ALTRINCHAM FC ARCHIVED NEWS for December 2015


31 December 2015

2015 STATISTICAL REVIEW

As this is the last day of 2015, it is timely to look at some 2015 statistics for Altrincham FC. The data at the above link show...
  • Results and points gained in the calendar year 2015: 49 points have been won from 43 league games spread over the latter part of 2014-15 and 2015/16 to date.
  • Goals scored in the calendar year 2015: Damian Reeves leads the way with 15, twice as many as anyone else.
  • Appearances made in the calendar year 2015: Damian Reeves with 48 appearances heads the list (39 starts +9 from the bench) but Jake Moult has made the most starts (47).
  • Pitch time in 2015-16 only, per player: To date, Scott Leather has spent the most time on the pitch of any Alty player this season. Amongst other things that the figures show is the extent to which injuries have hit Alty. For instance, team captain Shaun Densmore has only been able to be on the pitch for 40% of the available playing time this season, winger Nicky Clee has managed only 21%, goalkeeper Stuart Coburn just 14% whilst defender and vice-captain Luca Havern has missed 40% of the season.

To date, just 19 players have started an Altrincham league game this season, but 25 players in total have been named in a league or cup squad this season (2015-16). Of the six who have not started a game to date, two (Anthony Griffith and Joel Swift) have made one very short substitute appearance apiece.

ON THE MEND

It is good to see Alty centre-back Tom Marshall moving freely again after his bad leg fracture in the match against Grimsby Town on 18 August. He has been seen at Alty's recent games supporting his team-mates and here, (right), we see him on the pitch at Tranmere last Monday. However, he still has a way to go to regain full match fitness.

NEXT OPPONENTS: CHESTER FC

In their last match, Alty's next opponents Chester FC "never quite got going on Monday against Macclesfield, says Assistant Manager Jon McCarthy.. Steve Burr’s second in command spoke to ChesterFC.com following the game...

'It was really disappointing. Obviously they’re a top six team so it was going to be a tough game, but we look at our performance. We rallied a bit in the second half, Craig Mahon gave us a bit of a lift but it is difficult to defend the first half. It looked flat. It comes down to a couple of moments though. The own goal was a fluke, perhaps the communication could have been better but there was a lot of fortune with that goal going in...

'We never got our wing backs into the game, which is crucial when playing a 3-5-2. We played a lot of pretty football into the midfield, but Hattersley and Hannah were detached and we never really got close enough to them. We’ve got better players than we are showing, and that is frustrating'.

Macca on…the penalty decision: 'Ben Heneghan shouldn’t be grabbing shirts inside the box... It left us with a mountain to climb... We were conscious they were trying to block players off. We made it known to the referee, maybe Ben has been blocked off, but his reaction is to grab the player’s shirt. We don’t criticise the referee though, Ben needs to control his own actions'.

Macca on…the next game vs Altrincham: 'The last three times we’ve played them, we’ve lost. But it’s just one of those things, we haven’t performed when we’ve faced them. We’re looking for a performance, and if we get one then we should beat them... We’ll work hard in the week and look to perform against Altrincham'.

Macca on…January transfer activity: 'We’re always looking. There’s always people getting in touch who want to play for Chester Football Club, and want to play for Steve Burr. There’s a brand new board in, and discussions will take place shortly. But until that happens there’s nothing we’re going to do in terms of ins and outs just yet. It’s something that needs to happen and I’m sure it will'".

Meanwhile more on this comes from the Chester Chronicle which reports that "Chester FC manager Steve Burr and chairman Simon Olorenshaw will sit down this week to discuss what deals can be done when the transfer window opens next week. Burr continues to lose patience with his under-performing squad and, with the Blues now seven points off the National League top half, wants to make changes in January.

The Chronicle understands he would like to bring in at least three new faces and has identified targets, but there might need to be departures before arrivals... Heading the list of those to be moved on are likely to be out-of-favour pair George Thomson and Kane Richards while Burr could circulate the names of others he wants to offload, and be willing to cash in on defender Ben Heneghan amid interest from Football League clubs.

'I’ve got a meeting on Wednesday to see what we can do or what we can’t if it means moving one or two lads out to bring fresh faces in then I’ll have a better picture after that,' said Burr...

Burr, who is approaching two years in charge, was confident the team he assembled in the summer would be able to improve on last season’s 12th place finish but some recruits have failed to live up to expectations and progress has stalled...

The Blues welcome Altrincham, who are on a five-game winless run, on Saturday (3pm) and Burr has hinted at changes as he strives for a sequence of positive results. He said, 'It’s the same whether you’re Chester, Altrincham or whoever you are, you’re always looking to bounce back from a defeat and we’re still looking for those consistency levels here that keep disappearing when we’re looking to kick on. There’s always going to be changes in your mind when you’ve had a defeat and you look at how to improve things on the park with different personnel'".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

the BBC confirms that "Torquay United goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe is set to sign for Wigan Athletic when the January transfer window opens. The 19-year-old will join the Latics for an undisclosed fee, but be loaned back to Torquay for the remainder of this season. Lavercombe had been linked with a move to Bolton last month.

'Wigan's looking like a strong possibility,' Torquay United manager Kevin Nicholson told BBC Sport. The goalkeeper has made 15 appearances for the National League club since his debut in April, and has been first-choice since the end of October. He is the only full-time goalkeeper currently at Torquay after Fabian Speiss left earlier this month." Torquay have conceded 52 goals this season.

From the Western Morning News we learn that "Signing at least one striker will be a priority for Torquay United player-manager Kevin Nicholson when the January transfer window opens at the weekend. With Waide Fairhurst injured, Alex Fisher just released and rookie Liam Prynn on loan at Bideford, the Gulls have only seven-goal leading scorer Tyrone Marsh, 19-year-old West Bromwich Albion loanee Andre Wright and South Devon League player Sean Finch available to play up front at the moment.

They are hoping to extend Wright’s loan to the end of the season, but Nicholson said, 'We need strengthening attacking-wise'. The Gulls’ boss took Marsh and Wright off in the second half of Monday’s 1-0 defeat at National League leaders Cheltenham Town, because he said they were 'physically shattered', and he explained, 'We ended up with two centre-halves [Ben Gerring and fit-again Exodus Geohaghon] playing up front, with Finchy from Watcombe Wanderers. All the best teams in the division have three or four strikers, who they can rotate or bring on in games, and we need that.'

The United board appears ready to back Nicholson signings in January, especially as 19-year-old goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe is poised to join League One club Wigan Athletic and James Hurst is due to turn an existing loan into a permanent move to National League rivals Guiseley... Former West Bromwich and England starlet Hurst moved to United from Hednesford Town in the summer for a nominal fee, and the Gulls are thought to be making a small profit on him now.

Another player expected to leave is midfielder Josh Carmichael, his loan from AFC Bournemouth expires on Saturday and he has already returned to Dean Court for treatment on a recurring back problem. There is strong speculation that former Gulls winger Toby Ajala will return to the Launa Windows Stadium within a few days. Ajala, who turned down a new deal at Plainmoor last summer, has been a regular substitute for promotion-chasing Dover in recent weeks".


30 December 2015

LADIES' NEW SIGNINGS

Altrincham FC Ladies' manager Keith Edleston has been busy over Christmas as he announces that "Things are looking up on the ladies front after a 'testing' first half of the season. I have, over the last couple of weeks signed on two players from AFC Urmston Meadowside after they unfortunately folded, due to lack of players. The signings are (above, left) Bliss Molyneux, a tough-tackling left-sided centre-half with enough skill and knowledge to play anywhere along the back three or four with no problems. She can also weigh in with the odd goal or two from a set piece or corner. Bliss has been coming down to Mersey Valley to watch some of our home games and, as soon as I knew she was 'available ' it was down to me then to sell the club to her. After a few long chats, she agreed to sign on the dotted line and now is eligible to play on the 10th January v Ellesmere Port. Bliss will take the no. 16 shirt.

The second signing is Kayeshia Brown (above,right). Kye has also joined us from AFC Urmston and is a very accomplished left-back, a position we haven't filled properly since Sam Briggs went on maternity leave to have her first baby. Kye comes with a good playing pedigree as she has played for both Manchester United and City in her career. Again, she is a player who, after a chat and a couple of training sessions, saw that we could offer a lot and didn't need to be asked twice! Kye will take the no.2 shirt.

I'm sure that, once settled in, both players will enhance the squad and will help the team to progress further. Welcome to the club Bliss and Kye".

The Ladies' next fixture is on Sunday 10th January, 2016 at Mersey Valley Sports Club, Banky Lane, Ahshton on Mersey (2pm) against Ellesmere Port LFC in the North West Women's Regional League. All spectators are very welcome.

NEIL'S GLASS IS HALF-FULL

Alty boss Lee Sinnott missed Monday's game with a virus, to avoid spreading it to the players, and all at the club wish him a speedy recovery. So after the game at Tranmere, John Edwards, joint Press & Media Officer at Altrincham FC, interviewed Neil Tolson (below, right), Alty's assistant manager.

Neil said, "I thought we had no luck whatsoever, absolutely none. I will speak to the gaffer shortly and tell him we could not possibly have asked for any more than what the players have given us, except for sticking the ball in the back of the net.

Above, James Lawrie, watched by Scott Leather, in action against Tranmere Rovers on Monday, as seen by Mike Ripley, who has more images of the game here.

The goal was a bad one to concede. It was just a long ball. There was no pressure on the ball from us, and it shouldn't have happened. There were enough people in enough areas for us to have dealt with it. But really we've had enough chances to have scored double figures. It's 100 per cent the case that we had enough to have won the game. In the 90th minute, when you are pressing for an equaliser, you'll take a point. But the fact is, the lads are in the changing room really disappointed they haven't won, let alone drawn.

I'd say that's the best we've played this season, especially the second half. There was good passing, good movement, and we caused them problems. For 20-25 minutes in the second half, James Lawrie was unplayable. But we haven't scored, and if you don't score, you're not going to win games. But you wonder how we didn't. Every little scramble seemed to end with the ball hitting one of their players or the keeper. Just when we needed something to go our way, it didn't,

Are the players deflated after putting so much in for no reward? I've just said to them they have to dust themselves off and go again. This is football. It can happen. You've got to go again. Tranmere are a good side, a full-time outfit who you can see are getting used to this level and getting into their stride. But they are not going to have a tougher game all season. That is the encouragement the lads have got to draw from this and take with them into the New Year. It hurts when you don't win, but we couldn't have asked for any more.

I know people will look at the league position and say it's fine playing good football but we need points. It's a glass half full or half empty scenario. We do need to start picking up points, of course we do, and it is getting a bit close to the danger area, but I can say with absolute certainty that my glass is half full. We have been in this position before, and we will be fine. Playing like that and creating chances like that, with the players we've got, the goals will go in. If we can tidy up a bit defensively, and stop leaking the odd goal here and there, we will be fine.

On the substitution, when we sent on Nicky Clee and switched James Lawrie to just behind the front man, I said at half-time that the first 15 minutes of the second half would be a really big spell in the game and that the minimum I wanted was for there to be still just one goal in it. The longer it went on like that, the more the crowd would turn on their team and the deeper they would go. Hopefully then we could get at them. I just felt we could get more momentum by taking one of the front men off and making that switch, so it had to be Damian Reeves or Michael Rankine to make way.

I took Ranks off, because I knew Reevesie and James had played that role before, and Reevesie was one who just might get me a goal. It wasn't to be, but how close we came. If Reevesie puts that chance away (when he was one-on-one with the keeper), it works. He said he tried to dink it over the keeper but didn't quite execute it right, and that just about summed up our day. If you want a chance like that to fall to anyone, it would be Damian Reeves. It was just one of those things, and it's important now we are ready to go again at Chester on Saturday.

Nicky gives us a different dimension when he comes on, and he was excellent again. I wanted him and Ryan Crowther on the pitch at the same time, because you've then got two natural wide men who can give you something extra. It worked in every aspect, apart from sticking the ball in the net. It is difficult picking anyone out, because they were all great. I know (Tranmere manager) Gary Brabin and will have a quick drink with him before we leave. He shook my hand at the end, and there was a wry smile on his face. I think he knew they had got away with one.

As our lads left the pitch, about 300-400 Tranmere fans applauded them off. That has happened a few times lately and is a sign we are earning respect for the football we are playing. But it is beginning to get a bit annoying now, because I would rather they were booing us after we won 1-0. The message to the players is they can take great belief from coming here and outplaying a team like Tranmere for long spells. We are gutted at losing, but there are far more positives to take out of the game than negatives.

On the injury front, Shaun Densmore is not quite right yet. I think he is going to have to see another specialist, just to make sure he is right. It could be a couple more weeks for him. Tom Marshall is getting closer, but is not quite close enough yet. It's slow progress with Stuart Coburn, but we knew that was going to take a while. With Nicky Clee, hopefully we are going to be throwing him in sooner than later and getting more minutes out of him. It is difficult at the moment.

I have been there and know exactly what groin strains and potential hernias and all that are like. It's not so much when you are playing as the days after that it is really sore. It can then take longer to recover and be able to work on your fitness, so we will monitor him on a daily basis. Ranks is fine now. Disappointed to come off, but you would expect that from any of your players who are subbed. Josh O'Keefe is back from suspension, of course, and was unlucky not to get on in the second half. He is fine and ready to go."

TIM'S VIEW

Brian Flynn interviewed goalkeeper Tim Deasy (right) after Monday's game at Tranmere Rovers and this can be heard here.

RADIO ROBINS

Monday's Radio Robins commentary from Tranmere can be heard again, here.

TRANMERE'S VIEW

After the game Tranmere Rovers stated that "Michael Ihiekwe gave his thoughts having helped Rovers to secure back-to-back wins... The 23 year-old highlighted the importance of goalkeeper Scott Davies, following Tranmere’s narrow 1-0 victory of Altrincham on Saturday afternoon.

He told Tranmere Player, 'We wanted a clean sheet today and we did our job... We got a little lucky but we defended well. Scott helps us a lot. When he speaks at the back, he helps us adjust our positions and he is a great goalkeeper, as we saw in the first half and later on in the second with a number of saves... We haven’t been too lucky this season and it's nice to get a bit of luck. We hit the post in the first half and they did the same in the second, so it balanced itself out.

'I caught my effort well and unfortunately it didn’t go in off the post or following the goalmouth scramble, but I'm glad it didn't matter in the end and we got the three points. There is a lot of confidence going into 2016. We are a massive club in this league and teams should be coming here fearing to play us, hopefully we can build on this'".

NEXT OPPONENTS

Altrincham are away to Chester FC on Saturday (2 January, 3pm).

According to the Chester Chronicle, "Chester FC boss Steve Burr plans to speak to Burnley regarding Alex Whitmore's future. Monday's defeat to Macclesfield Town was the final game of the defender's initial one-month loan spell during which he made five appearances for the Blues. The 20-year-old arrived in late November and has made a positive impression... and given he has not made his first-team bow at Turf Moor, the Clarets should be open to him gaining further experience with Chester.

Whitmore too has expressed a willingness to remain with the National League club... However, the manager felt Whitmore's display in the loss to Macclesfield was the poorest in his time with at Chester, but pointed out fellow defenders Ben Heneghan and Ian Sharps were not on top form either...

Burr said, 'We'll have discussions with Burnley over Alex and see what we can do with it. I thought Monday was probably Alex's poorest game for us but he's showed real good qualities since he has been here... Sometimes with his passing, like everybody else, it wasn't what we got in the Torquay game and Sharpy struggled'. Whitmore is a product of the famous Wallsend Boys Club and has been at Turf Moor since 2012".

In the same paper, "Steve Burr described his side's first-half performance as 'unacceptable' after Chester FC lost 2-0 at home to Macclesfield Town... Macc, who were missing key men Danny Whitaker and Paul Lewis, eased up following the restart and sought to protect a lead that never really looked in danger despite Chester...

Burr said afterwards, 'I'm very disappointed with that, especially with the break that we had, and maybe that didn't help us but that was just unacceptable in the first-half. The two goals we've conceded are very sloppy... Our passing wasn't great in the first-half at all... When we got into Macc's half we gave the ball away too cheaply and then we were back defending so it was very frustrating'...

And the Blues were unhappy with referee Ian Hussin's decision to award the visitors a spot kick... Burr was honest enough to admit his side were second best and the performance left him questioning the commitment and desire of his players.

Burr said... 'We probably won't see a penalty given against us like that [for Heneghan's shirt pulling] again this season but it was given and it gave us a mountain to climb. After the last home game against Torquay... we've taken two steps backwards... It's not so much the shape, it's more the commitment of the players to have that desire to go out there whatever formation you play... There were too many who were five out of 10s and we’re a squad that need eight out of 10s to compete at this level.

We can’t get by with even three players being off, we need everybody to be at it and I think that’s showed this season. We have all got to be eight out of 10s".

JAMS

Many Altrincham supporters had delayed journeys to Tranmere on Monday and the Chester Chronicle explains that "Bargain hunters heading to Cheshire Oaks have caused congestion on the M53 for the third day since Christmas. Tailbacks have built up around the motorway exit for the factory outlet, junction 10, on Tuesday (December 29). The sheer volume of traffic has also spilled over onto the M56 exit slip road at junction 15 westbound... Shoppers hit similar queues as they tried to scour the designer sales for the best deals on Boxing Day and December 28".

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

From the Stroud News & Journal we learn that "Gilbert the Gull is not a happy bird after Forest Green Rovers refused to allow the mascot to attend the New Year’s Day game at New Lawn... Steve Jegat, who wears the costume, said, 'All I want to do is entertain the fans, have a dance off with their mascot at half-time, have a kick about and high five everyone. Forest Green won’t give me clearance. It’s laughable.'

Mr Jegat claims FGR told him the mascot would be a 'security risk'. A spokesman from FGR said, 'Our standard policy at Forest Green Rovers is to not allow mascots from away clubs into the stadium. Our own Green Devil mascot is covered by the insurance policy in place at the club'.

It is not the first time the Torquay mascot has made the headlines. Last year Gilbert was at the centre of controversy when he allegedly swore at supporters and gestured for a fight during a match against Grimsby Town."

In the Leader Live we learn that Wrexham "manager Gary Mills pulled no punches in describing his side’s awful Christmas displays as ‘not good enough.’ Wrexham, beaten 1-0 by Southport on Boxing Day, suffered a 2-0 reversal against Halifax Town at The Shay...

'Defensively for the two goals, we were just very poor', said Mills. 'The two games, certainly Saturday was our worst performance, today I thought we did okay in spells but we can’t defend like that. Did we look like scoring in the two games? I don’t think we have which is disappointing'...

Mills, who will appeal Jamal Fyfield’s red card, added, 'It has been a poor and disappointing Christmas. We certainly could do with not losing Jamal next Saturday but it looks like we will be, unless we can get the appeal in very quickly and get it overturned'".


29 December 2015

TRANMERE ROVERS 1-0 ALTRINCHAM

Above: Nicky Clee (far right) sees his cross diverted narrowly over the bar and onto the top of the net as stranded keeper Davies looks on.

How Altrincham failed to take anything from this game remains a mystery as they totally dominated the second half. They won corner after corner but Leather's header onto the post was the nearest to a goal. Rovers won it with a 28th minute effort when Norwood got onto a through ball and dinked it past the exposed Deasy.

But Altrincham might earlier have snatched a third-minute lead as Lawrie slid a shot narrowly wide and, in the second half, the same player saw a shot and a header go close. And Reeves spurned a glorious opening midway through the second half with an uncharacteristic miskick with only Davies to beat. The result dropped Alty to twentieth.

Match report here.

