ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks): 1. Andrew JONES; 2.Jack KIMBER (capt), 3.Declan WAKEFIELD, 4. Alex MURPHY, 5. Jake LEIGH-WATSON, 6. Dominic LILLIE, 7. Daniel KILLILEA, 8. Danny BROWNE, 9. Tom BAILEY, 10. Sam MADELEY, 11. Chris FRANCIS. Subs: 12. Matthew NEE, 14. Gavin O'CONNOR, 15. Steven CRANE, 16. Ben OLIVER.
DAISY HILL YOUTH (All blue) : 1. Scott MATHER, 2. Graeme SMITH, 3. Matt EATON, 4. Danny HARTFIELD, 5. Aaron WHITE, 6. Alex LEIGH, 7. Billy WOODFORD, 8. Danny CROOK, 9. Dale SCURR, 10. Matt GARDNER, 11. Christian LATHAM. Subs: 12. Ellis CARTER, 14. Zac POLLITT, 15. Matt MINSHALL, GK. Tom FLETCHER.
Above: Danny Browne rises to an aerial ball against Daisy Hill, watched by Jake Leigh-Watson (left) and Chris Francis.
This was Altrincham's first league game for eight weeks and their first game of any sort for six weeks, due to the wet weather. Even this game had had to be rearranged to enable it to be played on the Blessed Thomas Holford all-weather pitch in Altrincham - as used by Steve McClaren's England - rather than as a Daisy Hill home fixture as had been originally scheduled.
Alty's starting line-up was unchanged from their last outing and they were looking to extend their run of four consecutive league victories. On the bench, former Congelton Town player Matthew Nee, who has partnered Tom Bailey at County level, was making his debut. But whilst Altrincham had not played together as a team for such a long time, seven of their starters today had just returned from a long-return trip to Durham with Cheshire FA so, in some cases, were facing a second 90-minutes in 24 hours. Watching the game was Altrincham's first-team boss, Graham Heathcote.
Alty started very brightly with Madeley heading narrowly over the bar from Killilea's fine cross from the right in the first thirty seconds. Within five minutes Alty had been pulled up for two foul throws and the game was to go on to set a probable new record for foul throws with at least seven being recorded in the 90 minutes, five of them awarded against Altrincham. Altrincham won the game's first corner after 7 minutes from which Bailey had a shot saved from Francis's headed pass. Altrincham were playing some good attacking football, at this stage but Daisy Hill responded with Leigh hooking a shot narrowly over the bar in the 10th minute. Gradually the visitors got into the game and they won their first corner following two throw-ins. Alty had a narrow escape after 15 minutes when they conceded a freekick and Scurr drove a powerful freekick from 20 yards against the under side of the crossbar, but the ball was cleared safely..
Altrincham continued to labour after their bright start and soon were thankful that Scurr's fine shot just cleared their bar (24 mins). For their part, Alty's Lillie fired in a 30-yarder which likewise went narrowly over the top (26 mins). But it was now an even contest between two sides at opposite ends of the league table. Murphy got in a fine tackle to see off another Daisy Hill attack but soon afterwards Altrincham took the lead. The goal arrived from a foul on Kimber on the right. From the freekick by Killilea, the ball evaded the leaps of Bailey and Madeley in the goalmouth but dropped for Francis towards the back post and he converted the close-range chance successfully (36 mins).
Before the kick-off to resume the game, Scurr was cautioned for a verbal offence. Soon afterwards Alty made a strong appeal for handball in the Daisy Hill box, but to no avail. A second Daisy Hill booking followed for a foul on Kimber (39 mins). When, soon after this, Altrincham conceded a freekick five yards inside their opponents' half, there appeared to be little danger. But Eaton's left-footed freekick skimmed off the top off the head of Jake Leigh-Watson on the edge of the Alty box and looped over keeper Jones and just under the bar to give Daisy Hill an equalizer (41 mins). From a fine ball forward by Kimber, Bailey got a run into the box but fired over the bar from right of goal (43 mins). Then a good ball from Killilea gave Madeley a similar chance but his underpowered shot went to the keeper. On the stroke of half-time Daisy Hill gained a corner but this came to nothing, leaving the sides level at the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 1 DAISY HILL YOUTH 1|
Alty put Daisy Hill under some early pressure with Bailey and Francis having efforts blocked in quick succession. But then Daisy Hill attacked and, following a free kick, Scurr forced a corner from a fine save by Jones (48 mins). Good work by Madeley than gave Francis a chance but he shot wide. Daisy Hill's White now had to leave the field with a bleeding nose but soon returned in a no.17 shirt (51 mins). White was soon back in action, blocking Lillie's shot at the cost of a corner. Following this, Nee came on up front for Alty in place of Madeley (56 mins). But a minute later Alty went behind. Daisy Hill won a corner on their right from which the ball came out to Gardner who smashed an unstoppable shot past Jones from 20 yards (57 mins).
Altrincham threatened soon afterwards when Bailey and Nee exchanged passes but Nee's low cross which would have given Bailey a tap-in, was well cut out by keeper Mather. However, Alty soon won a corner and then Nee fired narrowly over (62 mins). The foul throw saga continued from Altrincham, with two more in quick succession. A Nee shot was then saved by Mather before Daisy Hill brought on Minshall for Crook (67 mins). When Killilea was almost taken off at the knees by Eaton on the Alty right, the visitors' left-back became their third booking (69 mins).
Daisy Hill continued to give as good as they got and won another corner before making another change when Pollitt replaced Latham (75 mins). Lillie then found the side netting from a fine pass by Browne but when Browne then made a fine tackle in the centre of the pitch to gain possession, the visitors' luck ran out. Browne's excellent pass set Bailey running for the ball and he just nicked it past the advancing keeper before slamming it into the empty net to make it 2-2 (79 mins). The visitors now made their final change as Carter replaced Woolford. Alty then pressed forward for a winner but could not get one. With just 25 seconds of normal time left, O'Connor came on but the whistle soon went to leave Alty with a single point for their efforts against a Daisy Hill side whose performance belied its lowly place in the table.
|Full-time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 2 DAISY HILL YOUTH 2|