After their disappointing CSC exit at Hyde on Tuesday, this was a much better performance from Altrincham but, overall, the standard of play from both sides was mediocre, with the ball in the air far too much and a lack of fluent play throughout the afternoon. In the end, Altrincham's hard work allowed them to record their first home clean sheet in the league this season and only their second of the season outside cup competitions.
Neither keeper was much employed though Deasy was the busier, his most important stop being an instinctive save, with his foot, from Shiels's downward header from a Leesley freekick.
The first half saw a bad clash of heads between John Cyrus and Simon Ainge with both players resuming with bandaged heads. In addition to Ainge being unable to complete the game, Harrogate also lost keeper Crook to injury, with Elliott having to replace him from the bench.
REFEREE: Mr Aaron Jackson
Altrincham deployed Clee at left-back, leaving McWilliams on the bench. They were still without the injured forwards Owens, Miller, and Hobson as well as defenders Densmore and Hannigan.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tim DEASY, 2. Chris LYNCH, 3. Kyle BROWNHILL,4. Jake MOULT (c), 5. John CYRUS 6. Simon RICHMAN, 7. Elliott NEWBY, 8. Gary JONES, 9. Micah EVANS, 10. James LAWRIE, 11. Nicky CLEE. Subs 12.Sam PATTERSON, 14. Andy McWILLIAMS, 15. Damian REEVES, 16. Laurence TAYLOR, 17. Alan GOODALL
HARROGATE TOWN (Yellow & black stripes, black shorts) 1. Peter Crook, 2. Lewis Turner, 3. Ben Parker, 4. Wayne Burrell, 5. Luke Shiels, 6. Danny Ellis (c), 7. Joe Colbeck, 8. Lloyd Kerry, 9. Simon Ainge, 10. Louie Swain, 11. Joe Leesley, Subs: 12. Jack Emett, 14. Andi Thanoj, 15. Tom Platt, 16. Liam Agnew, 13. Chris Elliott (gk)
When the sides met at Wetherby Road in August, Alty had secured a 2-2 draw to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Alty kicked off towards Golf Road. An early long throw from Clee was nodded to keeper Crook before the first of what were to be a number of stoppages as Turner needed treatment and came off the pitch for a minute or so, after initial inspection by the physio.
In just the fifth minute, Cyrus and Ainge clashed heads near the halfway line and there was a halt to the action for more than three minutes. Ainge resumed with a large head bandage but Cyrus disappeared down the tunnel and Alty played on with ten men (9 mins). It was to be a further seven minutes before the Alty centre-back resumed; now also sporting a head bandage (16 mins).
In Cyrus's absence, Lynch covered at centre-back alongside Moult, whilst Lawrie covered at right-back. It had been a scrappy game so far and little improvement was to be witnessed before the interval. The ball spent too long in the air and attempted passes from both sides were going astray with regularity.
After 17 minutes, a Brownhill ball won his side a corner which came off Cyrus for a goalkick. Petty freekicks, mispasses and aimless clearances littered the game as, for the second home match running, visiting aspirants to the play-offs displayed little if any superiority to an Altrincham side which had not won a home league game this season.
When Evans got to the byline and poked the ball to the visitors' keeper it was about as good as the action got before the half-hour mark (30 mins).
Seven minutes later, a Brownhill up and under induced keeper Crook to race out where he collided with the oncoming Evans. The keeper stayed down but resumed after treatment.
However, Harrogate had to replace their keeper five minutes later when Elliott replaced Crook (42 mins). Four added minutes were proclaimed which was a surprisingly low figure given the lengthy stoppages and substitution. In the final one of these Alty made a meal of making a half-clearance and Deasy then had to push a goalbound shot over the bar for a corner.
It had not been a first half to set the pulse racing and, with Clee deployed at left back, Alty's attacking threat had been muted.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
HARROGATE TOWN 0
Town kicked off towards Golf Road and soon Lynch, who was having a steady game at right-back, was caught very late, after clearing the ball, by Swain who was fortunate to escape a card (47 mins).
His team-mate Burrell was less fortunate as he was booked for felling Newby (50 mins). Four minutes later Swain did get a yellow card for a trip on Clee (54 mins).
Play remained of a poor standard from both sides as was typified by another bout of head tennis before Brownhill tripped Kerry on the edge of Alty's box. Deasy beat out the freekick, low to his left, but hurt himself. After a couple of minutes' treatment, he resumed (60 mins).
Town were now building a bit of momentum and won a corner, before a Burrell bicycle kick cleared the bar. For Alty Evans was largely isolated up front. The injury stoppages continued as Moult went down for treatment. Jones assumed the captaincy as Moult was replaced by Patterson (66 mins). Patterson went to right-back and Lynch to centre-back (66 mins).
Alty's best move of the game arrived when Evans started a move and then swivelled and fired over at the end of it, from Newby's pass from right of goal (67 mins).
Two minutes later McWilliams replaced Lawrie, which allowed Clee to move forward on the left (69 mins).
After Cyrus had been penalised for climbing, 30 yards or more from his own goal, Leesley's freekick was headed down by Shiels and Deasy made an excellent, instinctive save with his foot to divert the ball out for a corner (73 mins).
Town's Thanoj now replaced Ainge as most of the play was now taking place in the Alty half (75 mins). But then a Harrogate misheader gave Alty a corner, which Clee overhit. Leesley fired over on the counter-attack before Reeves replaced Evans up front (79 mins).
Altrincham kept Harrogate at bay but in making a header, Cyrus's head-bandage came off.
Next, Clee was upended by the already booked Parker but the freekick came to nothing (90 mins). In the first of the four added minutes, Cyrus winced as he headed clear and had to come off to acquire a new blood shirt and head bandage, leaving his side with ten men. Then Harrogate man Turner limped off and Emmett replaced him (90+3 mins).
Another Town man entered the referee's book for dissent before Cyrus resumed (90+5 mins). But the deadlock remained as the final whistle sounded. Altrincham had put in a battling performance and their draw took them into a belated double-figure points total as they secured their first home clean sheet in the league; curiously, 20% of their points now having been earned against Harrogate!
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
HARROGATE TOWN 0
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