ALTRINCHAM & DISTRICT FA YOUTH (Yellow shirts, White shorts, blue socks): 1. Adam REID, 2. Matthew FEARON (capt), 4. Jake BARNABAS, 5. Harry McAUGHTRIE, 3. Sam GRIMSHAW, 7. Reece BAILEY, 6. Ansima MATABARO, 8. Stewart WALLACE, 11. Sam LANGFORD, 9. Ashley WOODS, 10. Kieran MADDEN. Subs: 12. David KING, 14. Greg STEWART, 15. Ibk MODUPE-ODO.
Altrincham had more than half a dozen players unavailable for one reason or another but manager George Heslop's starting eleven showed just two changes from the previous league game, with Reece Bailey, on the right wing, and Ansima Matabaro, in midfield, coming into the side.
The game's early stages were fairly even but, after 12 minutes, Crewe struck the top of the Altrincham bar from a freekick by their no.18. This same opponent was causing Alty some problems and it was he who headed Crewe ahead in the 13th minute, converting a cross from the left wing. It got worse for Alty three minutes later when a strong shot from more than 30 yards by the Crewe no.8 was parried by keeper Reid but, unfortunately, dropped behind him into the net to make it 2-0.
It looked at this stage as if the hosts were in for a very difficult afternoon. However, Altrincham got back into the match against the run of play when Ashley Woods did well, right of goal, to feed Kieran Madden. The striker was at an acute angle from goal but somehow managed to steer a firm low shot from the right, into the far corner, to make it 2-1 (22 mins).
Altrincham were now matching their opponents but Reid had to make a good save from the Crewe no.7, just after the half-hour mark. Ashley Woods was then booked for a foul on the Crewe no.8 (35 mins). Crewe were winning regular corners but Alty defended these successfully with McAughtrie doing well, alongside Barnabas, in central defence rather than in his more accustomed position of full-back.
Alty survived a threat in the 41st minute when a Crewe shot was half saved before spinning towards goal and being cleared. With the first half into its second added minute, a fine ball up the middle from Wallace set Madden in on goal. He kept his head well to make space before scoring an equalising goal (45+2 mins).
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 2 CREWE & DISTRICT FA YOUTH 2|
Early Crewe pressure produced a corner but the visitors were fortunate to survive a very strong penalty appeal in the 54th minute. This arose when Woods got up the right channel and drove the ball into the box where a defender appeared to handle it. However, the referee waved away Alty's strong appeals before Crewe managed to scramble the ball clear.
Play was even as Crewe made a substitution (59 mins). Alty then had a tricky spell as they were penalised for three challenges in quick succession. Matabaro was booked for the first of these and after the second, the referee showed another yellow card which seemed to be aimed at McAughtrie, though it was unclear why.
But then Alty went to the other end as Woods and Madden broke into the opposition half up the middle. The ball was played left to Langford who scored a fine goal with a low shot across the keeper to give Altrincham the lead (74 mins).
Moments later, Woods cut in from the right and his well struck efort cannoned off the cross bar.
Alty now made a change as King replaced Bailey (67 mins). Another Alty penalty appeal, less strong than the first, was dismissed by the referee as Woods went down under the keeper's challenge (68 mins). Altrincham were now enjoying a good spell and Crewe's frustration led to their no.6 jumping in on Wallace in midfield and being shown a straight red card (72 mins).
But the ten-men of Crewe got a lifeline just three minutes later when they were awarded a spot-kick for what was apparently a handball. Their number 7 converted the penalty. After assistant referee Phil Taylor had called over the referee, a Crewe player was booked, presumably for a verbal offence, before the same player could take a corner.
Crewe now made a double swap with nos. 11 and 12 replacing 14 and 18 (80 mins). Following a long throw from McAughtrie, Alty now hit the bar before Alty's Langford was booked, again on the intervention of the assistant referee (86 mins). Crewe's number 7 had a good chance to snatch all of the points with a late shot but Reid beat this effort out well (88 mins). Madden had a late header parried by the Crewe keeper and Alty even had the ball in the net in added time, through Wallace, after the Crewe keeper had parried a shot by Woods. But the effort was ruled out for offside.
So the ten men of Crewe held out for a draw in a game which they had looked like winning easily in the opening stages. Altrincham had fought back well and could consider themselves unfortunate not to have held onto their lead, with the game's two handball incidents being crucial and both going in Crewe's favour.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 3 CREWE & DISTRICT FA YOUTH 3|
Compiled by John Laidlar