Match Report


UniBond Premier League match,
played on Saturday, 15 March, 2003 at 3p.m.

  • 10 mins: Paul ROBERTSON (Hyde United 0 Altrincham 1)
  • 70 mins: Peter BAND (Hyde United 0 Altrincham 2)

    REFEREE: Mr. W. Elders (Doncaster)

    "Please keep out" reads the sign in front of the Ewen Fields net before today's game!

    Hyde were seeking to making a late dash from the relegation spots under new manager Steve Waywell, whilst Altrincham were looking to consolidate their mid-season upturn in fortunes. A couple of years ago this game would have attracted over 700 fans but today a very disappointing 485 turned out on a bright, sunny afternoon. The Hyde programme revealed that The Tigers had used 54 players this season, of whom 10 had been ex-Alty players. Alty for their part had used 42 players including several ex-Hyde men including Richard Acton, Peter Band, Jason Gallagher and Paul Robertson.


    Although Alty welcomed back Mark Maddox as captain, after injury, the team captain Rod Thornley remained sidelined by his thigh injury. He, along with Neil Ryan, Danny Murphy and Dave Gardner, all dressed in black, formed a sombre group of limping players who watched this game from the stand. Also missing, of course, was Sean Smith. Steven Clegg was reduced to the bench, as was Jason Gallagher, who had a back strain. Into the starting line-up with Maddox came Anthony Sullivan.

    Hyde introduced new signing Simon Coleman into their defence which meant there was no place for former Alty player Matthew Duffy. However, Mark Sertori and Dave Swanick were familiar faces in the Hyde starting line-up, along with Lee Evans, who played for Alty Reserves last season. Paul Jones was another man with Moss Lane connections, having been a pre-season Altrincham trialist some years ago.


  • HYDE UNITED (Red shirts and socks, white shorts) : 1. David FISH, 2. Dominic CROOKES, 3. Simon COLEMAN, 4. Paul JONES, 5. Nicky SPOONER, 6. Mark SERTORI (capt.), 7. Steve GUNBY, 8. Dave SWANICK, 9. Paddi WILSON, 10. Lee EVANS, 11. Rob WOODHEAD. Subs: 12., Tony ELLIS, 14. Michael MESZAROS, 15. Tom BROOKES.

    ALTRINCHAM (Pale blue shirts, black shorts, black socks): 1. Richard ACTON, 2. Gary SCOTT, 3. Chris ADAMS, 4. Mark MADDOX (capt.), 5. Gary TALBOT, 6. Stephen ROSE, 7. Anthony SULLIVAN, 8. Ian CRANEY, 9. Peter BAND, 10. Barry SHUTTLEWORTH, 11.Paul ROBERTSON. Subs: 12. Steven CLEGG, 14. Stephen LUNT, 15. Jason GALLAGHER.


    Altrincham completed a league double over Hyde but they should have won by a clearer margin with Man of the Match Ian Craney, alone, failing to convert five presentable chances. It took a fortunate rebound off Band from a save by Hyde keeper Fish to seal the game in the 70th minute, after a superb drive by Paul Robertson had given Alty an early lead (10 mins). Hyde went close a couple of times in the first half but posed little threat in the second half against a well organised Alty defence.


    The game got off to a slow start with plenty of head tennis and short-lived attacking moves undone by inaccurate passes. Alty won the game's first corner but Paul Robertson's effort was not up to his usual standard. Out of this dross, Altrincham had the first chance when a good move by Adams and Band found Craney, whose deft footwork set him up with a clear sight of goal but he put his shot straight at the diving Fish's legs (6 mins). Then Band won possession and his low shot produced a decent save from Fish, low down (7 mins). With Altrincham now settling down, the next attack saw Swanick's clearance arrive at the feet of Robertson who drove the ball superbly, left footed, into the bottom corner of the net, to Fish's left, from 22 yards out. It was Paul's first goal for Altrincham since his return to the club last week; his last Alty league goal was on 27 April 1999 against Frickley.

    Alty soon won their second corner of the game but this came to nothing. Maddox and his colleagues were dealing comfortably with the Hyde threat at this stage and it was not long before Ian Craney had his second good chance of the game. This time it came when Rose played forward a poor clearance by Fish and, though Craney got round the keeper to the right of goal, his shot was knocked out for a corner by Jones, a retreating Hyde defender (17 mins).

    Fish punched out Robertson's cunningly flighted corner to concede another flag-kick, and although this produced a third well-taken inswinging corner by Robertson, Hyde survived. Band then set up Sullivan for a clear shot at goal as he came in from the right but "Tino" blasted the ball high over the goal. Nevertheless, Sullivan was to have his best game yet in an Altrincham shirt, his right-wing position seeming to be more to his liking than the role of central striker. Indeed, Sullivan soon got free again on the right by beating two defenders and it took a neat save from Fish to cut out his cross.

    Right: Gary Scott (in blue) contests possession with Hyde's Paddi Wilson.

    Adams and Scott saw off attacks as Hyde began to get into the match a little more midway through the half. Jones played a fine ball forward from 40 yards out on the right for which the lively Wilson rose well to head back across goal and only just wide of Acton's left post, as the Alty keeper remained flatfooted (25 mins). Soon after this Hyde won a free-kick on the left, 45 yards out, and Acton came out but did not get the ball, which was half-cleared to Gunby whose firm effort was blocked. Alty replied with Sullivan and Craney feeding Band who returned the ball to Sullivan, on the right wing. Via Robertson, the ball then came to Craney whose shot narrowly went wide of Fish's left post (27 mins).

