pre-season game with a trip to Fleetwood Town on Tuesday lunchtime.

Town: Sam Johnson (Trialist 70), Jeff King (trialist 77), Trialist (Danny Williams 60), Niall Maher, Neill Byrne (Nathan Clarke 60), Tom Bradbury (Jay Benn 77), Martin Woods (Dom Tear 65), Luke Summerfield, Jack Earing (Kieran Green 46), Jamie Allen, Cain Tailford (trialist 46)".

Meanwhile, Dagenham & Redbridge "concluded their pre-season with a 1-0 victory over Chelmsford City at Victoria Road.

Darren McQueen’s 83rd minute penalty was the difference between the two sides on a windy afternoon in east London.

The Daggers started on top and enjoyed most of the ball in the opening stages but couldn’t quite turn their early dominance into clear-cut chances...

Unfortunately, Dean Rance was forced off through injury five minutes before the half-time whistle, replaced by Matt Robinson as the two sides headed into the break level at 0-0...

As the game headed for a 0-0 draw, Dagenham finally broke the deadlock with just seven minutes to go. Darren McQueen rattled the post after getting on the end of a blistering counter-attack, but when Deering was brought down in the box moments later. The former Dartford man got his goal with a clinically dispatched penalty.

That brought the Daggers’ pre-season to a close, which has seen us win seven of our nine matches.

Bromley "entertained local neighbours Dulwich Hamlet at Hayes Lane on a cold Saturday afternoon, debuting the new 2020/21 season home kit...

Dulwich took advantage... as an accidental clash between Chris Bush and Frankie Raymond led to Tyrique Hyde gaining possession and weaving in and out of challenges into the box, before the ball ricocheted off Jack Holland and beyond Mark Cousins for an own goal...

[Later], The Ravens were level. An excellent corner from Frankie Raymond was flicked on by Cheek in the six yard box, with the final touch coming off Byron Webster for his first Bromley goal...

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild made a welcome return back into Bromley colours midway through the second half and almost capped it with a goal... With nothing to separate the two sides at 90 minutes, the match went to penalties for the third consecutive season.

Chris Bush stepped up first for Bromley and scored with a well placed effort. However, after Pardington saved efforts from Raymond and Hackett-Fairchild and Michael Cheek missed the target with the visitors scoring all of theirs, Dulwich saw it through to claim the Glyn Beverly Memorial Cup 3-1 on penalties, with the away team in the fixture being victorious for the third season in a row.

Bromley XI: Cousins, Kizzi, Bingham, Bush, Holland (C), Coulson (Hackett-Fairchild), Raymond, Cheek, Webster, Williamson (Alabi), Forster. Unused substitutes: Najia, Purrington, Roberts, Trialist A, Tanner, Vincent, Allen"

Barnet "were edged out in their latest pre-season friendly as a first half strike secured Dartford victory at Princes Park. Peter Beadle's side struck the woodwork on three occasions in an entertaining encounter...

Five minutes before the break, the hosts opened the scoring as Romain did well to slot in a Darts' Trialist who rounded Loach, before finishing into an empty net...

The woodwork came to the Darts rescue for a third-occasion with 15 minutes left on the clock, as Fonguck's strike at goal beat the keeper but the post denied him.

Despite some late pressure, the hosts stood firm and ensured they were victors at Princes Park. The Bees will now look to take all these pre-season minutes, into a successful opening day against Eastleigh.

Barnet: Loach, Nugent, Binnom-Williams (Trialist C '65), Dunne, Pavey (Hooper 65'), Trialist A, Taylor (Richards 65'), Fonguck (Vasiliou 79'), Duffus, McQueen, Mason-Clark."


26 September 2020

AFC FYLDE 2-2 ALTRINCHAM

In today's friendly at Mill Farm, there was no involvement for Alty for Josh Hancock, Curtis Miller, Dan Mooney or trialist Ashley Smith-Brown.

Altrincham were second-best for much of the first half and reached the break two goals down, with Fylde also having hit the crossbar. The Coasters started the game on top before Alty enjoyed a few minutes looking more promising.

But, after Thompson had taken a short goalkick to Moult, the captain's pass back saw possession lost. Moult fouled Willoughby in trying to retrieve the situation and conceded a penalty which Willoughby himself converted, his spot-kick just evading Thompson's dive (29 mins).

Five minutes later Nick Houghton made it 2-0 when he advanced from midfield to fire past a flat-footed Thompson from 25 yards (34 mins). Shortly before half-time Junior Mondal hit the crossbar with Thompson beaten. A routine save from Williams by the Coasters' keeper Neild was the only effort of note from Altrincham in the first half.

After 62 minutes, unexpectedly, and with the Coasters seemingly living up to their nickname, Kosylo pulled a goal back thanks to a big deflection of his 25-yarder over keeper Neild. Two minutes later Clayton's header diverted a shot from Ceesay into the net to make it 2-2.

Alty finished the game well and were just about deserving of their draw at the final whistle after two late efforts had gone close to snatching a win.

Match report here

TODAY'S OPPONENTS: AFC FYLDE

Today (Saturday), Altrincham face AFC Fylde behind closed doors in their fifth and penultimate pre-season friendly. The match will be covered by Radio Robins (link above).

Alty's only league encounter with AFC Fylde came in 2016-17, a season in which Fylde were to be promoted and Altrincham relegated. In the home encounter at Moss Lane, The Coasters had won 6-0, prompting the departure of manager Neil Young, whose three initial matches had seen Alty unbeaten with three successive 2-2 draws, against teams all in the top five at the time of Fylde's visit.

This season, roles are reversed insofar as Fylde are recovering from relegation back to National North whilst Altrincham are looking forward to promotion back into the top flight of non-League football.

For the 2016 match, Altrincham gave a debut to former Crawley Town goalkeeper Callum Preston and coach Simon Garner also started his first match for the Club, at left-back, after two appearances from the bench this season. Altrincham were still without the injured Tom Hannigan and Shaun Densmore whilst Craig Hobson was also out following his injury the previous Saturday.

Above: Jake Moult tries to organize things in the Alty v AFC Fylde match in 2016.

It was all effectively over for Altrincham inside 17 minutes, by which time they were three down. The floodgates opened for the first time on the seventh minute when the tricky Hardy got in a low cross from the right, which Rowe netted. Five minutes later it was 0-2 as a speculative low shot from outside the box by Dixon evaded Preston's dive.

It was 0-3 another five minutes afterwards when Goodall's fine tackle stopped Dixon's advance but the ball ran to Daniels, who scored. Next, Hardy made it 4-0; his goal arrived when Cyrus sliced the ball, Preston then punched it into the air and, although half-cleared, the ball came to Hardy. From an acute angle on the left byline he scored.

By the end of the 37th minute it was 5-0 to Fylde as Dixon scored again after Cyrus had missed a low cross from the Fylde left. By this stage, the visitors' nickname "The Coasters" seemed doubly appropriate.

Alty made two changes at the break but conceded again within 90 seconds of the restart. After Alty had failed to challenge Hardy on the edge of the box, Bond's shot went in off the underside of the bar.

At 0-6 and with 43 minutes still to go, it looked as if the visitors would at least match the seven scored here by Slough in 1991 in a 7-3 win but a combination of the visitors taking their foot off the gas and Alty making a better fist of things meant that there was no further scoring. Damian Reeves did hit the post for Altrincham but the game ended with Fylde keeping the ball for periods as the hosts struggled to make an impact.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Callum PRESTON, 2. Sam PATTERSON, 3. David LYNCH, 4. John CYRUS, 5. Simon RICHMAN, 6. Alan GOODALL (capt), 7. James LAWRIE, 8. Jake MOULT, 9. Danny HATTERSLEY, 10. Damian REEVES, 11. Simon GARNER. Subs: 12. Jamie MENAGH, 14. Sean MILLER, 15. Charlie JOYCE, 16. Sam HEATHCOTE, 20. Andrew DAWBER

In the return fixture in January 2017, Altrincham fared a little better, only losing 4-1 to The Coasters.

That was a clash between top and bottom in whuich Alty almost grabbed an early lead as, with barely a minute having elapsed, Lawrie's pass from inside left went behind Owens but fell to Newby who hit the outside of the post.

But, after Dixon had advanced on the right, Rowe curled his shot into the top corner of the net from inside the "D" to Deasy's right to give Fylde a 10th minute lead. On a very wet pitch Fylde made it 2-0 eight minutes later when Jones let the ball go but then fouled his opponent as the Fylde man got free behind him. Rowe lashed home the resulting freekick from a central position.

Alty's misfortunes continued as Clee, who had been clattered just after the first goal, had to be subbed with only twenty minutes on the clock. It became 3-0 when a Bradley cross led to Rowe's shot being saved but the loose ball was tapped in by Wilson (28 mins).

Alty gained some hope when Lawrie completed a fine move on the left, converting McWilliams's cross with a half volley to make it 3-1 just before the interval. Altrincham saw a lot of the ball in the second half but could not break down the home defence and, against the run of play. Fylde made it 4-1 after 74 minutes through substitute Matty Hughes's close-range goal.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Tim DEASY, 2. Sam PATTERSON, 3. Andy McWILLIAMS, 4. Jake MOULT (c), 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. John CYRUS, 7. Elliot NEWBY, 8. Gary JONES, 9. Andy OWENS, 10. James LAWRIE, 11. Nicky CLEE Subs: 12. Sam HEATHCOTE, 14. Simon RICHMAN, 15. Oluwatomisin ADELOYE, 16. Laurence TAYLOR, 17. Kyle BROWNHILL.

A comparison of the line-ups for the two games shows the amount of turmoil at Alty that season with just four players starting both games.

FIRST LEAGUE OPPONENTS: WEYMOUTH

Altrincham are scheduled to play Weymouth on Saturday, 3 October, in their opening fixture of the Vanarama National League 2020-21 season.

From Dorset, Weymouth report that "Brian Stock’s team selection against Ebbsfleet United tomorrow (Saturday) will not translate into a 'set in stone' starting XI for Weymouth’s opening National League game.

Terras’ boss Stock leads his side into their final pre-season friendly before the campaign begins at Altrincham next weekend, Covid-19 restrictions permitting. Fleet visit the Bob Lucas Stadium having dropped down to the National League South following the controversial points per game decision last term...