ROVERS' REPORTS

Tranmere Rovers report that "Gary Brabin was pleased to end 2015 with a victory as Tranmere narrowly defeated a spirited Altrincham side 1-0 at Prenton Park. A 28th minute winner from James Norwood was enough to secure the points although the visitors went close to levelling in the second half.

Despite many chances to finish the game off after the goal, Brabin was relieved to get the victory but pleased with a hard-working display from his players.

He told Tranmere Player, 'I'm delighted with the clean sheet and the win, it's been a good three days picking up six points from two games so I'm delighted. James Norwood scored a good goal but he's kicking himself because the game should have been out of sight. We've hit the post and had a good few chances but just couldn't get that second goal.

'The last 20 minutes, we were put under pressure by Altrincham but we stuck together and we're delighted we got the three points'".

Tranmere also report that "The first real chance of the second 45 minutes fell to the visitors on 53 minutes, when Michael Rankine curled a high effort over the bar from 20 yards out... Altrincham started to apply the pressure late on and could have found themselves an equaliser only for James Lawrie to fire over from 10 yards.

The visitors then broke again only for Scott Leather to hit the bar with a powerful header. Tranmere saw a Lois Maynard shot saved by Deasy at the other end. With the last kick of the game, Norwood should have made it two but Deasy stood strong to deny him once more".

There were 272 away fans in a crowd of 5,414.

The BBC stats include...

  • Possession Tranmere Rovers 41% v Altrincham 59%
  • Shots 16 v 15
  • On target 9 v 4
  • Corners 3 v 16

The Liverpool Echo adds that "Manager Gary Brabin admitted Tranmere made life hard for themselves by failing to put away their chances in the 1-0 home win over Altrincham. Rovers were hanging on through the last 20 minutes to defend the narrow advantage of James Norwood's 28th minute goal.

Brabin said 'In the last 20 minutes we were under some pressure and Altrincham threw everything at us... We deserved the three points, even though it was a bit nervous for everyone'".

"It was an afternoon of high anxiety at Prenton Park as Rovers survived an attack of the jitters, defending deep and sometimes desperately as Altrincham pressed for an equaliser through the second half. The relegation strugglers must be wondering how they failed to convert any of a succession of chances...

They were twice grateful to avoid going a goal behind in the opening eight minutes, first when James Lawrie knocked the ball wide of the far post from close range after both centre back Steve McNulty and goalkeeper Scott Davies had missed a ball swung in from the left.

Then Davies had to be at his best to keep out a close range header from Damian Reeves after Lawrie had whipped a dangerous cross in from the left. The white shirted defenders made sure Scott Leather could not profit from the loose ball.

Altrincham, who had their feet up on Boxing Day when the weather wiped out the home fixture against Chester, demonstrated a willingness to throw players into attack at every opportunity. Unlike many visitors to Prenton Park, they deployed two strikers in Michael Rankine and Reeves...

Rovers took the lead on 28 minutes with a goal on the counter attack. Midfielder Lois Maynard, driving forward from the half way line, played a piercing ball forward that looked at first as if it might be just a little too long for Norwood's run though the inside right channel. But Norwood had too much pace for the Altrincham centre backs and was aided by goalkeeper Tim Deasy's hesitation in moving off his line. Norwood got to the ball first and hooked it past the keeper.

Davies had to make a sharp save from Simon Richman's snap shot on the edge of the box four minutes later and Rovers were grateful to Michael Ihiekwe for a sliced interception which took the ball over the bar but also out of the path of Reeves...

The visitors started the second half as purposefully as they had the first, pressing Tranmere with attacks down both flanks. Rovers had do some diligent defending and the match was 63 minutes old before they posed another threat going forward, when Norwood dragged a shot wide...

The home side were given a reminder of how precarious their advantage was when Reeves slipped clear of Vaughan and McNulty to clear into the box from the left. The striker lost his feet however, and could only roll the ball gently into the hands of Davies...

But most of the game continued to be played in Tranmere's half of the pitch and they had another escape when Lawrie fired a shot on the turn over the bar from a dozen yards on 77 minutes. As Altrincham's pressure became intense and Rovers dropped ever deeper, Lawrie missed the target with another clear chance from a dozen yards then Leather directed a header against the right hand post from a cross by Ryan Crowther. Leather [i.e. Havern] should have equalised when [he] attempted to chest the ball over the line in injury time, allowing Davies to make a save".

MONDAY'S GATES

  • Att: 3781 Cheltenham Town v Torquay United
  • Att: 2791 Chester FC v Macclesfield Town
  • Att: 1536 Dover Athletic v Bromley
  • Att: 2107 Eastleigh v Aldershot Town
  • Att: 2243 FC Halifax Town v Wrexham
  • Att: 2110 Forest Green Rovers v Kidderminster Harriers
  • Att: 679 Gateshead v Guiseley
  • Att: 7650 Grimsby Town v Lincoln City
  • Att: 1528 Southport v Barrow
  • Att: 5414 Tranmere Rovers v Altrincham
  • Att: 2097 Woking v Boreham Wood

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

In its round-up,the National League says that "The top two both won again. Leaders Cheltenham Town looked a little tired as they laboured to a 1-0 win at the World of Smiles Stadium against a Torquay United side buoyed by Boxing Day`s win...

Jack Munns's cross caught a gust of wind and flew past Torquay`s highly-rated young goalkeeper Dan Lavercombe. Torquay`s day got worse 2 minutes from time when they had Courtney Richards dismissed for a second bookable offence in bringing down Billy Waters...

Second-placed Forest Green Rovers remain seven points behind their neighbours with a game in hand after hammering another nail into Kidderminster Harriers' National League coffin... They managed to keep the scoreline to 1-0 at the break... And Forest Green rounded off a miserable return for former boss David Hockaday when they made it 3-0 in the 2nd minute of stoppage time...

Grimsby Town moved into third place after they won the derby against Lincoln City at Blundell Park, while Eastleigh were held at home by Aldershot Town... [Lincoln] defender Luke Waterfall was sent-off for bringing down Amond...

Fifth-placed Dover Athletic suffered a defeat by the odd goal in five at Crabble against Bromley...

Macclesfield Town are now just two points behind the top five after securing a second successive away win at the expense of Cheshire rivals Chester FC at the Swansway Chester Stadium...

Woking's best crowd of the season, 2,907, saw 2015 finish with a goalless draw against struggling Boreham Wood, who made it four points out of six over the festive period...

It was also a superb Christmas holiday for FC Halifax Town, whose 2-0 win over Wrexham at The Shay gave Jimmy Harvey a `double` after winning at Lincoln on Boxing Day... The win lifted FC Halifax to within two points of fifth-bottom Altrincham.

Another side who have done marvellously under a new boss is Southport, who also managed a festive break `double` after seeing off Barrow AFC 2-1... Gateshead and Guiseley AFC were two teams who should have been fairly fresh as both had Boxing Day off due to postponements.

And Gateshead returned to form with a 3-0 win at the International Stadium which re-ignites their top five hopes, while it leaves Guiseley nervously looking over their shoulders at the opposite end of the table".


28 December 2015

MONDAY GAMES

Monday 28 December, 3pm
  • Braintree Town P-P Welling United
  • Cheltenham Town 1-0 Torquay United
  • Chester FC 0-2 Macclesfield Town
  • Dover Athletic 2-3 Bromley
  • Eastleigh 1-1 Aldershot Town
  • FC Halifax Town 2-0 Wrexham
  • Forest Green Rovers 3-0 Kidderminster Harriers
  • Gateshead 3-0 Guiseley
  • Grimsby Town 2-0 Lincoln City (12.30pm kick off)
  • Southport 2-1 Barrow
  • Tranmere Rovers 1-0 Altrincham
  • Woking 0-0 Boreham Wood

BEFORE THE GAME: TRANMERE ROVERS v ALTRINCHAM

Mike Garnett provides us with the statistical record of games between Altrincham and Tranmere Rovers.
  • At home P10-W3-D4-L3-F19-A20
  • Away P10-W2-D1-L7-F14-2A6
  • All P20-W5-D5-L10-F33-A46

Tranmere Rovers announce that "For our home game with Altrincham on Monday, December 28, 3pm kick off, we have a special offer in the FanZone and will be opening our hospitality suites from midday. The FanZone will be open from 12:30pm with a very special offer to commemorate the 80-year anniversary of Bunny Bell’s record nine-goal haul against Oldham Athletic in the famous 13-4 win on Boxing Day 1935.

Thanks to our brewery partners Molson Coors, we will be offering Carling and bitter at just 80p per pint for 80 minutes, starting at 1:00pm. We will also have a DJ providing entertainment alongside some live music from local indie band The Juveniles. The FanZone is open to both home and away supporters...

After our game has finished, we will be showing the Premier League clash as Chelsea travel to Manchester United. We will be offering 50p off a pint for the duration of this game in the Bunny Bell, Gold and Silver Lounges and Arthur J. Gallagher Suite.We look forward to welcoming everyone to Prenton Park for this festive fixture."

In its preview, The Football Network says that "Tranmere... will now face Altrincham on Monday in their second game in three days. Altrincham meanwhile saw their game against Chester postponed at the weekend due to a waterlogged pitch. Can Brabin’s Boys make it two in two and take another three points or was that win just another fleeting glimpse of what a team Rovers could be before they descend on another winless run?

The two sides have already played once this season back in August with Altrincham running out 2-1 winners, thanks to goals from George Bowerman and Michael Rankine and a Lois Maynard consolation. Rovers and Altrincham have met a few times before in pre-season friendlies, the most recent coming in 2014...

Altrincham find themselves at the wrong end of the table this Christmas, sitting in 19th just two points above the relegation zone. December was a difficult month for The Robins, losing two (admittedly against Cheltenham and Forest Green) and drawing one (their FA Cup Trophy game against Leamington) whilst November saw two wins and two losses for the club.

Although still scoring the odd goal during these losses and draws, it’s been the rate of which Altrincham are conceding goals that is their biggest concern - 38 conceded already in the league this season. That’s ten more than Rovers have conceded this season. Tranmere meanwhile have hopefully seen an upturn in their form with their win over Macclesfield... putting an end to a five game winless run for the Whites.

Both Liam Ridehalgh and Martin Riley were spotted warming up before the game on Saturday so I’d assume they are now injury free which just leaves Liam Hogan recovering over this festive period. Hogan also missed the last game against Altrincham through injury.

Michael Rankine is currently Altrincham’s top scorer with six in all competitions but George Bowerman isn’t far behind with five. Only Jordan Sinnott has played in at least some of every game this season for Altrincham [so has Scott Leather]... Altrincham also have their very own Harry Cain (right) within their ranks. Cain has yet to make an appearance for Altrincham but the former Sandbach schoolboy only signed in December having led his county (Cheshire) to the final of the FA Youth Cup in the summer. Still, with a name like that he’s got to have high hopes for his future".

And from the Liverpool Echo we learn that "Tranmere set out to show they can reproduce the improved performance levels of the past two outings on the road in front of a demanding home audience at Prenton Park on Monday afternoon. Rovers play host to Altrincham in the second of the festive holiday fixtures on the back of a 1-1 draw at Halifax Town and a 2-1 win at Macclesfield on Boxing Day which have lifted morale and generated fresh optimism in the dressing room.

But manager Gary Brabin and his players are keenly aware that the home form needs fixing and home fans given something to cheer. Tranmere lost four the last five National League games at Prenton Park and were unable to turn home advantage into progress in the FA Cup and the FA Trophy. The succession of disappointments created an anxious, edgy atmosphere in recent weeks with some fans quick to show their displeasure when things don’t go right on the pitch.

Brabin hopes supporters will buy into the siege mentality he is seeking to build around the team. 'We are not going to rest on our laurels just because we’ve won a game,' Brabin said. 'We should be winning games. The home form is another issue we need to address. I was proud when we got that win for the supporters (at Macclesfield)... I think they could see we were getting nothing (from the officials). I think it is evident everyone wants us to fail'...

The success at the Moss Rose, secured by headed goals by centre backs Steve McNulty and Michael Ihiekwe, edged Tranmere a point closer to the play-off zone... Front man Gary Taylor Fletcher could be a doubtful starter today. Brabin reported he had complained of a calf problem before being withdrawn from the action at half-time... Liam Ridehalgh could be back in contention for the left back spot after stepping up his training".

The Liverpool Echo also reported how "The manner of Tranmere’s first win on the road since mid October served to illustrate how difficult the last couple of months have been for team, staff and supporters... Over the course of a struggle through four defeats, two draws and two cup exits since, the Forest Green success has looked more like a deceptive turn in the road than a decisive indication of where Tranmere’s first season in the National League is heading.

By the time they reached Boxing Day, manager Gary Brabin and his team required a victory of any kind to turn downward momentum around and relieve the mood of frustration.... Rovers emerging victorious from a game at the Moss Rose which began engagingly and turned into an untidy scrap... The combative attitude, encouraged by Brabin’s talk of the team being 'under siege' from match officials is certainly a useful device to reduce the burden of expectation Tranmere must carry around as the biggest fish in the National League pond.

However, don’t take Saturday’s match tally of eight yellow cards and one red as evidence that Tranmere and their opponents ran out of control with aggression. This was a festive encounter played in fairly good spirit but controlled with a perplexing, uneven hand by referee Ollie Yates... Once the first yellow had been shown to Tranmere skipper Steve Jennings for a challenge on 32 minutes, there was no holding back...

They secured the points on the strength of a pair of headed goals at corners from centre back Steve McNulty on five minutes and Michael Ihiekwe on 77. Each of them got in front of the markers to meet well flighted flag kicks from the right by Adam Mekki...

Tranmere (4-3-3): Davies, Vaughan, McNulty, Ihiekwe, Hill, Jennings, Maynard, Harris, Taylor-Fletcher (Tomlinson 46), Norwood, Mekki. Unused subs: Sutton, Sutton, Mangan, Stockton".

AWAITING HIS CHANCE

Right, we see goalkeeper Callum Williams who has been on the bench for Alty 12 times, so far, this season and awaits his first-team debut.

LEAMINGTON PITCH

When last Tuesday night's game at Leamington was postponed, the image (above, courtesy of Brian Flynn) clearly shows the reason why. The match has been rearranged for Tuesday, January 5th (7.45pm).

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Kidderminster Harriers "can confirm that the club have parted company with winger, Keyon Reffell. Keyon joined the club 12 months ago and made 12 appearances at the back end of last season. This season he's spent time on loan at Halesowen Town but departs Aggborough having cancelled the remainder of his contract by mutual consent."

PIKESLEY AND TUNNACLIFFE

Barry Pikesley's homage to Altrincham FC striker Ian Tunnacliffe is here.
27 December 2015

SHAUN'S "CAPTAIN'S CHAT"

As Saturday's game was postponed, John Edwards, Media and Press Officer at Alty, provides the text of Alty captain, Shaun Densmore's "Captain's Chat" article from the "Robins' Review".

"As we begin our festive programme against Chester this afternoon, I'd like to pass on season's greetings from all the players and a heartfelt wish that 2016 will prove happy and prosperous for everyone connected with Altrincham.

Looking back over the past 12 months, I think we achieved most of our objectives, when you consider how we safeguarded our Vanarama National League status in some style and then, more recently, revived memories of Altrincham's FA Cup exploits from yesteryear.

Left: Shaun Densmore

Barnsley were added to the club's long list of Football League scalps, and Colchester can consider themselves fortunate in the extreme not to have gone the same way.

A late call-off at Leamington in midweek means we are still in the FA Trophy, but there has been a touch of frustration at the way events have unfolded over the past couple of weeks.

I felt sorry for all those who had a wasted journey on Tuesday night, and it probably wasn't helped by the fact that we shouldn't have been taken to a replay in the first place. We were in prime position to claim a place in the next round, here at The J.Davidson, after going in front in the second half and so nearly making the tie safe soon after.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between, but we made one count when Damian Reeves came up with another classic goal-poacher's effort, a really quick, sharp reaction after the keeper spilled a shot from Michael Rankine.

Five minutes later, Jordan Sinnott almost put the game to bed with a run from deep and shot that bounced back off the post. Such are the fine margins that can determine outcomes. Within a few minutes, Leamington broke clear from a corner to us and equalised. Whenever a new date is confirmed [since annunced to be 5 January], I'm sure we will be ready for the challenge.

The manager always drums into us that we can give any team a game on our day, and anyone who was at Cheltenham last Saturday will know what he means.

No one could have complained if we had taken at least a point, instead of going down to the only goal after they worked up a head of steam at the start of the second half and scored from a penalty.

The way we kicked on after that said everything about a performance I thought was brilliant. Everyone across the back four was excellent, but I thought Jordan [Sinnott], in particular, was different class and extremely unlucky not to get us back on terms.

An offside flag denied him what would have been a goal-of-the-season contender, after the cleanest of strikes into the top corner, and a goalline clearance meant more frustration soon after.

At the start of the season, we may have looked a bit light on cover at right-back, on paper at least, but it certainly hasn't turned out that way. Jordan has been superb there, slotting into the position really well and looking perfectly suited to the way it gives you a better and fuller picture of the game as it unfolds in front of you. Add his crossing ability to the equation, and you can see why he has done so well.

On to today, and, bar Macclesfield perhaps, I can't think of better opponents for the festive period than Chester. Like our own manager, Steve Burr likes his teams to get the ball down and play in a positive, constructive manner, and it usually lends itself to an exciting spectacle. Looking back to last Christmas, we had two excellent games with them, the away one proving one of the most enjoyable I've been involved in for a long time.

It promises to be lively again this afternoon, and with Tranmere also coming up shortly, here's hoping we can make a real statement of intent, as we head into the New Year. Once again, on behalf of all the players, I hope it's a good one for every Altrincham supporter.

Shaun".

TROPHY OPPONENTS

Alty's FA Trophy opponents, Leamington, were defeated in the league on Boxing Day by Bedworth United, 2-0. Before they meet Alty on 5 January, they are at home on 2 January to Stratford Town

NEW ITEM IN KIT RANGE

Ian Senior announces a new addition to the SKkits Altrincham FC kit range, as he now has available from the club shop, a "College Jacket" (right), priced at £36, in adult sizes (S to XXL). It is available in black/white.

NEXT OPPONENTS: TRANMERE ROVERS

News of Altrincham's next opponents comes from the Liverpool Echo, which says that "Tranmere gave their supporters a Christmas Cracker at Moss Rose, as they finally provided some festive cheer. Rovers have been on a wretched run of form, winning just two of their last fourteen games. But a late header from Michael Ihiekwe earned Gary Brabin’s side the three points in a 2-1 win over Macclesfield.

The visitors were forced into one change from last weekend’s draw with Halifax, as Liam Ridehalgh dropped out due to an ankle injury. Matt Hill replaced him, whilst there was also a place on the bench for Cole Stockton, who has spent the previous three months at Southport.

Despite all the wet weather, Tranmere’s fans turned up in their numbers, with around one thousand braving the nasty conditions to make the 90-minute journey... Despite Rovers’ dominant start, Matt Hill’s lack of pace down the left was being exploited, whilst the hosts consistently found space between the back four and midfield.

That led to long range efforts from Paul Lewis and Dan Cowan...

It was a real Jekyl and Hyde performance [from Rovers] in the opening 45-minutes, as like last week at The Shay, they failed to strike whilst the iron was hot...

There was more drama to come as for the second game running, Rovers finished against a side with ten men. Paul Lewis received his marching orders, given a second yellow for a dive with four minutes remaining...

Tranmere (4-3-3): Davies, Vaughan, McNulty, Ihiekwe, Hill, Jennings, Maynard, Harris, Taylor-Fletcher (Tomlinson 46), Norwood, Mekki. Unused subs: Sutton, Sutton, Mangan, Stockton".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

NL Pitchero reports that "Boxing Day proved to be a good one for Vanarama National League leaders Cheltenham Town. They won 2-1 at Aggborough against plucky strugglers Kidderminster Harriers, while second-placed neighbours Forest Green Rovers were hammered 4-1 at another of the teams near the foot of the table, Torquay United...

