Altrincham FC Youth Team
Match Reports


Manchester FA Youth Cup Match
Sunday, 17 March 2013, at 2.15pm at Manor Farm


Right: David Brown keeps his eye on the ball against Urmston Meadowside. He was part of the Alty back-line which kept a clean sheet today.

This is the first season that Altrincham FC Youth (an under-18 team) have played in the Manchester FA Youth Cup. In past years they have competed as the Altrincham and District FA Youth team in the Cheshire County FA District Cup, which was an under-18s' competition. However, the CCFA changed their competition this season into an under-17s' tournament, in which Altrincham FA still compete but now with an amalgam of the younger Altrincham FC Youth teamers and members of the Altrincham FC Juniors. To give the older members of the Altrincham FC Youth squad a cup competition instead of the CCFA District Cup, they have been entered this season in the Manchester FA competition, which is for under-18s.

This was a nightmare of a match for player identification. Both sides wore a wide range of numbers, Alty had a no.45 and Urmston a no.42, for example. And to make matters worse, the shirt numbers did not match the team sheet numbers. Shown below is Altrincham's line-up in 1 to 11 fashion, with the actual shirt number worn by the player given in brackets afterwards if it differed from the listing. The details should be correct for the starting eleven but the substitutes posed further problems as they were drawn from the Altrincham FC Juniors' squad so were not as familiar faces as the starting eleven.

To compound matters, the game was played under rules which allowed rolling substitutions, so players came on, went off and came back on again in some instances. Even the match's venue was complicated. First of all, a van had careered off the nearby Clay Lane and gone through the perimeter fence onto the pitch, so this obstruction had to be removed. Then the referee decided that part of the pitch at Clay Lane was unplayable after last night's rain. So, the venue was changed just before the scheduled 2pm kick-off time and everyone decamped the few hundred yards from Clay Lane to Manor Farm on Ridgeway Road, where the game got under away, a quarter of an hour late. With no linesmen, the referee determined the offsides himself whilst two volunteers had flags to signal throw ins.


ALTRINCHAM FC YOUTH (Aquamarine and grey shirts, grey shorts and aquamarine socks). 1. Stephen BULLEN (18), 2. David BROWN (15), 4. Jamie McLELLAN, 5. Alex WEATHERBY, 3. Callum HARKIN (2); 7. Callum MOONEY (10), 6. Spencer CUNLIFFE (11), 8. Oliver RILEY (capt), 11. Rob GILROY (7); 9. Adam BEZZINA, 10. Derryn OFORI (23). Subs: 12. Matt GRAETZER, 14. Chris HASKINS (45), 15. Louis POTTS (14), 16. Adam WHITTY, 17. Andy ROYLE


After the game had got under way in sunny conditions but on a soft pitch, Bezzina forced the visitors' keeper into an early save (2 mins). Though Urmston won the match's first corner, Altrincham began to get on top and, from a Gilroy cross, won themselves a corner in the eighth minute. But Altrincham conceded a series of freekicks as Urmston matched them well. From the third of these freekicks, the visitors' number three fired in a firm, low shot, which hit the outside of the Alty post, though Bullen seemed to have it covered (14 mins)<

The rolling substitutions started after barely a quarter of an hour's play and, soon aftewards, Alty captain Ollie Riley went close with a well-struck shot (18 mins). After this, a Riley freekick led to a half-volley from Cunliffe, which the keeper saved well (21 mins). By this stage Alty had lost defender Callum Harkin to what appeared to be a groin problem and he was replaced by a number three.

By the middle of the half it was the visitors who had gone the nearer to scoring but a succession of corners for Altrincham after the half-hour marked an improvement in the home team's showing. The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when Rob Gilroy got round his marker to the by-line left of goal. His cross found a team-mate whose shot was blocked but the ball came out to Jamie McLellan, who drove the loose ball into the upper part of the net from close range at the back post.

Ofori was then fouled to earn his side a freekick but the keeper was equal to Riley's 25 yard effort (39 mins). Half-time arrived with Altrincham leading by the only goal of the match.


The second half was to witness numerous rolling substitutions which allowed everyone to get some match-time. Six minutes into the half, Ofori fired over from 22 yards before a fine run from Gilroy ended with a cross, which went unconverted. As in the first period, Altrincham won a series of corners midway through the second half but, though they were dominating the game, they were unable to break through for a second goal.

Finally, it was Derryn Ofori who doubled the lead when he burst through the middle and held off a couple of challenges, to score (71 mins). With Altrincham's midfield in the ascendant, two late goals underlined the result.

An excellent solo goal by Gilroy, advancing up the inside left channel, made it 3-0 in the 80th minute, with Alty's England Schools' international midfielder celebrating with a backward somersault! But, moments later, Bullen had to be alert to make a good save from a well-struck shot from 25 yards. Alty's no.45 (Haskins?) made it 4-0 after Gilroy and Potts had combined well on the right (83 mins).

Bezzina had two late chances; the first he hit over the bar and the second, an excellent left-foot effort, was well saved by the Urmston keeper. The visitors had pushed Altrincham hard in the first half but the hosts had dominated the second period to earn a deserved victory on a difficult surface.