ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Adam Reid; 2. Alan Tansinda, 4. Ben Hamilton, 5. Joe Coombs, 3. Sam Grimshaw (capt); 7. Liam Rutledge, 6. Matt Fearon, 8. Ryan Barry, 11. Jack Woolley; 10. Oliver Riley; 9. Derryn Ofori. Subs: 12. Jack Martiny-Schofield, 14. Redmond McGuire, 15. Josh Palmer, 16. Dominic Taylor, 17. Nathan Gray, GK. Cody Wharton.
DARLINGTON FC YOUTH (All white): 1.Jordan Nixon, 2. Nico Wetherald, 3. Anthony Snook, 4. Ian Balmain, 5. Scott Mould, 6. David Ferguson, 7. Danny Lambert, 8. Tom Bott, 9. Scott Harrison, 10. Ryan Burton, 11. Tom Robson. Subs: 12. Lee Burrell, 14. Chris Dickinson, 15. Anthony Bell, 16. Matthew Crust, GK. Lewis Brass.
Heavy rain started to fall shortly before kick off and was to get worse, though it did not get quite as bad as during the last round of the FA Youth Cup when thunder and lightning were added to the torrential downpours which fell on Alty and Lancaster City. Tonight, Alty were without their striker Duncan Watmore, who was in India on a school trip, and left-winger, Declan Barry. Sam Grimshaw took over from Joe Coombs as captain on the day which marked his 18th birthday. Ollie Riley played in the hole behind Derryn Ofori - not his customary role for Alty, but one he had filled in his days with Rochdale.
Alty started well and, after just three minutes of play, Woolley fed Ofori from the left and the striker did well to test the visitors' keeper, Nixon. With the rain getting heavier, a good Alty move ended with good play from Rutledge and his shot, which Nixon again saved (7 mins). At the other end, Harrison nodded a header to Adam Reid's waiting arms before a 25-yard shot from Matt Fearon saw Nixon drop the ball but get away with it.
But, gradually, the visitors were improving after the hosts had enjoyed the better of the opening stages and the team from Durham won two corners, between which Reid made an excellent save, low to his left (15 mins). Reid also had to make a more routine save soon afterwards before a neat Altrincham move ended with Riley and Fearon feeding Woolley who tried to curl the ball left-footed round the advancing keeper but, in doing so, missed the goal narrowly (20 mins).
With rain still tippling down, both sides continued to provide an entertaining game but Darlington took the lead on the half-hour mark. A ball over the top of the Alty back line found Lambert, on the right and judged onside by the officials. His excellent cross was neatly headed downwards and into the net by Harrison.
Altrincham responded with a corner, won by Riley but this was soon matched by a corner for Darlington which, likewise, came to nothing.
After a shot by the hard-working Ofori had been saved, an impressive 35-yard shot from Matt Fearon only narrowly cleared the bar (37 mins). After this, a good passing move yielded a corner for the Robins. As half-time approached, good skill from the increasingly influential Barry gave Ofori a shot but the keeper stopped it (44 mins). Alty won another corner before the end of the first half but they went in at the interval trailing by the game's only goal, despite having had more chances than the visitors.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 0 DARLINGTON FC YOUTH 1|
Altrincham started the second half with some good passing movements but the nearest to a goal was Woolley's shot across goal in the 51st minute. However, Ofori came closer, soon after this, when his excellent shot forced an excellent tip away from goal from Nixon (52 mins). At the other end, Coombs and Hamilton, with Tansinda and Grimshaw, kept the Darlington attack under control.
Just after a rare Darlington shot had cleared the bar, Alty replaced Woolley with Martiny-Schofield up front (57 mins). Goalkeeper Reid had to be alert to see off a Darlington threat before the Quakers made a change, as Dickinson replaced Bott (60 mins).
As the half passed its midway point Altrincham were still on top but had not converted their possession into a goal. They paid the price for this failing when, against the run of play, Darlington made an incursion up the left and the cross was volleyed home from a central poisition by Dickinson (64 mins).
Altrincham kept going but were fortunate when a firm Darlington shot from distance came back off Reid's right upright (69 mins). The visitors made another change when Bell replaced Wetherald in the 72nd minute. But Alty were still a threat and when Ferguson cynically took out Fearon as the midfielder advanced up the middle he was fortunate that a covering player meant he only saw a yellow card (73 mins).
Harrison, too, was fortunate not to be punished for a series of offences, which continued even after a lengthy word from the referee. With Grimshaw driving his team forward, Alty won two successive corners but still could not find the back of the net (76 mins).
But, again against the run of play, Darlington gave Alty a lesson in finishing when they netted a third goal on the 83rd minute. A move up the left, involving Balmain and Harrison, ended with Robson's shot past Reid from left of goal.
Each side now made a change as Darlington's Burrell replaced Robson and a minute later, Taylor came on for Alty's Tansinda (85 mins). But there was to be no way back for Altrincham who, nevertheless, had given a very creditable performance against a full-time side, as the game ended with Fearon's late shot over the bar.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH 0 DARLINGTON FC YOUTH 3|
Compiled by John Laidlar