ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) : 1. Stephen DOWNES, 2. Cavell COO, 3. Warren PEYTON, 4. Gary SCOTT, 5. Stephen ROSE, 6. Billy DEMPSEY, 7. Colin POTTS, 8. Aaron BURNS, 9. Matthew BERKELEY, 10. Rod THORNLEY, 11. Pat McFADDEN. Subs: 14. Sean CLANCY, 15. Chris FRANCIS, 16. Kurt LOWE, 17. Oliver OSBALDESTON.
After Altrincham Reserves' resignation from the Lancashire League, in which they had competed for the past three seasons, this was the first of a series of friendly games to be arranged at Moss Lane for the Reserves in 2007-08 season. With half of the Moss Lane floodlights having been dismantled to make way for the new lighting system, kick off was brought forward to 6.45pm to ensure a finish in satisfactory visibility.
Alty took the opportunity to give two injured first-team players starts as part of their rehabilitation; these were Gary Scott, who played at centre-back, and Warren Peyton, at left-back. Also starting were several first-team squad players who had yet to begin a game this season (Coo, Rose, Potts, Berkeley, Thornley and McFadden). Three trialists also started in the shape of local goalkeeper Stephen Downes, 19 year-old striker Aaron Burns and a midfielder Billy Dempsey. Burns had been released this summer by Manchester United Reserves, after signing from Wythenshawe Amateurs and then apparently played in Iceland recently. He has also recently had trials at Cardiff City and Yeovil Town. The bench comprised Chris Francis, from the Alty Youth team and trialists. These were the former Blackpool, Southport and Burscough left-back Sean Clancy and young midfielder Oliver Osbaldeston from Manchester Grammar School and Crewe Alexandra Academy, who impressed at Moss Lane last season in the Independent Schools International. Also on the bench was big defender Kurt Lowe, son of the former Stafford Rangers' player Barry Lowe, who is regaining fitness after a broken leg.
Alty won an early corner but soon afterwards a bad challenge from the Bradford number four left Berkeley injured (4 mins). Even though it was a friendly, the referee did not hesitate to book the offender. Hopefully this knock will not hamper Matty's attempt to win a place in the St Kitts' Olympic football team, whose trials take place next week. Anyway the young striker played on. McFadden and Dempsey, deployed in central midfield, both made some useful early contributions but, soon after a Berkeley shot had been blocked, the visitors' number four committed another foul, tripping Dempsey, before Alty won another freekick for a foul on Berkeley by the no.6.
At the other end, Downes held a cross well before an even better cross from the left by Thornley fed Burns but he was seen off. Play was now end to end and after a great cross from Potts had found Rose marginally offside, a City cross/shot from the right hit the angle of upright and bar at the Alty end (20 mins).Next a well-struck freekick from just outside the box by Peyton was turned over the bar by the visitors' keeper to earn Alty a corner, which was followed soon by three more corners, two for Bradford and one to Alty. From the last of these three, from the City right, the number five was allowed to head home, to give the visitors the lead (26 mins). Moments after the restart the Bradford number 9 fired a good shot against the upright. But Alty got back on level terms after 38 minutes. After a good ball into the box from Potts, Burns took his chance superbly to chip the ball, left-footed, over the keeper and into the net. Alty enjoyed more of the possession up to the break but the half ended level.
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At the interval in a pre-planned substitution, Peyton gave way to Clancy at left-back. Soon Potts did well on the right, getting past his left-back marker to put in a testing cross. Then, Thornley did even better, winning possession and holding off a foul challenge to cross from the left. Alty were enjoying the better of the game as, next, Coo lashed in a left-footed shot which went just wide from 25 yards out (49 mins). Bradford made their first change after 52 minutes when a number 16 replaced the no.11. But Alty continued to press and a fine interception by Rose saw the centre-back advance and feed Berkeley who returned the ball but Rose's shot cleared the bar comfortably (53 mins). Another foul by the Bradford number six, on Thornley, led to a lecture for the number four, presumably for verbals (55 min). After Bradford had swapped their goalkeepers (56 mins), the Bantams got a freekick in the "D" of the Alty box after a trip by McFadden. This was followed by a Bradford corner after a shot deflected off Rose. Next, Scott made a fine tackle as the Yorkshire side pressed. Play soon switched to the other end where Clancy and Dempsey combined with Berkeley to get McFadden into the six yard box where he seemed to be tripped but nothing was given. Alty then made a change as Osbaldeston replaced Dempsey in central midfield (65 mins).
Next a good lay off from McFadden gave Potts a shot at goal but it went wide (68 mins). After an Alty corner, Bradford made a double substitution (70 mins), changing both their centre-backs. Whether this affected them or not was unclear but immediately from Potts's corner from the left, Rose arrived on a perfectly timed but unchallenged run to head Alty into the lead (71 mins). Alty now enjoyed supremacy and won another corner when Berkeley failed to connect with a diving header but the ball deflected out of a defender. Another Bradford substitution followed at the corner after which Pat McFadden gave way in midfield to Lowe (75 mins). As the light began to fade, Coo and Burns did well to fed Berkeley who poked the ball through the keeper's legs to make it 3-1 (77 mins).
After the Bradford no.8 had fired over the bar, Alty brought on Chris Francis for Berkeley, who then received treatment to his foot (82 mins). The play continued in entertaining fashion till the final whistle which confirmed a good win for Altrincham against a team from a professional club. Whether Alty will take on any of their trialists remains to be seen, but Clancy looked solid at left-back, Downes was reliable in goal and both Burns and Dempsey had some good moments.Young Osbaldeston and Francis had little time to show their wares.
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Compiled by John Laidlar