An Altrincham side without eleven potential starters in their starting eleven, (comprising the rested Bembo-Leta, Hampson, Hulme, Johnston, Harrison and Thompson as well as the injured Short, Hancock, Hannigan and Disney, and the recuperating Miller) deservedly overcame a strong Chester FC side despite the Robins playing a man short for 70 minutes. The imbalance came when referee Joe Hull surprisingly produced a straight red for Simon Richman's challenge on Rowe-Turner in the 20th minute.
Two minutes earlier, Alty had taken the lead when Richman scored with an impressive 20-yard shot. Former Alty loanee Nyal Bell equalised shortly after the interval but Alty's ten men took the lead again, six minutes into added time.
The Alty scorer was Peers, who converted Sheridan's excellent low cross from the right. From the 91st minute the visitors also played with ten men as they had only named four substitutes, one of whom had to start after a warm-up injury, and for some reason they only used two of the other three.
Jake Moult failed to convert a 113th minute penalty awarded when Darius Palma was upended and Chester equalised a minute from the end of extra time through White.
So, a penalty shoot-out ensued with Peers, Densmore, Moult scoring before James Jones hit his spot-kick wide. But Chester's Downes immediately saw Deasy save his effort before Sheridan, Callum Jones, Taylor and Westall converted their penalties, and finally Deasy became the hero as he stopped Marsh-Hughes's spot-kick, the 16th of the sequence
REFEREE: Mr Joe Hull
Altrincham rested Joel Bembo-Leta, Connor Hampson, Jordan Hulme, Anthony Thompson and John Johnston, whilst John Disney, Josh Hancock, Tom Hannigan and Lewis Short were injured and Sean Miller remained on loan. So it was very far from an Altrincham first team which met its Cheshire neighbours from two steps up in the football pyramid. Chester included many first-team faces and in Paul Turnbull and Nyal Bell they had two former Alty loanees.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tim DEASY, 2. Callum JONES, 3. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. James JONES, 5. Jake MOULT (c), 6. Laurence TAYLOR, 7. Mason WALSH, 8. Simon RICHMAN, 9. Josh AMIS, 10. Max HARROP, 11. Tom PEERS. Subs 12. Tom WESTALL, 14. Sam SHERIDAN, 15. Darius PALMA, 16. Ben HARRISON, 20. Tony THOMPSON
CHESTER FC (All yellow) 13. Conor MITCHELL, 2. Andy HALLS (c), 3. Lathaniel ROWE-TURNER, 8. Paul TURNBULL, 9. Harry WHITE, 12. Ian DAVIES, 14. Wade JOYCE, 17. Lucas DAWSON, 15. Nyal BELL, 24. Wayne HELLAWELL, 33. Ryan RAINEY. Subs 25 Alex DOWNES, 26. Lloyd MARSH-HUGHES, 31. Jordan GOUGH
Following the warm up, Chester's recent signing from Stourbridge, Jordan Archer, was replaced by Wayne Hellawell, presumably through injury. As the visitors' new manager Marcus Bignot had only brought four substitutes with the team, this reduced them to three and, as it turned out, one of those was not fit enough to take any part in the match.
Altrincham defended the Golf Road end and in the third minute, former Chester forward Tom Peers got up the middle but shot wide from 18 yards. And two minutes later, a good cross from Walsh was met by an Amis header which just cleared the bar. Despite their shirt numbers, Peers was operating on the right and Walsh on left.
When Davies made a bad tackle on Harrop from behind, he was not even booked, an omission all the more remarkable in the context of what was to follow. From the resulting freekick, Harrop went for the near post but his shot was a little wide. But it was Altrincham who had started the more brightly (8 mins).
After Amis had been fouled, Altrincham's quick freekick led to Richman going down in the box but appeals for a penalty were ignored (11 mins). Chester now won the game's first corner after it had taken Alty three goes to clear a throw-in. Walsh did well on a counter-attack, after which Harrop's excellent 30 yarder just cleared the bar (13 mins).
Walsh impressed again as he impressively got past a defender and along the byline but Peers could not turn in his low cross at the near post. Altrincham took a deserved lead in the 18th minute when Richman scored with a fine shot from 20 yards out, in a central position, the ball arrowing into the roof of the net.
But the midfielder's joy turned to despair two minutes later when his strong tackle on Lowe-Turner was deemed a red card, which surprised many of his team-mates, especially as Chester had not made any fuss about the tackle.