Forest Green were on the wrong end of arguably Torquay's best performance of the season to date. Rovers went ahead on 20 minutes with a stunner from Keanu Marsh-Brown... But just 2 minutes later Torquay were level... Torquay eventually made it 3-1 on 83 minutes when sub Louis Briscoe was thwarted twice by Arnold, but the ball broke to Durrell Berry, who scored... Wright made it 4-1 in the 89th minute.

Another boost for Cheltenham came with the news that third-placed Eastleigh had dropped two points at mid-table Bromley...

Dover Athletic climbed to fourth in the table with a 2-1 derby win at Park View Road against Welling United... Welling, who dropped into the relegation zone as a consequence of this defeat, produced a grandstand finale, hitting the bar with a Barney Williams headers and pulling one back through Sam Corne, but Dover held firm.

Macclesfield Town missed the opportunity to put pressure on the top five when they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the Moss Rose against previously out-of-form Tranmere Rovers. The visitors made a positive start and opened the scoring after just 5 minutes when Adam Mekki's corner was met by a powerful header by Steve McNulty which went in off the post...

In the 77th minute, Tranmere re-took the lead when another Mekki corner found Michael Ihiekwe at the near post who thundered a header past Shwan Jalal. Macclesfield`s misery was complete when they were reduced to ten-men with 3 minutes remaining as Paul Lewis was sent-off for a second bookable offence.

FC Halifax Town kept their first clean sheet in the league for thirty-three games as they won 1-0 at another team looking to push towards the top five, Lincoln City. Sam Walker’s 70th minute effort inflicted only Lincoln’s second home defeat of the season... It`s now six games unbeaten under Harvey and they are only four points behind fifth-bottom Boreham Wood.

It could have been just a point behind but for Wood`s 1-0 win against Braintree Town at Meadow Park...

Wrexham's promotion push also suffered a set-back as they were beaten 1-0 by in-form by Southport at the Racecourse Ground... Woking pulled level on points with Wrexham in ninth spot after winning the derby at the EBB Stadium against Aldershot Town. The only goal of a tight game came slightly to beat Shots` keeper Phil Smith...

The games at Altrincham, Barrow and Guiseley were postponed."

The Gazette Series adds that "Forest Green were left to look like turkeys as struggling Torquay United handed Ady Pennock's side a Boxing Day stuffing... Pennock opted to pick a two-man midfield with Rob Sinclair missing out and Darren Carter dropping back alongside Sam Wedgbury.

Meanwhile, James Jennings spent Christmas Eve in hospital with gastroenteritis and his place was taken by Marcus Kelly... Goalkeeper Paul White replaced the unwell Jonny Maxted on the subs bench... Rovers were well and truly stuffed when Wright finished with aplomb for an 89th minute fourth".

According to the National League "AFC Fylde have signed former Manchester City striker Fisayo Adarabioyo from Macclesfield Town. The 20-year-old joined Macclesfield towards the end of September following his departure from Crystal Palace".


26 December 2015

MATCH POSTPONED

Today's scheduled match at home to Chester FC has been postponed owing to a waterlogged pitch.

NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES

Boxing Day, Saturday 26 December, 3pm

Results today have not gone Alty's way with Boreham Wood, FC Halifax Town, Southport and Torquay all winning their games. However, Alty remain nineteenth.

  • Aldershot Town 0-1 Woking
  • Altrincham v Chester FC POSTPONED
  • Barrow v Gateshead POSTPONED
  • Boreham Wood 1-0 Braintree Town
  • Bromley 2-2 Eastleigh
  • Guiseley v Grimsby Town POSTPONED
  • Kidderminster Harriers 1-2 Cheltenham Town
  • Lincoln City 0-1 FC Halifax Town
  • Macclesfield Town 1-1 Tranmere Rovers
  • Torquay United 4-1 Forest Green Rovers
  • Welling United 0-2 Dover Athletic
  • Wrexham 0-1 Southport


25 December 2015

HAPPY CHRISTMAS

Altrincham FC wishes all supporters and sponsors a very happy Christmas and New Year and thanks them for their support in 2015.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES

According to NL Pitchero "Tuesday marked a new era for FC Halifax Town, as interim manager Jim Harvey was announced as the Vanarama National League club's new manager on a deal until the end of the season.

'I’m really happy with it. It was what we were working towards over the last couple of weeks, so I’m really excited,' said Harvey. 'I’m glad it`s been sorted out before Christmas, because it means I can enjoy it with my family, they’re all really delighted.'

It’s been a tough season for the Shaymen, the worst since the re-formed club began. This season has seen two manager depart, and hit the lows are propping up the National League. But now under the former Morecambe leader, FC Halifax are unbeaten in five games...

'I’ve got a lot of belief in my own ability,' expressed Harvey. 'I’ve been in football for what it seems for ever. I was in a similar situation when I was at Forest Green Rovers, they were bottom of the league when I took over and only had eight points, they looked pretty poor at the time and I managed to turn them around and, by the end of the season, we finished fourteenth, which was fantastic. I’ve been here before so I’m not scared by the task, there are a lot of qualities within the squad but I felt they had to re-focus again'...

'From a defensive point of view, we were conceding far too many goals and we had to put that right, by concentrating on that, it’s enabled us to then steal the ball back and get out to play how we want to play and attack... Collectively we have been poor and we have been exposed, but I have had to rally them and refocus them and tell them they are good players and get everyone pulling in the right direction'...

So Harvey has been appointed until the end of season... but the Irishman admitted he was offered an extend deal, but he wanted to be realistic...

'It suits all parties, it was offered for a year and a half, but I feel we need to get the club into the right position and in a healthy place in the league, then everyone will have a lot more confidence going forward. If we can maintain our status in the National League then at the end of the season we can reassess and make a plan of how we can attack it in the future. I’d love to extend my stay at the end of the season if we can maintain our status...

'I’d be a fool to think anything further than getting out of the bottom four,' said Harvey".

At Tranmere Rovers, "Gary Brabin is looking forward to the Boxing Day encounter away at Macclesfield Town. Rovers take on the Cheshire side twice in a week... and the manager knows they will be two difficult matches against a team in good form.

He told Tranmere Player, 'Macclesfield have hit a little bit of form of late, they're in the top six at the moment and they're a hard-working side. There are no easy games in this division but, if we concentrate, defend like we can and keep creating the chances, we feel we can score goals and win games against anyone.

'There's still a long way to go in the season, we need to start winning games to get in amongst the pack but there is a real belief that we're good enough to go on and win a number of games in succession. The league is so open at the moment, we feel we'll get stronger. At the moment, teams are taking points off each other'".

From NL Daily we learn that "After belatedly adding the finishing touches to his Christmas shopping, Eastleigh manager Chris Todd revealed that he is ready to deal with matters on the pitch over the hectic festive period.

Todd spent Tuesday morning battling with the Christmas shoppers but he swiftly turned his attentions to a trio of festive fixtures that includes a double header against Bromley and a home game against Aldershot Town...

Todd challenged his players to keep 'doing what we are doing in training and on the pitch'. He said 'We have done well to get where we are and, if we can win our game in hand, we can get a bit closer to the top two. When I took the job, one of my main aims was to get the club promoted into the Football League and we have given ourselves a good chance of doing that but we need to keep working hard.

I am a positive guy, I think we can get promoted'...

With three games against mid-table sides to look forward to some may think that the Spitfires have been dealt a favourable hand over Christmas. Todd refutes that suggestion in the strongest possible manner...

'It is what it is, no matter who you have over Christmas it is a tough ask because the games come thick and fast. Every game in the league is tough and we have to be on top of our game, we have to be right at it... The lads are firing on all cylinders and, by that, I mean the whole squad. No matter who I play the lads are doing the business and that's what you want as a manager'...

It's just over three months since Todd took his first steps into management with Eastleigh and he has overseen an upsurge in their fortunes. When he took the role, initially on an interim basis, the Spitfires were sat in eleventh place... Since then Todd has led his side to thirteen wins in their sixteen games...

'I think I just wanted to get the players believing in themselves again if I am honest. They are starting to do that now and the feel-good factor is around the club now'...

Their 2-0 win at Stourbridge in the FA Cup Second Round led to a Third Round home tie against Bolton Wanderers at their Silverlake Stadium.

Welling United say that while their next opponents, Dover Athletic "are in the play offs at the moment, the Wings will take comfort that the visitors have not won away in the National League since October...

On Saturday. The Wings went down at Park View Road to Macclesfield 1-0, largely down to their inability to find the net. Dover will still be tough opponents as the Wings look to halt a dismal run of form that has seen them drop to just two points above the relegation zone with their last win in the league coming in October".


24 December 2015

LEAMINGTON POSTPONEMENT

The Leamington Courier says that "Leamington chairman Jim Scott has defended the late postponement of the FA Trophy replay with Altrincham.

The tie fell victim to a waterlogged pitch with the announcement, made on Twitter just 45 minutes before the scheduled kick-off time, drawing angry responses from the small number of Altrincham fans who had made the trip down to Warwickshire...

However, Scott said the match was never in doubt until the rain started just after half-past four...

'The problem was that none of us knew how much rain it would take and how high the water table was', said Scott, who admitted the postponement will cost the club in the region of £1,000 due to the travel expenses of both Altrincham and the match officials. 'It started raining two minutes after I arrived but, to give you an idea of how firm the pitch was, we had used machinery on it all day.

'After one-and-a-half hours of rain it started to puddle up and at ten to seven when the referee called it off it was unplayable. Still, if it had been dry, then we probably could have played it. However, the forecast was for it to carry on raining.'

Leamington later tweeted a picture of the pitch, saying, 'Despite our efforts tonight, the pitch just couldn’t cope with the rainfall. We’re sorry for those who made the trip.'

The date for the rearranged game has been set for Tuesday January 5, which means the postponement of Brakes’ league clash at Kettering Town".

NEXT OPPONENTS

Alty's next opponents, Chester FC report that "Ross Hannah’s incredible scoring streak can continue, says the man himself.

The forward has been in a superb run of goalscoring form since late October, scoring 11 goals in his last nine games... He said, 'I don’t want it to end! You only have to look at the Premier League and the likes of Jamie Vardy, it’s a fantastic achievement, but we’re not getting carried away.

'If I get my chance I’ll score like I did against Torquay... I want to reach a target of goals I’ve set myself, and help Chester finish as high as we can. We know we have to put a run together, we’ve talked about inconsistency too much; we need to put that right.'

Chester cruised to a 4-1 win over Torquay and Hannah bagged a hat-trick. His first strike arrived in 15 seconds, the 29-year-old' fastest ever goal.

He said, 'From a personal point of view, I could have walked off scoring five or six goals! But I was happy with the hat-trick and, most importantly, I’m happy we performed how we’ve threatened to do this season'.

Hannah... believes his goalscoring exploits cranked up another gear with the arrival of Halifax loanee Danny Hattersley to partner the Sheffield-born striker up top.

Ross said, 'He’s been brilliant for me. He’s an unsung hero, he does all the "donkey work" and it’s a foil for me to run off. This season I’ve been the focal point, so his arrival has taken that off me and it’s no coincidence that I’ve been scoring more.'

Ross was full of praise for the fans, and the new chant! 'I’ve been in a rich vein of form and scoring and the fans have noticed and have been excellent. The song is brilliant and I know the words and sing it to my little boy at night!'"

NL Pitchero reports that "Port Vale midfielder Ryan Lloyd has extended his loan with club Chester FC until 31st January. The 21-year-old initially joined the Blues in November and his deal was due to run out at the end of this month but the clubs have now come to another agreement.

He has featured regularly during his stint at the Deva Stadium and will be hoping to get even more game time in the coming weeks.

Alty are away at Prenton Park on Monday from where Tranmere Rovers report that goalkeeper "Scott Davies is confident that Tranmere can move up the league table, starting with the upcoming Christmas fixtures. Rovers travel to Macclesfield Town on Boxing Day...

The shot-stopper said, 'Last Saturday, we took what the gaffer and the coaching staff had been asking and, to a man, we did the jobs that we were asked. I think we should have won the game...

I think we've perhaps been pressing too much at the other end to score goals and that sometimes is detrimental to the defence... I still believe we'll go on and have a successful season. If you look at the spell at the start of the season where we went nine games unbeaten, I don't think we really hit our stride in those matches. After that, we've had a bad spell, but we're still not too far from where we need to be. Last Saturday, we showed good signs and hopefully we can kick on now.'

The 28-year-old goalkeeper... said, 'The Christmas period can define a team's season so we have to make sure we come out of it unscathed... We're in at 9:30am on Christmas morning. It's part and parcel of being a professional footballer. We're looked after in so many other ways, so if we have to be in on Christmas morning then so be it'".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

NL Pitchero says that "As one Fisher departs Torquay United, another arrives in the form of goalkeeper, Grant Fisher. The 24 year-old has joined the club from Buckland Athletic and will act as cover for Dan Lavercombe.

Starting his career as a youngster here at The Launa Windows Stadium, he has since served the likes of Kingstonian, Truro City and Bideford. 'I’ve known Grant for quite a while,' said player-manager, Kevin Nicholson... 'We’re looking for someone to act as cover for Dan and he’ll join us, initially on a part-time basis, so we can assess things and take it from there.

'We’ll also have Scott Corderoy come in and train with us when he can. It's a chance for them to stake their claims'".


23 December 2015

LATE POSTPONEMENT

Leamington announced shortly before 7pm on Tuesday night that "Tonight's FA Trophy replay v Altrincham has been postponed by the match officials due to a waterlogging pitch. A re-scheduled date will be advised in due course".

Earlier, Leamington had indicated that the game was expected to go ahead and had kept Altrincham FC informed of the situation. But, although the pitch was considered playable in mid-afternoon, sustained rainfall later in the afternoon forced the postponement of the match after Altrincham players and supporters had already travelled.

Leamington issued the following statement on Twitter, "Despite our efforts tonight, the pitch just couldn't cope with the rainfall. We're sorry for those who made the trip".

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Summer conversations revealed that TASC Travel Coordinator Mark Eckersall, always looks forward to the appearance of this website's traditional Santa picture so, on behalf of Altrincham Football Club, we would like to wish everyone who supports Alty a Very Happy Christmas and New Year as we use it once again!

NEXT VISITORS

News of Altrincham's Boxing Day visitors comes from Chester FC who report that "Blues' full-back Ryan Higgins says the squad are filled with confidence going into an ever-busy Christmas period,looking to shoot up the National League table. Chester currently sit in 14th after victory on Saturday, having to negotiate a Boxing Day and New Year double against Altrincham, and a home tie with Macclesfield.

Speaking to ChesterFC.com, Ryan said, 'The games are going to come thick and fast over the Christmas period, but the lads are confident we can take maximum points from the games.. The Torquay game put the confidence back in the dressing room and the spirits are high... If we can get a winning streak together, it shoots you right up the table. We can be jumping up there'.

The Blues signed off for Christmas in style, romping to a 4-1 victory over Torquay... 'Going three at the back, we used our strengths going forward, we pressed and there wasn’t a single part of the field we didn’t dominate. With a game like Saturday’s, you don’t want them to end! We were playing well and playing like how we know we can play'...

iggins was on the scoresheet himself, with a superb low drive in the first half. 'I like to cut in! I’ve done it a few times this season and they’ve been rash and wayward, but I know I can do that and I’ve got a good enough left foot'".

Speaking of striker Ross Hannah, he added , 'He’s absolutely flying... I think if he’d stayed on he would have snatched the penalty. He could have ended up with five or six against Torquay.'"

The return fixture, at Chester, is on Saturday, 2 January at 3pm.

WALKING FOOTBALL

Walking Football resumes on January 6th at the Community Sports Hall. If you are interested, please e-mail the club.

FA TROPHY

Tuesday 22 December 2015, First Round Proper
  • Braintree Town 1-0 Bromley
  • Solihull Moors 2-3 Grimsby Town
  • Macclesfield Town 4-0 Ashton United
  • Worcester City 2-3 Southport
  • Leamington v Altrincham POSTPONED, new date TBA
  • Skelmersdale United v AFC Fylde POSTPONED, re-arranged for Tuesday, January 5th.
  • Weston Super Mare v Wealdstone POSTPONED, re-arranged for Tuesday, January 5th.

Tuesday 5 January 2016, First Round Proper

  • Sutton United v Lowestoft Town

RADIO ROBINS

Brian Flynn has kindly supplied the link to the Radio Robins commentary on last Tuesday's match against Leamington at the J. Davidson Stadium. It is here.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

On Tuesday, the Braintree & Witham Times reported that "Braintree Town manager Danny Cowley insists he and his team will channel the negative emotions of recent postponed fixtures in a positive fashion. The Iron are due to return to action tonight with their twice rearranged FA Trophy first round tie against Vanarama National League rivals Bromley at the Avanti Stadium (kick-off 7.45pm)...

If it is played, Cowley’s team will head into the game without having had any action since their 2-1 league win at Tranmere Rovers on December 5 and they have not managed to get a home fixture played since the end of November. That has been because of problems with the Avanti Stadium pitch following periods of wet weather... and Cowley admits it has been a frustrating spell for him and his players. However, he believes those feelings can be channelled to provide them with determination to push on when they do get back to action. "

From the Torquay Herald Express we learn that "Truro City chairman Peter Masters has denied speculation that his club's ground-share deal with Torquay United for next season has involved any investment in the Gulls by his son Jason... But Masters Sr, who is believed to have been the 'preferred bidder' in a failed takeover of the Gulls last Spring, has now stated, 'The arrangement with Torquay relates solely to the ground-share. Jason Masters has not purchased shares in Torquay United, nor has he been made a director of the club.'

United's board is due to meet tonight [Tuesday], as the club faces mounting problems on and off the pitch, and a statement is expected immediately afterwards or tomorrow morning."

Meanwhile, "Former Torquay United boss Paul Cox has responded to criticism from current player-manager Kevin Nicholson in which he accused Cox of 'blowing' his team budget and signing players on 'less than minimum wage'. Cox, who worked for expenses only until he resigned in mid-September, says he is 'both surprised and angered' at the comments.

He says that nearly half of his playing budget was taken up by a small group of players he inherited. He admits, 'Yes, I spent the budget as any experienced manager would. If I hadn't, Torquay would probably have started the season with less than a full squad'. And he insists that all contracts were agreed by players and their representatives, and approved by the United board and finance department.

Cox's full statement, he is now manager of United's NL rivals Barrow, reads, 'I am responding to comments made by Kevin Nicholson which have both surprised and angered me with their content. It is my belief that the comments made on social media do not represent the true facts, resulting in accusations that I feel are there to deflect any mounting pressure'...

Cox then states, 'When I arrived at Torquay, the board explained the financial situation the club was in and that my remit was to "keep the club in the National League this season. I was told that finishing fifth from bottom of the league would be classed as a success and that we would build over the coming years. Nearly half of the budget that I was given was already taken up with 7-8 existing players, which I knew would make it very difficult, but I worked extremely hard to put together a squad.

'The squad I put together was, I feel, good enough to not only keep Torquay in the league, but finish in a respectable mid table position. We were on course to achieve this, coming through a very difficult first seven games with a decent points tally. Whispers of the play offs were even circulating...

'All the players I spoke to about signing for Torquay were from within the football pyramid. All were happy to sign their individual deals, with agents and intermediaries present at most signings. The players who signed who were not within daily travelling distance of the ground were given accommodation in the club house free of charge, which was a tremendous gesture by the club...

