Match Report

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Pre-Season Friendly match,
played on Tuesday, 6 August, 2002 at 7.45p.m.

30 mins: David MacPHERSON (Leek Town 1 Altrincham 0)
58 mins: Simon WOODFORD (Leek Town 1 Altrincham 1)
64 mins: Gary SUCHAREWYCZ (Leek Town 2 Altrincham 1)
71 mins: Rod THORNLEY (Leek Town 2 Altrincham 2)

REFEREE: Not named on teamsheet.
7.45pm All white   Red & white stripes, black shorts and socks
1. Scott WIGGINS 1. Chris WILLIAMS
2. Martin RIDLEY 2. Neil MURPHY
3. Jon HASSELL 3. Gary SCOTT
4. Richard BEVAN 4. Mark MADDOX
5. Wayne JOHNSON (capt.) 5. Peter BAND
7. Chris WHITE 7. Jason GALLAGHER
8. David MacPHERSON 8. Neil RYAN
9. David WHITTAKER 9. Brian McILROY
10. Adam MARTIN 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.)
11. Anthony DANYLYK 11. Danny MURPHY
12. Steven TAAFFE 12. Chris YOUNG
13.   13. Nick STEPHENS (gk)
14. Nathan FLETCHER 14. Chris ADAMS
15. Matt BULLOCK 15. Vernum ROWLAND
16. Daniel BAINBRIDGE 16. Simon WOODFORD
17. Chris BAILEY 17. Danny FROST
18. Tom SIMPSON    
19. James MARROW    
20. Darren MOUNTFORD    
Alty last played at Leek, in the UniBond Premier League, on a sodden 16th December 2000 when a drab goalless draw was played out. In contrast this game was staged on a warm, sunny evening on a perfect playing surface. Only Scott, Maddox, Craney and Murphy remain with Altrincham from the line-up that day, but only Scott was to see out 90 minutes tonight.

"Friendly" was not the right word for tonight's game in which four players (two from each side) were either dismissed or substituted at the request of the referee. Alty, without Craney, Talbot and Hevicon from their starting line-up, lost Maddox to injury and then made a planned replacement of the recovering Gallagher inside the first 24 minutes. Leek took the lead on the half hour through MacPherson after Gary Scott had lost the ball in his own penalty area. Danny Murphy was sent off moments before the end of a first half which had earlier seen several robust challenges from Leek.

However, as happened after the subsequent "dismissals", both sides remained with eleven players apiece due to substitutions of the offenders. Simon Woodford hammered in a fine equaliser from a Young cross just before the hour but after 64 minutes Sucharewycz headed home a corner for Leek, unchallenged. Seven minutes later Rod Thornley headed in a corner at the far post to make it 2-2.


Leek have acquired 14 new players since last season, include six either directly, or indirectly, from Hucknall Town, where manager John Ramshaw used to be in charge. On their bench was Steve Taaffe who played pre-season trials for Altrincham last season. Leek's keeper was 17 year-old Scott Wiggins, who has just been signed from Kidsgrove Athletic and of whom great things are forecast. Altrincham were without several of this year's "regular" pre-season trialists, notably Hevicon, Locke, Talbot and Ward. Once again Chris Williams started in goal, with another trialist, Neil Murphy, partnered with Gary Scott as the full-backs.

Peter Band and Mark Maddox, returning from injury, were in the centre-back positions. There was also a welcome return for Jason Gallagher in midfield, though he only played a pre-planned 24 minutes. It was Jason's first game since 12 February and the stretching procedures that he came through in the warm-up conducted by physio Anne-Marie Jones were enough to make grown men wince! The rest of midfield comprised Danny Murphy, on the left, and Neil Ryan and Andy McDonald in the centre. Up front, former Liverpool trainee Brian McIlroy again partnered Rod Thornley. Once more Andy Tunnicliffe warmed up before the game and it was good to see him running flat out after his nasty leg fracture last season.


Although this was a friendly, Leek were taking it seriously enough to bother to change ends after the toss-up. The pattern of the game was set within a minute when Sucharewycz felled Rod Thornley 25 yards out and seconds later Alty earned a second free-kick from similar range, to the left of centre. Neither free-kick came to anything and soon Mark Maddox had to be alert to recover the ball after Gary Scott had lost possession at the Alty end (3 mins). Altrincham started reasonably well but neither side created any early openings. Peter Band began the game with some good clearances but his centre-back partner Mark Maddox soon had to limp off and be replaced by Chris Adams (11 mins). Adams went to left-back, with Scott moving inside to join Band. Danny Murphy soon won another free-kick as he, too, enjoyed a lively start to the game. McDonald's free-kick found Band, who rose well at the back of the box to head over the bar (12 mins). Danylyk, who challenged aggressively throughout the game, was then lectured for a foul on Ryan but this did not deter him from a lunge at Gallagher soon afterwards.

The physical tone continued with Whittaker's bad foul on Adams, from which the defender needed treatment to his face. Even Alty physio Anne-Marie Jones was in the wars as Leek captain Johnson accidentally knocked her over as he ran backwards into his defensive position whilst she treated Adams! Play resumed with both sides' movements foundering on the fringes of the opposition penalty area. Altrincham now made a second early substitution. Jason Gallagher went off to be replaced by Chris Young. Apparently, this was a pre-planned change with Jason simply being given a brief run-out as he returned from his lengthy injury absence. Young slotted into right midfield.

