NWYA Premier Division
at The J. Davidson Stadium, Moss Lane, Tuesday 5 May 2015
k.o. 7pm.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Jamie Burrows, 2. Jimi Folagbade, 4. Will Foster, 5. Sam Heathcote, 3. Harry Cain, 7. Sean Arrowsmith, 6. Laurence Taylor (capt), 8. Rhain Davis, 11. Aaron Goldman; 9. James Clancy, 10. Boris Melingui. Subs: 12. Jake Foy, 14. Reece Dwyer 15. Marc Bellingham, 16. Treyvon Simpson.


This was Altrincham's sixth game in the last 14 days as they caught up on their fixture backlog. Though defeated in the Neil Thomason Trophy final 48 hours before this game, the Robins had gone 14 games unbeaten in the league before this match on the J. Davidson Stadium's pitch. A draw or a win in this match with Morecambe would ensure that the final match of the league season, at home to Chester FC on Sunday at the Hale Spa and Country Club (Clay Lane 2.30pm) would be the title decider. Before tonight's match kicked off, Chester led the table by four points but Altrincham had this game in hand.

A blow for Alty was that Cheshire County defender James Campion was ruled out by suspension but the capable Jimi Folagbade replaced him at right-back. There was also a change at left-back as winger Harry Cain moved back to that position, with Jake Foy named on the bench. Aaron Goldman replaced Cain on the left wing.

Up front, Boris Melingui replaced Reece Dwyer in the starting eleven.

Conditions were difficult; a very strong and gusty wind was blowing for virtually the entire game. Altrincham kicked off towards the Golf Road end and had the better of the opening stages without creating a real chance to score. And they had a scare in their own box when an important Heathcote clearance struck his fellow centre-back, Foster, but fortunately the ball ran to keeper Burrows.

Although Cain was getting forward from left-back, the first meaningful shot of the night did not arrive till the nineteenth minute when Goldman fired off target. Soon afterwards, Alty won two corners in succession. The first came from good work by Melingui which gave Arrowsmith a shot which the keeper blocked. From the second corner, a foul on Melingui gave Altrincham a freekick just outside the front edge of the penalty area. Heathcote's well-struck dead ball was well saved by the visitors' keeper (25 mins).

But then Morecambe won a corner at the other end, after Cain had lost possession but Cain soon compensated for that slip with a fine covering tackle to halt the Morecambe no. 11 (30 mins).

Next, a good dribble from Goldman earned Altrincham another corner. Cain's low corner, from the left, was met by Melingui who had slipped his marker to shoot home from close range and give his side the lead (34 mins).

Davis was then caught very late but the officials missed the offence. Although Altrincham were on top, Morecambe won another corner before Heathcote's run led to a Goldman shot which was blocked. However, Alty keeper Burrows had to rescue his side in the 43rd minute. Good play from the visitors' no.7 fed their no.9 and it took a brave dive at the advancing player's feet by Burrows to halt the move.

At the other end, Melingui impressively got to the byline but the visitors goalkeeper smothered his cross at the cost of a corner (45 mins). In added time Folagbade was crudely fouled and the Shrimps' number eight was booked for the offence.

Though Altrincham had had much the better of the opening 45 minutes, they had only translated this into a slender one-goal lead.


Inside a minute of the restart Melingui almost doubled the lead, as he got into the box, but his shot went narrowly wide. In the next ten minutes Alty won two corners, and Morecambe gained one, but nothing came of any of them (55 mins).

Alty threatened again when Goldman's low cross was put over the bar by Folagbade. Davis then prompted a move via Goldman, Taylor and Clancy which led to two corners in quick succession. The Morecambe no.8 was fortunate to stay on the pitch when, already booked, he committed his third serious foul of the game, this time on Davis. But the referee let the offender off with a talking-to (64 mins).

The Morecambe keeper recovered from dropping a cross to regather a Melingui cross before Altrincham went through a disappointing spell. They were slow to react to a short corner and seemed to lose their impetus for a while. The visitors' no. 10 was booked but it then took an important interception from Cain to halt a threatening move between Morecambe's numbers 8 and 9.

In the 72nd minute Morecambe made a double swap as their nos. 16 and 20 came on, whilst Altrincham introduced Foy for Goldman. This meant that Cain moved to the left midfield slot as Foy settled in at left-back.

Foster, who otherwise had a good game, was now booked for a trip on the edge of the Alty box (74 mins). And after the freekick had been put over the bar, Bellingham replaced Clancy and took a position behind the striker, Melingui (75 mins).

It was not until the 86th minute that Altrincham finally made the game safe. Melingui, who was lively throughout, and Cain combined to fed Arrowsmith for a close range goal to make it 2-0. And just three minutes later Arrowsmith netted again. This third goal came from good work by Davis whose challenge near half way got the ball running towards the advancing Morecambe keeper. Arrowsmith got to the ball first and tipped it behind the keeper before he ran on to complete the job of scoring into the unguarded net (89 mins).

So Altrincham had ensured that next Sunday's game would be a fitting climax to the season. Only a win over Chester will suffice for Altrincham if they are to win the league title. In this match they had thoroughly deserved their victory but had made hard work of it, which was perhaps understandable given their heavy fixture schedule and the difficult, windy conditions.