Altrincham, without the suspended Harrop and Jones and the recuperating Disney, Miller and Taylor neverthless secured a narrow victory against a Grantham side which carried a threat going forward, especially through Lee Shaw. Despite the three points gained, Alty remain eighth in the table.
In the first half the referee, Mr Swallow, failed to take further action against the recently booked Hollingsworth when the Grantham man brought down Peers. If that decision annoyed Alty, the visitors will not have been happy with his allowing the deciding goal, which arrived in the 51st minute. Man of the Match Joel Bembo-Leta won a corner, after which Grantham keeper Preston juggled the ball three times, as he appeared to be jostled in the goalmouth. The ball dropped for Jordan Hulme, who netted from close range.
Having used all their substitutes, Alty defender Ben Harrison suffered an injury and spent the last ten minutes hobbling as, first, a central midfielder and, then, further forward. However, he almost produced a late second goal for Alty when he set up Johnston but his shot crashed against the crossbar.
REFEREE: Mr Elliot Swallow
Altrincham had Harrop and Jones suspended today and Disney, Miller and Taylor were again missing through injury, but Deasy and Poole were fit to return on the bench.
ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Joel BEMBO-LETA, 3. Shaun DENSMORE, 4. Tom HANNIGAN, 5. Ben HARRISON, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Sam SHERIDAN, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Tom PEERS, 11. Josh HANCOCK. Subs: 12. James POOLE, 14. Josh AMIS, 15. Simon RICHMAN, 16. Lewis SHORT, 20. Tim DEASY
GRANTHAM TOWN (Yellow) 1. Kieran Preston, 2. Tom Potts, 3. Oliver Luto, 4. Matt Baker, 5. Stefan Galinski (c), 6. Michael Hollingsworth, 7. Danny Meadows, 8. Andrew Wright, 9. Jordan Hempenstall, 10. Lee Shaw, 11. Luke Shaw. Subs: 12. Rhys Lewis, 14. Jeremiah Dasaolu, 15. Jack McMeneny, 16. Curtis Burrows, 17. Danny Martin.
Mike Garnett provides us with the historical statistics on games between our two clubs.
On an initially bright afternoon, Alty kicked off towards the away end. After just 23 seconds Peers got in a shot across goal which went narrowly wide. The resulting corner was cleared and, on the counter-attack, Lee Shaw outpaced Harrison and went to ground inside the box as he went round Thompson. But he was booked for diving.
The eventful opening continued as the lively Peers, playing on the right, won a corner on that side. But Grantham again counter-attacked as Lee Shaw again got clear but Densmore did enough to slow him down and the ball ran to keeper Thompson in the end.
But Luke Shaw as soon menacing again as his fine shot rose just over the bar from 20 yards (5 mins). End to end play continued as Peers had a shot saved from right of goal before a Luke Shaw cross found Meadows offside at the back post.
The impressive Peers now beat Galinski and won another corner and, soon afterwards, Sheridan won a freekick which came to nothing (10 mins).
Johnston, who had run Farsley ragged in midweek, was a peripheral figure in these opening stages on the Altrincham left wing. Meanwhile, Grantham’s' Lee Shaw lay the ball across box but no team-mate was there before a Luto cross gained the visitors a left-side corner
Two Grantham freekicks in the Alty half came and went as the Gingerbreads kept the ball at that end of the pitch. Next, Meadows was allowed to advance and shoot, albeit wide (17 mins). Grantham's pressing continued as Luto got into Alty's box but he fired wildly wide (21 mins).
After a stoppage for treatment to what looked like a shoulder injury to Hannigan, it was a few more minutes before Altrincham made meaningful progress at the other end of the pitch. This occurred when a Densmore throw led to Hancock feeding Johnston, but his shot drifted wide from left of goal (27 mins).
This was followed by an effort from Hancock which went inches wide from 18 yards after his one-two with Peers. Then Sheridan played in Hulme whose shot deflected only just wide of the back post for a corner. From the right, this corner was headed goalward by Harrison but was cleared off the line by a defender (29 mins).
Immediately after Sheridan's ball had been gathered by Preston, just ahead of Densmore, a counter-attack saw Wright's ball drift threateningly across the goalmouth at Alty's end (30 mins).
A break for treatment was needed after a Hulme foul on Galinski just outside the Gingerbreads' box (31 mins).
A goalkick, taken poorly by Thompson, went straight to an opponent but Town were caught offside moments later. Peers, who has already had two goals chalked off this season for offside, now netted again, only to see an offside flag once more (37 mins).
