Conference Youth Alliance (North Division)
Wednesday, 18 December 2013


ALTRINCHAM: 21. Matt Johnson, 2. Sam Heathcote, 3. Matt Graetzer, 4. Chris Walker, 5. Tom Clarke, 6. Aaron Longley, 7. Matt Hancock, 8. Jimmy Folageade, 9. Tom Westall, 10. Jake Foy, 32. Dan Jones. Subs: 14. Steve Bullen, 15. Adam Bond, 16. Luke Cousins


In a game played at the J. Davidson Stadium rather than the team's normal Clay Lane venue, the benefit from using the good Moss Lane surface was counteracted by the strong, gusty wind which prevailed through the match.

Stockport arrived unbeaten and at the top of the The Football Conference Youth Alliance table but, after a few uneventful minutes, it was Altrincham who took the lead. The pace of Westall, which was to be a feature throughout the game, caused the County defence some trouble and he was brought down in the box to win as clear a penalty as you will see. Westall himself converted the spot kick to give Altrincham an eighth-minute lead.

Stockport's first real threat of an equalizer only came in the 15th minute but Johnson saved comfortably. However, County threatened again soon afterwards when Johnson had to come out to head clear and a County player headed the loose ball back over him towards the goal but Clarke had covered well to head clear. After this episode, the visitors' no.2 needed lengthy treatment and, though he did return to the game, he was not to last much longer, being replaced by no.16 after 27 minutes.

County's no.10 missed a good chance (29 mins) but, against the run of play at this stage, Alty doubled their lead. Sam Heathcote's freekick from his own half was diverted by the boot of Matt Graetzer and floated past the County keeper to make it 2-0 (32 mins).

But, in just eight minutes before the break, County scored three times. It became 2-1 after 35 minutes when Alty stood off and the no.16's fierce shot was well saved and beaten out by Johnson but, from right of goal, the no.8 netted the loose ball. County equalised when Alty failed to mark their men adequately at a corner and the ball was comfortably headed home (37 mins).

Although good work by Foy allowed Westall to try an overhead shot which was not too far wide, County took the lead after 43 minutes. The Stockport no.10 and 11 combined well as the Alty defence was breached again (43 mins).

BUt bizarrely, having taken the lead, in the dying embers of the half the County no.10 got himself needlessly booked twice for dissent and was duly sent off by referee Mr Coop. There was still time for Altrincham to get the ball into the net but this injury-time effort was ruled out for offside.


Facing ten men for the second half, Altrincham won an early corner but, initially, could not make the extra man count, though they did enjoy quite a bit of the game's forward momentum. But an equalizer did arrive on the hour mark when Foy fed Westall, who executed a superb volley, which was the goal of the match.

Westall went close again, a minute later, from a Hancock cross but the keeper saved his effort on this occasion. Alty now brought on the former Alty Youth goalkeeper Steve Bullen, who has converted himself to be an outfield forward player (64 mins). But, with Altrincham looking the more likely to score, it was County who did so, as a counter-attack led to the visitors' no.9 getting through the central defence and outpacing the cover to score a well-taken goal which made it 4-3 to the Hatters (71 mins).

Graetzer was now in a more advanced role and he forced a save, just after County had also gone close at the other end (76 mins).

Although on several occasions Alty lost possession as they tried to dribble rather then pass the ball forward, they were still creating half-chances. From one of these, Westall controlled the ball and turned well, but his shot cleared the bar.

When Bullen won a corner, six minutes from time, there were still grounds for optimism, but a defensive lapse allowed County to get through the middle and, being played onside by a static defender, the no.8 slotted home the visitors' fifth goal (90+1 mins).

After gaining a 2-0 lead and then playing against ten men for 45 minutes it was a disappointing outcome, albeit against the unbeaten league leaders and in playing conditions which were far from ideal.