Match Reports, 2003-04


NW Youth Alliance
Premier Cup Final
at Bamber Bridge FC
on Sunday, 4 April, 2004, at 2pm.


ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Barry GEORGE, 2. Adam DOUTHWAITE, 3. Matt TOOTH, 4. Kelvin LUGSDEN, 5. Josh COLLINS, 6. Joe CONNOR, 7. Paul LEWIS, 8. Stuart COOK, 9. Kieran LUGSDEN, 10. Steve LUNT (capt.), 11. Stevie TAYLOR. Subs: 12. Steven HOWARTH, 14. Danny GRIMSHAW, 15. Sam CAWTHRA, 16. Alex FROST, 18. Tom READ (gk).

MORECAMBE 'A' YOUTH (Yellow shirts and socks, blue shorts): 1. Scott DAVIES, 2. Jamie NAY, 3. Andrew FORBES, 4. Phil BRIERLEY, 5. Jamie DAVIES, 6. Paul NICHOLSON (capt.), 7. Roger SHARRACK, 8. Jonathan SMITH, 9. Gareth ARNISON, 10. Jamie LOTHIAN, 11. Paul LLOYD. Subs: (numbers not clear in team sheet) Ben SLY (gk), Guy SHARRACK, Nick MAKIN, Liam LARKIN.


Two years ago, Alty had lost the 2002 Premier Cup Final to Morecambe at the same venue as today's game. But Altrincham had won both league matches between these sides this season, including a 6-1 victory in January, away from home.

After a bright morning, the match was played in blustery and largely overcast conditions with frequent heavy rain. Alty were without Lewis Chalmers, Andy Thorpe and Andy Ball, who were on holiday, but injured regulars Stevie Taylor, Kieran Lugsden, Joe Connor and Alex Frost were all fit enough to return to the squad today. Likewise, Barry George returned in goal after missing last week's game with a hand injury.

There was a surprise for the crowd amongst the match officials with the referee being a Mr H. Yamauchi from Tokyo! His assistants were from more familiar territory, Southport, Crosby and Liverpool.

The sides changed ends and Alty started the game with the stiff wind behind them. Inside 30 seconds Kieran Lugsden and Steve Lunt combined well but the latter's shot went wide. Then, following a Douthwaite throw, Connor got the ball to Kieran Lugsden whose smart bicycle kick only just cleared the bar (90 seconds).

Alty's bright start continued when Kieran Lugsden forced Davies to dive full-length to beat out another shot but, from the rebound, Cook shot over the bar (3 mins). However, with rain lashing down in the strong wind, it was Morecambe who won the first corner. This was cleared before Cook found Lunt on the right. Lunt cut inside and drove a firm, low shot into the bottom corner, to the keeper's left, to open the scoring (8 mins).

The Morecambe defence then survived a goalmouth melee following a well-placed freekick by Douthwaite. Soon, Adam's defensive partner, Matt Tooth got to the by-line to win Alty's first corner, on the left. Tooth was soon also impressing at the back, sliding in to see off an advance by Nicholson (18 mins). Paul Lewis was playing well but his fine 45-yard ball forward was just smothered by Davies ahead of Kieran Lugsden (22 mins). Collins and Connor then did well to see off Morecambe, on each occasion at the cost of a corner. Morecambe's best chance of the game so far arrived when Arnison sliced a shot wide as Kelvin Lugsden challenged him (25 mins).

Alty went two up when Cook's accurate pass found Lunt, further ahead, to the right of goal. Steve controlled the ball well before cutting in and firing in a shot which looped off a defender into the net (31 mins). When Alty won a corner soon afterwards, they looked to be heading for a comfortable win.

The whole team was playing well with the back four looking very solid. However, Kelvin Lugsden was then penalised for handball just outside the Alty box. The Morecambe freekick struck the wall but the ball then found its way to Sharrack, out on the right, and seemingly well offside. But no linesman's flag came and when Sharrack crossed the ball into the goalmouth, where two more Morecambe players also looked arguably offside, Smith had an easy task of beating the defenceless Barry George from close range (38 mins).

When Lunt was fouled by Nicholson, Tooth's freekick came to Kieran Lugsden who won his side a corner, on the right. Following the corner, the ball came back to its taker, Paul Lewis, who found Kieran Lugsden, but he headed wide (42 mins). Buoyed up by their goal, Morecambe finished the half looking brighter than they had in the game's opening stages.


At half time Alty brought on Grimshaw for Connor, but it was Morecambe who started the half the better. For Alty, Grimshaw went on the left flank, as Taylor moved into the centre. George claimed an early bouncing ball well and then came out smartly to kick clear a through ball as the Shrimps proceeded to keep Altrincham penned back in their own half (55 mins).

But Collins and then Douthwaite saw off the next attacks. Indeed, Collins did even better soon afterwards when Arnison sprang the offside trip. Morecambe then gained two corners in quick succession before Alty won some respite as Lunt nodded on George's punt and found Kieran Lugsden. Kieran advanced and forced a good save from Davies at the expense of a corner to Alty on the right. Kieran was penalised for a foul on the keeper following Grimshaw's corner (61 mins).

Another good catch from George helped to keep out Morecambe once more, but the Lancashire side were still on top and won another corner (67 mins). Morecambe then brought on their no.15 in place of Arnison (68 mins). However, Alty seemed to have sealed things up soon afterwards when a ball forward reached Lunt who went past two defenders before firing home to make it 3-1 (69 mins).

But, within a minute, Alty had conceded a goal when Lloyd got behind Kieran Lugsden, who was injured in the process, and scored to make it 3-2 (70 mins). After treatment, Kelvin had to limp off to be replaced by Alex Frost, who assumed his habitual centre-back position. With rain lashing down again, Altrincham continued to defend well as Morecambe won two more corners in quick succession (77 mins).

A foul on Kieran Lugsden relieved the pressure and from Douthwaite's freekick Lunt nodded the ball onto Lugsden. He elected not to shoot first-time but, following a throw-in, Alty won a corner on the left. Soon after this, Cook went off to be replaced by Cawthra, who went up front with Lunt, as Lugsden dropped deeper (80 mins). George then produced a magnificent save, going full length to his left, to keep out a fine shot from 25 yards by Davies. The resulting corner was cleared (81 mins). In retrospect, Barry George's save marked a turning point as Alty now got up to the other end and Cawthra's shot was only narrowly too high. Morecambe now brought on their no.12 for Lothian (82 mins).

Altrincham were now beginning to apply some pressure of their own and following a fine ball from Lewis, Cawthra won a corner on the left. Morecambe's no.15 did produce an excellent volley soon afterwards, which just cleared the Alty crossbar, but after a couple of minutes of added time the whistle went to confirm Altrincham's win.

Both sides had produced a very entertaining game in difficult conditions and had played the game in a good spirit throughout. Having secured the Premier Cup, Altrincham will now have an extra incentive over the next few weeks to secure the league title as well.