Stock told Echosport 'The attitude’s been first-class and performances in training have mirrored the fixtures... The squad is very strong and competition for places is very high. Usually when it comes to this stage in pre-season you look at what your starting line-up may be for the following week.

Right: March 2009, Weymouth's last visit to Moss Lane, ended in a 4-0 win for Altrincham. Here the visitors' keeper tips a shot over the bar.

'It’s not set in stone. In order for us to be successful this year we’re going to have to be successful as a squad. Anyone who doesn’t want to be a part of that, doesn’t remain focused and show the same attitude they have done this year, will find themselves out of the group.

'I think they understand that. I’ve inherited a healthy squad and we should be fine on that front. If I’m being honest, I’ve seen enough of the boys in my short time as manager in training and games. Everyone’s had a fair amount of fixture time'...

Jack Dickson is struggling with a similar injury to Cameron Murray’s compartment syndrome issue last season. Stock said 'Jack has got an injury where it flares up every now and then. He’s one that will need some medical work'".

Weymouth add that when "The Terras face Ebbsfleet United at the Bob Lucas Stadium in a behind closed doors friendly this Saturday, the match will be the final test for Brian Stock’s side before they are due to take on Altrincham...

Weymouth come into this game unbeaten in pre-season, winning their latest fixture 4-2 away to Slough Town last Saturday... The Terras' side will have to be cautious of Lee Martin. The former Manchester United and Millwall midfielder has 3 goals in his last 2 games. The sides last faced each other in the 2008-09 Conference Premier, which was the Terras’ last campaign in the fifth tier...

This could be a pivotal game for Weymouth, as they look to continue their unbeaten run into the upcoming season, and the confidence gained from this could be invaluable for the side... The Terras' boss said he had looked at this final friendly as a 'potential marker for playing our strongest squad'. However Stock did profess that, due to the 'volume and quality of the squad'” that it’s still all to be determined for the arranged curtain raiser against Altrincham".

ON THIS DAY: 26 September

Altrincham's last six games on today's date were all away fixtures and in none of the matches was the visiting team beaten.

Back in 2015, Altrincham gained their first away win of the 2015-16 season and their first clean sheet of the season on their inaugural visit to Boreham Wood. Boreham Wood, who had been promoted to the National League that summer, had recently announced that the club had gone 'full-time' by moving to three daytime training days.

This game ended 1-0 but Alty should have won by a clearer margin than Michael Rankine's early penalty in the ninth minute. (Seen above, with Rankine far right).

With 60 Alty fans in a sparse crowd of 351 at Meadow Park, the game started with both sides unable to keep the ball and, sadly, it got little better in the first half.

The goal arrived when Ryan Crowther was upended, left of goal. After that, Alty's best period was in the second half when a succession of four corners went unrewarded. A Rankine header hit the bar and a long shot from Jake Moult was only just saved by Russell.

However, Wood could have snatched a draw in added time when the impressive substitute Morias hit the post with a fierce shot. But the clearest penalty you could ever see was denied Altrincham even later in added time when George Bowerman was tripped and the referee put his whistle to his mouth but he allowed the lack of response from the less well placed linesman to change his mind.

ALTRINCHAM : 17. Tim DEASY, 6. Scott LEATHER, 22. Andrew PARRY, 5. Luca HAVERN (capt), 3. Adam GRIFFIN, 4. Jake MOULT, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 7. James LAWRIE, 20. Jordan SINNOTT, 19. Ryan CROWTHER, 9. Michael RANKINE. Subs: 10. Damian REEVES, 18. George BOWERMAN, 12. Sam HEATHCOTE, 14. Josh O'KEEFE, 24. Rhain DAVIS.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to the Nottingham Post "Neal Ardley says he still remains in the dark as to whether Notts County’s season will go ahead as planned after admitting the National League’s latest statement on the crisis 'didn’t say anything'...

This week it emerged some clubs do no want to start the season until fans are allowed back inside stadiums, but that prospect looks unlikely for the next six months amid a second spike in coronavirus cases... The only way the season will go ahead is if the government provide financial aid to ensure clubs can survive playing behind closed doors.

The League said in a statement on Thursday they are hoping to receive assistance from the government, but it did not clarify if the season will start as planned.

Magpies boss Ardley said 'The statement is about all I know. I am not even sure what the statement is supposed to be saying as it doesn’t say anything really. We are going into the final week of pre-season with absolutely no clue whatsoever as to whether the season will start.

'I find that incredible, but that’s where we are. I read the statement and can’t really work it out; it doesn’t say anything... I guess it’s watch this space.'”

Ardley made his feelings clear during a meeting with other managers on Monday, but said he was the only one to raise concerns. And he still remains adamant that there is a way to start the season as planned with talks continuing about streaming services for supporters that will allow them to pay to watch games via the Internet.

'We had a managers’ meeting on Monday and spent one hour and 20 minutes on the handball rule and 10 on any other business,'” he said... 'I was the only one who spoke up at the end and asked questions as to what plan B was when I was told the league wouldn’t be going ahead without fans. I asked questions about the five subs rule at a time when players haven’t played for months. Injuries are likely and given the schedules we have, why have we only got five subs?

'I got no real response to that either. I don’t know what other managers and clubs are thinking. I get the financial difficulties of having no supporters, but if the alternative was let’s wait a week or two and this will get sorted then I’d be willing to do that. But that’s not the alternative. The alternative is you don’t play any football and you will be the only two steps that don’t. That’s why I am adamant we have to find a way.'”

King's Lynn Town report that "The Linnets travel to Clarence Park, the home of Conference South side St Albans City for their final friendly fixture on Saturday, ahead of their scheduled National League opener with Yeovil Town, due to take place in front of the BT Sports camera’s in a week’s time.

The fixture has a 2pm kick off and supporters are reminded that the fixture will be behind closed doors so please do not travel".

But another National League club will not be playing this weekend as Hartlepool United reported that their Friday game had been postponed. "The Club is disappointed to announce that tonight’s pre-season friendly against Consett AFC has been cancelled.

As a result of additional Covid restrictions introduced over the last 24 hours, Durham FA’s regulations now prohibit any team from step 3 and below from being involved in friendly games whatsoever.

Following further discussions with Durham FA today, we have been advised that these restrictions apply to any match involving Consett AFC."

From Dagenham & Redbridge we have a "Statement from the Managing Director.

Further to the press release issued by the National League yesterday evening, it is encouraging to note that the League is actively engaged with Government to secure a financial package which will allow the start of the 2020/21 season, albeit behind closed doors. However, with the already delayed season due to start in just over a week’s time, the announcement of such a package is obviously crucial.

I have previously written to our local MPs and would like to publicly thank Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham & Rainham, and Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, who have both made representations on our behalf to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport on the plight of the 67 clubs in the National League and the communities they represent.

However, it is clear from the press release that time is not on our side.

This morning [Friday] therefore I have written to all five of our local MPs, Jon Cruddas, Dame Margaret Hodge, Julia Lopez, Sam Tarry and Andrew Rosindell asking them if they could make representations on behalf of the National League to the DCMS requesting that an urgent conclusion is reached in the ongoing discussions which will allow our season to commence as planned on the 3rd October."

At Chesterfield "The Spireites are set to face Guiseley in a pre-season fixture at the Technique Stadium on Saturday afternoon (12 noon).

A reminder that this game is a behind-closed-doors friendly – please do not attempt to access the stadium or the car park.

Team News: John Dungworth said after the Alfreton Town friendly that he hoped that Curtis Weston and Nathan Tyson would be back for this Saturday’s game...

Kellett is one of two former Chesterfield players at Guiseley alongside forward Jonathan Wafula... During his time at Wigan, Kellett joined the Spireites on loan whilst in League Two. He played 41 times, scoring six times... Since leaving Wigan in 2018, the 26-year-old has played for Notts County, AFC Fylde and Alfreton Town before joining Guiseley in July 2020.

Chesterfield have played twice in pre-season so far, beating Belper Town 3-2 and losing to Alfreton Town 2-0".

FA CUP DRAW

Ties involving north-west and selected other clubs in the Emirates FA Cup Second Preliminary Round are as follows. Ties will be on Saturday October 3, with each winner receiving £3,375 and each loser £1,125.
25 September 2020

ALTY'S VIEW ON STARTING THE SEASON

Altrincham FC has reproduced Thursday evening's National League statement, as follows...

"Following a meeting of its Board of Directors this afternoon, the following update is issued on behalf of The National League:

In recognition of the financial uncertainty facing its member clubs, The National League is actively engaged with Government, with the assistance of The Football Association, to secure a critical financial support package, and it is hoped this can be announced very soon.

It is imperative the revenue shortfall caused by the pause to the safe return of spectators is responsibly addressed so each club can operate sustainably over the course of the forthcoming season".

Earlier, Altrincham FC had issued a "Statement regarding the 2020/2021 season", which is reported on the official site via the above link.

 In it, co-chairman Bill Waterson writes that "We now face a decision as to whether we honour the original start date, but playing in empty stadia or we delay the start of the season until fans can once more be admitted to our grounds. Each club will have a different view on the better approach to this issue, and either approach leads to a serious cost impact on all member clubs.

Taking this into account, the preference of Altrincham FC is to start the season behind closed doors with the visit of Weymouth on Saturday October 3rd, followed by our visit to Notts County (a match which will be broadcast live on BT Sport) on Wednesday October 7th.

There are two provisos to this preference, and both are needed to make the restart viable.

The first is that the current league plans to allow each club to pursue their own live streaming option for home games, as a revenue stream for the home clubs, continues at least until stadia are open to full capacity.

The second is that The National League continues to work with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Football Association to put in place a funding package for all member clubs to address the severe cash shortfall that will be facing all member clubs across the National League and the North and South Divisions.

We have done a lot of work, in the background, to put in place a live streaming option for Alty TV".

FIRST OPPONENTS: WEYMOUTH

The first opponents of 2020-21 season for Altrincham are scheduled to be Weymouth where manager "Brian Stock catches up with Amberley Silk and tells her "When I took the job, I was expecting to be a bit more nervous, but it has come naturally... I’ve inherited such a good group of players. Mark Molesley has done a good job previously; he’s left behind a healthy team and we’ve added a few players to that...