    Hyde won their first corner of the match, off Mark Maddox's head, but although this was cleared, an Acton punch soon yielded the Tigers' second corner of the afternoon, on their left (30 mins). This was half-cleared to Swanick whose tremendous 20-yard drive struck a defender in the crowded Alty box and led to Jones's shot narrowly wide of goal (31 mins). Rose and Shuttleworth were forming a new but useful looking midfield partnership but neither they nor their colleagues were troubled by Hyde's next effort, a long shot from Wilson which cleared the roof of the terrace behind the goal (33 mins).

    Craney than had his fourth goal attempt of the day, after more good work by Sullivan. This time Craney's first effort was blocked and he pulled his second attempt wide of Fish's right post (34 mins). Another chance came Alty's way when Rose fed Adams on the left and from his cross Sullivan's volley hit keeper Fish to give the visitors their sixth corner of the half. This was cleared before Sullivan got to Coleman's weak back header before Fish, only to knock the ball just wide of the net (40 mins). Hyde won their third corner of the half, which Acton caught well, but the only serious goal threat before the interval came when Sullivan beat his marker and fired in a shot which Fish caught well, above his head (45 mins). Alty held a slender interval lead but had wasted chances to make the game safe.


    Ian Craney had the first real crack at goal of the second half when he drove a 25 yard freekick at goal, which Fish held well (48 mins). Robertson soon fed Band who won the half's first corner, on the Alty left. Shuttleworth's corner came out to Robertson but his effort was blocked by a defender. Then Gary Talbot's fine header saw off a Hyde attack at the cost of a corner on the Hyde left (54 mins). This was cleared before, yet again, Ian Craney found himself with a good chance to score.

    He surged into the box to the left of goal when Woodhead's clearance of an Adams cross came to him. The keeper half stopped Craney's shot and then Crookes cleared the ball off the line (57 mins).

    Sullivan immediately won a corner on the right and, though Fish missed Robertson's corner kick, a goalkick resulted. Ellis then replaced Crookes for Hyde (60 mins). Alty were now well on top and Sullivan soon did well to get into the box but his rising shot only just cleared the bar (61 mins). Swanick then neatly stopped a Craney advance but the action was all towards the Hyde goal at this stage.

    A Band mis-hit shot soon followed before a Sullivan effort hit Woodhead and came to Craney on the outer fringes of the box. Ian's unfortunate afternoon in front of goal continued as, this time, he made an air shot and the ball bounced to safety (66 mins). Meszaros now came on for Lee Evans and this preceded Hyde's best effort of the half, a thirty-yarder from Coleman which Acton tipped over his head for a corner, which in turn yielded a freekick to Alty for a foul on Talbot by Sertori. Alty then managed to wrap up the game in a somewhat fortunate manner when, following Spooner's back-header, Sullivan's shot came back off the advancing Fish and struck the incoming Band before rebounding back from 15 yards or so into the empty net.

    As Band tore off his shirt to celebrate, the referee went to consult his linesman, presumably about a possible offside, but the goal was allowed to stand (70 mins). Almost immediately Alty should have added a third when Craney and Robertson combined, only for Craney to sidefoot his shot badly across goal (71 mins).

    Alty now brought on Clegg for Sullivan on the right flank (71 mins). After Shuttleworth's shot had been blocked, Rose really got hold of the rebound but drove it narrowly over the bar from 30 yards (72 mins). At this point Brookes replaced Spooner for Hyde. Next, a great ball by Rose was threaded through for Craney to chase, only for him to be dubiously flagged offside (73 mins). It was now one-way traffic and the next effort came after a neat sidestep by Shuttleworth preceded the midfielder's drive, just over the bar, from 20 yards (76 mins).

    However, in a rare attack, Hyde were unlucky not to score when a shot by Gunby was deflected and beat Acton only to strike his right upright and spin along the line back into the keeper's arms. Alty now brought on Lunt for Craney (79 mins). Clegg was beginning to show a bit of pace on the right and he almost got to a through ball before Fish hacked the ball out of play. Ellis was very lucky not to be booked when he scythed down Band after he had already been penalised and it was probably Band's failure to react which saved the Hyde man a booking. Mr Elders had had a good game but he finally reached for his book when Ellis fouled Maddox (84 mins).

    Alty had another chance soon afterwards when another good ball forward from Rose set Lunt free to run at Fish. the keeper advanced 30 yards from goal and executed an excellent clean tackle on the hesitant young Alty striker (86 mins). Then an error by Coleman let Lunt in behind him but this time the Alty man curiously seemed to lack sufficient pace as the keeper came out to clear. Lunt did much better soon afterwards, feeding Clegg after controlling the ball well. However, Clegg was dispossessed on the edge of the box (87 mins). Acton then came into action for the first time for some minutes, smothering a ball on the edge of his box before the game drifted to a low key ending with Altrincham the comfortable winners.

    Despite the injury-affected team selection and the resulting unfamiliarity of all the Alty players with each other, this was an efficient if not sparkling performance from the Robins. They carved out numerous chances but failed to capitalise on them. Although Ian Craney was a deserved man of the match for some marvellous pieces of skill, he will have been disappointed at his finishing today. Sullivan had his best game yet for Altrincham whilst Robertson, especially in the first half, settled in well. Clegg, too showed some promise in his brief period on the pitch. However, Maddox's return to the back four gave it more stability and Hyde had only a handful of sights of goal. Although Alty did not rise from their 13th place in the league, only three points now separate them from sixth position. Craney was named the official Alty man of the match whilst Fish claimed the award for Hyde.