'I am also confident that there are procedures in place within the FA that check every contract against things like minimum wage etc to make sure that players are being paid correctly... I sincerely hope that the club comes through this traumatic period... I am sorry if this has upset any of the supporters, but I feel that the recent comments needed to be answered'".

Forest Green Rovers announce that "Fat Toni’s Pizzeria, one of Stroud’s top eateries, is launching a new FGR pizza at the Kidderminster match this Saturday, and is celebrating by offering 20 lucky punters a free slice. Fully vegan, ‘The FGR’ is topped with roasted portebello[sic] mushrooms, wild mushrooms, rosemary potatoes and baby spinach and is finished with omega sprinkles (salted almonds, sprouted seeds, himalayan salt). No cheese, no tomato, it’s a pizza unlike any other".

According to the Grimsby Telegraph "Town Town boss Paul Hurst insists that promotion to the Football League is the club's number one priority but says it would be foolish to spurn a 'genuine opportunity' of winning the FA Trophy as well. The boss was speaking ahead of the Mariners' First Round replay at Solihull Moors...

Victory tonight would tee up a home clash with either Weston-Super-Mare or Wealdstone, both of the National League South...

'I understand that fans who are against the competition say the league should be the number one priority and it absolutely is, so they're right in that sense', he said. 'But...it's a home game against a team from the league below, so there's a good opportunity there'.

He added, 'I said to the players that Wembley might feel like a long way away, but it can come up on to the horizon very quickly... Surely, it's a huge incentive to want to get to the final? Plus, this is a competition that we've got a genuine opportunity of winning. In the FA Cup, for all the will in the world, we've got no chance realistically, so I want to get through tonight and go as far as we possibly can in the Trophy.

'We'd be foolish not to try and get through tonight and I certainly won't be putting a team out and saying to them, "Don't worry if we get knocked out", that's not how I work'"


REF ON BOXING DAY

The referee for Altrincham's Boxing Day clash at home to Chester FC is Mr Simon Bennett of Staffordshire. Mr Bennett has been a good omen for the Robins, his previous Alty matches include...

  • WORCESTER CITY 0 ALTRINCHAM 3 FA Trophy 3QR Match, 10 November 2012
  • ALTRINCHAM 2 STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 1 Blue Square Bet North Match, Tuesday, 6 March, 2012
  • LINCOLN CITY 1 ALTRINCHAM 2 Vanarama Conference match, Tuesday, 4 November 2014
  • ALTRINCHAM 1 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 0 FA Trophy Round One match, Saturday, 13 December 2014

FA TROPHY GAMES

Monday 21 December 2015, Third Round Qualifying
  • Sutton United 2-0 Concord Rangers (tie ordered to be replayed after Concord fielded ineligible player).

Monday 21 December 2015, First Round Proper

  • Bradford (Park Avenue) 2-1 Lincoln City
From the EvoStik League we read that "Ashton United are hoping their fans will turn out in force for their FA Trophy clash at Macclesfield Town on Tuesday night after turnstile prices for the delayed first round clash were slashed. With both clubs facing a hectic schedule of festive fixtures after the tie was first abandoned with the Robins 2-0 up and then postponed last week, supporters can see the action at Moss Rose for just £5. The Silkmen have also reduced concession prices for the first round fixture to £3 while students and U18s will pay £1.

In a statement explaining the move, officials said both clubs wanted to ease the financial burden on fans with so many games coming up in quick succession over the festive season. They're also hoping a few neutrals might take the chance to attend too in a traditionally barren week for fixtures leading up to the holidays. A win will see the Robins heading to the South West to take on Truro City".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

At Gateshead Manager "Neil Aspin slammed an 'unacceptable' showing by his Gateshead side after they crashed to a 5-1 defeat to Woking at the International Stadium... Already having to make do without ten first-team players, their cause was not helped by the loss of lively winger Adam Wrightson just after the half-hour mark. The 19-year-old left the pitch with a dislocated shoulder, having provided the assist for McLaughlin’s equaliser.

Aspin conceded the Tynesiders lost their 'spark' after Wrightson’s departure, but refused to make excuses for the eventual outcome. He said, 'It was an unacceptable performance. I’m not making any excuses for it. We were second-best throughout the game... We never put them under pressure and always looked vulnerable at the back. Yes, we have ten players out but, when you have injuries, it gives others a chance to step in. The players we do have available at the moment have an opportunity, and what we’re getting back isn’t good enough.

'I expect them to roll their sleeves up, show they have desire and application, and show that they want to stay at the club. We did go flat after Adam’s injury. He’s a local lad with a lot of desire, and he gives us a spark. He has a big heart, which we need at the moment. I didn’t see a lot of that on the pitch today. But, I make no bones about it. Woking were a better side than us today, and they are a better side than us at this moment in time'".

NL Pitchero says that "Danny Hunter, chairman of Boreham Wood spoke about his sadness at the departure of Graeme Montgomery to local rivals Hemel Hempstead Town but wishes him every success at his new club. Hunter said, 'Monty and his family were so important in what we were building and they became part of the fabric of the club and epitomised what we were all about. They were part of something that took Ian Allinson, Luke Garrard, Mario Noto and all my staff over five seasons to build...

'Our supporters will tell you Monty is a maverick type player, who has a wand of a left foot, he has an eye for goal and loves to attempt the impossible. In his time with us he just got better and better and even this season he will sign of with two great goals that got us wins at both Tranmere Rovers and Torquay United. I loved watching Monty because he could do things that other players at Conference South level simply couldn’t. Of the top ten goals ever scored at Meadow Park in my time as chairman, Mont’s has probably scored six of them...

'Every time he got off our team coach at away games, I would laugh and remind him that he was my favourite player. He would just smile in that laid back way of his but in truth I honestly meant it and I’ll genuinely miss him and his family. Our success last season as a club, was always built on our dressing room, it was built on our infrastructure, manager, coaches and players... Whatever it was, it seemed to work for us... it also gave us some great nights like our Herts county cup win and those memories, when coupled with some of our end of season trips to Puerto Banus forged bonds and friendships that will I hope last a life time'".

NL Daily reports that "AFC Telford United have completed the signing of Richard Peniket on a one-month loan. The 6ft 3 striker signed for The Bucks in January 2013... He re-joins the club from FC Halifax Town... The Bucks also confirmed that Mark Lees has cancelled his contract with the club following his 2 -month loan spell at Ashton United."

The BBC reports that "Torquay United manager Kevin Nicholson claims former boss Paul Cox signed players to contracts worth less than the minimum wage. Cox resigned from the financially troubled club in September. Nicholson said, 'He sold the dream of being a footballer to a group of young lads and then gave out contracts that they cannot survive on; many on way less than minimum wage'.

Cox replied, 'I brought players in on wages that the budget allowed'...

However, the club have remained fully professional [i.e. full-time]. Since Nicholson took over, they have won only one league game and are second from bottom of the National League, a predicament he partly blames on Cox, who is now in charge at Barrow. 'The club has a lot of problems due to a very experienced manager blowing his entire budget in one hit, holding back nothing in case of emergency,' Nicholson wrote on Facebook.

'A lot of them can't afford to put petrol in their cars or pay their rent, never mind live like athletes, and so I've spent way too much time behind the scenes trying to help them out so they can concentrate on football. That has taken valuable time away from the training pitches which benefits no one'.

'There was over a third of the budget already accounted for when I came,' Cox, who was paid only expenses during he tenure at Plainmoor, told BBC Sport... 'However, I managed to put together a decent squad which I feel is capable of a mid-table finish'... Earlier this year, Cox's predecessor, Chris Hargreaves, claimed his team earned an average of £375 a week, while the club's former reserve goalkeeper Jordan Seabright left Torquay to become a car salesman in March."

Bromley provide an "FA Trophy latest update from Braintree. The Club have been informed by Braintree Town that as of 2pm today [Monday] their pitch is playable. There is rain due however so Braintree Town are attempting to make arrangements for a midday inspection tomorrow".

Also on Monday Lincoln City told us that "Tonight's FA Trophy First Round tie at Bradford (Park Avenue) is scheduled to go ahead as planned after the Horsfall Stadium pitch passed a 2.30pm pitch inspection. Following two previous postponements, more heavy rain today cast doubt over the match but following an inspection a local official passed the playing surface fit for action... with a home tie against Nantwich Town the reward for the winners".

A report in the Chester Chronicle says that "Chester FC have confirmed George Thomson will spend a second month on loan with FC United of Manchester. Thomson moved to Broadhurst Park in November... There was a chance he would return to Chester for the festive fixtures, however manager Steve Burr has opted not to recall the 23-year-old.

Luke George's return to fitness and the arrivals of Ryan Lloyd and Danny Hattersley on loan means the Blues are well covered in midfield and attack. Thomson has fallen down the pecking order and last featured for the Blues at Southport on October 13, where he was substituted. He signed from Kings Lynn Town in January on a short-term deal... He has failed to score in 12 league games this term... Thomson, who spent time at the Glenn Hoddle Academy after leaving Forest, moved to Kings Lynn from Histon in 2012 having had spells at Jerez Industrial and Hinckley United...

Meanwhile, Chester forward Tom Peers marked the start of his second spell on loan to Hednesford Town with a goal at the weekend".

According to the Leader "Gary Mills won’t be rushing into contract talks with his players despite Wrexham mounting a promotion challenge... Players, including the likes of top scorer Dominic Vose and captain Connor Jennings, are out of contract at the end of the season, but Mills will wait before offering new deals.

'I think it is too early to be doing that', said Mills. 'We don’t know what division we are going to be in, you have to be very careful. You have a certain budget and, if you go and tie that budget up with maybe six players for next season, and maybe two or three of them pick up injuries that keep them out long term, it can happen, it is a massive part of your budget gone.

'We are not a club that can give two or three year contracts out, as much as you’d like to do that with certain players'...

Mills says staying in contention for at least a play-off spot is the priority rather than sorting out players’ futures. 'I will know a little bit more in January,' said Mills...

Vose, top of the scoring charts with 10 goals, is rumoured to have been attracting interest from clubs in the Football League... 'The danger in football is agents that will be selling them that there is certain clubs in for them,' said Mills. 'It can affect the... All of it is, well, the first word is bull. It can disrupt or they can disrupt so you have to be really careful... If I see a slight lack of concentration on what we have set out to do from the word go this season then they won’t be in the side, simple as that'".

Alty's next away league opponents (28 December) are the subject of a story in the Wirral Globe which says that "Tranmere Rovers' manager Gary Brabin was frustrated that his side didn't take all three points from their away fixture at FC Halifax Town... Brabin said after the game, 'We put on a good performance and we have a striker in form in James Norwood, who looks a real threat and is enjoying his football...

'We just need to rebuild that confidence. We're not a million miles away. If we defend like that and with the threat up front, going forward we're confident we'll be winning matches'".

From the HAlifax Courier we learn that "Jim Harvey was proud of his players’ efforts after 10-man FC Halifax Town drew 1-1 with Tranmere to maintain his unbeaten record as caretaker-manager... Harvey was forced into two substitutions before the start of the second-half...

He said, 'It’s as well as I’ve seen Tranmere play for 45 minutes in the first-half. We had to hang onto their shirt tails. Scott McManus picked up an injury and Keil O’Brien, who has been ill, had no energy whatsoever, so I couldn’t wait for half-time to come, he was lucky to last that long!...

'They weren’t the changes I wanted to make, I was a bit hamstrung because of those injuries,' he said... 'We’re coming together as a team. I don’t think we’re a brilliant footballing side but there’s plenty of spirit in there... They’re becoming hard to beat, which is really good... Tranmere have got a budget that could not only win this league but probably the league above, so it was never going to be an easy game for us'".


21 December 2015

MANAGERS SPEAK ABOUT CHELTENHAM GAME

Brian Flynn recorded a post-match interview with Lee Sinnott after the match at Cheltenham and it can be heard here.

Mike Ripley's images from the game are here.

The Gloucestershire Echo says that "Showing no mercy to the teams at the bottom of the National League will be vital to Cheltenham Town's championship charge, according to boss Gary Johnson. The Robins kicked-off a festive fixture run against sides in the bottom reaches of the division with a scrappy, battling 1-0 win against Altrincham...

With a double header against old-rivals Kiddy sandwiching the visit of second-from-bottom Torquay United, the pressure is on Johnson's men to keep winning... 'It's vital that we do keep picking up points as they will prove to be vital when we play against the teams who may be our rivals at the end of the season', Johnson said. 'We play Grimsby, Eastleigh and Wrexham later in the season and we want to be in credit so we can relax and play our game when those matches come around. We are in credit in terms of the two points per game, perhaps we'll have to lose a few to stay on that, but the further you get ahead the better.

'There is a smaller group forming at the top now. Dover and Bromley were up there and now have dropped away a bit... Our focus and energy is great at the minute. Our quality was a bit off on Saturday, but we have a team that works hard, so that keeps us competitive'...

Saturday's win saw the Robins far from their fluent best as lowly Altrincham gave as good as they got for the first half, before a vital spell at the start of the second saw the Robins take control... 'We had to game manage today in some difficult conditions and on a pitch that has got a bit bobbly... Altrincham have done okay and they are a decent side, They've beaten a lot of top teams and Barnsley in the FA Cup. We know they are a group that we have to earn a win against. If you don't score early against them they are going to have a few chances and make you battle for the win. Fortunately going down the hill we put a little bit of pressure on them and a good bit of play earned the penalty'" said Johnson.

The Radio Robins commentary on the game is here.

TASC SUPPORTERS' TRANSPORT

TASC chairman, Brian Flynn now confirms that "TASC will be taking a minibus to the FA Trophy Replay at Leamington on Tuesday December 22nd. There are currently three spaces left. Please advise Brian Flynn if you wish to travel by e-mail or text-message (07860 561011)". Details are on the Away Travel page where there is also information about the coaches to the games at Tranmere Rovers and Chester over the festive season.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Alty's next League opponents are Chester FC. The Leader Live tells us that "Prolific marksman Ross Hannah has reminded Blues' boss Steve Burr that he has achieved his pre-Christmas target. The Chester striker celebrated a hat-trick in his side's convincing 4-1 home league win against struggling Torquay United on Saturday to take his goal tally to 15 in all competitions so far this season...

'The gaffer was a forward when he played and he knows what it's like to score goals and set targets', Hannah said. 'He said to me a few weeks ago that he wanted me to score 15 goals before Christmas, so I reminded him that I'd done that now and whether there was any extra bonus in doing so! As a striker you have spells where you don't score and you also have spells where everything you hit goes in - obviously I'm having one of those at the minute'...

Hannah added, 'The fans have been fantastic and in recent weeks they have really taken to me... and they've put a little song together which I've cottoned onto and that's great, so I'm repaying them with the goals at the minute... It was sickening to see us awarded a penalty just after I had been substituted because I want to score as many goals as I can. But I came off at half time knowing that I should have scored a header... I should really have come out of the match with five or six goals which wouldn't have been an injustice'".

More comes in the Chester Chronicle which says that "Chester FC boss Steve Burr praised Ross Hannah's 'absolute quality' in front of goal following his hat-trick...

Burr said, 'I set him a target before Christmas to get 15 and the first thing he said was 'that's 15 gaffer' and I said 'well I want 20 now'. He's in a rich vein of form. I thought his finishing was absolute quality'...

The win over Torquay ended a run of five league games without a win for the Blues, who took the lead inside 15 seconds when Hannah fired home the quickest goal in the National League this season... Chester could and should have had more with substitute John Rooney having a penalty saved and hitting the post on the rebound...

Burr, who returned to a 3-5-2 formation with Higgins and Johnny Hunt impressing as wing backs, was delighted... He said, 'We've been working all week on a different sort of shape but I always say it's not about shapes or systems, it's about players and I thought every one of them played very well... This time last year Torquay were one of the better sides to come here and they're struggling with certain things this season and it just shows how quickly things can turn around.

'I think you'll find that teams in this division will always have a spell in some part of the game. The goal was a bit lucky that they got.'"

And Chester FC adds that Steve Burr signed off in style with a Christmas message to the Blues fans, "My message to the fans would be to drink plenty, eat plenty and get down to our next game!”

From the other side, the Western Morning News reports that "With Torquay United apparently in free fall on the pitch and with growing discontent about affairs off the field, the Gulls' board of directors are due hold crisis talks before Christmas to try to give increasingly angry supporters hope for the future, and player-manager Kevin Nicholson has gone online to give an eyebrow-raising reaction to what has happened during the Plainmoor team's season of strife.

The Gulls were crushed 4-1 at Chester on Saturday;, the defeat could easily have been much heavier,to leave them in 23rd place in the National League after an awful run of just one win in 21 games. Their minus-24 goal difference, the worst in the division, means that they are still effectively eight points adrift of safety from relegation ahead of a tough holiday programme against second-placed Forest Green Rovers, twice, and leaders Cheltenham Town away.

Assistant manager Robbie Herrera gave post-match interviews in Cheshire on Saturday, because Nicholson had to leave early to attend to a family illness in the East Midlands. Nicholson had his say on Sunday, in a wide-ranging and startling post on Facebook. He grumbled about fans making ill-informed online comments, denied suggestions that his squad had not been paid in full this month while, at the same time, pointing out that some of his players are struggling to make ends on the wages they are receiving and took issue with decisions taken by his predecessor, Paul Cox.

The Devon team's headlong slide on the pitch is being accompanied by growing concerns about boardroom issues. A group calling itself Torquay United Fans Ltd, apparently led by former directors Shaun and Keira Roberts, issued a statement on Saturday raising new questions about several major decisions taken by the current board this season. The group also hinted at a possible takeover bid. Supporters are also demanding to know more about the Plainmoor ground-share deal with Truro City for next season.

Specifically, fans are asking if the agreement involves a role at Torquay for Jason Masters, the son of Truro chairman Peter Masters. Masters Snr is believed to have been the 'preferred bidder' in United takeover talks, which eventually failed last spring, with Kelvin Thomas, the adviser to now-departed owner Thea Bristow. Thomas, who was based in Florida at the time of his involvement with Torquay, has now led a takeover of League Two club Northampton Town.

As the team, (players drove themselves to Chester and back at the weekend), and fans returned from Cheshire on Saturday evening, the United board issued a statement which read, 'Like everyone else associated with the club, we are bitterly disappointed with today's result and our current position in the National League. The board of directors will be getting together early next week to discuss the current on-field situation and ways in which we can improve matters in this respect'...

United's squad at Chester included a second signing from South Devon League club Watcombe Wanderers. Following striker Sean Finch's appearances in the FA Trophy ties against Chesham United, goalkeeper Scott Corderoy was named as one of the substitutes at Deva Stadium."

According to the Liverpool Echo, "Gary Brabin was reasonably satisfied with a point for Tranmere at Halifax as they ended a two game losing streak...

'I thought it was a good performance,' he said. 'It was pleasing, because we had to go back to basics in terms of defending. We’ve got a patched up back four as it is and they we end up losing Liam Ridehalgh, so that’s unfortunate...“We restricted them to one shot on goal which, unfortunately, was a world class goal, so there’s nothing we can do about that... I think we deserved to get the three points'.

They have won just two of their last fourteen games... The manager was also full of praise for winger Ben Tomlinson... 'I thought he was honest enough to come out and admit his wrong in the week. That takes a lot of credit. He’s made a big donation to the children’s hospital. I thought he was a real threat when he came on too'...

Tranmere legend Jimmy Harvey admits it was a bit of an odd feeling coming up against the club he holds so close to his heart. The ex-Rovers midfielder was instrumental in their rise up the Football League under Johnny King".

