Match Report


Cheshire Senior Cup 1st Round match,
played on Wednesday, 18 September, 2002 at 7.45p.m.

  • 20 mins: Rod THORNLEY (Crewe Alexandra 0 Altrincham 1)
  • 27 mins: Rod THORNLEY (Crewe Alexandra 0 Altrincham 2)
  • 40 mins: Lee BELL (Crewe Alexandra 1 Altrincham 2)
  • 56 mins: Mike HIGDON (Crewe Alexandra 2 Altrincham 2)
  • 62 mins: Colin LITTLE (Crewe Alexandra 3 Altrincham 2)

    REFEREE: Mr. D.W. Stewart

    These two sides were last season's finalists. Crewe won that encounter, but only after extra time. The tie gave Alty fans a chance to sample the excellent facilities at Gresty Road, where the match was watched by a very decent crowd of 478 as well as by the Crewe under-19 side.


    Against a Crewe side containing five first team squad members, Altrincham played their best football of the season in the first half hour to take a deserved two goal lead, and they could have had more. Thornley got both goals (20 and 27 mins). Crewe pulled one back after 40 minutes through Bell, whose first effort was well saved by Moore but the Crewe man converted the rebound. Crewe improved after the interval and after Higdon headed the equaliser (56 mins), Little got the winner when he knocked home a rebound off the crossbar from a shot by Jones (62 mins). Altrincham can take pride in an excellent performance against strong opposition.


    Mark Maddox came into the starting line-up on the left of the defence, with Gary Scott dropping out, injured. Adewale Ajetunmobi and Andy Tunnicliffe were named on the bench, with Simon Woodford losing out. Otherwise the side was as at Ashton last Saturday. Crewe included five first-team squad members in their starting line-up.


  • CREWE ALEXANDRA (Red shirts with white sleeves, white shorts, red socks): 1. Ademole BANKOLE, 2. Adam YATES, 3. Matt GARNER, 4. Neil COVERLEY, 5. Dave WALTON , 6. Alex MORRIS, 7. Colin LITTLE (capt.), 8. Lee BELL, 9. Dean ASHTON, 10. Mike HIGDON, 11. Steve JONES. Subs: 12. Matthew PLATT, 14. Ian JEFFS, 15. Mark ROBERTS.

  • ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, black shorts and socks): 1. Andy MOORE, 2. Neil MURPHY, 3. Mark MADDOX, 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. Adewale AJETUNMOBI, 14. Andy TUNNICLIFFE, 15. Jason GALLAGHER.


    The game started off in lively fashion with Crewe having the ball in the net in the first minute but from a clearly offside position and, indeed, the whistle had been blown before the ball crossed the line. Then, a fine linking move between Danny Murphy and McDonald ended with Band's strong shot from 25 yards which went narrowly wide of Bankole's post. Next, Craney had a 20 yard shot which also went wide (2mins). Danny Murphy was showing some good early touches on the left whilst Peter Band made a number of excellent interceptions in midfield and, from one of these, Craney won the first corner of the game, on the right (5 mins).

    A long ball forward then looked as if it would come to the Crewe right-back but a fine sliding tackle out on the left wing by Thornley won the ball. Rod cut into the left side of the box and slid a pass across goal to Young. Instead of burying the ball in the net from six yards, Young took a touch and tried to place his shot and the chance disappeared (7 mins). Crewe were not helping their own cause with a series of misplaced passes out of their defence and midfield. Next, a slick Altrincham move saw McDonald feed the advancing Craney through the middle and Ian carefully measured his shot, which beat Bankole but came out off the outside of the keeper's right post (9 mins). It was all Altrincham at this point.

    Any threats from Crewe at this stage were seen off by Mark Maddox, who had an excellent game, and his colleagues in the Alty defence. Alty deservedly took the lead when Thornley (pictured left) finished well with a drive from about 15 yards, from the right side of the penalty box, after a feed by Young (20 mins). Soon, however, Ashton looked a threat to Alty when he got past Maddox but Talbot swept up the danger. When Bell and the impressive Little then combined, Andy Moore was very smartly off his line to force the Crewe man to shoot wide (24 mins). Danny Murphy then picked up the ball almost literally on his own by-line to the left of the Alty goal.

    He ran some 60 yards past a number of opponents up the left touchline before ending on the deck after a challenge which the referee judged to be fair. But Altrincham soon doubled their lead when a Craney ball forward into the box was met by Thornley's well placed header across and past Bankole (27 mins). The visitors continued to look good value for their lead in the following minutes, as they were cheered on by their vocal support and, from a free-kick, Rose won a corner with a deflection, but this was cleared.

