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Altrincham FC Match Reports


FA Youth Cup 3rd Qualifying Round, played on Tuesday, 21 October, 2009 at Bower Fold at 7.30pm.


STALYBRIDGE CELTIC (Blue): 1. Adam SPENCER, 2. Tom ROBINSON, 3. Ryan LIDDLE, 4. Alex BYRNE, 5. Michael JONES, 6. Lawrence ZISARUK-GIBSON, 7. Fabrice BEMBO-LETA, 8. Jordan McCANN, 9. Joel BEMBO-LETA, 10. Connor HAMPSON, 11. Matthew CHADWICK. Subs: 12. Brad BYRNE, 14. Joe HEAP, 15. Daniel O'DONNELL, 17. Jimmy PARRY, 18. Danny BRYCE, 19. Miko LEWIS, 20. Dave McDONALD, 21. William ANDERSON, 22. Rob WILLIAMS.

ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. James THORN, 2. Ryan SHAWCROSS, 3. James SMART, 4. Dominic BATES, 5. Rory BRADBURY, 6. John BENNETT, 7. Jamie BROWN, 8. Dan SHAW (capt), 9. Blaine WHITESIDE, 10. Joel BROWNHILL, 11. Niall SHERIDAN. Subs: GK. Alex DAVIS, 12. Michael LINNEY, 14. Kieran MADDEN, 15. Liam BROMILEY-BLACKBURN, 16. Matthew CLINTON, 17. Harry McAUGHTRIE.


Altrincham went into this FA Youth Cup tie unbeaten this season, whilst Stalybridge were top of the NWYA Premier Division and had impressively beaten Wrexham, away, in the previous round of this competition. The starting line-up was without Michael Linney, who was recovering from illness but was on the bench. Altrincham kicked off against the strong wind and playing up the Bower Fold slope.

Celtic won an early corner before Alex Byrne set his stall out with a scything tackle on Dan Shaw as he advanced through midfield for Altrincham. But it was Celtic who took an early lead when the impressive former Oldham Athletic youth striker Joel Bembo-Leta outpaced Alty's Ben Shawcross on the Alty right to get to a through ball first. Bembo-Leta laid the ball inside to McCann who comfortably beat Thorn from close range (5 mins).

Joel Bembo-Leta continued to show why has been signed on first-team forms at Celtic as he tormented the Alty defence, now winning a corner off Smart. It looked as if Alty were going to be in for a tough evening but they began to get into the game more, winning a corner after 14 minutes from Smart's cross. But the visitors were thankful for a fine save from Thorn soon afterwards when the defence stood off Joel Bembo-Leta, allowing him to poke a shot at goal (16 mins).

However, Stalybridge were committing fouls at regular intervals and from a freekick, just outside the box, Brownhill forced keeper Spencer into a good save, tipping the ball over the bar for a corner. Shawcross and then Bates made fine tackles to keep Celtic back at the other end before a cross cum shot from Joel Bembo-Leta, from wide right, glanced the cross bar (20 mins).

Joel Bembo-Leta was proving the major difference between the sides and it required another excellent save from Thorn to stop the striker in a one on one situation. As the half hour mark passed, Altrincham threatened with a good run by Brownhill, but a defender made a fine tackle as he got to the edge of the box (32 mins). A half chance followed for Whiteside from Brown’s feed but he miscued his shot.

From Byrne's 25-yard shot, Thorn made another creditable save before Shawcross was left limping by a foul on him by Fabrice Bembo-Leta. Bates was impressing at the back for Altrincham as the visitors now got more into the action towards half time and he finished the half with a well-judged tackle as McCann got through to a dangerous position. Half-time arrived with Altrincham having done well to contain their deficit to one goal.


With several of Celtic's ex-Altrincham first-team players (Joe O'Neill, Richard Battersby and Warren Peyton) joining the sizeable attendance, Alex Byrne started the half with a rugged challenge to give Alty a freekick as the visitors started the second half better than they had begun the game. But a fine shot from McCann forced another excellent save from Thorn in the 48th minute. Then, Robinson got in a cross for Stalybridge but there was no colleague to receive the ball in the goalmouth, to Altrincham's relief. Altrincham did get in a couple of shots; Sheridan was off target from the left (56 mins) and likewise, Whiteside was off beam, two minutes later.

A minute before the hour mark, Celtic made two changes as Brad Byrne and Jimmy Parry replaced Robinson and Fabrice Bembo-Leta. Altrincham now made some good passing movements, with one ten-pass sequence, involving seven players, particularly impressive (63 mins). But Celtic were still looking the more threatening until Altrincham equalised. The goal came as Whiteside threaded a pass forward to Brownhill, who kept his head to finish well with a low shot across the keeper into the far corner from inside the box (69 mins).

Altrincham now made a swap as Sheridan gave way to Linney and Celtic brought on Heap for Hampson (72 mins). Thorn then had to make another good save, this time from the new man, Heap. Parry then saw a shot deflected off Shawcross and over the Alty goal for a corner. With the game becoming evenly balanced, Whiteside fed the ball forward to Linney. The substitute kept his head and slotted the ball past keeper Spencer to give Alty the lead with eleven minutes left. However, right winger Brown was now limping and as Alty prepared to replace him, Stalybridge capitalised on a lack of concentration to equalise. Again, it was the strong Joel Bembo-Leta who was the agent, poking the ball home despite a challenge from Bates (81 mins).

It got worse for Alty, five minutes later, when an excellent cross from the left was met with a fine header at the back post by Alex Byrne to give Celtic a 3-2 lead (86 mins). Although some five minutes of added time, Altrincham could not get level again, as several of the added minutes were wound down by the strong Joel Bembo-Leta and colleagues standing over the ball near the right corner flag and defying Alty to get possession.

Though the manner of the defeat was hugely disappointing, having been leading so near to the end, Altrincham would have to admit that Celtic deserved their win and but for several fine saves from Thorn could have been further behind before they equalised. Celtic now carry the non-League torch into the next round where they travel to Oldham Athletic.


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Compiled by John Laidlar