ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Chris ROWLEY, 2. Hassan ZAREH-OURANG, 3. Keith WEDGE (capt), 4. Danny GRAY, 12. Colin McALLISTER, 6. Cabba BAGDIGI, 7. Astley MULHOLLAND, 8. Lee MANNION, 9. Aaron EDWARDS, 10. Ben DEEGAN, 11.Daniel HEFFERNAN. Subs: 1* Scott PARKER (gk), 14. John OAKES, 15. Kwame BARNETT, 16. Mike BROWN, 17. Daniel STOTT.
Right: Ben Deegan (10) and Aaron Edwards in action.
Wythenshawe fielded a substantially different side from that defeat 6-4 by Alty just five days previously at the same venue. For their part, Altrincham also made several changes to their starting line-up. Keith Edge switched to left-back as Hassan Zareh-Ourang came in at right-back, rather than in his normal midfield role. And at centre-back, Danny Gray replaced Michael Risk, whilst without Lee Hendley, Alty started with Aaron Edwards up front and Ben Deegan also played. On the bench, Mike Brown returned to the squad for the first time this season, along with Daniel Stott who came in for his debut. Daniel is the brother of Ashley Stott who recently played for Alty Reserves.
The game was played on a blustery and, given it was mid-August, cold evening. Alty started well and after an attack had been given offside in the opening minute, a Mulholland cross came through Mannion to Deegan whose shot came back off the keeper's right post (4 mins). From another early attack, the busy Edwards saw his shot deflected over for a corner which in turn led to a second corner, even though, this time, Edwards's own head had seemed to propel the ball over the bar (6 mins). Alty pressure continued with a freekick 23 yards out and this led to Edwards lifting a shot over the bar. The pattern of missed chances continued as Bagdigi got through the middle but saw the keeper stand up well to block his shot at the cost of a corner, and a blow in the face (14 mins). However, Alty finally went ahead from this corner. Although Heffernan's corner-kick from the left was intially cleared back in the air to him, left of goal, the Alty no.11 did very well to volley back a low cross which Edwards turned smartly into the net to make it 1-0 (15 mins).
After some pressure from Wythenshawe, Deegan did put the ball in the net for Alty but was offside; indeed, Alty were to find themselves offside regularly during this match. Soon afterwards Alty attacked again but three shots in rapid succession were blocked by the home defence (28 mins). Then, after Mulholland got round the keeper, Alty won a corner from which a Deegan shot forced a save from the keeper (30 mins). After a good advance from Zareh-Ourang, Alty pressed again with Heffernan putting Mulholland free but the home keeper, not for the first or last time in this game, won the one on one encounter (36 mins).
Wythenshawe came close to equalising soon afterwards when their numbers 10 and 8 combined well and the latter got in a fierce shot which Rowley kept out very well, one-handed to his right, before gathering the loose ball. Alty responded with the impressive Heffernan striking the post from Edwards' and Deegan's build-up work (40 mins). There was still time for Edwards to fire in a good shot, which was well saved, and for Mulholland to put the follow-up just wide of the near post from the left. Another good save from the home keeper followed, which gave Alty a corner (41 mins). However, the interval came with Alty having failed to capitalise on their chances and with the score only 1-0, a repeat of anything approaching last week's ten-goal encounter between these teams looked totally out of the question.
|Half-Time: WYTHENSHAWE TOWN 0 ALTRINCHAM RESERVES 1|
Left: Astley Mulholland
At the interval Alty brought on Parker in goal for Rowley, who had had little to do but had done it well. Parker was fresh from a trial with Macclesfield Town but just five minutes after coming on, the new keeper had little chance to stop Wythenshawe equalising when a free kick from the left, about 20 yards out just left of goal, was struck well by the no.14 and looped off an Alty player's head into the far corner of the net (50 mins). Alty brought on Barnett and Oakes early in the second half to replace Deegan and Edwards but Wythenshawe now enjoyed some pressure and won a corner, followed by a freekick.
Zareh-Ourang had a shot saved for Alty but it was the home side who looked the more likely to score at this stage, though McAllister and Gray were doing well in central defence. Soon after the hour mark, Alty made another double change as Mulholland and Bagdigi were replaced by Mike Brown and Daniel, the brother of Ashley Stott. Stott soon had a chance as the ball reached him in the box from the right but his effort was saved (65 mins). Wythenshawe, too, were making regular changes to their players on the pitch but there were few goal chances in the next ten minutes, though how Stott's deflected shot out of play was given as a goalkick was a mystery (76 mins).
Alty brought back Mulholland eight minutes from the end, for the hardworking midfielder Lee Mannion (82 mins). Barnett then did well to the right of goal but his advance was halted. Heffernan continued to look Alty's most threatening player going forward and when he cut in from the left and found Brown with a diagonal ball across the box, Mike Brown volleyed home superbly to give Alty a second goal (85 mins). The game ended shortly after a vociferous penalty appeal by Wythensahwe for a foul in the Alty box and though the referee spoke strongly to Heffernan after this, he awarded a goalkick to Altrincham . There was just time for a last Wythenshawe chance which their no.12 fired narrowly wide (88 mins).
This was not Alty's most fluid performance and after squandering first half chances, they scraped home against a Wythenshawe side which played well and was far more solid defensively that the one which had conceded six goals to them last week.
|Full-Time: WYTHENSHAWE TOWN 1 ALTRINCHAM RESERVES 2|
Compiled by John Laidlar