'I have been impressed with [loanees] Jack Bycroft and Sam Pearson; they have all made an instant impact. All three players are exciting prospects for the future and I’m grateful for their parent clubs to trust us with their up and coming talent. In regard to new signings, we are keeping close tabs on a couple of players, but our business will be done in a confidential and professional manner...

'It would be catastrophic if the season was to be postponed and I hope that they would look at a more sensible approach whilst taking into consideration, everyone’s health and safety. I took training with the boys yesterday and my message to them was to keep going and keep focused on the first game of the season because at the moment that is still going ahead. There is massive uncertainty around that and there is a high chance that it might be cancelled but we have to be professional with how we approach things...

'I think the competition is great, the only downside is, when you announce the squad, the players that aren’t in it will have to be in stands and they might even have to travel and not play'".

Amberley Silk stated 'Altrincham away is a huge game to kick off the start of the season, whether that be next week or in the near future. There are many parallels between the Mancunian side and Weymouth, 2 promotions in 3 years have seen them into the National League. How were you looking to prepare your side for a tough game against a team driven by the same success as yourselves?'

Stock answered 'At the end of the day, the first game of the season is always going to be tough, no matter what team you play... We’ll go into the game with confidence after a good pre-season... Their fitness is at its peak. We’re still topping that up leading into the season... which I think is vital as we’re a part-time team. We’ve got nothing to fear'".

ON THIS DAY: 25 September

Ten years ago today, on Saturday, 25 September 2010, Altrincham welcomed Grimsby Town to Moss Lane for a Blue Square Bet Premier match, which ended two-apiece. This was the first meeting of these two sides, following Grimsby's relegation from League Two. Nicky Clee was out injured so the Altrincham team was unchanged, except on the bench where Matty Crowell had recovered from injury to replace Danny Holmes. Grimsby gave a debut to former Morecambe striker Danny Carlton, signed earlier this week.

Alty groundmsan Neil Brown had mown the pitch for the game to a tartan pattern to mark the presence of 32 Scotsmen in the Sponsors' Lounge, who were taking in the Altrincham v Grimsby game as part of their "stag" celebrations!

Altrincham earned a well-deserved point when Shaun Densmore headed home James Smith's cross from the right in the first added minute after the ninety. But it was referee Harrington who really decided the outcome when, in the first half, he failed to give a penalty when Densmore was clearly upended deep in the penalty area and then allowed a blatant foul on goalkeeper Coates to go undetected which gave Grimsby their first goal, by Bore, after 27 minutes.

With Nicky Clee out injured, Alty also lost Michael Welch, to a knock after half an hour.

Following a superb save from Coates, Alty broke away from the resulting corner and McCarthy fed Denham who raced for goal, kept his head and scored a fine equalizer (54 mins). Against the run of second-half play, Connell, the pick of Grimsby's otherwise unspectactular team, curled in a fine goal to make it 2-1 after 77 minutes. With time almost up, came Densmore's header at the back post.

A small section of the visiting fans did not take kindly to the outcome and neither did their captain, Ridley, who refused his Away Man of the Match award in no uncertain terms, before relenting. Chris Denham won the Home Man of the Match champagne.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. James COATES; 5. Robbie WILLIAMS, 2. James SMITH, 22. Michael WELCH; 4. Marc JOSEPH, 16. Anthony DANYLYK, 7. Robbie LAWTON (capt), 15. Ryan BROWN; 6. Shaun DENSMORE; 10. Chris DENHAM, 23. James McCARTHY. Subs: 1. Stuart COBURN, 20. Sam HEWSON, 12. Kevin HOLSGROVE, 8. Damian REEVES, 18. Matty CROWELL.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Woking state that "Following recent speculation, the Board would wish to reassure fans that it is fully aware of the transfer of Harry Arter from AFC Bournemouth to Nottingham Forest.

We can confirm that we are in dialogue with AFC Bournemouth and that, historically, Woking Football Club has always received any monies properly due under the original transfer agreement between ourselves and AFC Bournemouth. In due course we would expect the same to be true in respect of this recent transaction."

At Torquay United the "friendly against Bath City, due to take place this Saturday, 26th September, has been called off following several injuries in the City camp.

In order to avoid further injuries and ensure players can be fit for the season start date on 3rd October, Bath have therefore taken the decision to cancel the fixture."

olihull Moors report that "Jake Beesley has completed a permanent transfer to League One side Rochdale AFC.

The move sees Beesley, 23, depart the Moors for an undisclosed fee and progress two divisions higher into the English Football League, and a division higher from where he joined the club from. He first arrived last October on a loan deal from Salford City, making an instant impact on his debut with a goal against Sutton United.

Beesley made the Moors his full-time home in January and went on to play 29 times in all competitions, scoring five goals...

Technical Director Craig Cope said 'Jake has been with us for almost 12 months and, although we were keen for him to remain a Moors player, it is fantastic to see him sign for a League One club'".

Eastleigh "confirm that the planned pre-season fixture against Brentford ‘B’ on Friday, 25th September, has been cancelled due to the emergence of positive COVID19 tests from our London opponents.

Brentford made sure to alert the club as soon as they were made aware of their positive tests...

Replacing this cancelled game, we will now face Hemel Hempstead Town FC on Saturday, 26th September, at home. The match will be played behind closed doors".

At Barnet "Scott Loach is optimistic ahead of the new season... The goalkeeper spoke to us following the 2-1 pre-season victory over Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday afternoon, where goals from Josh Walker and JJ Hooper secured Beadle's side back to back victories...

He said 'It was another good run out, it was a credit to both gaffers for getting the game on, with the short turnaround from the Summer, it was important to have another game. We flew off to a good start and if it wasn't for their 'keeper we could have been about 6-0 up at half time! Once we turned around at half time, it was windy conditions, we made it hard for ourselves which is frustrating because we had full control of the game. But on the same side you can take plusses that we showed a good attitude to dig out and get a gritty result.'

The Bees have now played four games in pre-season, in each of them there has been improvement...

'We have got a lot of new boys in and some trialists, it's going to be a little hit and miss. If I am going to brutally honest it may take a month or so of the season until we have that gelled regular starting XI'...

The attacking trio of Ephron Mason-Clark, Walker and Hooper have been a bright spark of the pre-season campaign so far, with each finding the net regularly...

'I can't speak highly enough about Josh Walker, this is a bold statement but I have been at many clubs and he is the best finisher I have seen, he could walk into any team that I have played in. If he can keep the standard of last year and we can get Ephron fit for the year, with JJ whose record speaks for itself, he was a man in demand last year, if we get them firing then teams will be scared to play us.'">

And also at Barnet "New Bees defender Alexander McQueen shared his thoughts after he was announced as our fifth signing of the summer.

The defender has been on trial with the Club for the last 10 days and has impressed gaffer Peter Beadle...

'I have been here over a week now and I have been getting to know all of the boys. It's a great place to be and I think we will do really well this season'...

Our new defender comes to The Hive London having most recently played for Dagenham and Redbridge where he made 58 appearances during his two-year spell with the club. The full-back can also play in midfield too and believes he can bring plenty to Beadle's side with both his attributes and versatility.

'I'm a good ballplayer first and foremost and I like to defend and attack. I like to get assists at one end and stop crosses at the other!'"

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH NEWS

On Thursday, NL Daily reported that "The clubs in the National League North have this afternoon released a joint-statement to the National League Board ahead of today’s meeting. Addressed to the league’s chief executive Michael Tattersall, the open letter reads...

A meeting was held by Zoom at 17.30 on Wednesday 23rd September 2020 with representation from the majority of member clubs from the National League North to discuss the financial implications of the government’s announcement that supporters will not be allowed entry in to stadiums from the 1st October 2020. During the meeting a set of anonymous polls were conducted with the most important question being asked of clubs, 'Given the simple option, no caveats attached, of starting the season or not without crowds, what would your answer be?'

The majority verdict of 81% from clubs in the National League North would be to NOT start the season, unless there was a financial support package in place for member clubs.

The meeting considered the impact of the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round on the contractual status of players, many of whom have contracts that begin on the ‘commencement of the football season’. We are sure you are aware that clubs wrote these contracts based on information provided by the FA via the National League. The issue is, that should there be a delay to the National League North season then these contracts would be activated by the FA Cup fixture. This would leave clubs exposed to having to pay these players for the rest of the season with obvious financial implications...

The question was asked why do clubs from Step 1 receive one vote per club and Step 2 only receives four votes per league? We believe the decision regarding when to start the National League should be democratic across all members due to the financial implications of any decision on member clubs... We request that we should be treated equally and have one vote per club across the whole National League system.

These are views shared by the majority of clubs in the National League North and we ask that they are represented at the National League Board meeting taking place today.

Yours sincerely, AFC Fylde David Haythornthwaite, AFC Telford Luke Shelley, Alfreton Wayne Bradley, Blyth Spartans Anthony Platten, Boston United David Newton, Brackley Town Pat Ashby, Bradford (Park Avenue) Martin Knight, Chester Andrew Morris, Chorley Graham Watkinson, Curzon Ashton Rob Hurst, Darlington David Johnston, Farsley Celtic Joshua Greaves, Gateshead Neil Pinkerton, Gloucester City Alex Patheram, Guiseley James Pickles, Hereford Martin Watson, Kettering Town Dave Mahoney, Leamington Jim Scott , Southport Ian Kyle, Spennymoor Town Tony Wilson,

*Kidderminster Harriers No response was received at time of announcement".

NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS

The Northern Premier League confirms that "All NPL clubs are now required by law to use the new NHS Covid-19 app. New NHS QR posters, specific to each club , will be displayed to offer a quick, simple and secure way for supporters and visitors to register that they’ve been to the ground.

This will help NHS Test and Trace to identify and notify people who may have been exposed to the virus. Players, spectators, coaches, match officials, staff / volunteers and all other visitors to the site aged 16 and above must provide their details.

The app is available on Android and iOS. Clubs must also retain a backup manual paper system, for those who do not have an appropriate smartphone to scan the code.

The NHS COVID-19 app has a feature that allows users to quickly and easily ‘check in’ to a venue by scanning the code. The information stays on the user’s phone. In England, you do not have to ask people who choose to ‘check in’ using the official NHS QR code to provide their contact details. If there is an outbreak associated with a venue, a message will be sent to the relevant app users with the necessary public health advice...