    However, after the half-hour mark Crewe began to improve. Ashton, Bell and Little combined to produce a great save from Andy Moore, which gave Crewe a corner (34 mins), Then, following a Rose interception, Jones, the former Leigh RMI wide man, got in a shot which went miles over the bar. Crewe next won a corner off Rose on the right before Alty broke up the right but the move ended with Neil Murphy's misplaced ball into touch (39 mins). From the throw-in the ball came forward to Bell, who had found space deep in the Alty box. Moore made another superb close-range save but the ball came back to the Crewe man.

    Bell kept his head and side-stepped the prostrate keeper and a retreating defender to steer the ball into the net (40 mins). Bell had spent the previous evening on the bench for Alex's first team. As Crewe pressed again, Talbot got in a good tackle and shortly before the interval, Moore broke up another attack on his goal. Half time came with Alty deserving their lead but with a feeling that Crewe would be a tougher proposition in the second half than they had been for much of the first 45 minutes.


    Crewe started the second half with a well-struck shot from Ashton which went over the bar (46 mins) and then Neil Murphy had to make two good tackles to break up successive attacks. Next, Moore gratefully watched a fine curling shot from Higdon go past his left post from 25 yards out (48 mins). Thornley continued to harry the home defence, however, and his chasing down of Walton led to an overhit back-pass which Bankole could only slice out for a corner to Altrincham on their left (50 mins). Craney wasted this opportunity with a low-struck and underhit corner-kick. The first appearance of a trainer on the pitch came when Danny Murphy seemed to be hit accidentally in the face by the ball. Crewe were looking a better side now and their impressive young striker, Ashton, soon got in a 30 yard shot which went wide.

    Then a ball forward towards Ashton found the striker who got past Neil Murphy to the left of goal. From his lay-off Yates's cross was headed out by Maddox but the ball was crossed back in from the right for an unchallenged Higdon to head home from a central position inside the box for the equaliser (56 mins). Altrincham responded with a good run by Band but he curled his shot over the bar (58 mins). Off the ball, Morris went down and after treatment to his left leg he hobbled off injured. A minute later he was replaced by substitute Ian Jeffs (61 mins). Bankole then dropped but re-caught a free-kick awarded for a foul on Band and Crewe broke forward up the right through Ashton. He interchanged a pass with Jeffs before finding Jones at the back post with his cross from the right. Jones's effort rattled the cross bar but fortunately for Crewe bounced down comfortably for Little to knock into the net to give Crewe the lead (62 mins).

    Crewe now pressed further and Ashton won a corner from a deflected shot before he then rounded Moore and shot into the side netting, only to be penalised for a foul on the keeper (66 mins). Just after Thornley had been penalised for hand-ball, Alty took off Danny Murphy and brought on their new Nigerian striker Adewale Ajetunmobi, who had previously only appeared once for Altrincham as a late sub. At the same time, Roberts replaced Coverley for Crewe (69 mins). A 25-yarder from Jeffs and an offside decision against Little confirmed Crewe's pressure at this stage.

    Alty now employed three up front comprising Young, Thornley and Ajetunmobi as the Robins sought an equaliser and, as a result, they now began to get back into the game. Firstly, a Craney shot hit a defender before McDonald got into the box but hit a low shot that was easy for Bankole to field (75 mins). McDonald now had his best spell of the game and from a move initiated by him and Ian Craney, Young shot narrowly over the bar from 25 yards (79 mins). However, Crewe were still a danger and when McDonald lost the ball, they broke forward and from Ashton's pass a Crewe player produced a fine save from Moore, which gave Crewe a corner on their left side (81 mins). After a good first half, Craney now had a second wind as Altrincham got firmly back into the game in the final fifteen minutes. However, up front, Thornley was being kept on a tighter rein by the home defence than in the first half whilst Ajetunmobi was struggling to make any impact on the match.

    As the minutes ticked away Maddox won the ball just inside the Crewe half and his firm shot from 30 yards was on target but saved comfortably by Bankole (83 mins). Band then lifted a difficult chance over the bar before the speedy Jones got past Rose and raced into the left side of the box. His firm shot was well saved by Moore, who had an excellent game throughout in the Altrincham goal (86 mins).Crewe then played out some of the remaining time by passing the ball around on their right wing. The final act of the night saw a free-kick awarded after Jeffs broke up the right and Rose tripped him just outside the box. Given the good nature of the game as a whole and the fact that it was seconds from the end, Mr Stewart declined to show a card. Indeed, the referee had an excellent game throughout, playing advantage well on several occasions.

    Though Altrincham will be disappointed to have surrendered a two-goal lead, they can take a lot of pride from tonight's performance. For half the game they were the better side and signalled that if they can repeat such performances in the league they should soon begin to climb from their current lowly position.