Altrincham FC Youth Team
Match Reports

Pre-season Friendly
played on Sunday, 17 July, 2011
at Blessed Thomas Holford, Altrincham, 2.30pm


ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Cody WHARTON, 2. Liam RUTLEDGE, 3. Sam GRIMSHAW (capt), 4. Joe HAND, 5. Nathan GRAY, 6. Ryan BARRY, 7. Declan BARRY, 8. Oliver RILEY, 9. Derren OPORI, 10. Duncan WATMORE, 11. Jack MARTIN-SCHOFIELD. Subs: 12. Dougie CARROLL, 14. Jordan HAMES, 15, Redmond McGUIRE, 16. Anthony BROWN.


It may have been mid-July but this game on the artificial pitch at Blessed Thomas Holford School, Altrincham, was played in awful conditions; a cold, gusty wind and incessant rain. Pre-season matches against Congleton Town have become a regular feature for Altrincham FC Youth and the clash invariably produces a well-contested game between well-matched sides and, despite the adverse conditions, today's game was no exception.

The hosts were without those members of their squad who had been involved with the first team in pre-season and remain eligible by age for youth team football, namely Joe Coombs, Matt Fearon, Jake Barnabas and goalkeeper Adam Reid.

Altrincham had the better of the first half whilst Congleton had their best spell in the second half.

Indeed, Altrincham started well, playing with pace and accuracy, and took the lead in the fifth minute. Duncan Watmore, son of Ian, the former Chief Executive of the Football Association, received the ball and made himself space well before planting a firm shot past the Congleton keeper.

But Alty's rhythm was disrupted a couple of minutes later when Joe Hand fell badly after a challenge and suffered what was initially thought to be a broken nose. As a result Alty had to re-structure their formation with Redmond McGuire coming on for the injured player. Ryan Barry moved to the back line from his customary midfield role and Watmore slotted into midfield as McGuire joined the impressive Opori up front (7ins).

Congleton were also posing Altrincham some questions and Cody Wharton had to make a good save at the cost of a corner after a quarter of an hour. Alty's defence saw off this and a second corner, which immediately followed.

Altrincham doubled their lead after 20 minutes when a superb cross from the left by Opori was met by a well-timed run and flicked header from Watmore into the far corner of the net.

The pace of the Alty attacks was a feature with Declan Barry as well as Opori, Watmore and others causing problems as they ran at the opposition. At the back, Ryan Barry was relishing his unaccustomed role. Next, more good work by Opori saw Congleton clear the ball off the line and, from the follow up, Martin-Schofield's shot was well saved by the keeper (26 mins).

Shortly before the interval, Alty won a freekick not far outside the box. Ryan Barry's superbly flighted freekick went into the net off the underside of the bar into the left hand corner of the keeper's net (43 mins). Congleton responded well and, just a minute later, it was 3-1 when their captain (no.17) was allowed to shoot from distance and his excellent strike gave Wharton no chance.


The second half began with Carroll replacing Rutledge at right-back for Altrincham before Riley forced a good save from the Congleton keeper (48 mins). A few minutes later, Jordan Hames came on for Alty but the second period was proving more scrappy than the first though there was no lack of commitment on either side as a crunching but fair challenge by Sam Grimshaw demonstrated.

The changes continued as Brown came on for Opori on the hour mark. Congleton were now threatening and their no.9 did well to get towards the by-line but his cross across the face of goal was not converted. The next Alty change saw the welcome return of the previously injured Joe Hand to replace Watmore.

Congleton were looking the more likely to score as the half wore on but Alty defended well. Derron Opori now came back on (81 mins) and then Rutledge also returned to the game, replacing McGuire (85 mins). Wharton was then forced to make a good save as Congleton continued to attack but there was no way back for them and the game ended with Altrincham 3-1 winners of an entertaining game.