Meanwhile, Bromley "are delighted to announce the signing of French winger Steve Pinau. The 27 year old started his career with Monaco making appearances in Ligue 1 and was signed by Genoa before being loaned out to Hiberian back in 2009 followed by various other loan spells. The former French youth international joins on a short term contract with an option for the Club to extend. He has trained with the Club over the last fortnight while international clearance was obtained".


20 December 2015

CHELTENHAM TOWN 1-0 ALTRINCHAM

Match report here.

Above: Ryan Crowther causes problems for Cheltenham's Danny Parslow, as Damian Reeves awaits the outcome. Image courtesy of Mike Ripley.

LEE PLEASED WITH PERFORMANCE

Lee Sinnott told the NL Paper, "I thought we did well and you don't get what you deserve sometimes. It happens to all teams but, coming to the league leaders, we approached the game very well.

'We weren't fazed by it al all and I thought we applied ourselves extremely well, creating opportunities.

'We had the misfortune of having one cleared off the line but I can't fault my players because they worked tremendously hard. You have to be decisive, and maybe we lacked that, but the approach play was good and, defensively, we were pretty good too.

'Any neutral here would wonder which team was top of the league'".

CHELTENHAM VIEWS ON SATURDAY'S GAME

Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson gives his views here.

After the game, Cheltenham Town report that "Danny Wright's ninth league goal of the season was enough for Cheltenham to beat Altrincham 1-0 at The World of Smile Stadium. Wright coolly dispatched a penalty on the 56th minute after Harry Pell was bundled over in the box...

The opening five minutes provided little for either sets of fans to get excited about but on the sixth minute the Robins were the width of the crossbar away from being in front. Billy Waters broke free of his marker outside the box but his rising shot at the near post rattled the woodwork...

Ryan Crowther got Altrincham's first shot on target in the ninth minute when his low bobbling shot from outside of the box was gathered low down by Dillon Phillips. Michael Rankine's dipping shot from a tight angle in the 19th minute forced Dillon Phillips to push the ball over the crossbar on the stretch... Cheltenham struggled to carve out many clear cut chances in the opening 20 minutes as Altrincham's defence dealt with both Wright and Waters...

James Lawrie found himself unmarked six yards out but his close-range effort was impressively blocked by a sliding-in Daniel Parslow to force a corner. Shortly after, Michael Rankine could have put Alty in front, again unmarked, but further out, the striker's shot went just wide of Dillon Phillips' left post... With most of the football being played in the air, neither side could grab a stronghold on the game when Adam Bromley blew for half time.

Seconds into the second half and Billy Waters again could have made it 1-0... Shortly after, Altrincham kept the ball out in the almightiest of goal mouth scrambles; Pell, Wright and Waters all had efforts blocked from metres out as Cheltenham began to ramp up the pressure... On the 56th minute, Harry Pell was fouled in the box by centre-half Gianluca Havern and without hesitation Adam Bromley pointed to the spot. Danny Wright, calm as ever, stepped up and dispatched the penalty into the net...

It was Dayton who stopped Altrincham from equalising, the ball fell to Jordan Sinnott 25 yards out but his driving shot was blocked by the knee of the winger on the line".

The Gloucestershire Echo has a Cheltenham fan's view which starts, "Cheltenham's least memorable win of the season was possibly one of our most crucial. A gritty win in testing conditions wasn't the most impressive I've ever seen Cheltenham play...

Today was a closer game than I expected, Altrincham held their own and more for the whole match, and in all honesty could, or should, have earned a point. The penalty was stonewall, and never for a second did I doubt Wright's ability to finish it".

The same paper's match report adds that "Altrincham gave as good as they got for much of this game, especially in the first-half. But, after being sent out after half-time no doubt with their ears ringing, the Robins managed to get a vital victory. Danny Wright notched his 12th goal of the season from the penalty spot after a spell of incessant pressure,their only good spell of the game, led to what, in the end, was the crucial goal... The visiting Robins actually had the better of the chances...

Jinking left-winger Crowther was enjoying himself and created the next chance for himself, dribbling off the left flank before rolling a cross-shot just wide. Michael Rankine then caused Aaron Downes problems down the same left flank and his floated ball across goal had to be tipped over the top by Phillips...

More good work from Crowther down the left saw a cross blocked clear by a stretching Downes, Rankine recycled and found James Lawrie in a glorious position in front of goal. The right winger took a moment too long to adjust his feet and by the time he got his shot away, Dan Parslow had made a crucial block to flick it wide for a corner.

Rankine had no such excuses from the next attack as he was found in splendid isolation in front of goal after a good cross from strike partner Damian Reeves but his shot sliced badly wide. Lawrie had another shot roll harmlessly towards Phillips before the Robins woke from their slumber in the final minute of the half to create another chance...

A good forward run from Pell from midfield was halted by a clumsy Havern challenge and a penalty was given. The decision was as correct as the finish from Wright was cool and emp[h]atic. The number nine's stuttering run-up followed by a low finish to his left that sent Deasy the wrong way...

Altrincham fired a warning shot across the bows moments later when Jordan Sinnott fired a fine shot into the top corner from 25-yards, but the flag was already up for offside. The manager's son had another fine goalbound effort from the edge of the box blocked by substitute James Dayton's knee, while Rankine headed over from a Nicky Clee cross".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The National League reviews Saturday's games. It says "Cheltenham edged out lowly Altrincham at the World of Smile Stadium, despite being far from at their best... Altrincham gave as good as they got for much of this game, especially in the first half, but the Robins were much better in the second period and managed to get a vital victory, courtesy of Danny Wright in the 58th minute with his 12th goal of the season from the penalty spot after Gianluca Havern had brought down Harry Pell in the box.

Forest Green left it even later to see off fourth-bottom Boreham Wood at The New Lawn. Ady Pennock`s side were also far from top form... The vital goal came after 67 minutes when Kurtis Guthrie headed in David Pipe`s corner.

Third-placed Eastleigh were also up against relegation battlers in bottom-markers Kidderminster Harriers and, despite a spirited performance from Dave Hockaday`s side, the Spitfires won 3-1 at the Silverlake Stadium...

The game of the day was at Blundell Park where Grimsby Town, who started the day in fifth spot, entertained the team immediately above them, Dover Athletic. And they swapped places after the Mariners recorded a hard-earned 1-0 win... In the first minute of time added on at the end of the game, Connor Townsend burst through and was brought down by Richard Orlu just inside the box. The referee pointed straight to the spot and top scorer Padraig Amond stepped up to stroke home and seal all three points for the Mariners.

Macclesfield Town moved to within two points of the top five after being another side to win 1-0 on Saturday against one of the teams just above the drop zone, Welling United. The Silkmen took an early 6th minute lead at Park View Road when top scorer Kristian Dennis scored with a left-footed effort from just outside the area. And they held on to that lead, despite the Wings having an equal share of possession and chances...

Another promotion-chaser, Lincoln City, were held to a 2-2 draw by Barrow AFC at Sincil Bank, despite leading 2-0 in a bad-tempered encounter... The equaliser came in the 62nd minute when Otis Khan was brought down by Bradley Wood in the box and Walker stepped up to net the resulting penalty. Three minutes from the end of normal time Lincoln were given a boost when the visitors were reduced to ten-men when Nick Wilmer-Anderton received a second yellow card...

Woking moved above Gateshead into tenth spot after an amazing 5-1 win against them at the International Stadium. The Tynesiders had shown some improved form under new boss Neil Aspin, but had a nightmare start when Dan Holman swept the ball home from six yards to give the Cards an early 3rd minute lead. Gateshead got back on level terms after 17 minutes when Adam Wrightson fired in a low cross which was converted by Patrick McLaughlin.

But 5 minutes before the break Woking re-took the lead, albeit rather against the run of play, as Holman converted Bruno Andrade's low cross with a first-time effort. On 67 minutes Woking made it 3-1 when Andrade crashed a left-footed effort home from 12 yards following a John Goddard cross. And 10 minutes later it was all over for the hosts as Woking made it 4-1 when Matt Robinson tapped in from Jack Caprice's low cross.

Two minutes into injury-time it got even worse for Gateshead as Joe Quigley slid home a fifth after the Heed had squandered possession in midfield.

It also gets worse by the week for Torquay United, who are second-bottom after losing 4-1 at Chester FC. Hero of the afternoon was well-travelled striker Ross Hannah, who netted a hat-trick... and took his goal tally to 11 goals in in nine games... Hannah broke the deadlock after just 15 seconds... [Late on] Chester were awarded a penalty when Gavin Mahon was brought down by Angus MacDonald, but John Rooney's spot-kick was saved by Lavercombe and his follow up shot hit the post before being cleared...

Third-bottom FC Halifax Town battled to a 1-1 draw with Tranmere Rovers at The Shay to maintain Jim Harvey’s unbeaten record in caretaker charge...

Southport`s improvement under Dino Maamria continued on Saturday as they beat Bromley 5-3 at the Merseyrail Community Stadium. An amazing game saw Port go in front after 20 minutes... On 36 minutes it was 1-1... In the 45th minute Bromley went ahead with a header from Rob Swaine from Joe Anderson`s cross. But there was still time for Port to go into the break all-square as Gary Jones fired in a 20-yard effort in the first minute of time added on.

Immediately after the restart the home side restored their lead when Paul Rutherford set up Mike Phenix to score from close range. And on 59 minutes it was 4-2 when Rutherford was brought down by Ali Fuseini and Louis Almond netted from the spot. Jamie Allen made it a nap hand for the home side in the 76th minute and then the home side caused a few nerve ends to jangle when they pulled a third back with a fine effort from Sean Francis...

Aldershot Town registered their first victory in eight league games with a 1-0 win over Guiseley AFC at the EBB Stadium".

GATES

  • Aldershot Town 1-0 Guiseley (att. 1325)
  • Cheltenham Town 1-0 Altrincham (2591)
  • Chester FC 4-1 Torquay United (2160)
  • Eastleigh 3-1 Kidderminster Harriers (1862)
  • FC Halifax Town 1-1 Tranmere Rovers (1684)
  • Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Boreham Wood (1356)
  • Gateshead 1-5 Woking (573)
  • Grimsby Town 1-0 Dover Athletic (4266)
  • Lincoln City 2-2 Barrow (2540)
  • Southport 5-3 Bromley (751)
  • Welling United 0-1 Macclesfield Town (577)

BRAKES PULL UP SHORT

Tuesday 22 December 2015
  • Leamington v Altrincham

Like Alty, on Saturday, Leamington lost 0-1. The Brakes went down in a league match at home to Biggleswade Town. Leamington reported that "The only pre Christmas cheer to be found at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium, on a desperately disappointing windswept afternoon, would have been in the visiting dressing room, as Biggleswade Town completed a league double over Leamington with a single goal victory that few would argue they did not deserve.

Having performed so well at Altrincham in the FA Trophy the previous Tuesday, Brakes unfortunately reverted to the kind of frustrating display that is starting to become a little too frequent this season, as they dropped more league points at home and slipped out of the top five as a result. The weather conditions certainly did not help but the visitors seemed to cope better with them and, after a moment of quality from giant striker Inih Effiong that ultimately settled the game, they were only troubled by Leamington on occasions,...

A speculative drive from Callum Lewis, the first effort from either side, found the roof of the Leamington net in the early stages...

Paul Holleran made a double substitution in an attempt to change his side’s fortunes, and it almost paid off for a second game running when Will Green was played in on goal with almost his first touch. Brown was off his line smartly again to smother the shot, however... Overall it was a desperately disappointing afternoon...

It is to be hoped that the team can raise themselves for a huge effort on Tuesday night to really kick start the season back into life. Attendance: 403

Leamington: Tony Breeden © , Ben George, James Fry, Joe Magunda (14 Ross Oulton, 71), James Mace, Jamie Tank, Rob Ogleby (12 Lee Moore, 79), Richard Taundry, Ben Mackey (15 Will Green, 71), Joe Halsall, Lee Chilton. Subs not used: 16 Nat Kelly, GK Eddie Caviezel-Cox...

Brakes' Man of the Match: Ben George".


19 December 2015

CHELTENHAM TOWN 1-0 ALTRINCHAM

Match report here.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE FIXTURES

Friday, 18 December
  • Braintree Town v Wrexham (on BT Sport) POSTPONED

Saturday, 19 December

  • Aldershot Town 1-0 Guiseley
  • Cheltenham Town 1-0 Altrincham
  • Chester FC 4-1 Torquay United
  • Eastleigh 3-1 Kidderminster Harriers
  • FC Halifax Town 1-1 Tranmere Rovers
  • Forest Green Rovers 1-0 Boreham Wood
  • Gateshead 1-5 Woking
  • Grimsby Town 1-0 Dover Athletic
  • Lincoln City 2-2 Barrow
  • Southport 5-3 Bromley
  • Welling United 0-1 Macclesfield Town

CHELTENHAM TOWN v ALTRINCHAM: LIVE MATCH COVERAGE

You can follow this fixture via this website's minute by minute text updates by clicking on the icon below. Alternatively, Radio Robins' coverage of the game is outlined below as well.

updatesPC updatesMOBI radiorobins

Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, is providing full live commentary of Saturday's game at Cheltenham.

The match commentary sponsor is 'Breakfast at Cannibal Joe's', the hilarious debut novel from Jay Spencer Green. 'Breakfast at Cannibal Joe's' is the Amazon best-seller you can't afford to miss. Get it here. Available in paperback and eBook formats

The commentators are Ian Wilkinson and Brian Flynn and the match summariser is George Heslop. Coverage starts at 2.55pm.

BEFORE THE GAME AT CHELTENHAM

Cheltenham report that "'gaffer' Gary Johnson spoke to the press today in the build-up to Saturday's league match against Altrincham at the World of Smile Stadium.

On the agenda was the busy Christmas period, Rob Dickie's injury, defensive cover and the last fixture between these two teams which Altrincham won with a 94th minute [goal] whilst "trying to draw the game" according to Gary. Watch his full interview here".

The Western Daily Press quotes from the interview, saying that "Revenge is off the menu when Altrincham visit with Cheltenham Town boss insisting that all that matters from the collision of the two Robins is three points.

Johnson's men suffered their first of two league defeats so far this season at Moss Lane at the start of September as Alty grabbed a stoppage time winner when the Robins went all-out for a win. The return fixture at the World of Smile Stadium is therefore the first time this term that the Robins have had a chance to wreak revenge on a conquering foe but Johnson isn't interested.

'I don't think we'll look for revenge;that's too strong a word. We lost, but it wasn't in bad blood. For us it's about the three points', he said. 'Three points are important whoever is in front of us. If we take our focus away from that and on to getting one back on the opposition we could take our eyes off the board. We will respect them like we do every other opposition team. If you don't do that, you can get hit.

'All our lads are up for the game, that's for certain. But the reason that they are up for it, is not because they want to make up for last time, it's because they want three points. They won trying to draw the game up there. They brought a big centre half [Sam Heathcote] on to defend a last minute corner and [he] still had loads of energy and chased the ball forward.

'They bought the ticket and won the lottery. We were disappointed by that defeat but, with this group, it only brought us together more and focused us more. We mustn't think that Altrincham are a bad team as they aren't. There are no bad teams at this level. They gave Colchester a run in the Cup and, like any team at this level, they have someone in their midst who can be a match-winner for them.'

Striker Billy Waters is expected to be fit after suffering a slight knee ligament strain last weekend."

GET YOUR ALTY CALENDAR

Altrincham FC's official photographer Gavin Rathbone of GR Photography announces that he is producing a 2016 Altrincham FC calendar. It can be purchased via the the online shop or by ordering from the club office at the J Davidson Stadium. Above we see a sample page from the calendar.

TASC SUPPORTERS' TRANSPORT TO LEAMINGTON

TASC chairman, Brian Flynn now confirms that "TASC will be taking a minibus to the FA Trophy Replay at Leamington on Tuesday December 22nd. There are currently three spaces left (as of Friday lunchtime). Please advise Brian Flynn if you wish to travel by e-mail or text-message (07860 561011)". Details are as follows:-

FARES

  • Adults - TASC members £15
  • Adults - non-TASC members £17
  • Concessionaries - TASC members £10
  • Concessionaries - non-TASC members £12
  • Under-16s & Those in Full-Time Education - TASC members £8
  • Under-16s & Those in Full-Time Education - non-TASC members £10
DEPARTURE POINTS & TIMES

  • The Vine Inn, Washway Road, Sale 15:40
  • The Hare and Hounds, Stockport Road, Timperley 15:50
  • Altrincham Leisure Centre (opposite) 15:55
  • Altrincham FC, J. Davidson Stadium, Moss Lane 16:00

TASC TRAVEL TO TRANMERE AND CHESTER

TASC is running transport to the games at Tranmere and Chester. Details are on the Away Travel page. Bookings can be made by ringing the club on 0161 928-1045 during weekday office hours.

EX-ALTY PLAYER TO FACE US?

A former Alty player may be facing us later this season as the Southport Visiter reports that "Dino Maamria has made his first Southport signing bringing in 22 year-old left sided player Sam Grimshaw. Grayson [?Grimshaw?] is added to the Sandgrounders squad for Saturday’s clash with Bromley... after trialling at Old Trafford.

Dino Maamria said, 'Sam has been recommended after impressing at Manchester United recently. He has pace and can go on the outside which adds to our squad. I have felt we have needed pace and Simon [?Sam?] has the ability I believe to supply that'.

Sam Grimshaw started his footballing career at Manchester City, playing in their youth team for nine years. From there, he moved to Altrincham’s youth set-up, where he captained the side on a number of occasions. He signed first-team forms in October 2012, before moving out on loan. He spent two spells at Radcliffe Borough... before leaving Altrincham. He moved to Glossop North End in the North West Counties League and has recent experience at Curzon Ashton and Ramsbottom."

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

NL Daily reports that "Torquay United return to League business on Saturday with a pre-Christmas clash at Chester. Despite having a lengthy injury list, player-manager, Kevin Nicholson, is in upbeat mood ahead of the encounter.

'We were solid, professional, worked hard for each other and took our chances in our last game," he said. "I will be looking for the same aspects to our play at the weekend, and if we can do that, regardless of who is opposition is, we will give ourselves every chance of getting the right result.

'Hopefully Tuesday's victory will give us a shot in the arm and we can go out there and build upon it. I like to think that we'll go there and put on another good show; we've got a number of injuries, we could probably field a pretty decent 11-a-side team with the players we have missing, but it gives some of the other lads the opportunity to step up to the plate and show what they are capable of.'

The players have been training at Torquay Academy... 'It's great to have this partnership with Torquay Academ', he added. 'It can only be a good thing for all concerned and we have been training there and utilising the facilities in preparation for Saturday's game'".

From NL Pitchero we learn that "FC Halifax Town have confirmed that defender Graham Hutchison has re-joined AFC Telford United on a month's loan subject to the paperwork being confirmed by the FA. Hutchison joined the Shaymen from Worcester City at the end of the January transfer window and has made twenty appearances.

He had signed for Worcester in 2013 for his second spell with the club having joined on loan from Birmingham City during the 2012/13 season. He began his career with Lincoln City before joint Birmingham City. He originally went to the New Bucks Head on loan in September".

The National League reports that "Macclesfield Town have signed former Oldham Athletic winger Chris Sutherland. The 20-year-old started his career with the Latics and progressed through the ranks to make his first-team bow in September 2012. He went on to make a total of ten senior appearances for Oldham, plus three whilst on loan to Barrow AFC during the 2013/14 season. He was released by the Latics in January 2015 and subsequently signed for Tameside neighbours Ashton United."

From the Northants Telegraph we read about a former Conference club as "New plans have been submitted to redevelop the former home of Rushden and Diamonds Football Club. Conalgen Enterprises SA has made two applications for redevelopment of the Nene Park site in Irthlingborough.

