After a decent run of form (eight points from six games), Altrincham were brought down to earth with a very disappointing defeat by Nuneaton Town. The evening started badly with seven players out injured and it got worse. Before kick off, goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson had been added to the casualty roll-call, joining Shaun Densmore, Sean Miller, Craig Hobson, Tom Hannigan, Tim Deasy and Micah Evans on the list of those sidelined. And although Nicky Clee was fit to play tonight, Sam Heathcote was to be stretchered off before half-time.
Nuneaton took the lead in the 25th minute, against the run of play, when Geoghagon was allowed a free header from a corner but the goal was credited to Chambers amongst a melee on the goal-line. Two minutes later, Alty had a great chance to equalize when Richman was put clear but he fired over the bar.
After 32 minutes, Alty's goalkeeper, Andrew Jones, making his first league start, came out to kick clear. The ball rebounded off the back of team-mate Sam Heathcote and left Daniels with an open goal and he doubled the Boro's advantage.
Shortly before the break, Alty lost Heathcote to injury after he had apparently been fouled, off the ball.
Four minutes after the interval the Robins did get back in the game when Richman converted Nicky Clee's low cross from the left byline. But the outcome was settled when Nuneaton, on the counter-attack, made it 3-1 thanks to a firm 20 yard shot from Chambers in the 64th minute.
REFEREE: Mr Anthony Tankard, who also officiated at the reverse fixture, as well as at Alty's opening game of the season at home to Darlington 1883.
Goalkeeper Stuart Tomlinson was out injured, joining Shaun Densmore, Sean Miller, Craig Hobson, Tom Hannigan, Tim Deasy and Micah Evans on the list of those sidelined. However, Nicky Clee was fit to play tonight and Laurence Taylor, likewise, returned to the squad.
On the eve of tonight's game, Nuneaton forward Joe Ironside had joined Kidderminster Harriers for a five-figure fee and and Peterborough had recalled loanee Jordan Nicholson.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) 1. Andrew Jones, 2. Chris Lynch, 3. Andy McWilliams, 4. Jake Moult (c) 5. Sam Heathcote, 6. John Cyrus, 7. Elliot Newby, 8. Gary Jones, 9. Simon Richman, 10. James Lawrie, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs 12. Kyle Brownhill, 14. Laurence Taylor, 15. Andy Owens, 16. Damian Reeves, 20. Alan Goodall
NUNEATON TOWN (Blue shirts and socks, white shorts) 1. Tyrell Belford, 2. Alan Penny. 3. Ben O'Hanlon, 4. Brad Gascoigne, 5. Kelvin Langmead (c), 6 Exodus Geohaghon, 7. Greg Mills, 8. Tom Elliott, 9 Ashley Chambers, 10. Kristian Scott,11. Billy Daniels. Subs 12. Jordan Wheatley, 14 Mitchell Glover, 15. Jimmy Mutton, 16 Kailan Gould, 17 Christian Dibble.
Alty started the match bottom of the table.
Alty lost the reverse fixture 1-4 at Liberty Way after Charlie Joyce had been sent off early in the match. Mike Garnett's data show previous outcomes in matches between the clubs.
Altrincham only have four longer league journeys than to Nuneaton but, for some reason, both tonight's game and the reverse fixture had been scheduled as midweek games. Not surprisingly, therefore, attendance at the J Davidson Stadium tonight was the lowest of the season, by a significant margin.
A Nuneaton attack yielded an early corner (2 mins) but then a Nuneaton back pass to keeper Dibble forced a poor, hurried clearance from the visitors' keeper. The ball came to Clee but from 30 yards or more he was unable to get his shot on target (3 mins).
The end to end action continued as the bounce of the ball beat Cyrus and Mills got in behind him. His low cross from the right found a team-mate, who seemed certain to score from six yards or fewer, but somehow he seemed to stumble onto the ball and Jones was able to grab it (4 mins). Next, after Moult had volleyed over the bar from 20 yards, a Newby miscue conceded a corner.
Play once again switched to the other end where, for the second time, Belford's kick clear was poor. This led to Richman running up the inside-left channel at goal but he elected to pass to his right rather than shoot at goal and the danger passed for Boro.
Altrincham now survived a goal threat as a Mills shot flew just wide, from left of goal, after a Nuneaton move up their left wing (11 mins). The match's open play continued as Newby hooked an effort to the keeper but the offside flag had been raised, anyway (12 mins).
Altrincham were deploying Moult and Jones ahead of the back four but further upfield, after a freekick from halfway, on the right, by Heathcote, a Cyrus header was cleared. Back in their own half, a Moult and then a McWilliams tackle saw off Nuneaton's threat.
After Langmead had handled the ball, Gary Jones's freekick was nodded to the keeper, Belford, by Cyrus.