Clubs have all been issued with an updated FAQ and COVID-19 guidance from the FA via the league."


24 September 2020

NEXT OPPONENTS: AFC FYLDE

On Saturday, Altrincham travel to the Lancashire coast to take on AFC Fylde, who were relegated last season to National League North.

Right: Alty's first visit to AFC Fylde, in January 2017, ended in a 4-1 defeat. Here, on that occasion, Alty prepare to line up before kick-off.

AFC Fylde manager, "Jim Bentley discussed how pre-season is going so far for his side following the Longridge Town friendly at the weekend.

'The biggest thing is that we’ve picked up no injuries to the players,' Bentley stated.. 'We’re a little bit mix and match at the minute with regards to trialists, as well as young lads and senior lads. Credit where credit is due, Longridge came here and set up well, played some good football and scored a fantastic goal.

'With regards to ourselves, I was a bit disappointed with some of our play and then really pleased with some of the other bits, so it was a mixed bag. We’re a work in progress, we need a few bodies in to help us and we’re working on that all the time, we’ve also got a couple of injuries as well.

'It’s nice for the boys to have got a win but pre-season isn’t anything to get too excited or down about, we don’t get too high or too low whatever happens, it’s about working on things and learning more about players.... I think we were pleased with the first couple of weeks [of pre-season], the way things were working and the way we were going about our business in training and in the games.

'We just think the last week or so that performance wise in the two games [Squires Gate & Longridge] hasn’t been at the level we expect. There’s a lot of things to take into consideration, that we’ve had a couple of injuries and a lot of trialists. Not major injuries, but a few little niggles here and there which isn’t ideal... We need to get a few more bodies in and we are tracking players all the time. We’ve missed out on a few like any other club, but we are light on numbers so we need a few more to get us where we want to be'".

Meanwhile, AFC Fylde "confirm that Neill Byrne has left the club with immediate effect.

The defender was firmly in Jim Bentley’s plans going forward into the 2020/21 National League North campaign, however he has been allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere due to being adamant in his desire to leave, despite the best efforts of the management team to persuade him otherwise.

Coasters CEO, Jonty Castle had also offered the 27-year-old a new contract to remain with the club, which he also rejected. The club wants to finalise its squad for the upcoming campaign as quickly as possible and will now continue to explore other defensive options".

AFC Fylde's weekend match with Salford City was cancelled with The Coasters stating "The reason behind the decision is that the Ammies have other playing commitments, meaning they have unfortunately had to withdraw from the game".

ALTY BOSS HAPPY WITH PROGRESS

After defeat at Alfreton on Tuesday, Altrincham FC has an audio interview with manager Phil Parkinson, recorded by Brian Flynn for Radio Robins

ALTY OLD BOY

In Tuesday's FA Cup ties, Altrincham's Lewis Salmon netted the third goal for for Stalybridge Celtic in their 3-0 win against Bishop Auckland. Striker Lewis is dually registered with the Tameside club and Altrincham.

ON THIS DAY: 24 September

Altrincham's first ever competitive game with Cambridge United took place fifteen years ago today on 24 August 2005 and it provided Alty supporters with perhaps their most unusual approach to an away game. The only previous meetings between these sides had been a friendly at Moss Lane in August 1967 which Altrincham had won 7-1.

It used to be that visiting the UniBond League grounds brought the stranger experiences for Alty fans; the three-sided pitch at Bishop Auckland, the slag-heap backdrop at Frickley and the cavernous Halton Stadium with its 200 spectators for example, but Alty's return to the top-flight of non-League in 2004-05 season meant that it was the large former league clubs’ grounds which were providing the most bizarre moments.

The away entrance at Aldershot was a precipitous descent along a wooded path; the York City policy of confiscating bottle tops was amazing whilst, for this fixture, the police-imposed route to the Abbey Stadium involved, firstly, a detour of several miles for the supporters' coach on and from the A14 which took the passemgers to a designated drop-off point outside a public house a half-mile from the ground. The route from there to the Abbey Stadium was an unsigned pathway through an open field protected by cattle grids in which a herd of cows was grazing.

Negotiating the cow pats on a sunny afternoon was not too bad, but doing so for an evening fixture as happened later was even more interesting. The length of the walk there and back was also a struggle for some of our older supporters.

Once inside, the stadium itself was impressive and provided good facilities for away fans behind the goal in a newish all-seater South Stand.

Above: Alty fans (Terry Surridge, Mike Garnett and Malcolm Riley) dodge the cow pats on the half-mile hike through a field of unfenced cattle from the dropping off point dictated by Cambridgeshire Constabulary for away fans' supporters coaches at Cambridge United. Even the drop-off point was only reached after a diversion from the direct route of several miles from the A14, again at the behest of the Constabulary. The ground's floodlights are visible on the horizon. .

Above: Stuart Coburn pushes the ball over the bar.

Alty had only picked up one point from their previous three games and both sides had also had trouble scoring in recent weeks, though the “U”s had hit three whilst conceding five in midweek.

In addition to their long-term injured, Eddie Hussin, Gary Scott, Steve Aspinall, Marcus Hallows, Lutel James and Richard Norris, Alty were also without the more recently injured Colin Potts, Gary Talbot and Chris Adams for this game. So, Kirk Hilton played at left-back, George Melling at centre-back and Kieran Lugsden started on the right. Only five of the starting line-up from the Conference Play-Off final a few months earlier were fit to play and six of this game's starters had started fewer than half of the matches played by Alty that season in the Conference National.

In the match, after five successive defeats, Cambridge bounced back to beat a depleted Altrincham side comfortably. After 14 minutes, the Alty defence backed off to allow Pitt to score. Three minutes later Onibuje got past George Melling to sidefoot home. In the second half, Altrincham had the better of the game for almost half an hour with young striker Lee Hendley looking especially lively.

But they faded in the final stages, allowing Onibuje to score again (78 mins). On 82 minutes Atkins added a fourth after a Stuart Coburn parry. Alty dropped to fifteenth in the table.

ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, white shorts, red socks) : 1. Stuart COBURN, 12 Steve HAWES, 24. George MELLING, 4. Mark MADDOX, 23. Kirk HILTON; 20. Kieran LUGSDEN, 8. Val OWEN, 15. Peter BAND, 16. James OLSEN; 9. Colin LITTLE, 10. Rod THORNLEY. Subs: 14. Lewis CHALMERS, 17. Karl MUNROE, 19. Gary WILLIAMS, 21. Stephen ROSE, 26. Lee HENDLEY.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to BT Sport, "Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter has accused the National League board of acting with 'incompetence' over plans not to start the season if crowds are not allowed in...

The league’s board will meet on Thursday, where formal discussions over the future of the 2020/21 season will take place. Hunter claims he found out about plans not to start the season via his manager who had been on a conference call with the league’s chief executive Michael Tattersall and has called for a discussion before any decision is made...

He said on the club’s YouTube channel. 'I found out about the league’s decision, that if spectators weren’t allowed in the ground that the league wouldn’t start through a manager's meeting which was conducted by the chief exec Michael Tattersall. It is hard for me to say what I feel because it is actually difficult to look at certain incompetence of the chief executive.

'You can’t make that decision as a league without talking to the owners and chairmen. You don’t give that sort of information to managers. Managers don’t pay the staff, they don’t pay the players and they don’t pay themselves...

'Nobody needs leagues to be issuing ultimatums that they won’t play if crowds can’t come back. They can only come back if it is safe, otherwise it is a dereliction of duty. We need discussion at league level with owners and chairman, not nonsense and idle threats from leagues and it being told to the managers. A board is to represent the clubs and the chairman and owners are the ones who pick up the bill. It needs a full and frank discussion with everybody.

'My personal view is I would like to start the league on October 3, with or without a crowd. I would like an intelligent conversation, one that doesn’t fit all. Let the owners and chairman have a voice and if the democratic voice is that we don’t start, then we don’t start.'

Hunter also took a swipe at Dagenham managing director Steve Thompson, who on Tuesday called for a £15-20 million Government bail-out to help clubs survive. 'I can’t keep listening to people saying the Government have to bail us out,' he added. 'There is one London chairman who says the Government have to give us £15-20million to bail us out. You can’t do that and then pay a striker £2,500 a week and then think the Government is going to bail you out. That is just crazy. We all have to cut our cloth accordingly. You can’t spend huge on budgets and then complain you’ve got no money, you all know what you’re doing.'”

So what did the Dagenham & Redbridge chairman, Stephen Thompson MBE, actually say? "It was great to see so many people back at the Chigwell Construction Stadium watching live football...

Some of you may have seen press reports or interviews I have given in the past 24 hours where I have called for a Government financial package to support the 67 teams in the Vanarama National League and National Leagues North & South.

The Prime Minister's announcement yesterday appears to have blocked the return of spectators to our games from next month and puts into doubt the start of the new season and, in my opinion, the very existence of the National League itself. If our season does not go ahead because clubs are unable to play behind closed doors due to lack of income, some clubs will undoubtably go to the wall and without clubs we have no League...

The 67 National League clubs undoubtably form an important part of the fabric of our society.

It is therefore imperative that a financial package is put in place by the Government and quickly. £20 million is needed to allow clubs to start and play games behind closed doors and install a streaming service to keep loyal supporters... engaged with their clubs whilst the present emergency continues...

Just over two weeks ago, I started our own preparations to introduce a streaming service from our ground and this is on target to be up and running before the end of the month. So timewise, it is still possible for clubs to have their own streaming service in place by mid-October at the very latest.

But we cannot overlook the fact that any revenue clubs can achieve from streaming will still only be a fraction of their normal matchday income. That is why extra financial support is still essential. The Government was fantastic in the support given at the start of the pandemic and the furlough scheme and hospitality grants enabled clubs to hibernate and survive the past six months. I have estimated that National League clubs probably benefited this way to the tune of £15 to £20 million. I am now asking for a similar amount.

But, this time,not to hibernate but to keep our clubs, our league and our communities functioning so that we can still start the 2020/2021 season and still have all our clubs for the 2021/2022 season and beyond">

The Leader Live reminds us that "The Leader reported earlier this month how an approach to invest in the club had been made by 'two extremely well-known individuals of high net worth.' Wrexham Supporters Trust Board (WST) called a special general meeting, which took place on Tuesday evening, September 22.