They want to demolish the existing football stadium and build a new retail and leisure development including a foodstore, shops, eight-screen cinema, hotel, restaurants and a new community football facility. They have also applied for permission to create car parking spaces... by redeveloping the five-a-side pitch in Diamond Way...

The applicant says the development will create local jobs and provide the local community with easier access to retail and leisure facilities. They also say they will contribute £200,000 towards suitable replacement playing facilities in accordance with a needs assessment undertaken. Discussions are ongoing regarding the location for the development of a new football hub with enhanced facilities".

The BBC reports that "Gateshead midfielder James Marwood will miss the rest of the season as he requires surgery on an ankle injury. The 25-year-old suffered the injury in the Heed's National League draw with Altrincham in October. Marwood, who made 114 appearances for Gateshead between 2010 and 2014, featured in 10 games this season after re-signing from Forest Green in June. 'It's very disappointing but at least we're clear on the situation', manager Neil Aspin told the club website".


18 December 2015

TV MATCH OFF TONIGHT

The National League reports that "Despite passing an early inspection yesterday, tonight`s Vanarama National League match between Braintree Town and Wrexham has been postponed due to concerns over players' safety. The game was due to be screened live on BT Sport".

LEE UPBEAT AFTER TROPHY DRAW

Gavin Rathbone's camera shows Scott Leather threatening the Leamington goal on Tuesday night.

From the Sale & Altrincham Messenger we learn that Alty boss "Lee Sinnott remained defiant after Altrincham surrendered a second-half lead and were forced into an FA Trophy replay at The J.Davidson Stadium on Tuesday night. Alty looked to have the measure of Leamington after breaking the deadlock with a typical poacher’s finish by Damian Reeves, but an equaliser soon after meant the sides must meet again next Tuesday for the right to face Bognor Regis in the second round.

'I reminded the players after that they are not out of the competition', said Alty boss Sinnott. 'We are very respectful of Leamington, but I have no qualms about going down there to finish the job. On another night, we could have had three or four goals quite easily, but football is like that at times. It is not an exact science.

'Over the 90 minutes, we played some nice football through the first couple of phases, the back third and middle third. All that was missing was a bit of fortune, when you consider we hit the post twice, had a shot that was about to cross the line until backspin stopped it in its tracks and another couple that were blocked from close range.

'Leamington had one or two isolated attacks, but you have to say Tim Deasy wasn’t exactly overworked. We want to go through. That is the be-all and end-all but I honestly don’t think we did a lot wrong.'

Alty are away to promotion favourites Cheltenham on Saturday before heading to Warwickshire on Tuesday, but Sinnott is adamant his players are ready for the challenge.

'If you think you are tired, you will be tired, so we won’t let that creep in,' he said. 'Is your glass half-full or half-empty? We’ve got a replay to negotiate, and we will approach it with confidence and in a positive manner. We will play a lot worse than we did against Leamington and win, I’m sure of that.

'Some of the football we played was decent and, with a bit of luck, we would have had enough goals to have seen us through.'"

Above: Mike Ripley's image shows Damian Reeves scoring his goal against Leamington.

The customarily excellent Alty TV highlights are available from the Alty v Leamington game here.

BEFORE THE GAME AT CHELTENHAM

Altrincham travel to Cheltenham Town's World of Smile Stadium on Saturday. Mike Garnett confirms the historical record in games between the two clubs...
  • At Altrincham P9-W6-D1-L2-F20-A7
  • Away P8-W3-D2-L3-F10-A7
  • All P17-W9-D3-L5-F30-A14

Saturday's referee is Mr A Bromley of Plymouth.

Cheltenham Town advise that "Visiting supporters will be accommodated in the Hazlewoods Stand behind one goal. The stand is all seated but admission charges are the same as for the home terrace in compliance with National League regulations. The capacity of this stand is 1,100.

Ticket prices for visiting supporters: Hazlewoods Stand – Adults £16; Concessions* £12; Under-18s £5

*Senior citizens aged 65 and over and disabled. Wheelchair bays can be booked in advance by calling the ticket office on 01242 588101 (open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 3pm).

There are a small number of public car parking spaces at the ground charged at £5. Visiting clubs will also be allocated two disabled parking spaces on a first come, first served basis. Please call Jennie Thomas (01242 588101 or jennie.thomas@ctfc.com).

Our programme will be priced at £3 this season".

The Gloucestershire Echo has several recent videos from Cheltenham Town manager, Gary Johnson and from some of his players.

And the Western Daily Press tells us that "He may have only played one game so far this season, but Cheltenham Town goalkeeper Calum Kitscha believes he has learnt more than at any other stage of his career. The 21-year-old stopper made his Robins bow in Saturday's FA Trophy win against Chelmsford City, but expects to be back on the bench for Saturday's visit of Altrincham in the National League.

While the former Bishop's Stortford, Histon and Hayes & Yeading gloveman would love to be in regular action, he knows that he has to bide his time and keep learning. He appreciates that with Dillon Phillips in the form that he is in, forcing his way into first-team action in the league may be a tough task.

'It was great to finally get out and make my competitive debut, it has been a while coming after signing in the summer and it's great to have got it out of the way,' Kitscha said. 'It's nice to get the gloves on, but I can't really have any complaints so far. Dillon has been so consistent and been playing fantastically, so I can't really complain about not being in the team but, when I was called upon, I like to think I did my job for the team.

'Dillon is a top boy. You have to have a bit about you to succeed. He's come in, settled and shown that he's has got something. He's a really good lad and is playing well. Us goalkeepers look after each other and he is playing fantastically in a side that is the top of the league and long may that continue'...

He said that working week-in, week-out with boss Gary Johnson, goalkeeping coach Steve Book, Phillips and fellow goalkeeper Rhys Lovett has helped him improve... [but] Kitscha has had to be match-ready for all 28 games so far. 'I found out that I was playing earlier in the week and the gaffer didn't say too much too me before the game. He just told me to be calm and make the right decisions,' Kitscha said".

FINE WIN

Altrincham's Youth Education team had an excellent 5-0 away win against Macclesfield Town Whites on Wednesday.

PENSIONERS' DINNER, A SUCCESS

Courtesy of Colin Mitchell's image, (above), we see guests at the Altrincham FC annual Pensioners' Christmas Dinner held in the Community Sports Hall on Wednesday. An excellent festive meal, prepared by Alty's official caterer, Richie Bentley, and served by a volunteer team of people associated with the club, was enjoyed by more than thirty pensioners. Thanks go to everyone who helped to make it a successful event.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

The Lincolnshire Echo states that "Lincoln City boss Chris Moyses revealed he has been swamped by calls from players' agents ahead of the January transfer window... as news of the City's new investment has spread.

The club is due to receive a cash injection of £300,000 in the next few days by South African businessman Clive Nates as the first part of a deal which could reach £1 million in the next five years. And with the Imps challenging for promotion in the National League, Nates has said he will do all he can to give Moyses the financial muscle he needs to bring in players.

'The intention is to help Chris during the January transfer window if he needs it,' said Nates, 57. 'Even if everything is not 100 per cent done. I think we are so close, it's only formalities that could hold it up. And, if there was a technical reason holding things up, I would certainly be prepared to advance the first instalment before it had been completed'...

'I have had a lot of phone calls from agents trying to get players in,' revealed Moyses... Moyses is wary of upsetting the balance of the squad, which has taken the Imps to eighth in the National League, just two points off the play-offs...

The club recently added Craig Reid to their line-up, with the former Kidderminster Harriers man signing a short-term deal at the club. The striker was a target of Moyses in the summer, and the Imps boss believes he will bring an extra dimension to the team's forward line."

According to the National League "FA Disciplinary figures just released show a marked improvement on yellow cards for dissent across the Vanarama National Leagues. Cautions for dissent (verbal and action) from across all three divisions of the National League fixtures, compared pro rata with December 2014, shows the following decrease in each:-

  • National - 12.5%
  • North - 23.9%
  • South - 12.5%

The message to clubs is 'well done', so please pass on these stats to ALL management and players within each respective club via your nominated 'Respect Director'".

Wrexham report that "With this Friday’s visit to Braintree Town being shown live on BT Sport, the National League are taking extra precautions ahead of the match. With three out of the last four fixtures at the Avanti Stadium falling victim to the weather, the NL Head Office has requested precautionary pitch inspections, both this afternoon and then again tomorrow lunchtime...

While Tuesday night’s FA Trophy tie with Bromley was called off early afternoon, there was heavy and prolonged rain forecast for around match time. Happily, that was the last rain to have fallen in the Braintree area since and with only a shower predicted for early evening tonight, between now and our kick-off, officials at the club are optimistic of Friday’s match going ahead as planned.

The concern for the National League is that BT Sport go to considerable expense and effort to prepare for the match and then it’s off, leaving the broadcaster with a late hole in their schedule." [Not to mention spectators who pay out to travel to matches?]

BT Sport confirms that as well as the above game, it is showing Grimsby Town v Lincoln City at 12 noon on Saturday 28 December on BT Sport 1.

And Torquay United add that "United’s game at Forest Green Rovers on New Year’s Day has been selected for live television coverage on BT Sport".

Meanwhile, FC Halifax Town tell us that "Despite progressing into the next round of the FA Trophy with a 5-0 thrashing to Tamworth on Tuesday night, Jim Harvey is keen to focus on getting back to League business against mid-table Tranmere...

Harvey said, 'We can’t take any game lightly that we go into now and, first of all, we have Tranmere coming here on Saturday. They’re one of the favourites for the league and they’re going to be a real tough team for us to play... We’re at the bottom of the league and the reality is we need to work hard to get out of the bottom four, and that’s our objective. Every game we play at the minute is like a cup final' he said.

Town showed in their performance against Tamworth that they are more than capable of posing a threat to other teams... After a tough start to the season, the shocking lack of clean sheets was finally rectified as Town maintained their strength at the back to keep Tamworth at bay".

RULES NO LONGER RULES?

Already this season we have seen clubs such as Northwich Victoria reinstated in the FA Cup despite playing ineligible players and now, with Alty's 18-point deduction in 2006 in mind, we learn from the Evostik League that "On Wednesday 9th December 2015 a Disciplinary Panel of Northern Premier League Directors considered a charge brought against Darlington 1883 Football Club under Rule 6.9 – Fielding an Ineligible Player. After considering the evidence and submissions by the club a sanction imposed by the Northern Premier League is as follows:-

Darlington 1883 Football Club were found guilty as charged with the maximum 12 points gained, whilst playing the ineligible player, being deducted from the Club’s playing record. This sanction will be suspended until the end of the current playing season and will not be implemented subject to no further charges under Rule 6.9. In addition, the Club has been fined in accordance to Rule.

It is understood that the Club will not be appealing against this decision and no further comment will be made by either party."


17 December 2015

ALTRINCHAM 1-1 LEAMINGTON

Match report here.

On Twitter, @LeamingtonFC stated after Tuesday's draw at the J. Davidson Stadium that "To go to a full-time side, more than match them and put in good, disciplined performance with a sprinkling of quality was pleasing". To set the record straight, Alty are every bit as part-time as The Brakes!

The match officials for the F.A. Challenge Trophy replay at Leamington on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 are:

  • Referee - Stephen Ross
  • Assistant Referee 1 - Christopher Kidd
  • Assistant Referee 2 - Paul Evans
  • Fourth Official - Robert Evans

Mr Ross officiated the 1-0 home win over Barrow on Saturday, 3 October 2015.

Leamington's stadium is the New Windmill Ground, Harbury Lane, Leamington CV33 9SA. Leamington advise that "Away supporters are welcomed; there will be no segregation".

Ticket prices (which include access to all seated areas) are:

  • Adults £11
  • Over 60s £7
  • Students with NUS card £7
  • Under 18s £3
  • Under 12s FREE

CAN YOU PERFORM A KEY ROLE AT ALTY?

The keys to the Altrincham FC programme shop have gone astray and the Club is appealing to any supporters with expertise in locks to get in touch with a view to gaining access. Please ring the club on 0161 928-1045 or send an e-mail if you can assist.

FRIENDS' MONTHLY DRAW

The Friends of Altrincham FC's December draw took place just before the FA Trophy game against Leamington on Tuesday evening. The winners are:
  • £100 Allison Lewis (*25)
  • £50 G &J Muir (*32)
  • £35 Hilary Moore (*104)
  • £15 Phil Jones (*55)

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The National League "at its monthly Board meeting on 14th December discussed the matter of 'Parachute Payments' which was recently announced by the Football League. Following the amendment to its articles, as of 2016/17, clubs relegated from the Football League will receive 100% of a League Two payment in the first year and 50% in the second year.

While recognising that parachute payments are intended to provide a ‘soft landing’ for relegated clubs in order that they may adjust their affairs to a new level of income in a lower division, the Board of the National League is mindful of concerns which have been raised by a number of member clubs and generally expressed by supporters at our level of the game. At this stage it would be the wish of the National League to meet with the Football League to consider the effects of increased payments and to explore what options may exist to mitigate any impact to balance of the competition.

Until such time as all who may have a view are consulted, which includes our own member clubs in January, the Board of the National League will refrain from passing any comment until matters are concluded."

On Tuesday, the Lincolnshire Echo wrote that "Lincoln City's first round FA Trophy tie at Bradford Park Avenue has been postponed for a second time due to a waterlogged pitch... A 2.30pm pitch inspection deemed the surface unfit. The tie had been scheduled to take place on Saturday, but overnight rain had forced the initial postponement. The tie has now been rescheduled for a third time, with the game set to take place on Monday, December 21 at 7.45pm."

From the Football Conference we learn that "Kidderminster Harriers' head coach Dave Hockaday has confirmed that both defender Rob Taylor and striker George Obosu have left Aggborough. Taylor signed non-contract forms with the club back in pre-season but missed much of the summer campaign and the first half of the season with an ankle injury. He recently returned to training but remains plagued by the problem.

Hockaday commented, 'Rob, who is a good professional, did come in to training with us but is still having some issues with his ankle. He told me he did not feel he'd be able to manage full-time training because of it and was most likely going to have to stop playing at that level'.

Obosu made a few first-team appearances for the club having joined on a short-term basis. Hockaday added, 'We feel George is a player with a lot of potential and we are monitoring his progress. At the moment he needs to be back with his family who are in London and, as a club, we recognise that, and wish him well'.

Meanwhile, Harriers have confirmed that winger James McQuilkin has signed a contract until the end of the season. The former Walsall man signed non-contract terms at Aggborough last month and has made five appearances, starting the last four games. He's now penned a short-term contract with Harriers that runs until the end of the campaign."

The Torquay Herald we learn that "Torquay United have staged several 'Great Escapes' over the years, most of them featuring dramatic turnarounds over the last few weeks of the season. But the current Gulls, under first-time player-manager Kevin Nicholson, must pull off the biggest transformation of all if they are to save their National League status over the second half of this campaign.

After two wins in the first three matches, United stand with only 17 points from 23 games. The average 'safety' points-tally in this division over the last 10 years is 47, although that figure can vary wildly. In other words, Torquay nearly need to treble their current total in half-a-season. Add the fact that, after this Saturday's trip to Chester, their Christmas/New Year programme pits them against second-placed Forest Green Rovers twice and leaders Cheltenham Town away and the magnitude of the task becomes even more daunting.

Because of their inferior goal-difference, United also have to close an eight-point gap to the last safety-place (20th) currently occupied by Southport... Welling, Halifax, Altrincham, Kidderminster, Southport and Barrow, all from the bottom-half of the table, must still come to Plainmoor. Yet United are in the worst home run in their history. That's must stop.

Second, Nicholson's squad has got to start playing like men and stop looking sorry for themselves every time something goes wrong... Nobody is likely to win any style-marks in this situation, but they can gain the sort of experience which turns clubs and careers around...

The current board, weighed down as they are by financial worries, must find the funds from somewhere or somebody to [assist manager]... Nicholson... A return to fitness for Waide Fairhurst would be a major boost of course, but even then the priority for strengthening must be in attack, where United don't look robust or creative enough... Torquay United is a battered, bruised and worried football club at the moment".

According to the Daily Post, "Gary Mills said he has some big decisions to make over the coming few weeks ahead of the January transfer window opening. Wrexham boss Mills has six players currently on loan at the Dragons; Taylor MacKenzie, Danny O’Brien, Joel Logan, Jon Nolan, Rhys Taylor and James Caton, while he has also secured John Cofie on non-contract terms.

Admitting he had his eye on a few other potential targets in January, Mills says it is decision time as he looks to continue building a squad capable of competing towards the top of the National League. Asked in particular about Taylor following the goalkeeper’s heroics in the 4-2 FA Trophy win at Tranmere, Mills replied, 'It is decision time, he (Taylor) was unbelievable on Saturday, unbelievable. Certainly we will be speaking to Newport and also to Rhys as well, it is down to him, I think he would want to stay, I’d like him to stay without a doubt...

'There are a few players (on loan) and I have got to make decisions. There are a couple of players that I know if I can bring in will make us even stronger... to do that, obviously, money has got to be released".

Meanwhile, the Liverpool Echo tells us that Tranmere "Rovers find themselves in mid-table, 16 points behind the leaders Cheltenham Town, who hold the only automatic promotion spot, and eight points shy of a play-off berth.

They took only passing interest in the knockout competitions, going out of the FA Cup at the fourth qualifying round stage to Lincoln City and losing to Wrexham in the FA Trophy first round last weekend. A sequence of six defeats in the last nine National League games dropped Tranmere from the play-offs zone into 12th place and has created discontent among supporters who had to swallow the bitter pill of back-to-back relegations over the past two seasons...

The reputations and track records of the players assembled by manager Gary Brabin since the summer don’t match up to their performances over the first half of the season... Tranmere have struggled to impose their own style and authority on games, particularly against opponents who set out to defend in depth... The argument could be made that results took a dip after tactical and personnel changes were introduced to aid the team’s ability to break down deep lying defences which, in turn, undermined the stability of Tranmere’s own rearguard...

Some supporters have made their minds up about Brabin after five months. They want him sacked... The club dispensed with four managers between February 2014 and April 2015, during which time they were relegated twice. The evidence suggests it might be a good time to pause and a try different approach, such as giving a manager time to build a successful team...

Not all of the [players] will have encountered the intensity of supporter discontent and protest which manifests itself in booing and verbal assaults during games and in a tide of criticism and abuse, much of it anonymous, on social media and on-line chat rooms... A small but noisy group of fans, while exercising their right to voice an opinion, also risk making themselves part of the problem for the team...

A significant number of National League clubs take the view that not losing is the most important thing, particularly when they come up against once prestigious ex-Football League clubs such as Tranmere. Very often they are clubs with set-ups that would require significant upgrade for Football League membership. They don’t regard promotion as a priority but are fiercely determined to hang on to a place in non-league football’s elite division. Many of Tranmere’s opponents set themselves up first and foremost to protect the point they start with, swamping the midfield and defence with bodies. Time wasting in this division is endemic...

They look more comfortable and convincing when taking on former League clubs who are more committed to trying to win games. For Tranmere to break the pattern they have to become more streetwise about the division and learn how to win the bread and butter games...

Under the ownership of Mark and Nicola Palios, Rovers may well be the best run club in the division in terms of generating revenue through on and off the field activities. The £1 million budget for investment in the squad handed to manager Gary Brabin in the summer puts Tranmere in the top third of the division in terms of spending on players. However, they cannot compete with those clubs owned by wealthy individuals prepared to bankroll ambition out of their own pockets, such as Forest Green Rovers, Eastleigh and a few more".


16 December 2015

ALTRINCHAM 1-1 LEAMINGTON

Above: Leamington keeper Tony Breeden (dark shorts) and a defender are on their knees as Alty celebrate their goal. Seven minutes later Breeden's long kick led to the Brakes' equalizing goal.

