NWYA Premier Division
at Hale Country Club, Clay Lane, Sunday, 10 May 2015
k.o. 2.30pm.


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Jamie Burrows, 2. James Campion, 4. Will Foster, 5. Sam Heathcote, 3. Obajimi Folagbade, 7. Sean Arrowsmith, 6. Laurence Taylor (capt), 8. Rhain Davis, 11. Harry Cain; 9. James Clancy, 10. Boris Melingui. Subs: 12. Aaron Goldman, 14. Jake Foy, 15. Reece Dwyer, 16. Marc Bellingham, 17. Treyvon Simpson.


The fixture list had thrown up a fitting finale to the season as league leaders Chester FC visited second-placed Altrincham with just a point between the clubs. Altrincham were looking to build on a 15-game unbeaten run while Chester needed only a draw to secure the title. Altrincham welcomed back James Campion from suspension, at right-back.

on a windy afternoon, in front of a larger than normal crowd, Altrincham kicked off in windy conditions. The first drama of the afternoon occurred off the pitch as a steepling ball kicked out of the ground came back from orbit and landed on a passing car's windscreen, shattering it in the process. But while somebody's afternoon had been sadly ruined, the game continued and Altrincham were the first to threaten. Taylor's ball found Melingui and he, in turn, fed Arrowsmith but the keeper came out smartly to halt his progress (3 mins).

Altrincham won two corners in the opening stages. The first was gained by Cain (9 mins) and the second by Arrowsmith (17 mins) but neither threatened a goal. For their part Chester enjoyed some good attacking possession as the game got off to a fairly even start. This was underlined as Chester responded to Alty's two corners by winning the next three flag-kicks. The visitors' no.7 was keeping Harry Cain penned back in defence and limited his attacking contributions up the left wing.

There was a tense moment for Altrincham when the no.7 of Chester advanced towards the box, after he had got behind Foster near half way. Heathcote and Campion arrived almost simultaneously to sandwich the Chester player just outside the box. Heathcote needed treatment but was booked when he rose to his feet. Although clearly hurt, the tall centre-back continued gamely (28 mins).

After Burrows had done well to beat out a cross from Chester's number seven, Alty won a freekick at the other end from a Heathcote freekick (39 mins). However, it had been Chester who had had the better of the latter stages of the second half so it was against the run of play when Altrincham took the lead. A fine ball from Melingui found Arrowsmith, who scored from close range (44 mins).

Four minutes of added time were played during which Chester won two corners but Altrincham's defence held firm to retain the half-time lead and with it, the lure of the championship title if they could retain the advantage throughout the second half.


Altrincham started the second half well and Arrowsmith and Clancy soon conspired to feed Melingui, whose dangerous cross was cleared by Chester (48 mins).

A superb ball from Taylor now allowed Folagbade a shot, which was deflected out for a corner. It then took a fine tackle from Campion to halt Chester and concede a corner to them. The gusty wind was continuing to affect play but an interchange between Arrowsmith and Davis almost produced a goal as the latter's chip only just cleared the bar and landed on the roof of the net (53 mins).

Melingui was proving a danger to Chester and was using his strength well to hold the ball up when it was played forward to him. Just after the hour mark, the stocky striker turned well and hit a goalbound shot that was saved as Altrincham enjoyed a dominant spell.

In the 63rd minute Chester brought on their no.18 for no.11 whilst Altrincham introduced Dwyer for Arrowsmith. Heathcote was then harshly judged to have committed a foul when the freekick could equally as well gone the other way. The referee then allowed the kick to be taken from the wrong place and this sequence of events proved costly as the visitors' number nine rose to head home the no.3's freekick (65 mins). So the title was now back in Chester's hands.

The goal lifted the visitors and it took several minutes for Altrincham to regain their attacking impetus. But, after 75 minutes Melingui made a fine run and saw his shot deflected only just wide of the far post, for a corner. Though the corner came to nothing, four minutes later the decisive goal arrived. Cain won the ball on the left and fed Clancy. He relayed it, to his right, to Dwyer. The substitute's low shot arrowed into the bottom corner of the net, to the keeper's right to restore Altrincham's lead (79 mins).

Now Alty brought on Foy for Folagbade. As Foy slotted in at left-back, Cain moved forward to the left flank of midfield (81 mins). As time ticked away Chester went for an equalizer. After 87 minutes Folagbade returned to the game as Campion was substituted with what looked to be a thigh problem. Alty now won two successive corners and, when Davis was booked in the ninetieth minute, it looked as if Altrincham were home and dry. Little did anyone know but almost nine minutes of added time were to be conjured up by the referee.

ALtrincham dealt with a Chester corner (90+3 mins) and a minute later the second of two excellent tackles by centre-back Foster set Altrincham going forward. Clancy played the ball inside to Davis, whose shot from the edge of the box beat the keeper to make it 3-1 (90+4 mins).

Two minutes later the Chester no.10 scored with a rising shot, following a freekick to make it 3-2 (90+6 mins). Yet, still, play continued with a Chester player receiving a booking as late as eight minutes into aded time. Finally in the 99th minute, the whistle sounded and Altrincham had completed a memorable run of sixteen unbeaten league games to lift the title.

A season which had begun with just three wins from the opening eight games had not promised such a successful conclusion and, despite a fixture backlog, which meant seven league and cup matches being played in the last 26 days, Altrincham's under-18s had shown strong charcater and not a little ability to produce such a positive outcome.

Commiserations go to Chester who pushed Altrincham all the way.