The purpose of the meeting was to authorise the board of WST or sub-groups of the board (and advisers) to discuss the offer with the investors in order to negotiate a detailed heads of terms for a potential transaction.

The intention being that once a detailed heads of terms is negotiated the board of WST will call a further special meeting for members to accept or reject the offer.

Following the meeting, a spokesman confirmed 'At an SGM called for approval of the Offer, WST board will provide all appropriate information regarding any offers to members. The Investors will be permitted to present their vision for Wrexham AFC Limited to the members in writing or by audio visual means. The board of WST be authorised to engage appropriate professional advisers... The WST Board will now proceed with talks, and will update members on the next steps as soon as possible.'

In total, there were 1,223 votes made in favour of moving forward with plans and 31 objections".

The wealthy would-be owners were later revealed as the Leader Live responded with supporters to "the stunning news that two Hollywood stars are looking to purchase their club.

Last night, the Wrexham Supporters' Trust confirmed the two 'high profile investors interested in the club' are Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Canadian superstar Ryan Reynolds is an actor, writer, producer and business entrepreneur best-known for his portrayal of Marvel comic book anti-hero Deadpool in two blockbuster movies.

Rob McElhenney is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter, best known as the creator, producer and star of cult comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

A Trust spokemsan said 'In due course, Mr. McElhenney and Mr. Reynolds will put forward their vision for Wrexham AFC and proposal for members to vote on at a second Special General Meeting.'"

At Solihull Moors, "The club have released the following statement...

'Following the Government’s announcement yesterday to pause plans to bring back supporters to elite football in October, Solihull Moors has made formal representation to the National League board urging the league to start on October 3 as scheduled...

The club have been preparing for a 46-game season and have undertook [sic] a full five-week pre-season training programme. The club have also invested in the team for the new season ahead, all gearing towards the scheduled start date.

The National League previously gained approval from the Government for our league to be classed as an elite sport. As of 23 September, all elite football in England above the National League has commenced (12 September) as well as other leagues below which are classed as non-elite. It would appear that, as a league, we have been caught between elite and non-elite, causing serious uncertainty with regards to our 2020/21 fixture programme. As an elite league, we should be mirroring The EFL and Premier League, who commenced on 12 September.

In light of the Government’s latest announcement, we firmly believe that the season should commence on October 3 behind-closed-doors. We understand from the Government’s statement that the latest measures could last for up to six months, taking us into March 2021. Solihull Moors played their last competitive fixture on March 7, 2020, so a wait for supporters to return to stadia would leave our football club without a football match being played for 12 months. This is clearly not sustainable for a football club..

Clubs have to look at innovative ways of generating income and engaging supporters in the current climate through live streaming. The lifting of the UEFA 3pm broadcast rule and options for live streaming has already been put forward to clubs by the National League. This clearly indicated to clubs that the league was prepared for part of the season to be played behind-closed-doors if required.

Clubs have already demonstrated that they are able to host behind-closed-doors matches safely and successfully in line with relevant safety protocols, which have all been approved by local authorities. Some clubs, including ourselves, have also operated behind-closed-doors matches under even tighter restrictions due to local lockdowns... with the club engaging a dedicated Covid-19 officer to ensure all our operational plans for running a football match are Covid secure.

To further delay our season and create more uncertainty is unacceptable. "

FC Halifax Town "have signed Irish centre-half Neill Byrne following his departure from AFC Fylde.

The 27 year old came through the academy with Nottingham Forest from the age of 14. He joined Rochdale making three appearances for Dale before loan spells with Barrow and Southport.

Byrne has had spells with AFC Telford United, Macclesfield Town and Gateshead before moving to Fylde in 2018.

He has represented Republic of Ireland youth at international level."

Aldershot Town "travelled to Berkshire for their penultimate pre-season friendly, which resulted in 2-1 defeat to Slough Town, who reached the National League South Play-Offs last season.

After a relatively quiet opening period, the home side opened the scoring through striker Ben Harris, who pounced on an under-hit back pass... The home side doubled their lead... through Harris again. The Slough No.9 latched onto a long ball and wriggled past the Aldershot centre-backs before rounding Walker again to execute a similar finish to his first strike.

The Shots capped a fine move down the left flank in the 36th minute with a strong left footed finish from the edge of the area by Toby Edser, after good work by Shroll, Trialist A and Nouble.

Cascadian [?] international Nouble showed great strength, touch and pace again shortly before half time with another burst down the left flank, resulting in a Panayioutou snapshot which was blocked at source and The Rebels took a 2-1 lead into the break.

Aldershot manager Danny Searle made four half time changes, with Kodi Lyons-Foster, Josh Rees, Craig Tanner and Trialist B joining the action...

The Shots came close to an equaliser on 70 minutes, when following a foul on Panayiotou just outside the box, Mo Bettamer’s firmly struck free-kick thumped against the Slough crossbar... Ross McCormack made his Aldershot Town introduction in the 72nd minute and he soon tested Turner, with a left footed strike from inside the area which the Slough keeper did well to parry...

Despite the flurry of late chances, the home side held on for the 2-1 win.

Aldershot Town First-Half XI: 1 M Walker (G/K), 2 G Fowler, 4 J Sendells-White, 16 B Shroll, 15 Trialist A, 12 A Whittingham (Wylie 76), 7 J Rowe, 17 T Edser, 9 M Bettamer, 10 H Panayioutou, 14 J Nouble

Aldershot Town Second-Half XI:1 M Walker (G/K), 2 G Fowler, (Colombie 63′) 6 K Lyons-Foster, 16 B Shroll, 19 Trialist B, 12 A Whittingham, (Wylie 76), 7 J Rowe, 8 J Rees, 9 M Bettamer, (McCormack 72), 10 H Panayiotou, (Trialist C 72), 3 Tanner".

We learn from Devon Live that "Torquay United today unveiled a new kit for the 2020/21 season, with prominent palm tree logos on it. For the second season in succession the Gulls' three kits do not have main sponsors on the front, favouring the 1899 logo which marks the year of the club's formation.

The distinctive kit has been produced by sportswear giants, Nike, in collaboration with the club's official kit partners, Pro:Direct...

A statement on the club's official website read 'Paying homage to Torquay’s status as the heart of the English Riviera, all three shirts feature an eye-catching central stripe with a repeating palm tree pattern. Not just any palm tree, either – it’s the famously hardy Torquay Palm, known for its resilience and durability, characteristics that have served United’s players well since the club’s formation in 1899.

The kit is available in yellow, for the home kit, and in dark blue and white, for away variations'".


23 September 2020

ALFRETON TOWN 2-0 ALTRINCHAM

After a goalless first forty-five minutes, a disappointing second half witnessed two goals inside five minutes for Alfreton. The first was netted by ex-Alty man Conor Branson following a corner, just before the hour-mark. And the second arrived four minutes later from a long-range shot by Fox after a mistake by Richman.

Alty did rally with Ceesay prominent and could have levelled in the final five minutes. Firstly, Ceesay fed Peers who missed the target from ten yards and then Ceesay won a penalty. He wanted to take it himself but Max Clayton did so and saw his spot-kick saved.

Match report here

ALTY'S FIRST-DAY OPPONENTS

On Saturday 3 October the National League was set to kick off with newly promoted Weymouth meeting fellow National; League returnees, Altrincham, at the J. Daidson Stadium.

But the Dorset Echo tells us that "Weymouth chairman Ian White has cast doubt on the Terras' planned National League opener at Altrincham... Brian Stock's men are due to travel to fellow promoted side Altrincham, despite local lockdowns remaining in force for Trafford and Greater Manchester.

With the UK's Covid-19 alert level up to four, there is widespread expectation the National League campaign will be affected. Adding to those concerns, this morning cabinet office minister Michael Gove revealed plans for up to 1,000 fans to return to stadiums in elite sports had been iced.

Speaking to BBC Radio Solent Sport, White admitted he had reservations over the season commencing. He said 'We're going to find it difficult. We probably, may be, all right for a couple of months. Unless we get some help from somewhere else, I don't think it's plausible to start.

'Our first game is at Altrincham. You've only got to look at the new (Covid-19) cases maps on some of the news websites and see up into the Manchester and West Midlands. I don't think if the season starts we're expecting to go to Altrincham, unless it's behind closed doors.'"

ON THIS DAY: 23 September

Three years ago today ALtrincham entertained Grantham Town at the J. Davidson Stadium in a Evo-Stik Premier match which the hosts won 1-0.

Altrincham, without the suspended Harrop and Jones and the recuperating Disney, Miller and Taylor neverthless secured a narrow victory against a Grantham side which carried a threat going forward, especially through Lee Shaw. Despite the three points gained, Alty remain eighth in the table.

In the first half the referee, Mr Swallow, failed to take further action against the recently booked Hollingsworth when the Grantham man brought down Peers. If that decision annoyed Alty, the visitors will not have been happy with his allowing the deciding goal, which arrived in the 51st minute. Man of the Match Joel Bembo-Leta won a corner, after which Grantham keeper Preston juggled the ball three times, as he appeared to be jostled in the goalmouth. The ball dropped for Jordan Hulme, who netted from close range.

Above: Alty clear their lines in the second half.

Having used all their substitutes, Alty defender Ben Harrison suffered an injury and spent the last ten minutes hobbling as, first, a central midfielder and, then, further forward. However, he almost produced a late second goal for Alty when he set up Johnston but his shot crashed against the crossbar.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Joel BEMBO-LETA, 3. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. Tom HANNIGAN, 5. Ben HARRISON, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Sam SHERIDAN, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Tom PEERS, 11. Josh HANCOCK. Subs: 12. James POOLE, 14. Josh AMIS, 15. Simon RICHMAN, 16. Lewis SHORT, 20. Tim DEASY

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The Guardian reports that "For Dover Athletic, the outlook could not be starker. The National League club are, according to their chairman, Jim Parmenter, as close as a week away from going out of business unless they receive reassurances the fifth-tier season will soon begin with supporters in attendance.

It is a sickening thought for Parmenter, who has invested more than £4m in the club over 15 years, but confirmation the government has shelved the phased reintroduction of fans has left clubs throughout the pyramid fretting over their immediate futures. Parmenter had previously warned Dover could become the first professional club to collapse as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the reversal on fans being allowed into matches from October could be the final straw for the club, who cannot plough on without match-day income as they continue to foot monthly bills of about £80,000.