With Altrincham leading 1-0 and less than 14 minutes remaining, a mistake gifted Leamington an equalizer and ensured that Altrincham would have a crowded Christmas schedule...

The replay will be on Tuesday 22 December, meaning that Alty now have five fixtures in fourteen days over the Christmas period, four of them away from home.

FA TROPHY FIXTURES

FAT First Round Proper ties (except where indicated)

Monday, 14 December

  • Curzon Ashton 3-1 Nuneaton Town

Tuesday, 15 December

  • FC Halifax Town 5-0 Tamworth
  • Guiseley 3-2 Burscough
  • Macclesfield Town v Ashton United POSTPONED
  • Southport 0-0 Worcester City
  • Altrincham v Leamington
  • Gateshead 4-1 Stocksbridge Park Steels
  • AFC Fylde 4-4 Skelmersdale United
  • Cirencester Town 0-1 Truro City
  • Chesham United 0-2 Torquay United (replay)
  • Weston Super Mare v Wealdstone POSTPONED
  • Braintree Town v Bromley POSTPONED

Wednesday, 16 December

  • Bradford (Park Avenue) v Lincoln City

Monday, 21 December

  • Sutton United v Concord Rangers. This is a FAT Third Round Qualifying tie which is being replayed, to a conclusion, after Concord Rangers fielded an ineligible player in the original tie, which they won 3-1.

Tuesday, 22 December

  • Solihull Moors v Grimsby Town (replay)

Tuesday, 5 January

  • Concord Rangers or Sutton United v Lowestoft Town

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The National League reports that "Torquay United have announced that goalkeeper Fabian Spiess will be leaving the club after tonight’s FA Trophy First Round replay at Chesham United. Joining the club during the summer following a successful trial spell, Spiess started the campaign as first choice but has been on the bench recently".

From the BBC we learn that "AFC Telford manager Rob Smith has vowed to bar troublemaking players from the dressing room in a bid to galvanise the struggling National League North club. Smith has so far been unable to turn the Bucks round since returning from Hednesford in August to take charge for a second time. And he claims out-of-favour players are trying to upset their team-mates.

'The only players allowed to enter that dressing room next week will be the ones who want to be here,' Smith said. Telford's four fixtures over the festive period are all against fellow strugglers. They have home games against 17th-placed Lowestoft and 21st-placed Gloucester City, and Boxing Day/New Year's holiday fixtures home and away with Smith's former club Hednesford, who sacked manager Bernard McNally on Tuesday morning. [Former Robins, Kyle Perry and Sean Williams, are at Hednesford].

'The Christmas period is massive,' he told BBC Radio Shropshire. 'The next four games are the be all and end all for us and I've got people who have got the commitment to get us out of the mess we're in. But the rest of them can go as far away from this club as possible, as far as I'm concerned. There's certain players who don't want to be at this club. We all know who they are.'

Asked about whether the disaffected players are disrupting the dressing room, Smith added, 'They're trying to but the other lads aren't interested so it's 'Cheerio. Stay away'. They're a disgrace to themselves and to the football club. It's an embarrassment to them, not to me'"

The Bucks "have now won just three out of 17, and are still bottom and five points adrift of safety... But Smith has been backed to add another new signing following last week's arrival of Jordan Wynter on a month's loan from Cheltenham, and he has several players coming back from injury... 'I've got players like Izak Reid, who wants to be here, Sean Clancy and Jack Rae, who goes though a brick wall for me every week. I'll have Connor McCarthy back next week, Dwayne Samuels, Paul McHone and maybe Dave Hibbert. But the rest can go'".

Telford United add that they "have completed the loan signing of midfielder Jordan Wynter from Cheltenham Town... The 6ft 1 London-born ball winner will join Rob & Larry’s squad as we enter a busy Christmas period with 4 games in 14 days".


15 December 2015

ALTRINCHAM v LEAMINGTON: LIVE MATCH COVERAGE

You can follow this fixture via this website's minute by minute text updates by clicking on the icon below. Alternatively, Radio Robins' coverage of the game is outlined below as well.

updatesPC updatesMOBI radiorobins

Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, is providing full live commentary of Saturday's game at The J.Davidson Stadium. The commentators are Paul Salt & Brian Flynn & the match summariser is John Edwards. Coverage starts at 7.35pm & you can listen to Radio Robins on the internet at http://www.radiorobins.com/

Should a replay be necessary it will be on Tuesday, 22 December. The winners of the tie travel to Bognor Regis Town in the Second Round on 16th January.

BOGNOR REGIS TOWN

Sussex-coast club, Bognor Regis Town, a.k.a. "The Rocks", lie in wait for either Altrincham or Leamington after Tuesday's FA Trophy match at the J. Davidson Stadium. The Rocks won their First Round tie away at Maidstone, 1-0, thanks to a goal by Chike Kandi. Currently lying seventh in the Ryman Premier, Bognor Regis Town "have confirmed that agreement has been reached with Brighton & Hove Albion that Chike Kandi’s loan will be extended for a further month. Tomorrow’s game at Hendon would have been Chike’s last for The Rocks, but his loan will now expire on January 9th". The tie against Alty or Leamington is the folllowing Saturday (16th).

The Ryman League reports that "Dulwich Hamlet and Bognor Regis Town are looking forward to flying the flag for the Ryman League in the FA Trophy in the New Year... The Rocks, who knocked out National South Maidenhead United in Berkshire at the weekend [hmm, it was actually a win against Maidstone United in Kent!] after Luke Kandi's 17th winner, were also rewarded with a home tie with either Evo-Stik League Southern Leamington or National League Altrincham arriving at Nyewood Lane on Saturday 16 January.

As well as a place in the last 16, both top flight clubs will also collect a further £6000 in prize money if they can keep their runs going after Christmas in Non-League's showpiece competition."

Bognor Regis Town add that "As a result of our win in the FA Trophy, our Ryman League match on Saturday 16th January at home to VCD Athletic will need to be rearranged... The club have also applied for our League match at Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday 12th January to be postponed, in line with Ryman League rules. This is designed to provide as much support as possible to Ryman League clubs who reach the latter stages of the FA Trophy and FA Cup". Should Alty be their opponents, they have a midweek game at home to wrexham scheduled for Tuesday 12th January, whilst Leamington are set to play a local cup match on the Wednesday.

SUPPORTERS' TEAM PROGRESS

Jack Jolly writes that "Despite the poor weather of recent weeks, the Altrincham FC supporters' team finished top of our group in the North West Cup. After emerging from a strong group with Manchester Utd, Bury and Morecambe, we face Runcorn at home in the last eight. We're constantly on the look for new players. We train 8-9pm on Mondays at Timperley CC and play home games at Walton Park, Sale with the odd local away game.

If you're interested in training, or playing, come down to Timperley Astro 8-9pm Monday, or contact me at home games".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to the Chester Standard, "Steve Burr has revealed that he intends to ring the changes at Chester FC in the New Year. The Chester boss admitted he is aiming to secure two new signings when the transfer window opens on January 1.

'We've found it tough again to break into the top half of the league table but that's something that we're really trying to do this season,' Burr said. 'It may mean, come January, that we look at shifting one or two players around and bringing one or two new faces in. So far the loan players and people we have brought in have not really hit the heights that I expected, but sometimes that happens.'

Burr has signed seven loan players this season who have included strikers Calum Dyson, Jamie McDonagh, Josh O'Hanlon and James Roberts as well as current loanees Alex Whitmore, Ryan Lloyd, and Danny Hattersley from FC Halifax Town. Roberts is the only loan forward to have scored for Chester, but Burr is keen to find strikers who can provide back-up for the Blues leading marksman Ross Hannah who bagged both goals in Saturday's 2-0 FA Trophy win at AFC Telford United.

And Burr is now hoping his club can be rewarded with a home second round tie after a succession of away ties during his last two years with the Blues. [They have since drawn a home tie against Hungerford Town]. He said, 'We've just got used to playing away in the FA Trophy, but it would be nice to get a home tie! It's a competition I'd like to do well in. We had a terrific following again at Telford on a really wet day... It was good to see us playing so well and I thought we won the game comfortably in the end'...

Chester will entertain Torquay United this Saturday in their final game before a busy festive programme that sees the Blues travel to Altrincham on Boxing Day, play host to Macclesfield Town on Monday, December 28, before entertaining Macclesfield on Saturday, January 2. Burr added, 'As a player I loved the Christmas period, and as a manager I've always loved the Christmas period. Last year wasn't great... If you'red not winning matches then you don't enjoy it.

'We've had a tough run of games, but I think if we can eradicate some of the mistakes which we've made and score when we get opportunities then I'm quietly confident that the lads we've got are good enough to compete at this level'.

Chester have recalled midfielder Sam Hughes from a loan spell at Witton Albion, who has made just six first team appearances for the Blues as a substitute".

The National League "is extremely pleased to announce their title sponsors Vanarama have agreed to extend their current partnership timeline to the end of the 2016/17 season (31 May 2017).

The breaking news was announced at a function at The House of Lords by chairman Brian Barwick to the assembled guests, which included representatives of other football bodies, alongside additional sponsors and partners of The National League.

Founder and MD of Vanarama, Andy Alderson commented, 'We're really delighted and proud to continue as title sponsors of The National League for a third season. The sponsorship has played a huge part in the growth of our brand. It's delivered everything that I hoped for when we first entered into the deal but, because of the support we have had from the League and its member clubs, the results have far exceeded our expectations,.

In response Brian Barwick said.. 'We too are proud to play our part in the brand growth of Vanarama, knowing the very competitive field in which they operate their business'".


14 December 2015

BOGNOR FOR WINNERS OF TUESDAY'S TIE

The winners of Alty v Leamington FA Trophy tie on Tuesday will travel to Sussex to play Bognor Regis Town of the Ryman Premier in Round Two. The full draw is..

FA Trophy Second Round Proper, matches to be played on Saturday 16 January, 2016.

  • Dulwich Hamlet v Guiseley
  • Dover Athletic v Southport / Worcester
  • Havant & Waterlooville v Welling United
  • Truro City v Macclesfield / Ashton Utd
  • Braintree Town / Bromley v Stourbridge
  • Chester v Hungerford Town
  • Eastbourne Borough v AFC Fylde / Skelmersdale Utd
  • Sutton U/ Concord R/ Lowestoft v Curzon Ashton
  • Torquay U. v Wrexham
  • Grimsby T / Solihull Moors v Weston Super Mare / Wealdstone
  • FC Halifax Town v Barrow
  • Eastleigh v Gateshead
  • Bognor Regis Town v Altrincham / Leamington
  • Bradford PA / Lincoln C v Nantwich Town
  • Woking v Maidenhead United
  • Oxford City v Cheltenham Town

TROPHY ON TUESDAY

Following the postponement of Saturday's FA Trophy tie at home to Leamington, the match has been rescheduled for this Tuesday (15th) at 7.45pm. Should a replay be necessary, that would take place on Tuesday, 22 December.

Above: AFC official photographer Gavin Rathbone captures Kyle Perry's goal against Leamington at Moss Lane in January 2014. Alty won the game 3-2.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

From NL Pitchero comes news that "Vanarama National League South club Truro City have entered a 'groundshare' agreement with National League outfit Torquay United to play their matches at Plainmoor next season. The Gulls have made no official announcement, but Truro chairman Peter Masters has issued a statement confirming the deal.

Truro are due to leave their current Treyew Road ground at the end of this season, but a new stadium has been plagued with difficulties. 'The plan is that we will vacate here after the final game at the end of April and start at Torquay,"', said Masters. 'We have the whole season booked there if we need it but, if the new ground is finished, we can go back and play there'".

On the pitch "Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division club Chesham United earned a replay in the FA Trophy First Round by holding Vanarama National League side Torquay United to a goalless draw at the Launa Windows Stadium on Sunday.

The Generals, who enjoyed a fine run in the FA Cup, were pegged back in the early stages with Louis Briscoe especially prominent for the home side... Chesham`s veteran striker Barry Hayles went close to breaking the deadlock, but the home defence managed to smother the chance.

Near the end Lavercombe denied Dave Pearce with a fine fingertip save as Chesham came closest to scoring and winning the tie, but they will have to do it all again at The Meadow on Tuesday. "

Not altogether surprising news of a former opponent comes from NL Pitchero which reports that "According to the club, Thomas Guerriero has resigned as a director of Oxford City (Trading) Ltd due to continuing concerns about his health. Since his appointment to the Board in March 2013, Guerriero has worked tirelessly bringing sponsorship to the club. He has been seriously unwell for several months and has recently endured repeated surgery.

However, it has also been revealed that Guerriero has been charged by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a 'classic boiler room fraud' relating to the club. A statement claims Guerriero touted his company, Oxford City Football Club Inc., as being 'the largest publicly traded diversified portfolio of professional sports teams in the world.' It made claims of profits of over $700million over the next five years including nearly $500million from an online university that simply did not exist, and $20million from a radio station they did not own. It also claimed to own $100million of land and stadia that were actually Council owned.

The company was then touted to mailing lists with pressure tactics to earn a reported $6.5million in share sales from unsuspecting buyers, who were lured in on the back of promises of 50c a share returns in the first year. The $6.5million is a similar figure to that attributable to 'consulting fees' paid to Guerriero by his company (link), with a total book debt of over $17million. Guerriero took over the club in April 2013, promising a new stadium and expanded facilities.

He rebranded a failed Texas based indoor league side to the Oxford City name, claiming at the time he owed three 'professional' English clubs, essentially the Oxford City first-team, their Nomads side in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, and a futsal side, and the stadia they play in. He also claimed a 'professional' basketball team in Oxford that currently plies its trade in the amateur fifth tier of the English League."

The Liverpool Echo reports that "Gary Brabin insisted he will not stand down as Tranmere manager after they suffered an eighth defeat in twelve games. The alarming slump continued with a 4-2 defeat at home to Wrexham as Rovers were dumped out of the FA Trophy...

'I’m confident in what I’m doing,' he said. 'I understand the frustration because results need to be better. I’m alarmed at the goals we’re conceding. We are working hard to put it right. I don’t mind the frustration being aimed at me. But I just ask, can we give the lads a little bit more... What we don’t want is that frustration spilling out onto the players.'

One particularly vocal section of the Tranmere fanbase showed their anger at yet another defeat once Wrexham struck their fourth goal... The manager struggled to answer whether he had the backing of Mark Palios. 'The chairman loves the club... He’s got the club at heart. He feels the frustration and I feel like I’m letting him down as well. I’ve been brought here for two years to get the club back on track... It’s uncomfortable for me to come here and answer the question, because I understand the fans' frustration'...

One positive from the performance was a brace for striker James Norwood. That takes his tally for the season to nine...

'I’m not really taking any pluses from today', he continued... 'We feel like everything’s against us and we need to just roll out sleeves up, keep battling on and working hard'".

Barrow boss Paul Cox told the NW Evening Mail, "I do think the squad needs strengthening, I've already spoken to the board and the chairman (Paul Casson). I think that the lack of quality in depth - I think there are some good players at the club that I wouldlike to add to. You look at us now, we are basically down to the bare bones, we've got two available recognised central-midfielders in the squad at the minute and, even if I could do it (bring players in) before January, with one or two players with potential and that I've got my eye on, then I'll do it. We've got our hands tied a little bit in this period because we can only go for players from the Conference North and South and below.

But I've done a lot of scouting over the past couple of months and I know a lot of young players who could step up and could do it for this month. This month is going to be tough for us because of the lack of numbers; the injuries and suspensions. But that doesn't give us any excuse to feel sorry for ourselves. If anything it gives people the opportunity to put themselves into my mind and tell me that they want to stay at this club."


13 December 2015

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Stockport County report that "County and Wrexham FC have agreed to instruct the FA to withdraw the request to FIFA for validation of Kayden Jackson's loan deal to the Hatters. Although the loan is within permitted regulations, due to County playing outside The Football League and the National League's top flight, validation was required from FIFA due to the transfer window being closed until 2nd January.

Despite The FA making the request on Tuesday 1st December, and persistent efforts from SCFC, FIFA had yet to confirm or deny the request at close of business on Friday 11th December, some eight working days later. The FA Wales had given assurances that they would act promptly to issue International Clearance once FIFA had validated the request, which after numerous phone calls and emails has not been forthcoming leaving both clubs and the player in limbo.

Kayden will rejoin Wrexham for their trip to Tranmere Rovers in the FA Trophy."

From the Bury Times we learn that "Bury have recalled Anthony Dudley from his loan spell at Guiseley with immediate effect. The striker scored five goals in seven games for the National League side but manager David Flitcroft has opted to activate the 19-year-old's 24-hour recall clause... Flitcroft was left short of options after Chris Hussey was ruled out with a virus and Leon Clarke failed to recover from a knock picked up against Rochdale last weekend".

FA TROPHY FIRST ROUND

The FA Trophy First Round proper rewards the winners with £5,000 apiece...

  • FC Halifax Town P-P Tamworth
  • Grimsby Town 1-1 Solihull Moors
  • Sutton Coldfield Town 0-1 Barrow
  • Burscough 2-2 Guiseley
  • Macclesfield Town A-A Ashton United (abandoned at 0-2)
  • Nantwich Town 2-0 Matlock Town
  • Southport P-P Worcester City
  • Curzon Ashton P-P Nuneaton Town
  • ALTRINCHAM P-P Leamington (rearranged for Tuesday 15th, 7.45pm)
  • AFC Telford United 0-2 Chester FC
  • Stourbridge 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers
  • Gateshead P-P Stocksbridge Park Steels
  • AFC Fylde P-P Skelmersdale United
  • Bradford (Park Avenue) P-P Lincoln City
  • Tranmere Rovers 2-4 Wrexham
  • Eastbourne Borough 7-4 Hemel Hempstead Town
  • Tilbury 3-4 Welling United
  • Truro City 2-2 Cirencester Town
  • Torquay United v Chesham United (Sunday 3pm)
  • Whitehawk 1-3 Dover Athletic
  • Corinthian Casuals 1-2 Hungerford Town
  • Boreham Wood 1-2 Woking
  • Concord Rangers P-P Lowestoft Town
  • Maidstone United 0-1 Bognor Regis Town
  • Cheltenham Town 3-1 Chelmsford City
  • East Thurrock United 1-4 Maidenhead United
  • Oxford City 3-1 Ebbsfleet United
  • Aldershot Town 0-1 Eastleigh
  • Weston Super Mare P-P Wealdstone
  • Havant & Waterlooville 2-0 Forest Green Rovers
  • Bury Town 1-2 Dulwich Hamlet
  • Braintree Town P-P Bromley

Replays must be played on or before Thursday 17 December 2015, kick-off 7.45pm.


12 December 2015

MATCH POSTPONED

Following a pitch inspection this morning, the game between Altrincham and Leamington in the FA Trophy has been postponed. Steady rain has fallen overnight and it continues to rain this morning making the pitch unplayable. The match is now rescheduled for Tuesday, 15 December at 7.45pm.

SAM SIGNS

Altrincham FC is pleased to announce that Sam Heathcote has signed an eighteen-month contract with the club following his step-up from the reserve side this season. Manager Lee Sinnott and assistant boss, Neil Tolson, are extremely pleased with the progreess that Sam has made and were keen to tie up his services for this season and next.

Background: 18 year-old Sam was a junior striker at Manchester United and, following his release, he graduated through Altrincham's youth team and reserves to sign Conference forms, as a back-up for the first-team, in March 2015. He had been converted to a centre-back by United and was included for 2015-16 in the first-team squad. The son of former Alty player and manager, Graham Heathcote, Sam has also represented Cheshire County FA Youth.

