Match Report


UniBond Premier League match,
played on Saturday, 14 September, 2002 at 3p.m.

  • 44 mins: Gareth MORRIS (Ashton United 1 Altrincham 0)

    REFEREE: Mr. A. DENNIFF (Sheffield)

    Ashton United were promoted to the Premier Division this season after several seasons of near misses so this was apparently their first league encounter with Altrincham for more than fifty years. The clubs did meet recently, however, on 9 January 2001 in the UniBond Cup, at Moss Lane, when they drew 1-1. In the Ashton side that night were two former Robins' captains, Paul France and Mick Carmody, as well as Chris Adams and Jeremy Illingworth, who were later to join Altrincham. Only Gallagher, Talbot and Craney played in that match and were also in today's Alty squad.


    This was a match which Altrincham should have won, having dominated most of the first half. But they fell behind a minute before the interval through Morris's 30 yard screamer. Ashton keeper Trueman made several good saves as Alty went close several times. In an increasingly tetchy second half, which saw seven bookings in the last 22 minutes, Ashton's Morris was sent off after 77 minutes for a second cautionable offence. However, Alty were unable to level the scores, the nearest effort being stopped by White's clearance off the line four minutes from time. Alty dropped to 16th in the table.


    New striker Adewale Ajetunmobi appeared to arrive late today at Ashton's ground and was not included in the line-up. He is seen, right, having a discussion with manager Bernard Taylor before kick-off. Also out of the team today was Neil Ryan, serving his suspension for a red card at Blyth. Back into the side for the first time since the opening game of the campaign was Danny Murphy, who has recovered from his ankle injury. Andy Tunnicliffe remained on the bench, where he was joined by Jason Gallagher, who made way for Ian Craney's return to the starting line-up. Ashton welcomed back Chris Cornelly after his trials at Oldham Athletic and Leigh RMI, whilst Mike Wolstenholme was also returning to Hurst Cross after being signed from Mossley. Greg Challender, whose many former clubs include Altrincham, was the Ashton captain.


  • ASHTON UNITED (Red and white halved shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Danny TRUEMAN, 2. Gareth MORRIS , 3. Phil BAYLIS, 4. Greg CHALLENDER (capt.), 5. Danny WHITE, 6. James RIORDAN, 7. Craig FLEURY, 8. Mike WOLSTENHOLME, 9. Jamie MILLER, 10. Jason DORMER, 11. Chris CORNELLY. Subs: 12. Phil COONEY, 14. Lee BLACKSHAW, 15. Lee CALVERT.

  • ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, white shorts, black socks): 1. Andy MOORE, 2. Neil MURPHY, 3. Gary SCOTT, 4. Stephen ROSE, 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Andy McDONALD, 7. Ian CRANEY, 8. Peter BAND, 9. Chris YOUNG, 10. Rod THORNLEY (capt.), 11. Danny MURPHY. Subs: 12. Mark MADDOX, 14. Jason GALLAGHER, 15. Simon WOODFORD.


    The game started on a bright sunny afternoon, but with a cool, gusty breeze blowing. Cornelly soon showed his blistering pace on the Ashton left but his cross ended with a shot well over the bar by Challender (2 mins). Alty then gained two early free-kicks. Cornelly next sprang the offside trap but his low cross was cleared by McDonald (3 mins). Moore then had to be out of his goal smartly to smother an under-strength chest-back towards him by Neil Murphy (6 mins). Altrincham now began to gain the ascendancy, winning the game's first corner after 7 minutes when Thornley's run ended in a clearance which went quite close to being an own goal. From the corner by Craney, Rose's goalbound header from outside the box was well tipped over his bar by Trueman.

    Next Murphy jinked past two defenders but his shot ran weakly to the keeper (8 mins). A foul on Band allowed Alty to maintain their pressure and soon afterwards, Band won his side a corner off Dormer. Craney's kick, from the right, ended with Trueman's catch. Dormer then flattened Band but the free-kick led to nothing. Alty were on top and their next effort was Craney's 25 yarder from a McDonald pass, which Trueman parried (16 mins). Band then fed Murphy on the left. Danny cut into the box and rolled a ball across the face of the Ashton goal for a goalkick to the hosts (19 mins). Thornley continued to menace the defence whilst Chris Young was doing a good job on the right of the attack, holding the ball up well. Alty won several free-kicks but these came to nothing. After Craney's throw-in, a Neil Murphy cross hit McDonald's outstretched leg and went just wide of goal. (23 mins). Thornley then got in a good cross from the left by-line which Band headed at Trueman as the chances continued to come- and continued to go unconverted (24 mins).

    After McDonald had lost the ball Cornelly again showed a clean pair of heels but shot wildly over the bar from the left (24 mins). Cornelly's next searing run left Neil Murphy behind him but ended in an Alty throw. Cornelly soon had another go, but his cross was directed, low, into Moore's chest. After White had been all over Young, the resulting free-kick from 40 yards out on the right came, via a Thornley lay-off, to Craney, whose shot was superbly tipped over the bar by the busy Trueman for a corner on the Alty right (29 mins).