On Thursday, the National League board is expected to postpone the new season because many clubs fear it is not viable to start without supporters.

'We have got a week to two weeks left, without some kind of decision on when we can start,' says Parmenter. 'We have to start with fans; it is impossible without fans. We have already spent significant amounts of cash on training and preparations for the start of the season, so that money has gone. We are reliant on sponsorship, gate money, tea and bar revenue, things like that to pay the bills, and none of that looks likely... If they are saying we’re just going to delay it by a couple of weeks that’s a different answer to" ‘‘We don’t know.’ If they say we’re going to start in January: a) there is not enough time to play the 40-odd games; and b), by then it will be too late. The most likely scenario is we will have to close the doors.'

In the next 48 hours Parmenter plans to meet players and staff and he will paint a bleak picture. Last month he made the entire squad available on free transfers to cut costs, after claiming the players refused a 20% wage reduction. 'I’m going to revisit that,' he says. The majority of Dover’s players, most of whom earn £600-900 a week, were brought off furlough at the end of August to train before the proposed 3 October start, while a handful of player contracts will not kick in unless a new season begins.

'For the existing players it will be "Sorry, for the moment, we cannot pay you" says Parmenter. 'And that will have serious implications because football contracts are not like employment contracts; you cannot make people redundant from a football contract.'

Dover, like many lower-league clubs, cannot begin to contemplate Covid-19 testing given the prohibitive cost. Season-ticket sales account for more than 60% of the club’s current cash reserves, around £100,000, but Parmenter will not lean on those funds. 'The biggest problem is we cannot spend our season-ticket receipts because we don’t know if and when the season is going to start. We have made it clear to supporters who have bought season tickets that we would ringfence that money and if the season doesn’t start we will refund that money to season-ticket holders because it’s the right thing to do.'

If this is the final nail in the coffin for Dover, it will represent a heartbreaking end for Parmenter, who assumed control of the club when they were in the eighth tier. 'It has been a huge investment; it’s a labour of love but it looks like it is all going to go,' he says. 'Anybody that is as deeply involved as we are, it is part of your life. We’ve always managed it prudently but this is a situation that could destroy everything. We are in big trouble.'"

And BT Sport reports that "Gateshead chairman Neil Pinkerton has warned that National League clubs will go bust without intervention following a decision to delay the return of football spectators.

Pinkerton’s warning came as Dagenham managing director Steve Thompson called on the Government to deliver a £20 million bail-out package to save the league’s clubs.

The Gateshead chief told the PA news agency 'Clubs will go to the wall, without a doubt. There are clubs that have invested heavily in their playing staff this off-season, and all clubs at this level have got contracted players. The footballing world below League Two needs some sort of intervention to keep going, without a doubt... We’re full-time as well, so these are people’s livelihoods that you’re playing with. Yes it’s sport, but it’s a business and we need to be able to trade...

'I believe that a package of between £15-20 million for the National League would enable those clubs to start behind closed doors,' he told PA... 'I am fearful of clubs going out of business. There are livelihoods at stake, there are communities at stake'...

Thompson believes money from the Government would allow clubs to set up a streaming service, similar to the one used in the EFL, to allow fans to pay to watch games"'

The Hartlepool Mail tells us that "The National League will meet on Thursday to thrash out plans amid growing concern the season won’t start on October 3.

The fifth tier start date had been pushed back to the start of October with the hope that some fans will be allowed inside stadiums. But the Government’s announcement that those plans have been pushed back are causing huge concern among clubs, who have previously been told that the National League season would not start if fans were not allowed in.

A decision is expected on Thursday, with mixed views among clubs over potentially playing behind-closed-doors and the financial impact and whether it was viable for them.

Pools' boss Dave Challinor... said 'It is disappointing, it is news thrust upon us quickly with no hint really. Our thought process was we played behind-closed-doors at the weekend and thought that might be a way for us to go but we were told in a manager’s zoom meeting yesterday that wouldn’t be the case. That, if this decision was made, that we wouldn’t start. It is disappointing and people will have a lot of different views and opinions about it.

'It only affects our level and the one below us, the EFL and PL will continue to play behind-closed-doors', he told BBC Radio Tees... Challinor added... 'We will train this morning, we are out on the dunes, we will have to have a meeting with the staff over where we go. The only option for us is to continue as we are, continue to try and keep things going and look to play behind-closed-doors against Conference North and potentially Under-23 teams'...

Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter has already made his stance clear, stating his club will oppose any plans to start the National League season behind-closed-doors. Parmenter said 'We believe that the most likely outcome is a delay to the start of the fixtures. Unless funding is provided by the government, football behind closed doors is not sustainable at our level. We will oppose any attempt to start the season behind closed doors.'

Meanwhile, Chesterfield chief executive, John Croot... told the Derbyshire Times 'I was surprised and gobsmacked when I heard Michael Gove announce it in a television interview this morning. I played it back to be honest just to make sure I had heard it correctly and then, within a minute, the chairman had called me to say ‘Have you just seen what I’ve just seen?'"

Yeovil Town "confirm the capture of defender Ryan Burke on loan from Birmingham City until January 17th.

Originally from Ireland, Burke played for Crumlin United and later St.Patrick’s Athletic before a successful trial in the ‘Second City’ in 2017. The full-back has enjoyed a number of successful years within the Blues' academy, earning a professional contract and making his first-team debut in the Championship last season as a substitute against Stoke City.

Burke signs for the Glovers in the hunt for first-team football and, when he heard Town were interested, it was an easy decision for the 19-year old. 'I was looking to go out on loan and, when I heard Yeovil were interested in me, I was delighted... It’s a great club, great stadium, and I hear there’s a great set of fans too'".

Meanwhile, Wealdstone "announce the signing of teenage defender Jay Williams.

The 19 year-old is a graduate of the Northampton Town academy and made 16 senior appearances, ending his time with the Cobblers in the summer after seven years at the club. Williams was named under Trialist O and has made five appearances since his debut against Dartford, scoring his first goal for the club against Hayes & Yeading.

The defender has been deployed as a centre-half and a right full-back during pre-season and Williams spent a portion of last season on loan at National League North side Kettering Town.

We can also confirm that Jake Sheppard has departed the club and signed for Hayes & Yeading."

On Tuesday, King's Lynn Town reported that "The Linnets travel to Downham Town this evening for a friendly fixture, bringing the opportunity to also promote the new partnership between the two teams. All tickets for the game have now been sold out and there will be no admittance on the evening without a previously purchased ticket".

The club chairman, Robin Stanton-Gleaves, has told Bromley "The situation continues to change constantly with regard to what level of crowd we will be allowed to have, and also, following the sad news of Macclesfield Town last week, if indeed we will have a fixture on 3rd October. With regard to this fixture, as soon as we have any further news from the National League, we will let you know...

We have had to review our admission prices knowing that we will only be able to operate at a far smaller capacity under the latest COVID Guidelines, and this results in us having to increase these prices. Finally, we have joined forces with a professional broadcasting company so that we can stream all home games live, and you will be able to enjoy the high standard of production you are accustomed to at home on your TV!...

The new membership scheme will be priced at £50 per person but will be free for 2019/20 season ticket holders as our way of thanks for their loyalty to us. This will provide 48 hours priority access to matchday tickets, before they go on general sale.

Admission prices:

With seating being limited due to restrictions, there will now be an additional charge of £5 for this on top of the ticket price. Due to very limited availability, seating will only be available to Adults, OAPs and Family Bookings. When the time comes, seated ticket sales will be managed via a dedicated phone line.

We are pleased to have partnered with a professional Outdoor Broadcasting provider to enable us to stream our home matches professionally. This will include multiple camera angles, instant replays, live commentary, in-game graphics and an interactive pre-match show. In addition, the full stream will be available post-match to those who have missed it, meaning increased flexibility. This service will be priced at £9.99 per match...

We are doing our utmost to ensure that you have access to our home matches, whether it be in the stadium, or via a professional live streaming service...

Since I last wrote to you, nine signings have been made, with a further one being announced later. I can safely say it’s one you’ll all be very pleased with too!

And that signing was revealed as Bromley "announce[d] the return of forward Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, on loan from EFL League One side Portsmouth.

The 22 year-old arrives at Hayes Lane for his third spell with the Club, having originally signed on loan from Charlton Athletic towards the latter stages of the 2018-19 season. After impressing manager Neil Smith, he signed permanently in the Summer of 2019.

After a blistering start to the 2019-20 season for both Club and player, attention was drawn to the in-form forward, and subsequently, in January 2020, he was sold to Portsmouth in a deal which saw Bromley’s record fee received for a player well and truly smashed. Prior to his move, Hackett-Fairchild had contributed eight goals in 25 appearances, as well as numerous assists.

Following nine months with Pompey, Hackett-Fairchild returns on loan until January 2020... Hackett-Fairchild commented on his return 'It’s been tough the last nine months with no football but I can’t wait to get back, get started again and win some games and score some goals!... It is somewhere I have come and enjoyed each spell I’ve spent at the Club, I can’t fault it. It was the first place I wanted to come to at this level, I’m buzzing to be back.'".

F A TROPHY

Notts County lost their FA Trophy semi-final against Harrogate Town at Meadow Lane to the only goal of the match, scored by Will Smith.
22 September 2020

TONIGHT AT ALFRETON

Altrincham travel to play Alfreton Town tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm). The match will be covered by Radio Robins (link at top of page).

In advance of the match, Altrincham FC reported that "Following the 4-0 win over Huddersfield Town B on Saturday, "Assistant manager Neil Sorvel caught up with Aiden Beswick, [and told him] 'We knew that Huddersfield would be technically very good and keep the ball well, which they did in the first half and that gave us the opportunity to work on our defensive shape and hitting them on the counter-attack...

We will be looking to start the 8 substitutes from Saturday at Alfreton tonight, so that all of Saturday’s squad will have featured in a game for at least 60 minutes, with a view to getting the players up to 75-80 minutes game time in the last two pre-season games at AFC Fylde on Saturday and Salford City U23s on Tuesday'.

We could be looking at a starting XI that gives Matt Gould his first start, as well as places in the XI for trialists Joel Senior, Ashley Smith-Brown and Will Hall, plus Curtis Miller, Simon Richman and Toby Mullarkey.