Naturally, with a man advantage, Chester now began to see more of the ball but Altrincham looked the more incisive as good play by Amis got him to the byline. Chester's moves continue to falter with the final pass going astray with regularity. Harrop was again impressing in the Alty midfield and the home side continued to win many of the 50-50 situations. When Walsh was clattered there was no card for the offender but a corner was won from the freekick. Following this, Peers was unchallenged but missed the ball in the air from deep inside the goalmouth (37 mins).
Apart from a Chester cross which yielded a corner and a Halls 30 yarder, which was fielded by Deasy, Alty remained comfortable with their lead up to the interval.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
CHESTER FC 0
Chester kicked off. Soon Turnbull earned booking for a trip on Walsh which would have gone unpunished in the first half (47 mins).
Soon afterwards, Bell was played into the box after an Alty error and he stroked the ball past an exposed Deasy to make it 1-1 (49 mins).
Alty replied with an impressive run by Densmore and a cross to Peers, whose shot was blocked on the line (51 mins). For Chester, Dawson shot over the bar from 20 yards before a Harrop shot was blocked after Walsh had done well. Alty were then briefly penned in their own half and just before the hour mark they made a change as Harrop was taken off after another good performance and Sheridan came on (59 mins).
An ambitious 50-yard lob from Walsh, on the left, obliged the keeper to scurry back to gather the ball before Turnbull went off and Downes came on for Chester. A minute later, Darius Palma came on for Walsh and settled on the right wing with Peers on the left (64 mins).
With rain now falling, Chester twice cleared the bar with poor shots. On 73 minutes, White won his side a corner as manager Marcus Bignot yelled instructions with impunity from a position 20 yards outside his technical area, immediately behind the assistant referee.
Amis was fouled and Chester blocked the freekick which prompted a booking from Mr Hull (75 mins). Sheridan had settled well into his midfield role as the visitors' eleven men failed to impose themselves. After a fine Densmore tackle, a corner was dubiously given but it came to nothing. However, Deasy soon had to make a fine save from a Bell header, beating the ball away, before he produced an even better stop from a James Jones deflection (82 mins).
Five minutes from time Alty reserve Tom Westall replaced Amis so Peers went up top now, with Westall on the left. Next, a Palma shot gained the first of two successive corners as it remained difficult to tell which side had only ten men (89 mins).
In the final minute, Sheridan played in Peers but he was halted and in added time, Sheridan slipped in the Chester box as he collected a cross in a promising position. There was time for Sheridan to have a shot blocked and for Bell to shoot wide before the final whistle signalled the need for extra time. Alty had performed very well with ten men for 70 minutes.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
CHESTER FC 1
For the extra time, Chester took Dawson off and Marsh-Hughes came on. It was not noticed till later that Halls had also gone off and no one had replaced him, despite Gough being apparently available on the bench. So, both sides were now playing with ten men.
After a couple of James Jones clearances, Taylor intercepted the ball and then Palma made space well and forced a save which won a corner (94 mins). At the other end there was a superb covering tackle by Densmore on Marsh-Hughes before Westall did well and fed Palma. Moments later Sheridan's excellent low cross from the right located Peers who netted from close range to make it 2-1 (96 mins).
Rainey won Chester a corner, but it was overhit and it was Altrincham who went the closer when Palma dribbled into the box and was harshly booked for an alleged dive after getting round a defender (104 mins). The first half of added time ended when Deasy saved easily from Marsh-Hughes (105 mins).
In the 108th minute Callum Jones got forward well and had a shot blocked from which Westall netted but he was given offside. Chester were fortunate when Mitchell's kick clear hit an Alty player. However, their luck seemed to have run out when Palma was upended on the byline, right of goal. A penalty was awarded but Jake Moult's spot kick was saved by the keeper, low to his left to leave Chester still just a goal behind (114 mins).
With steady rain falling, James Jones continued his good game with a clearance and a fine tackle (117 mins). But Chester grabbed a late equalizer when White equalized from a spinning ball which found its way to him in the box (118 mins). So a penalty shoot-out was needed.
|After Extra-Time: ALTRINCHAM 2
CHESTER FC 2
The shoot-out was taken at the away end, with Altrincham going first. In Altrincham's earlier shoot-out this season, in the Integro Cup, the ABBA system was used but this time Mr Hull adopted the traditional sequence of alternate kicks.
It had been an entertaining evening and, as in the Integro Cup, Altrincham had proved that even without many of their first-choice players they had the ability to win and, in this case, to defeat a team from a higher level.
|Outcome: ALTRINCHAM WON 7-6 ON PENALTIES|