Altrincham F.C. Reserves: Match Report.
ALTRINCHAM RESERVES (2) 3
ACCRINGTON STANLEY RESERVES (1) 4
Lancashire League match played at Moss Lane on Wednesday, 15th May, 2002.
This was the last match to be played in the Lancashire League this season, all the other teams having completed their fixtures. This game had been postponed earlier this season when Accrington had been unable to raise a team. Instead of taking place at the usual Reserves' home venue of Flixton F.C., the game took place at Moss Lane, Altrincham on a fine, sunny evening and it turned out to be far from the end of season fare that might have been expected from two mid-table sides. Altrincham's team was the now customary mix of youth team and more senior reserve players.
Both sides started well with Accrington winning a couple of corners and Altrincham putting together a neat move when Anthony, Robinson, Horton and Evans combined well on the left, the attack ending when Robinson's testing cross was cleared by the Accrington defence (5 mins). Soon after this Alty won their first corner, through Anthony (7 mins). Following a good interception by the impressive Evans, Alty won a free-kick and following this a neat lay-off by Anthony to Horton led to a Thompson shot at goal.
Whilst this effort did not produce a goal, Lee was soon on the mark. He progressed into the right side of the box and although his firm shot at goal was parried by the keeper, it had enough power to go over the line as a defender helped it into the back of the net as he sliced an attempted goal-line clearance (12 mins). Alty's lead did not last long, however. Keeper Dale Newbrook came to the edge of his area to kick clear from the advancing Stanley number nine but, unfortunately, Dale's clearance rebounded back past him off the attacker, leaving the visitors' striker with an unguarded net into which he netted the equaliser (15 mins).
Play was then fairly even and end to end. The best effort of this period came when Thompson's left-sided corner was cleared back to him. Lee played the ball forward and Evans executed a fine backwards header which came back firmly off the crossbar (27 mins).
In centre-field a bad tackle on Evans by the Accrington no.8 earned him a yellow card (29 mins) just before the Accrington no.9 got the better of the otherwise solid Miller but he volleyed over the bar when in the clear. Miller was then very lucky only to see a yellow card after he deliberately drove the ball into an opposition player after a corner had been awarded to the visitors.
Evans then made a fine tackle to set up an Alty attack before another good move, up the left by Lee MacDonald, saw Paul Robinson shoot at goal from outside the box. As Paul shot, his foot was blocked by a tackle and the Alty left-back had to hobble off (36 mins). What at first was diagnosed as a "dead-leg" took a turn for the worse as the injury swelled up and Paul was lined up for a trip to the hospital. It is to be hoped that the injury was not serious.
Lee Shillito replaced Robinson. With Lee slotting into the left side of midfield, Ian Horton moved to left-back. The referee continued to impress as he gave very clear audible explanations of every decision that he made. Just as it looked as if the sides would be level at the interval an excellent ball in from the right touchline by Green found the head of Stuart Madew, who headed it home firmly (43 mins).
The second half started with a kick by Accrington's no,3 as Lee Thompson glided past him; the Stanley defender was booked. Stanley's no.6 soon sent in a rocket shot but he missed the target (50 mins) before Thompson danced past two defenders, only being halted in the Accrington box. The end to end play continued with the visitors' no.8 shooting wide from 20 yards (55 mins). Another good cross from Green then found Miller but his shot was blocked by the keeper. Next, Lee MacDonald limped off to be replaced by young Kevin Duncalfe. This meant another tactical upheaval as Jason Anthony dropped into midfield and Duncalfe joined Madew up front (57 mins).
Anthony went on to show some good touches in his deeper role as Accrington continued to press for an equaliser but were caught offside twice in quick succession. Accrington's second equaliser arrived in spectacular fashion when their no.7 picked up a clearance on the right wing, some 35 yards or more from goal. His well-hit lob forced Newbrook to back-pedal but the Alty keeper was unable to stop the ball dropping over his head into the net (65 mins). Soon afterwards Newbrook made an excellent save, pushing a fine shot from the no.11 onto the crossbar (68 mins) before producing another top-drawer stop after the visitors' no.9 had got behind the Alty defence to the right of goal. Pat Claffey finally cleared the ball as it rebounded from Dale's save.
Green laid on his second goal of the night when another excellent cross of his from the right found Shillito at the back post. Lee knocked the ball home from close range to restore Alty's lead (71 mins). Again, the lead did not last long for, two minutes later, the Stanley no.8 advanced and drove a great shot into the bottom corner of Newbrook's net, to the right of the keeper's dive. With the sides locked at 3-3, both made a change.
Dutchman Nabia Racidi came on for Alty, replacing Stuart Madew up front (74 mins), whilst Accrington's no.12 replaced no.7 (76 mins). Disaster struck for Alty seven minutes from the end when Newbrook made a fine save from a great shot by the Stanley no.10 but the ball came out to the no.8 who slotted it home to make the score 4-3 to the visitors. Accrington them made another change (no.14 for no.2). The nearest Alty came to saving the game was when Anthony shot narrowly wide in the last minute. Altrincham were unlucky to take nothing from a good performance.
ALTRINCHAM SQUAD: 1 Dale Newbrook, 2 Mike Green, 3 Paul Robinson, 4 Patrick Claffey, 5 Duncan Miller, 6 Lee MacDonald, 7 Lee Thompson, 8 Francis Evans, 9 Jason Anthony, 10 Stuart Madew, 11 Ian Horton. Subs: 12 Lee Shillito, 14. Kevin Duncalfe, 15. Nabim Racidi, 18. Chris Chesters.