Altrincham had a great chance to go ahead when Peers put Hancock clear inside the box but Preston blocked his effort well, at the cost of a corner (38 mins). Moments later Peers was back at the other end to cover a Grantham attack. Surprisingly, Johnston had not yet switched wings as his quiet first half continued.
When Moult was caught late near halfway, Hollingsworth was booked (40 mins). Then after another freekick, for a foul on Hancock, had been wasted, Hollingsworth slid in, late, and took out Peers. Having been booked just four minutes earlier, a second card seemed a likely outcome but Mr Swallow thought otherwise and just delivered a lecture.
With the game into added time, Peers resumed after treatment. But the half, played at a good tempo by both sides, ended goalless. Alty had fashioned the better chances but had not converted them.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
GRANTHAM TOWN 0
After Grantham had kicked off the second half, Alty won the first corner, through Bembo-Leta. From the right, Johnston's corner prompted three failed attempts by keeper Preston to punch the ball clear near his goal line. For the third attempt he seemed to be jostled and when Hulme hit the loose ball into the net, the expectation was that the keeper would get the benefit of any doubt from the referee and that the goal would be ruled out. But, for the second time (after the Hollingsworth foul), Mr Swallow confounded expectation and allowed the goal to stand (51 mins).
Soon after this, Johnston won a corner but this was cleared and the ball ended up at the other end with goalkeeper Thompson. His huge kick clear almost bounced over his Grantham counterpart but Preston just managed to grab the ball (52 mins).
Johnston was having more of an influence in this second half, and having got to the by-line, the ball was cleared to Sheridan whose shot won a corner on the left. Preston mis-punched this back, over his own bar, for a corner which was followed by another - neither came to anything (56 mins).
For Alty Sheridan was having a good game, with a number of excellent first-time long passes from central midfield. On the hour-mark, Bembo-Leta's poor back pass conceded a needless corner, before which Lewis came on for Hollingsworth.
In the 63rd minute, Richman replaced Sheridan. Three minutes later a corner for Grantham was won from a Hannigan clearance. After this, Lee Shaw netted off a deflection but he was given offside (66 mins).
Another change for Alty came as Amis replaced Hulme (69 mins). Next, after good work from Moult, Peers fired well over the bar. The third change for Altrincham arrived as James Poole replaced Peers (71 mins). The visitors' captain Galinski was written in the referee's book after flattening Amis (71 mins) but the freekick by Poole was disappointingly overhit.
Play was disrupted again as Grantham's Burrows came on for Wright (73 mins). When Poole was penalised for a minor foul, the referee bizarrely booked him for his first offence. If that was a yellow card then Hollingsworth's transgression in the first half should certainly have been a second booking (74 mins).
A goalmouth melee followed the Grantham freekick in which Burrows poked a shot inches wide (75 mins). Harrison needed treatment after the above melee and he resumed at but Moult had to move to centre back as Harrison moved into central midfield as a virtual passenger (78 mins).
When Poole was caught as he cleared the ball, late, by Potts, the Grantham defender became his side's fourth booking (81 mins).
Next Hempenstall got past Moult but Alty cleared the danger before Hancock got up the left wing in a counter-attack and fed Johnston, whose shot was saved (85 mins). Grantham responded as a Meadows shot went just wide and earned a corner.
The game's final change witnessed Dasaolu replacing Potts (87 mins) as Alty battled on with ten fit players. Alty relieved Grantham's late probing with some impressive skill from Poole, who jinked past two challenges to get in a shot which was deflected over the bar for a corner (89 mins).
Four added minutes were declared and even Amis was now playing deep to keep Grantham at bay. But then the injured Harrison, now playing up front, somehow produced two moments of magic. Firstly, he laid the ball off superbly to his right, for Johnston to smash a shot against the crossbar (90+3 mins). Moments later, centre-back Harrison dribbled past two men inside the Grantham box and his low shot only just went the wrong side of the back post, with a deflection turning it into a corner.
Altrincham ultimately deserved the win, having created a number of excellent chances. For their part, Grantham showed some impressive attacking intent but were unable to trouble Thompson seriously. Hopefully Harrison's injury will prove not to be too serious as Altrincham's ranks already are depleted by the expected injury absences of Taylor, Disney, Miller, as well as the suspended Harrop, for next Tuesday's fixture at Hednesford.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
GRANTHAM TOWN 0