Lancit Haulage Lancashire League Match
played on Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, at 7.45pm


ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (Red & white striped panels on black shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Billy BLOWER, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Ashley BROWN, 4. Colin McALLISTER, 5. George MELLING, 6. Steve ASPINALL, 7. Michael BROWN, 8. Conall MURTAGH, 9. Pat McFADDEN, 10. Mike SUTTON, 11. Tom BAKER. Subs: 14. Dwaine LINDSAY, 15. Daniel HEFFERNAN, 16. Michael SUTTON.

OSSETT ALBION RESERVES (Gold shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Robin BORTON, 2. Dave MURPHY, 3. Dave DODD, 4. Ashley BECK, 5. Nathan HAZELDEAN, 6. Mark MEARSWINSKI, 7. Joe HOWSON, 8. Shane KILLOCK, 9. Liam BERRY, 10. Sam AGAR, 11. Jordan KENEFICK. Subs: 12. James STAPLETON, 14. Matthew POOLE, 1* Matthew WRIGHT (gk)


Torrential rain fell for several hours before the game but hard work by groundsman/Reserves' manager Neil Brown and his colleagues ensured the match went ahead and though the surface was inevitably very wet in places the pitch played very well and the ball moved smoothly. The need to give match practice to four of the first-team squad meant that changes had to be made to the Altrincham squad which had won 7-0 at Guiseley at the weekend. Into the side came Steve Aspinall and Gary Scott, both recovering from injury alongside Rod Thornley and George Melling who have been in and out of the first-team starting line-up this season. Scott played at right-back and Aspinall in midfield. In goal, Billy Blower came in for Craig Ellison. Up front, Pat McFadden had hit seven goals in his last two matches, as the Reserves had won all of their most recent six games. Making his debut in central midfield was Conall Murtagh, a Belfast-born player, who is now a student in Manchester. Conall has experience in Scotland with Hearts and Raith Rovers and in Ireland with Sligo Rovers. Tonight, Altrincham were sporting a striking black kit with red and white striped chest and back panels on the shirts.

Alty's first, reserve and youth teams have played a succession of Yorkshire clubs in the last ten days or so, with the grounds of York City, Halifax Town, Selby Town and Guiseley all hosting Altrincham matches in that period. The theme continued tonight as another Yorkshire club, Ossett Albion, travelled to Moss Lane. Alty went into the game top of the table whilst Ossett were near the wrong end of the table but given their competent performance tonight it was difficult to see why.

The rain conveniently stopped just before kick-off and Alty went on to win two corners in the first five minutes. They almost went ahead after ten minutes when Mike Brown skilfully got past three men on the right and his cross was left by Thornley for Tom Baker at the back post.

Baker's well-struck right foot shot went narrowly wide of the keeper's right upright. A minute later Alty had another corner kick. However, they were not having it all their own way and Melling had to be alert to see off an Ossett attack. But, following an Alty throw, out on the right, Brown got in a good cross which found Rod Thornley unmarked in the centre of the goalmouth and he had time to compose himself and sidefoot a shot past the exposed keeper to make it 1-0 (19 mins).

Baker was causing Ossett problems on their right side and, following a freekick for a foul on him, McFadden had a shot blocked to win another Alty corner. This was cleared, following which Thornley clipped a shot just over the bar (23 mins). McAllister then covered an Ossett attack well, at the cost of a corner for the Yorkshire side at the other end. But Alty soon doubled their lead when good work by Mike Brown fed McFadden on the wide right. He drifted smartly inside across the front edge of the box, evading a couple of defensive challenges before planting a left-foot shot into the net from left of centre; it was an excellent goal (31 mins).

Moments later a fine headed interception by Scott, who like Aspinall, was having a sound return to action, found McFadden. He held off a challenge but his shot was deflected out for a corner. This was cleared but then Aspinall's good pass located Baker and, via Scott's inteligent lob, McFadden hooked the ball into the net to make it 3-0 (33 mins).

Next, Thornley went close from 35 yards with a shot which just cleared the bar (37 mins). Then, from a fine cross by McFadden from the right, Thornley smashed a shot against the upright (39 mins). Alty won another corner before the interval but the break came with Alty three up. Ossett, however, had not played badly but Altrincham's confidence is currently high and they were playing the ball about to good effect, creating and taking their chances well.


Early in the second half Alty went close again when Thornley had a shot well saved by Borton and Baker put the rebound past the post (49 mins). After Baker had put a freekick over the bar, the same player fed Murtagh who forced a save from the Ossett keeper (52 mins). But soon Ossett put together a good move which produced a corner for them. Nevertheless, Alty soon made it 4-0 when a good interchange between Thornley and Baker, on the left, saw the latter's cross expertly volleyed over the advancing keeper by McFadden, recording his third successive hat-trick for Altrincham (57 mins).

Ossett responded by winning a corner before the dangerous McFadden was fouled right on the edge of the penalty area, to the right of goal. From Aspinall's freekick, Melling executed a very good overhead kick which went narrowly over the bar. Soon Alty made a double change with Dwaine Lindsay replacing George Melling at the back and Mike Sutton coming on for Rod Thornley up front (63 mins). Five minutes later, Alty's final change came when Heffernan joined the game in place of Baker. Then, after an Alty corner had been cleared, Ossett brought on Poole for Murphy (74 mins). WIthin in a minute Aspinall and McFadden found Heffernan who went past a defender to the left of goal and drove the ball into the far corner for another very well-taken goal to make it 5-0 (75 mins). Again Ossett rallied to win a corner but could not convert it before McFadden almost scored again. From Murtagh's feed, the Alty no.9 got into the box and, though the keeper stood up well to stop his first shot, McFadden's second attempt, from the rebound from wide right of the goal, was about to cross the line when a defender hooked it clear (79 mins).

Ossett now changed their goalkeepers, with Wright replacing Borton, though this seemed to be no reflection on the departing keeper who was not to blame for the five goals scored (84 mins). Ossett did not give up and pressed forward as full time approached but conceded a sixth goal when Sutton twisted past Hazeldean inside the box and scored a very good goal in the first minute of added time.

Despite the many changes of personnel, Altrincham Reserves played with an impressive rhythm tonight and the quality of all of the goals was impressive. They have now netted 49 times in 11 games, with almost half of them (24) coming in the last four matches. Equally encouraging is the recording of two successive clean sheets. Their success tonight was heightened with the news that the joint league-leaders, Fleetwood, had lost their match to leave Altrincham clear at the top of the Lancit Haulage Lancashire League. First-team manager Graham Heathcote watched the game tonight and will have been pleased to see Scott and Aspinall complete their first 90 minutes of the season after injury, whilst Melling and Thornley also gained match practice.

He will also have been impressed with the Reserves' overall performance and, particularly, their finishing which were a credit to the management team of Neil Brown, Carlos Marsden and physio Alan Ainsley. Suspended Reserves' captain James Marsden also lent his support from the technical area but he must be a worried man now that the team is doing so well in his absence! New man Connal Murtagh (aged 20) had a quietly effective game in new surroundings and will hopefully stay at the club to demonstrate his pedigree as a member of the Ireland under-21 side.