ON THIS DAY: 22 September

Two years ago today, Altrincham were playing an FA Cup Second Qualifying Round match against Northern League Whitley Bay at the J. Davidson Stadium.

Altrincham went into this first-ever match against Whitley Bay without an home win this season but they advanced into the Third Qualifying Round with a comfortable 5-0 win against opponents who kept going to the end, despite playing for more than half the game with ten men.

Above: Jake Moult's fine header was kept out by the woodwork but Tom Hannigan was to be on hand to net the rebound at the back post, making it 3-0.

Altrincham had made two changes from the eleven who had started the previous week at Bradford; Jordan Hulme displaced Tom Peers up front and Max Harrop came in for loanee Owen Dale. On the seven-man bench, new signing Joe Thompson was named as was Conor Hampson, after his long lay-off with a hand injury.

Alty took a 28th minute lead when Simon Richman and Jake Moult did well to get the ball to Jordan Hulme. He slid the ball past the advancing keeper, Flynn, to make it 1-0. Alty were unable to build on their lead but Whitley Bay were reduced to ten men in the 41st minute when Hassan felled Max Harrop, just outside the box, as the midfielder advanced up the middle after winning the ball.

In first-half added time Alty had a great chance to double their lead when Flynn brought down Hulme in the goalmouth but John Johnston's penalty hit the base of the post and rebounded off the keeper, who then grabbed the ball.

The second half was one-way traffic. Moult made it 2-0 after 55 minutes when he scored from close range with help from Jordan Hulme in the build-up. The third goal came from Tom Hannigan at the back post after a Moult header had been kept out.

Substitute Tom Peers made it 4-0 when fellow sub, James Poole, laid on a chance for him and Peers added a fifth with a superb lob from a long ball forward by Harrop in the 84th minute.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Elliot Wynne, 2. Simon Richman, 3. Andy White, 4. James Jones, 5. Tom Hannigan, 6. Jake Moult (c), 7. John Johnston, 8. Sean Williams, 9. Jordan Hulme, 10. Max Harrop, 11. Josh Hancock. Subs: 12. Owen Dale, 14. Tom Peers, 15. Liam Goulding, 16. James Poole, 17. Joseph Thompson, 18. Connor Hampson, 20. Tony Thompson

ALTY OLD BOYS

The Northern Premier League confirms that "Hyde United have announced the signing of.... Darius Palma.

Midfielder Palma, joins from Curzon Ashton on dual-registration terms in order to gain additional game time".

And the NPL also advises us of the move of goalkeeper "Anthony McMillan (right) from Warrington Town to Nantwich Town".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Stockport County report that "Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Tuesday night’s planned pre-season friendly away at Chorley FC has been cancelled by the home side.

County will now next be in action on Saturday 26th September at 1:30pm, as we take on Kidderminster Harriers at Edgeley Park in our final pre-season game of 2020/21."

At Notts County, manager "Neal Ardley says three of his midfielders face fitness tests ahead of Tuesday’s 2019-20 Buildbase FA Trophy semi-final against Harrogate Town.

The boss will definitely be without Casper Sloth, who missed the weekend trip to Telford with a hamstring problem, but he’s hoping for good news on three others ahead of kick-off.

'Jake Reeves, Ruben Rodrigues and Jim O’Brien are having intensive treatment and late fitness tests... If there’s a seed of doubt with any of them we’re not going to force them to play in this game and risk them missing 3 October. If they’re fit, great, but we won’t know until 5pm tomorrow.'

We’re permitted to name up to six ‘new’ signings in the matchday squad, one of whom will be Cal Roberts who was ineligible last season having represented Blyth Spartans. It could also pave the way for the likes of Ruben Rodrigues, Elisha Sam and Jimmy Knowles to make their competitive debuts in a match Ardley is keen to win despite his side being several weeks behind Harrogate in terms of fitness and match practice.

'It would mean a lot to us, not because we’ve got a vendetta against Harrogate but, because if we can win this, we’re in a final at Wembley which we worked very hard to reach,' said Ardley.

'We had to go away to Chesterfield, we finished with nine men at Yeovil, we had a Michael Doyle 50-yard goal to beat Dagenham. We’ve battled hard to get here and for our fans to be able to maybe go to Wembley, regardless of the competition, means a lot to us. All of those are reasons for us to have a real go at it.'

The match will be played behind closed doors but a free live stream will be available on our website and YouTube channel, complete with BBC Radio Nottingham commentary".

Dagenham & Redbridge tell us that "For the past two months the club has been working very hard towards football restarting, which has been evidenced by the measures put in place within the club house and last Saturday the hosting of West Ham Women v Arsenal Women with 700 fans in attendance, a pilot game sanctioned by the Department of Media Culture & Sport (DCMS)...

We are very excited to announce that our pre-season friendly v Concord Rangers already scheduled for Tuesday 22nd September has today been sanctioned by the DCMS as a further pilot game and they have authorised an attendance of up to 1,000. This is a huge responsibility, not just for the Club, but also for all our supporters. We all need to step up to the plate and show that not only can the Club and its employees ensure the safety of such a number of people, but that our supporters can demonstrate that they understand the measures put in place and are willing to abide by those restrictions...

All tickets being purchased online so that we can comply with the track & trace system, staggering arrival times with the turnstiles opening earlier, face masks being required to be worn whilst moving around the stadium and whilst queuing for entry, toilets and T Bars, in the stands sitting in designated seats and on the terraces remaining socially distanced and for everyone to comply with stewards' instructions.

We designed a 1000 capacity configuration for the West Ham Women’s game which will be replicated in the game on Tuesday. It is slightly different to the way we hope to set the stadium out when the league starts. Season ticket holders’ seats have not yet been allocated, for that configuration. For this reason and the short period between now and the game, season ticket holders are not able to be given any priority for ticket sales. All tickets for Tuesday will be sold on a strictly first come basis.

We appreciate that attending games for the foreseeable future is going to be different, but it is vitally important that the National League starts on the 3rd October as planned. We need our fans to play their part. It is therefore incumbent on all of us to play our part and ensure that we have a full capacity of a thousand and so that we can show the relevant authorities that Dagenham & Redbridge and the Vanarama National League are fully prepared for the return of spectators".

The Derbyshire Times reports on Shwan Jalal's "tough decision to retire... It was a decision which was not taken lightly but one Shwan Jalal was fully prepared for.

The experienced goalkeeper, who has spent the last two years at Chesterfield, has hung up his gloves after 20 years in the game.

Well, that is not strictly true because the 37-year-old has just started a new job as head of academy goalkeeping at Rochdale...

'It was a very difficult decision and I don’t think it has properly sunk in yet,' Jalal said... 'It was extremely difficult because it is all I have known since school but I am excited about the next chapter and I am just glad I have made that transition because it is well documented that a lot of footballers retire and are then in the wilderness so I think I have been very lucky... I talked it through with my family and a lot of people including my old Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe'...

Jalal’s contract at the Spireites expired during the summer and, in the end, manager John Pemberton decided not to offer him a new deal and instead brought in former Salford City stopper Kyle Letheren...

'I had hoped that maybe I would have stayed at Chesterfield for another year,' he explained. 'I think my performances certainly warranted another year but obviously due to the situation things changed. He (Pemberton) was quite honest with me from the get-go and... we parted on very amicable terms'...

The former Bournemouth and Macclesfield keeper, who has never been relegated in his career, is hoping the Blues have turned a corner... 'I was a bit surprised, speaking honestly, at the amount of players that were retained from last season but that’s John’s prerogative and he has been very focused in the way he wants to go and I think he should be given that chance because he did get the team playing well and very organised,' he said...

'I was lucky enough to be a part of a Macclesfield team that had no budget and still managed to win the league so it definitely can’t be ruled out...

[at Chesterfield] There were times which were probably quite unbearable. At times we didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t know what the team was going to be, we had not worked on anything...

'The Chesterfield fans have been really, really amazing to me and top draw,' he added".


21 September 2020

NEXT OPPONENTS: ALFRETON TOWN

Altrincham travel to Alfreton Town on Tuesday for a pre-season friendly.

The Robins' last visit came in 2018-19 season when Alty won 7-0 in a Vanarama National League North match, played on Saturday, 6 April 2019. The result was bizarre as this was a clash between two of the top sides in the form guide; Alfreton had won three and drawn two of their previous five matches and were unbeaten in six games. Alty were unbeaten in five with four wins and a draw.

Altrincham were unchanged as regards the starting eleven but on the bench James Poole returned, having only started one league match this season through injuries.

Above, Josh Hancock nets Alty's fourth goal at Alfreton in 2019. He is the farthest right player in the purple shirt.

Shaun Densmore and Elliot Wynne were involved in the warm-up but were not in the squad, whilst loanees Callum Dolan and Billy Sass-Davies were not in evidence.

In the 2019 match Altrincham inflicted on Alfreton Town their heaviest ever home defeat with a dominant display at the Impact Arena. It might have been a different story had referee Mulhall acceeded to strong Alfreton appeals inside the first minute when Clarke went down in the box. But, after that, it was pretty much all Altrincham.

Altrincham took the lead in the eighth minute when home keeper Ramsbottom failed to deal with a Johnston cross from the right. Blackpool loanee Yusifu Ceesay was on hand to head against the crossbar from close range before he nodded the rebound into the net.

Before the half-hour mark Altrincham lost left-back Connor Hampson to injury but, with right-back White having switched flank to replace Hampson, Alty's no.2 got himself to the left by-line from where he cleverly cut the ball back for Hulme to sweep it into the net (32 mins).

Five minutes before half-time Altrincham gained a slightly fortunate penalty when Ceesay's flicked ball was handled by a defender. Johnston converted the spot-kick to make it 3-0 by half-time.

A fairly uninspiring fifteen minutes after the break were ended when White advanced once more and the ball was worked to Hancock, who scored from the edge of the box in the 61st minute. Alfreton then won a penalty after a challenge by Jones, but former Alty midfielder Jordan Sinnott saw his penalty well saved by Tony Thompson.

Three goals in the final three minutes, plus added time, brought the tally to seven for the visitors. Goal number five came in the 87th minute after substitute Matt Chadwick had advanced on the right towards keeper Ramsbottom, who blocked the shot but the loose ball fell for Ceesay to net his second goal of the match. Three minutes later it was 0-6 when Moult's goalbound effort, following a Chadwick corner, was diverted into the net by Hulme.