    Soon after this a good Alty move ended with Craney's chip forward to Thornley and the striker's knock back across the goalmouth as Alty continued to dominate (31 mins). Ashton then took off the limping Dormer and brought on Calvert in midfield (32 mins). The sub soon got in a shot but it was blocked by a defender. Next, Young fed Craney but his attempt to place his shot ended up with him simply sidefooting his effort to the keeper (34 mins). Then Ashton had their best chance of the half when a cross for their right found Miller unmarked but he flicked his header wide when he should have tested Moore (35 mins). Soon Danny Murphy progressed up the left past Morris and his cross found Band whose shot was blocked (36 mins). A sign of things to come came after 38 minutes when Morris tried his luck with a put at goal from 40 yards or more, his effort going wide of Moore's left upright.

    Then Ashton keeper Trueman produced another magnificent save when he denied Band, whose close-range downward header from Danny Murphy's cross from the left, seemed goalbound (38 mins). Altrincham continued to press but still a goal would not come. After a McDonald shot had been blocked, Cornelly again advanced up the left, where Rose's sliding tackle was too late, and the wing man got free to the left of goal. His good shot was excellently tipped over the bar by Moore for Ashton's first corner of the game on the right. Two more corners immediately followed and from the last of these the ball came out to Morris some 30 yards or more from goal. He drove his shot into the net, though Moore, diving to his right, did get a hand to it (44 mins). The goal had come completely against the run of the first-half play.


    Ashton started the second half much better than they had played in the first period, their confidence boosted by their goal. Not only were Ashton now having more possession but they were showing a more determined approach to the game. After 51 minutes they brought on the combative Cooney for Fleury, who had joined the club recently from Curzon Ashton. Alty's best effort at this stage was a Neil Murphy 25 yarder well over the bar from a Craney pass. Cooney then beat Scott to get in a low cross from the right, which won a corner for Ashton. Soon after this, Cornelly got past Rose but once more produced a poor cross which Scott cleared (56 mins).

    Danny Murphy then made good progress up the left and forced a good save from Trueman to win a corner on the left. Before this was taken, Scott gave way to Mark Maddox at left back (57 mins). Next a Thornley volley was blocked before Calvert's 25 yarder was also blocked at the other end. Morris was now judged to have been tripped by Talbot just outside the Alty box but the free-kick was deflected en route to Moore, who only held it at the second attempt, low down. Cornelly again wasted a promising position with a poor cross as the home side deprived Alty of the sort of chances which had come in abundance in the first half. They did, however, get an opportunity when Neil Murphy's cross from the right found Young unmarked in the box but he failed to connect with this attempted header (61 mins).

    The game began to turn a bit sour when Danny Murphy and Morris went head to head after a foul actually committed by Young. Craney, who had an excellent first half but a quieter second period, now turned expertly and ran forward but his shot was blocked as it hit Riordan's back, to win a corner on the left. The keeper was fouled after Band had headed the corner. Then Morris was again involved with Danny Murphy and a small melee developed.

    Murphy had made a late tackle on an opponent, for which a foul was given but Morris chose to drive the ball deliberately at Murphy. The referee, Mr Denniff, who had an excellent game, booked both men (68 mins). A minute later the burly Challender rolled round on the ground holding his head but was well able to give his opinion to the referee before Band was booked for the challenge (69 mins). When play resumed a ball from Miller found Wolstenholme's head but he headed wide from a good position (71 mins). Craney then won a corner from which Talbot won a second as the keeper saved his header.

    This time Trueman caught the ball one handed after slightly misjudging it. From the clearance, Morris brought down Young near half way in the centre of the pitch and was shown his second yellow and a red card, as shown left (77 mins). As he crossed the touchline on the way to the tunnel, Danny Murphy, with whom he had crossed swords earlier, blew him a kiss.

    Once more Cornelly got free and once more shot well over the bar from 25 yards. Calvert now tried to mix it with Young but the Alty man refused to be drawn into any confrontation by walking away. Then Cornelly knocked the ball past Neil Murphy some 35 yards out and ran at the full-back before going down after a collision. The referee judged this to be deliberate and booked Murphy, who is now just one card away from a suspension (81 mins). Alty were now pressing hard for a goal and Craney's deflected shot led to an error by Trueman who conceded a corner as he collided with White, who needed treatment. From the corner Rose headed well over the bar (83 mins).

    Craney then had a shot blocked before Thornley got the ball to Band whose shot also hit a defender and as Danny Murphy attempted to knock it into the net, White cleared it off the line in a goalmouth scramble (85 mins). Then McDonald chased a ball to the keeper and caught Trueman, who responded by angrily pushing the Alty man away. Mr Denniff correctly booked both players (87 mins). Though Alty dominated the closing ten minutes or so, there was no way past Trueman and his defence and Alty slid to their fifth defeat in nine games this season. With no league match in mid-week or next Saturday, they could find themselves in a very low league position by the time they entertain Marine, a week on Tuesday at Moss Lane.

    It was Altrincham's inability to take their first half chances which cost them this game. The Ashton keeper was far busier than Moore and he made several fine saves, whilst the goal that won the match was virtually unstoppable. Ashton were much improved in the second half but rarely looked like adding to their lead whilst Altrincham were unable to recreate the openings which had arisen with relative frequency in the first half.