A draw was ultimately a fair outcome in this battle between the division's two most porous defences. The visitors had the better of the first half against an Alty side which had recurrent difficulty in clearing its defensive lines. Alfreton took a deserved lead in the 39th minute when Westcarr's cross was met by Monkhouse's header past Deasy.
The goal had arrived just minutes after Altrincham had made a tactical change, replacing left-back McWilliams with Shaun Densmore. Densmore initially slotted into a left-sided midfield position but, after the break, he assumed a central role and he was a significant factor in the improved second-half performance by the hosts.
But, although Densmore was instrumental in scoring the 56th minute equalizer, the goal might well be credited to Alfreton keeper Spiess. The keeper fumbled the Alty midfielder's whipped-in cross from the left and, in attempting to retrieve the situation, only succeeded in carrying the ball over the goal-line.
Until the closing stages, when Alfreton got forward again, it was Altrincham who had the better of the second half but the final whistle left the hosts with just one home win in their league campaign this season.
REFEREE: Mr Paul Newhouse
Lawrie moved to the bench as Clee returned to start. Deasy was back in goal.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tim Deasy 2. Chris Lynch, 3. Andy McWilliams, 4. Laurence Taylor, 5. Sam Heathcote, 6. Jake Moult (capt), 7. Simon Richman, 8. Kyle Brownhill, 9. Micah Evans, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs 14. James Lawrie, 12. Shaun Densmore, 15. Clayton McDonald, 17. Craig Hobson, 16. Sam Patterson.
ALFRETON TOWN (Blue) 1. Fabian Spiess, 2. Jordan Richards, 3. Ryan Wilson, 4. Niall Heaton, 5. Callum McFadzean, 6. Paul Marshall, 7. Mark Shelton, 8. Wesley Atkinson, 9. Adam Priestley, 10. Craig Westcarr, 11. Andy Monkhouse (capt). Subs: 12. Liam Hearn, 14. Jordan Wright 15. Ellis Evans, 16. Oliver Cox, 17. Thomas Allan
Mike Garnett reminds us of the previous record between the two clubs.
On a sunny afternoon at the JDS, Alty kicked off towards Golf Road and they got in the first shot on target in the fourth minute. It came from a Clee run up the middle; he fed Richman whose shot from right of goal was saved.
Clee was soon active again, first with a long throw which the keeper punched clear and then with a cross after a dribble (6 mins).
But Alty were on the back foot when Shelton dispossessed McWilliams as a result of which Priestley was put clear in box but Deasy made a good save with his left foot to concede a corner.
Following a Shelton foul on McWilliams near halfway, Heathcote overhit his freekick straight to keeper Speiss (9 mins). What was to prove an unhappy afternoon for left-back McWilliams continued as he conceded a needless corner. He did better a couple of minutes later with a headed clearance for another Alfreton corner. Deasy tipped this behind him for a third corner, after which Heathcote conceded a fourth corner as Alty struggled to clear their lines (14 mins).
Alty's shaky afternoon continued as, now, Heathcote lost possession and a fine shot from Richards only just missed the top corner of Deasy's net (15 mins).
Things settled down for a few minutes before yet another loss of possession, this time by Evans, led to a threat which Deasy ended by smothering the ball (21 mins).
Alfreton had been the better side so far, not least because they were keeping the ball better than Alty.
It was not till the half-hour mark that Altrincham got forward again in any meaningful way. This time Evans got into the box and won a corner on the left, which Brownhill poked goalwards to Spiess who collected easily. The improvement continued as Reeves played in Clee but he underhit his shot straight to Spiess (31 mins).
Next, Reeves headed over a difficult chance from McWilliams's stab goalwards. Then McWilliams fouled Priestley on the very edge of the box, by its front corner. Westcarr's freekick was headed poorly wide by Heaton at back post. After this some good skill from Priestley led to a blocked shot (36 mins).
The Alty management duo, Matt Doughty and Robbie Lawton had seen enough and opted to make what appeared to be a purely tactical change. They brought on Densmore for McWilliams who had had a difficult afternoon (37 mins). Densmore, whose injuries have cost him almost two full seasons of football (12 league starts last season and only two this campaign), slotted into left midfield as Brownhill went to left-back (37 mins).
Following an Alfreton freekick, 30 yards out, the Reds won a corner. This was only half-cleared and came to Westcarr who, from left of goal, was given time to pick out Monkhouse who headed smartly home from the centre of the goalmouth to give Alfreton a deserved lead (39 mins).
Altrincham were unable to make any significant impression before the interval and left the field still a goal in deficit.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 0
ALFRETON TOWN 1
Alty were sent out early for the second half, with Densmore now in central midfield with Taylor, with Richman to the right and Clee left. It was a scrappy start to the second half with nothing really resembling a goal chance before the 54th minute when, from a Lynch cross, Clee headed wide. Then Clee's through ball had to be smothered by Spiess ahead of Reeves's arrival.
Out of nothing, Densmore whipped in a dipping cross from the left which Spiess went down to gather. But he fumbled the ball and, in attempting to retrieve the ball, only managed to knock it over his own goal-line to make it 1-1 (56 mins).
As the hour-mark passed, Altrincham were beginning to get the upper hand and Clee won his side a corner (61 mins) but there were no clear openings being created. After 69 minutes a Lynch cross was headed wide by Densmore and three minutes afterwards, a Clee dribble won a freekick which came to nothing.
When a chance did arrive, Alty wasted it. A Clee shot from the left was beaten out by Spiess at his near post and the ball fell for Evans. He lifted it badly over the bar (75 mins). At this point Lawrie replaced Richman.
Next, Evans got to the byline, but a Densmore shot was blocked. With eleven minutes remaining, Hobson (returning from injury) replaced Reeves. Alty remained on top as the referee rather harshly booked Atkinson for trying to block a Deasy clearance (82 mins).
Alfreton raised themselves for a late attempt to clinch the game, the first sign of which was a McFadzean 25 yarder, which Deasy saved (83 mins). They then brought on former Grimsby man, Liam Hearn for Priestley (86 mins) to confirm their attacking intent.
In the second of three added minutes the visitors won a corner but there was to be no change to the deadlocked score, which given results elsewhere confirmed Alfreton's survival in the division and left Altrincham with just a single home win in the league all season.
After a poor first half, Alty had at least improved after the break but a draw was a fair outcome.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
ALFRETON TOWN 1