And the icing on the cake arrived in the third added minute when James Jones shot home from the edge of the box following another Chadwick corner.

The result mean that Alty moved up to fifth in the table.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Tony Thompson, 2. Andy White, 3. Connor Hampson, 4. James Jones, 5. Tom Hannigan, 6. Jake Moult (c), 7. John Johnston, 8. Sean Williams, 9. Jordan Hulme, 10. Josh Hancock, 11. Yusifu Ceesay. Subs: 12. James Poole, 14. Max Harrop, 15. Matt Chadwick, 16. Simon Richman, 20. Steven Drench.

LADIES KNOCKED OUT

In the first match at the J. Davidson Stadium since lockdown to permit the limited attendance of spectators, Altrincham FC Ladies were knocked out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup at the Preliminary Round by Northwich Vixens, 5-0.

Brian Flynn's match report is on the official Altrincham FC website.

FA YOUTH CUP

Altrincham FC report that "One effect of Altrincham's promotion to the National League is that the Youth team is exempt from the FA Youth Cup until the Second Round Qualifying Round. The draw for that Round has given the young Robins a home tie against Buxton or City of Liverpool.

This game will be played at The J.Davidson Stadium on Friday October 9th with kick-off at 7.45pm.

CSC MATCH ALTERATION

As previously reported, in the Cheshire Senior Cup, Altrincham received a home draw against Barnton in the First Round draw.

However, the tie has now been switched to the Barnton club's Townfield ground and the match will be played during the week commencing Monday November 2nd.

ALTY OLD BOYS

An elbow on Ashton United's Lewis Walters cost his Stafford Rangers opponent a red card on Saturday.

ON THIS DAY: 21 September

Whilst the planned start to 2020-21 season for Alty is still two weeks away, a year ago today on 21 September 2019 Altrincham were already playing their twelfth match of the 2019-20 campaign. Eleven league games had left them standing 15th in the National League North as they travelled to face Chester FC in the Emirates FA Cup Second Qualifying Round.

Right: Ashley Hemmings congratulates Josh Hancock on his goal.

Altrincham had restored Simon Richman to the starting eleven after his suspension but the injured Steven Drench and Yusifu Ceesay had not recovered to play. New signing Lewis Archer, from Alvechurch, was cup-tied and he was never to appear for the club.

Simon Richman took Sean Williams's place in the starting side, whilst youth keeper Joel Torrance made his second appearance in a first-team squad, named as one of just six subs by the visitors, compared with the hosts' seven. Despite naming seven subs, none of Chester's back-up players was a goalkeeper, which became significant later.

Altrincham wore their red and white striped kit in preference to their normal grey away outfit. They were without manager Phil Parkinson whose wife had gone into labour, so coach Chris Parkes joined Neil Sorvel in the technical area.

In a scheduled 90-minute cup tie, which the referee allowed to last for 108 minutes, Altrincham secured a well-deserved draw and later won the replay at the JDS. In this original tie, Alty made a poor start, conceding a goal inside two minutes after the kick off. Delaying a clearance, Connor Hampson lost the ball which allowed Glendon to feed the ball inside, to his left, for Hughes to drive home a low shot from the edge of the box.

However, Alty went on to enjoy the lion's share of possession before the interval, without seriously looking like scoring. After the break, at which two Chester substitutions were made, Alty once again went to sleep in the opening stages just as they had done in the first half. This time they were fortunate as Tony Thompson saved a strong shot from Chester's leading-scorer Asante, the striker's sole contribution of note to the game.

But, with Altrincham again dominating a match which had already endured almost seven minutes of first-half injury time, play was then halted for ten minutes in the 52nd minute.

Chester keeper Griffiths sat down for treatment and, after a few minutes, was led off the pitch with an apparent blood injury. Instead of enforcing a substitution or a resumption of the game, referee Westgate allowed play to be suspended for what ultimately became a total of more than ten minutes from the moment the keeper had sat down. The bemused crowd was left wondering what on earth was happening. Eventually Griffiths was allowed to return to the game. Why the man in black allowed this farce to happen lacked a convincing explanation.

The lengthy break in play allowed Chester to regroup and they then enjoyed a better spell than they had been having prior to it. However, Altrincham reasserted themselves and got the equalizer they deserved. This came when Hulme chased an overhit pass and just caught the ball near the byline, left of goal. His cross was met by an excellent looping header from Hancock which found the back of the net (75 mins).

Eleven added minutes were proclaimed, which was too short given the lengthy stoppage for the Chester keeper and the fact that there were other injury stoppages and two substitutions. And so, Altrincham will go into the replay on Tuesday with confidence, having twice had the better of encounters with Chester at their own ground this season having also drawn the league game there in August 2019.

ALTRINCHAM: 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Andy WHITE, 3. Connor HAMPSON, 4. James JONES, 5. Tom HANNIGAN, 6. Jake MOULT, 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Josh HANCOCK, 11. Ashley HEMMINGS. Subs: 12. Sean WILLIAMS, 14. Tom PEERS, 15. Shaun DENSMORE, 16. Toby MULLARKEY, 17. Max HARROP, 20. Joel TORRANCE.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Following a 2-0 defeat to Alfreton Town in midweek, Chesterfield's "Phil Tooley takes a look at the game and its context. "This low-key pre-season friendly was like a training game, lacking in passion, thrill and spills and that wasn’t solely down to the fare on show. Well done to the dozen or so Spireite fans standing on Alma Street peering over the wall and through the gate!...

Half of Chesterfield’s shots in this game came from Smith. Bearing in mind that he bagged a brace at Belper, ‘Smudge’ looks like he’ll be the key box-to-box player this season. Milan Butterfield will clearly be the holder with Liam Mandeville or Joe Rowley the #10 and the 33-year-old looks fit and ready to roll and perform that vital role with energy and urgency. Of the starting XI, he was one of the few that shone on the day.

Sharman only came on with 20 minutes left and he slotted into the right centre-half (of three) role, normally he’s played in the middle. He won headers, tackles, ran with the ball and produced the pass of the day from a blue-shirted player, putting Luke Rawson one-on-one only to see his effort strike the post and the follow up saved by the keeper, who was injured in the process. Combined with his performance at Belper, where he set up Smith’s 'worldy', if he doesn’t start against Guiseley next week, I’ll call for a public enquiry...

Having only played two games and with Curtis Weston & Nathan Tyson yet to turn out, as assistant manager John Dungworth admitted post-match, we’re well behind many other teams.

At Alfreton, it was the 38th minute before Spireites' first shot on target whilst the hosts scored two and hit the bar as well, looking match sharper for the first half, though Chesterfield did look the most likely second-half scorers until Jake Day converted with the game’s final kick. The shape looked right for the players...

Team at Alfreton Town (3-5-2 to start): Letheran; Yarney (Sharman 70), Evans, Hollis (Maguire 70); Cropper (McKay 70), Butterfield (Hutchinson 74), Smith, Mandeville (Rowley 63), Buchanan; Boden, Denton (Rawson 70). Goals: Alfreton: Jones 41, Day 90"

Scotland's Daily Record reports that "Aldershot Town boss Danny Searle insists Ross McCormack 'hasn't bankrupted' the club after his shock move to the English non-league side.

The ex-Rangers striker has commanded over £25 million in transfer fees during spells at Fulham, Cardiff and Aston Villa... The 34-year-old made just four appearances off the bench for Stephen Robinson's side before he was released from his Villa Park contract.

After his surprise National League move, boss Searle says he has not asked for a big-money deal to return from footballing exile.

He told Shots TV 'He was so great and easy to deal with... As I say, it wasn't about money for him. He hasn't bankrupted us at all. He has actually come in and fit[ted] in with our wage structure and he has made sure that he adds value. He wants to give something back to the game'".

The Nottingham Post tells us that "Neal Ardley felt Notts County's second-half performance at AFC Telford 'wasn't good enough' but said there was still plenty to be encouraged by as the Magpies made it three wins out of three in pre-season.

Notts secured a 3-1 win over their Conference North opponents and took a 1-0 lead into the break courtesy of a thumping strike from Alex Lacey following a corner routine. An own goal puts Notts further ahead after the break, but a penalty from Aaron Willams reduced the deficit until substitute Wes Thomas made the game safe with a terrific touch and finish...

'I don’t think we’ve put together a complete performance in any of the games so far,' he said. 'The first game was what it was in terms of getting minutes into the legs. Last week we were poor first half, better second and on Saturday, I thought we were excellent first half, and we had spells in the second when we were good.'"

From Lynn News we learn that "Ryan Fryatt returned to haunt his former club as Kettering Town inflicted King's Lynn Town's first pre-season defeat on Saturday.

Fryatt, released by the Linnets in May after making almost 350 appearances for the club, headed home a dramatic winner in the last seconds of an uninspiring clash at The Walks.

Manager Ian Culverhouse found plenty of positives despite the defeat, saying 'I thought we were very good between both boxes, but not good enough to create anything really. But what really pleased with the way we handled the ball and some of our movement in the first half was very good, especially in midfield and the rotation in there. We have got to peak on October 3 so good things have come out of it.

'The players out here I have good faith in them. We have to find different combinations and different ways of playing without those players and we will do. We have got really good weapons, we saw glimpses of that today when we got around the back of them. Now we have just got to flood the box a bit more because in midfield today we had three ball players and no one running no beyond the centre forward.

'But we have got players to do that so we have lots to work on – still two weeks to go and we will be ready.'

'Both Archie Mair and Simon Power, Lynn's two Norwich City loan players, got their first taste of action of the summer. Power played an hour of a feisty encounter, which threatened to boil over at times in the second half, while Mair replaced regular custodian Alex Street between the posts at the interval...

King's Lynn Town: Street (Mair 46), Jones, Smith, McAuley (Fleming 70), Brown (Barrows 70), Jarvis (Carey 69), Richards, Clunan (Henderson 69), Power (Hawkins 59), Loza, Southwell (Kelly 69)".



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Alty Files Website Index

The following pages, which initially replicate those pages with the same web addresses which formed part of the official Club website, will be re-branded from 2018 as part of this new unofficial Alty Files site.

A/Z Site Index to The Alty Files at www.altrinchamfc.co.uk