Next, Daniels fed Scott and Lynch's covering tackle diverted his shot for a corner on the visitors' right (24 mins). From this the unmarked Geohaghon headed goalwards from a central position in the outer reaches of the box. The ball seemed to hit a player or players on the line but went into the net. It was later credited to Chambers and the goal had arrived against the immediate run of play (25 mins).
Almost immediately, Altrincham should have equalised. The ball was played up the middle to Clee, whose clever flick set Richman free, running at goal up the inside left channel. The midfielder's shot flew comfortably over the bar for a goalkick (27 mins).
Just after the half-hour mark, following a slip by Lynch, a Mills shot earned Nuneaton another corner. This was dealt with but then Altrincham conceded again. Andrew Jones came out of his area to kick clear but, unfortunately, his clearance struck the back of Sam Heathcote and rebounded to the keeper's right, towards the centre of the pitch, leaving Daniels with possession and an open goal. He calmly slotted the ball home to make it 2-0 (32 mins).
As Alty's defence rocked after this setback, Scott shot just wide, from 20 yards, prompting Alty assistant manager Robbie Lawton to shout to the players, “Don't go missing, lift it".
Altrincham recovered their poise as Newby got into the box, on the left, and he got in a low cross to Richman but he was blocked off and could not turn the ball home, but a corner was won for Altrincham (37 mins). From this, the ball was cleared after a scramble in the goalmouth.
Heathcote now went down for treatment. He had taken a kick below the knee following a foul for which he had been penalised. Although, after attention from Alan Ainsley, he got to his feet, a stretcher was called and he was carried off on it to add to Altrincham's lengthy casualty list. Reeves came on for Heathcote, prompting a change of formation as Moult moved into the back four and Reeves went up front.
Andrew Jones then had to be alert to deal with a fierce back pass from McWilliams. Though two goals down, Altrincham were still able to create chances as, now, a fine Newby cross from the left drifted past the back post but no team-mate had closed in to tap it home (45 mins).
In the first of the three added minutes, Altrincham allowed Chambers to get clear but, fortunately for them, he dragged his shot wide of Jones's right post. As the half went into its fourth added minute, a miscue by a Nuneaton defender gave Alty a corner, after which Clee slid in at the back post but could only divert the ball back across the box.
So, an eventful and open first half ended with Altrincham having conceded two goals through defensive errors and having failed to convert several reasonable chances at the other end.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
NUNEATON TOWN 2
Nuneaton made a change for the second half as Wheatley came on for Penny. Altrincham started well and soon got back into the match as Clee got to the byline, on the left, and Richman converted his pass with a rising effort into the roof of the net from six yards or so at the near post, to make it 1-2 (49 mins).
Three minutes later, Reeves appeared to be bundled over in the box but nothing was awarded by Mr. Tankard who then compounded his felony, as Alty saw it, when he awarded a goalkick when clearly it should have been a corner. And then when Clee went down, the referee again saw no offence.
Alty were now showing some fight but there was a scare as Moult almost poked the ball past the advancing keeper, Andrew Jones.
Then came the best move of the match as Alty put together a series of one-touch passes up the left involving McWilliams and Lawrie, amongst others, but Reeves, who had timed his run perfectly, saw his shot saved at the end of the sequence (58 mins)
Two fouls on Clee bracketed the hour mark but as in the first half, Nuneaton now scored against the immediate run of play. This time a counter-attack, led by Elliott led to Chambers striking a firm, low shot from right of goal, just inside the far post to make it 1-3 (64 mins).
Newby was now involved twice. He firstly got to the byline, but Reeves's shot went wide at the near post and then he dribbled into the box before being halted. At this point Owens replaced Lynch as Alty went to three at the back (68 mins).
Alty continued to press without creating clear openings before Mills got round Cyrus and won Nuneaton a corner (75 mins). Rain which had started earlier now intensified as Alty struggled to get a sight of goal. Now Boro brought on Gould for Mills (81 mins). When Newby was fouled, Scott became the game's first booking (83 mins). Alty wasted an opening when Clee was fouled just outside the box but Owens's freekick cleared the bar (84 mins).
And the home team kept going as, next, a Clee shot was blocked then keeper Belford saved the follow up whilst Reeves was unable to get enough power on a header to turn the ball into the net (86 mins). As Alty pressed, Nuneaton introduced Glover for Scott (89 mins). Inside the four added minutes at the end of the game, Owens got into the box but was seen off after delaying his shot.
Altrincham had shown plenty of attacking intent but defensive lapses had undermined their efforts. It has long looked a major task for Alty to evade relegation and this disappointing result leaves them thirteen points from safety with just seven fixtures to complete.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
NUNEATON TOWN 3