The nearest to a goal for either side came when Band made a mistake and Williams had to come out smartly to make a fine save with his legs from Martin. Soon, another heavy Leek tackle came in from Bevan and, as happened several times in the game, a skirmish then developed involving several players, notably MacPherson and Neil Murphy. The referee took no action (28 mins). As Leek continued to press, disaster struck when Gary Scott tried to dribble out of his own penalty area but lost the ball to MacPherson. The Leek man was then left in the clear and he went on to drive the ball cleanly past the exposed keeper, Williams (30 mins). Altrincham almost responded with a goal of their own. Neil Murphy, Ryan and Young combined well and the Leek keeper Wiggins missed the cross, colliding with a fellow Leek player.

He stayed down and play was stopped for him to be treated. Danny Murphy then showed some nice touches but no openings resulted from these. Young, on the right, was showing some good application, too, but too much of Altrincham's movement was across the pitch rather than up it at this stage. However, after Young and Murphy had combined well, Rod Thornley nearly got the end of a cross from Murphy. Then a Neil Murphy cross produced a difficult headed chance for McIlroy, which he nodded well wide. Leek won the first corner of the game after 38 minutes. As half-time approached Thornley was fouled for a free-kick, which was cleared. Soon, Alty had a great let-off when a free-kick by Leek from half-way was mis-punched by Williams in the outer sector of his penalty area and the ball looped towards the vacant goal. Fortunately, Gary Scott was alert and managed to run back and hook the ball off the line (44 mins).

MacPherson then made good progress on the outer fringes of the Alty box as he drifted in from the right but he was tripped by Danny Murphy. A number of players gathered round and Murphy and an opponent eye-balled each other as a fracas developed. The referee then produced a red card for Murphy. When play resumed, Hassell's free-kick curled over the bar just before the half-time whistle went. As the referee left the pitch, Alty manager Bernard Taylor engaged him in conversation. So, after 45 minutes, Alty had made two substitutions, had had another player sent off and were trailing by one goal; not a very promising situation!


At half-time Alty changed keepers, with Nick Stephens coming on for Chris Williams. Also, despite the dismissal of Danny Murphy, Alty resumed with eleven men; Simon Woodford coming on instead of the red-carded Murphy. The half resumed as the first had finished; an early foul by Hassell on Young led to the two confronting each other (46 mins) and the Alty man was lectured. Neil Murphy had an early pot at the Leek goal but was comfortably wide (47 mins). However, Alty then won their first corner of the game, through McIlroy, after 50 minutes. The keeper caught the corner but Alty soon won a free-kick near the corner flag on the right after McDonald had been felled.

Adams's free-kick led to Alty's second corner, this time on the left. Leek responded with an attack which Adams saw off with a fine tackle on MacPherson (53 mins). The fouls continued, with Thornley the next victim and Martin the culprit; then Neil Murphy made an interception, advanced towards goal and was crudely pushed over from behind on the edge of the box. Several Leek players inexplicably mobbed the victim, as if some injustice had been done, before the free-kick could be taken. Although Adams hit this into the wall, Altrincham got their reward as the ball came to Young, who crossed from the right, and Woodford buried the ball in the net with a fierce shot from a central position about 15 yards out (58 mins).

Almost immediately Young was tripped by the fiery Danylyk. Leek then made a double change. Steven Taaffe and Matt Bullock came on for MacPherson and Martin (60 mins). Taaffe almost immediately shot wide following a good move which started with a disputed throw-in in their own half (62 mins). Then another Leek attack, via Whittaker and Bullock, saw Alty keeper Stephens come out and catch the ball only to have it dislodged as a Leek player challenged him. No foul was given and a corner was given as an Alty man kicked the loose ball clear. Ridley's corner from the left was met by a leaping Sucharewycz who, unchallenged, powered home a header from 10 yards out or so (64 mins). After going ahead, Leek applied more pressure and soon won another corner. Again Ridley found Sucharewycz but after a scramble, Alty cleared the ball (67 mins).

The pressure continued when Scott missed the ball and Hassell got in for a shot over the bar. At last Alty got some change when Thornley and Woodford combined well to win a corner on the left; this led to a second corner which was taken after the keeper had been treated for an injury. Wiggins missed his punch from this and Thornley had a straightforward task of heading home the equaliser from close range at the back post (71 mins). As McDonald, who had showed some skilful play in midfield, received treatment for a mouth cut, Thornley left the field to be replaced by Vernum Rowland, who went into midfield, freeing Young to move forward (72 mins). Woodford showed some good skill in midfield but then Rowland committed a rash challenge to concede a free-kick.

Altrincham were now pressing for a winner but the game was marred by another fracas when a bad tackle by Taaffe on Adams led to the Alty left-back retaliating with a kick at the Leek man. Amazingly, after having shown a red to Murphy for a lesser offence, the referee only produced yellow cards. However, in what was presumably a pre-arranged procedure, the yellow cards triggered the instant removal of both players from the game and their substitution. The new players were Danny Frost for Altrincham and Bainbridge for Leek (83 mins). The undisciplined tackling continued with Ridley committing a bad foul on Young.

This time it seemed to be red card which was produced as Ridley deservedly got his marching orders (86 mins). The referee mercifully ended this bad-tempered affair without adding any injury time. The final score was two goals and two sendings-off each. Altrincham's previous six pre-season games had been good natured affairs with no bookings for anyone but this game was certainly no friendly. Amongst the trialists for Altrincham, Young and Woodford would probably be the happiest with their performances but, overall, the most positive thing that can be said of the 90 minutes is that the game gave Altrincham a competitive work-out.