So far this season, he has started five first team games and been a used-substitute on seven occasions.

He made a remarkable debut for the first team, coming on as an injury-time substitute against Cheltenham Town on 5 September 2015. Within some ninety seconds he had scored the winning goal!

Sam is pictured, right, with chairman Grahame Rowley, at the signing of his contract.

BEFORE THE GAME

Since our clubs last met, in Conference North, Alty have been promoted to the Vanarama National League and Leamington have been relegated to the Southern League (Premier) so there are now two steps of the pyramid between them.

Mike Garnett provides Alty's record against Leamington and their previous incarnation as AP Leamington.

Record v Leamington FC

  • Home p.1 w.1 f.3 a.2
  • Away p.1 w.1 f.1 a.0
  • Overall p.2 w.2 f.4 a.2

Record v AP Leamington

  • Home p.3 w.2 d.0 l.1 f.9 a.4
  • Away p.3 w.3 d.0 l.0 f.9 a.3
  • Overall p.6 w.5 d.0 l.1 f.18 a.7

Before Saturday's game, the Leamington Courier reported that "Leamington manager Paul Holleran believes Jack Edwards has become a target for opposition players after the midfielder received his second red card of the season at Poole Town on Saturday. A rash challenge from Edwards had already brought him to the attention of referee Ben Knight before the midfielder’s angry reaction to a tackle from Steve Devlin saw Knight dish out a second yellow midway through the first half.

'Teams see Jack Edwards as a threat,' said Holleran. 'Word gets around and clubs like to rough him up a little. He’s got to manage that and I’m pretty sure he will learn. It’s not the first time he’s reacted and experienced players will suss him out. Jack will feel he was caught after the ball had gone and it probably should have been a free-kick but he left his foot there and gave the referee no option. It’s an element of his game that we’ve got to get on top of and it has been dealt with internally.' Holleran had much more sympathy for Jamie Hood, however. The defender received a straight red card for hand ball after throwing himself in the way of a close-range shot, with Holleran deeming it a harsh call from Knight. 'It’s hit Jamie and he’s no more than two or three yards away. The ref’s given a penalty but to send the player off... His interpretation is that it is a clear goalscoring chance but there are about 15 players in the box and about ten, 12 behind the ball.

'I felt sorry for Jamie because, to be 30 games in and only have got four cautions playing centre-half, he hasn’t done too bad.'

The two sending-offs meant Leamington were reduced to nine men for the third time this season, but the Brakes boss was quick to defend his side’s disciplinary record. 'It is a little bit out of character for us. Our disciplinary record has always seen us in the top half of the fair play table. It’s not like we are out of control. We just have these moments. That’s three games, St Neots, Biggleswade and Poole, where we have missed out on points because we didn’t have 11 players on the pitch. We’ve got to learn from it.'

Leamington, who sit fourth in the Southern Premier Division after the 1-0 defeat at Poole, switch their attentions to the FA Trophy tomorrow when they make the trip to Conference Premier side Altrincham... Despite Altrincham’s cup pedigree and the two-division gulf between the sides, Holleran said Brakes will travel to Moss Rose [!]full of belief. 'We’ve got through some difficult games to get here and we know that when it gets to 5pm there will be one or two shocks. We’ve got to cling on to the thought that it might be us and we’ll have a real good go and see where that takes us.'

Ross Oulton will return to the squad tomorrow after suspension while Lee Chilton should be available after missing the trip to Poole due to his partner going into labour. James Mace is back in full training, but Joe Halsall is cup-tied."

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to the Daily Echo, "Eastleigh chief executive Mark Jewell says the club's live TV snub has given them even more incentive to reach the FA Cup fourth round. The Spitfires have missed out on a £144,000 windfall after their FA Cup third-round game against Bolton Wanderers was not chosen as one of the five televised ties.

Instead Exeter v Liverpool, Wycombe v Aston Villa, Spurs v Leicester, Chelsea v Leyton Orient/Scunthorpe United and Manchester United v Sheffield United will be shown live.

Spitfires' chairman Stewart Donald made his views clear, while chief executive Mark Jewell said, 'It would have made a massive difference, not just the money but the spin-offs we would have got from the extra exposure. It's a shame. I'm sure we'll be on the extended highlights package so we'll still get coverage but you can't beat a live game. We're disappointed but they make a commercial decision based on their viewing figures and we're a non-league club playing a Championship club.

'The romance of that is obviously not as as strong as the commercial element, which is why Man United's game has been chosen for years and years. We understand that, but it's disappointing. Not that we need it but there's even more incentive now to get to the fourth round!'

Eastleigh will at least bank £67,000 if they beat Bolton and Jewell expects the tie to be confirmed as a 3pm kick off on Saturday, January 9. He said, 'Being able to play at 3pm on the Saturday is some consolation. We're meeting with the safety advisory group next week but I'm sure playing at the same time as Saints v Crystal Palace won't be a problem. It's an opportunity to showcase the club to a new set of fans. Hopefully a percentage of them will come back and even become season-ticket holders'...

Jewell added, 'First and foremost we've got a big game against Aldershot in the FA Trophy tomorrow'".

From NL Pitchero we learn that "Rob Dickie has extended his loan with Vanarama National League club Cheltenham Town until the end of the season. The defender, on-loan from Sky Bet Championship side Reading, has started every game since joining in August, scoring 2 goals, including the winner on debut against Barrow AFC. 'I'm very happy, it's another half season that can add to my experience. I just want to win games!' said Dickie".


11 December 2015

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR REUNION EVENT

TASC chairman Brian Flynn tells us that, "TASC is organising a reunion of the teams that played against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup 3rd Round ties in both 1979 and 1995. This event will take place on Friday, January 15th 2016 at 7.30pm in the Community Sports Hall.

Tickets will be available at Saturday's FA Trophy game at home to Leamington and can be purchased at the TASC table between 2-3pm or from the club office from Monday-Friday during normal office hours.

Tickets are priced at £15 and include a two-course meal, provided by Club caterer, Richie Bentley.

This should be a great evening of nostalgia, commemorating two magnificent achievements in the history of Altrincham Football Club. For further details or information about this event, please e-mail Brian Flynn or ring him on 07860 561011, or call the club on 0161 928 1045 during office hours from Monday-Friday".

GET YOUR CHRISTMAS KIT!

Ian Senior, in his role as owner of SKkits, announces that he will be at the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday "from 11am with a number of items of club merchandise for sale and also to take any orders for Christmas".

PENSIONERS' CHRISTMAS LUNCH - JUST £10

TASC chairman Brian Flynn announces the Altrincham FC Pensioners' Christmas Lunch details.

He writes, "For the first time, this year's Pensioners' Christmas Lunch will take place in the new Community Sports Hall, at 12.30pm on Wednesday, December 16th.

Our Christmas Chef is Richie Bentley and the menu is as follows:-

  • Cream of Fresh Vegetable Soup
  • Roast Cheshire Turkey (Chipolata Sausages/Chestnut Stuffing) with Sprouts, Carrots & Roast Potatoes
  • Christmas Pudding & Cream
  • Traditional Mince Pies
  • Tea or Coffee
  • Red or White Wine & Soft Drinks will be served with the meal.

All this for just £10!

To reserve your place at this festive culinary extravaganza simply pick up the phone and call the Football Club on 0161 928 1045 or send an email here."

JORDANIAN VISITORS AT ALTY

Grahame Rowley advises that Altrincham FC's former Police Liaison Officer, "Steve Lewis, brought a group of Jordanian senior Police Commanders down to the J. Davidson stadium so that they could see how policing / stewarding is carried out in this country. Jordan will be hosting the EUFA Women's Under-17 tournament next October. Steve Lewis spent a week out in Jordan looking at their facilities and this was the return trip, sponsored by the British Embassy.

The visitors arrived last Friday and went to watch Manchester United v West Ham on Saturday as well as Manchester City on Tuesday. However, most of their stadiums are the same size as the J. Davidson stadium and thus it was a better environment to teach/advice them on policing/stewarding of games".

NW NEWS

The National League reports that "Stalybridge Celtic chairman Rob Gorski has announced a groundshare agreement with Oldham Rugby League Club. Gorski said, 'I have long said to the Board that we need to "sweat the asset" that is Stalybridge Celtic, much more. In simple terms, we cannot simply use the place once every two weeks. We need to have a new social club that, ideally, will be two storeys high, where we can rent it out several days a week, we need to utilise the lounge more often and so on. Similarly, we need to look at optimising the pitch itself.

'With that in mind, I am delighted to announce that 2016 will see us have a groundshare, with a difference! Commencing Sunday, 7th February, we shall be hosting the home games for Oldham Rugby League Club. This will continue until the end of the rugby league season, which is September. Oldham's chairman Chris Hamilton rang me a couple of weeks ago explaining their situation and although, after SIX failed attempts to gain promotion to the Championship, they finally succeeded last season, they still needed a Championship-graded ground to play in.

Oldham hosted St. Helens at our ground in 2002 with over 4,000 watching. We hope that Oldham can enjoy many more great days at Bower Fold in the months ahead. 'I have discussed the whole concept with manager Liam Watson and, being a very commercially astute guy, he sees the bigger picture and is right behind the new partnership. Rugby League does not have contested scrums where union players dig deep into the surface and they use tees now for conversions too. Moreover, we play on the Saturday, then Oldham on the Sunday and so Pete Owens, our brilliant groundsman, will actually have twelve days to get the pitch ready for our next home game.

'Financially, it is much-needed revenue and we cannot turn away this opportunity. I think that it is great for the club and for local fans, it's also an opportunity to watch Championship level Rugby League with teams like the Bradford Bulls coming to visit'".

OLD BOY

The Guardian has images from Duncan Watmore's graduation ceremony at Newcastle University.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

From Torquay United we learn that The Gulls have "released striker, Ashley Yeoman. It ends a seven-year association with the club for the 23 year-old, who came through the youth ranks here".

Alty's next league opponents, Cheltenham Town announce that "Winger Ryan Jennings has extended his loan stay with the Robins until at least the end of January from Wigan Athletic. The speedy midfielder has started the last two matches for Gary Johnson's side".

In the LIncolnshire Echo we learn that "Bob Dorrian believes the new financial investment due to be ploughed into Lincoln City could help secure them a place in the National League play-offs. The Imps have announced they are close to securing a long-term seven-figure cash injection from an overseas investor in the coming weeks. A total of around £1million is expected to be pumped into the club over the next five years, with Dorrian hoping some could be used during the upcoming January transfer window.

The Imps are currently out of the top five in the National League on goal difference and Dorrian revealed he has already had conversations with manager Chris Moyses about providing the financial support he needs to seal a play-off berth at the end of the season. 'The ambition has been to get a play-off place and hopefully this investment can make that happen,' said Dorrian. 'It will all come down to how Chris Moyses decides he wants to spend the money... He proved over the summer that he knows what needs to be done in terms of recruitment. He has worked hard to bring the right players in and forge a togetherness that I believe has been fundamental in bringing the success we have seen so far. It is up to us to make sure he has the money to get over the line.'

The identity of the investor has yet to be made public, but City's acting managing director Kevin Cooke says he has attended games at Sincil Bank and has children at university in this country... 'Although it's a seven-figure sum, he won't be taking over the club,' said Cooke. 'That would need a much bigger sum of money because we've got around 800 shareholders. It's not enough money to take over the club, but then he's not interested in that. He doesn't want to buy a club and run it; he just wants to be part of it and he will join the board. He's fanatical about the club. He follows us online and he emails me every other day and he speaks to the chairman every week.

'He's very, very passionate and I'm really looking forward to working with him.' While Dorrian and Cook have said they are '99.9 per cent' confident the money is coming in, Imps boss Moyses is understandably refusing to count his chickens... He views the news the club has finally agreed a deal with the Co-operative Bank as the most encouraging... The deal the club brokered will see City pay the Co-operative Bank back the mortgage it holds on the Play Zone facility to the tune of £70,000 and also an overdraft of up to £300,000.

Dorrian has provided a loan to pay off the mortgage, while the club will have to find £25,000 a year for the next 10 years, then £10,000 a year for the following five years, to pay off the remaining debt. 'It means we need to find more savings and more ways to raise money,' admitted Dorrian... 'Some of the investment coming in could go to plugging that gap but we are well aware that we need to make sure we do not take money away from the playing budget to pay off our debts'...

Dorrian revealed in his programme notes last season that the club was operating on a wage bill to the tune of around £500,000. However, by his own estimates, a club needs to have a budget of around £750,000 if it wants to pull together a strong, competitive squad for the division... The Imps' situation will be made trickier next season following the Football League's decision to increase parachute payments to the teams which are relegated into the National League this coming summer.

As it stood, a team going down would have a payment of around £200,000 in the first season and a further £25,000 the season after... Next season, though, the Football League has decided to give the full amount as a parachute payment, believed to be around £800,000, and then the following season it will be half that sum...

Said Dorrian, 'The league table is making good reading, even in the face of last weekend's defeat at Woking. 'Off the field we have been strengthening our relationships with the fans. Our bi-monthly meetings with different supporters' organisations have been a really good way of making people aware of our situation'...

Lincoln City secured their financial future after agreeing a deal to pay off their debts to the Co-operative Bank... The two parties agreed a deal which will be signed off at today's board meeting. The £70,000 mortgage for the PlayZone soft-play area next to the club's ground has been paid up. Dorrian loaned the Imps the full amount and as a result brought his loans with the club up to £157,000. The £300,000 overdraft has been structured into two payments. A total of £150,000 has been packaged as a loan, which the club will pay off over a 15-year duration. The other £150,000 will remain as an overdraft, but it will be reduced by £15,000 each year for the next 10 years".

The National League reports that "January will for most Vanarama National League clubs involve cup competitions aplenty but the chase for promotion at the start of 2016 will remain uppermost as important league fixtures come thick and fast too.

BT Sport have selected a mouth-watering taste for viewers on Sunday, 24th January with a lunchtime appetiser in the shape of Dover Athletic versus Cheltenham Town... The match will kick-off at 12.15pm at The Crabble Ground."


15 December 2015

ALTRINCHAM v LEAMINGTON: LIVE MATCH COVERAGE

You can follow this fixture via this website's minute by minute text updates by clicking on the icon below. Alternatively, Radio Robins' coverage of the game is outlined below as well.

updatesPC updatesMOBI radiorobins

Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, is providing full live commentary of Saturday's game at The J.Davidson Stadium. The commentators are Paul Salt & Brian Flynn & the match summariser is John Edwards. Coverage starts at 7.35pm & you can listen to Radio Robins on the internet at http://www.radiorobins.com/

Should a replay be necessary it will be on Tuesday, 22 December. The winners of the tie travel to Bognor Regis Town in the Second Round on 16th January.

BOGNOR REGIS TOWN

Sussex-coast club, Bognor Regis Town, a.k.a. "The Rocks", lie in wait for either Altrincham or Leamington after Tuesday's FA Trophy match at the J. Davidson Stadium. The Rocks won their First Round tie away at Maidstone, 1-0, thanks to a goal by Chike Kandi. Currently lying seventh in the Ryman Premier, Bognor Regis Town "have confirmed that agreement has been reached with Brighton & Hove Albion that Chike Kandi’s loan will be extended for a further month. Tomorrow’s game at Hendon would have been Chike’s last for The Rocks, but his loan will now expire on January 9th". The tie against Alty or Leamington is the folllowing Saturday (16th).

The Ryman League reports that "Dulwich Hamlet and Bognor Regis Town are looking forward to flying the flag for the Ryman League in the FA Trophy in the New Year... The Rocks, who knocked out National South Maidenhead United in Berkshire at the weekend [hmm, it was actually a win against Maidstone United in Kent!] after Luke Kandi's 17th winner, were also rewarded with a home tie with either Evo-Stik League Southern Leamington or National League Altrincham arriving at Nyewood Lane on Saturday 16 January.

As well as a place in the last 16, both top flight clubs will also collect a further £6000 in prize money if they can keep their runs going after Christmas in Non-League's showpiece competition."

Bognor Regis Town add that "As a result of our win in the FA Trophy, our Ryman League match on Saturday 16th January at home to VCD Athletic will need to be rearranged... The club have also applied for our League match at Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday 12th January to be postponed, in line with Ryman League rules. This is designed to provide as much support as possible to Ryman League clubs who reach the latter stages of the FA Trophy and FA Cup". Should Alty be their opponents, they have a midweek game at home to wrexham scheduled for Tuesday 12th January, whilst Leamington are set to play a local cup match on the Wednesday.

SUPPORTERS' TEAM PROGRESS

Jack Jolly writes that "Despite the poor weather of recent weeks, the Altrincham FC supporters' team finished top of our group in the North West Cup. After emerging from a strong group with Manchester Utd, Bury and Morecambe, we face Runcorn at home in the last eight. We're constantly on the look for new players. We train 8-9pm on Mondays at Timperley CC and play home games at Walton Park, Sale with the odd local away game.

If you're interested in training, or playing, come down to Timperley Astro 8-9pm Monday, or contact me at home games".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to the Chester Standard, "Steve Burr has revealed that he intends to ring the changes at Chester FC in the New Year. The Chester boss admitted he is aiming to secure two new signings when the transfer window opens on January 1.

'We've found it tough again to break into the top half of the league table but that's something that we're really trying to do this season,' Burr said. 'It may mean, come January, that we look at shifting one or two players around and bringing one or two new faces in. So far the loan players and people we have brought in have not really hit the heights that I expected, but sometimes that happens.'

Burr has signed seven loan players this season who have included strikers Calum Dyson, Jamie McDonagh, Josh O'Hanlon and James Roberts as well as current loanees Alex Whitmore, Ryan Lloyd, and Danny Hattersley from FC Halifax Town. Roberts is the only loan forward to have scored for Chester, but Burr is keen to find strikers who can provide back-up for the Blues leading marksman Ross Hannah who bagged both goals in Saturday's 2-0 FA Trophy win at AFC Telford United.

And Burr is now hoping his club can be rewarded with a home second round tie after a succession of away ties during his last two years with the Blues. [They have since drawn a home tie against Hungerford Town]. He said, 'We've just got used to playing away in the FA Trophy, but it would be nice to get a home tie! It's a competition I'd like to do well in. We had a terrific following again at Telford on a really wet day... It was good to see us playing so well and I thought we won the game comfortably in the end'...

Chester will entertain Torquay United this Saturday in their final game before a busy festive programme that sees the Blues travel to Altrincham on Boxing Day, play host to Macclesfield Town on Monday, December 28, before entertaining Macclesfield on Saturday, January 2. Burr added, 'As a player I loved the Christmas period, and as a manager I've always loved the Christmas period. Last year wasn't great... If you'red not winning matches then you don't enjoy it.

'We've had a tough run of games, but I think if we can eradicate some of the mistakes which we've made and score when we get opportunities then I'm quietly confident that the lads we've got are good enough to compete at this level'.

Chester have recalled midfielder Sam Hughes from a loan spell at Witton Albion, who has made just six first team appearances for the Blues as a substitute".

The National League "is extremely pleased to announce their title sponsors Vanarama have agreed to extend their current partnership timeline to the end of the 2016/17 season (31 May 2017).

The breaking news was announced at a function at The House of Lords by chairman Brian Barwick to the assembled guests, which included representatives of other football bodies, alongside additional sponsors and partners of The National League.

Founder and MD of Vanarama, Andy Alderson commented, 'We're really delighted and proud to continue as title sponsors of The National League for a third season. The sponsorship has played a huge part in the growth of our brand. It's delivered everything that I hoped for when we first entered into the deal but, because of the support we have had from the League and its member clubs, the results have far exceeded our expectations,.

In response Brian Barwick said.. 'We too are proud to play our part in the brand growth of Vanarama, knowing the very competitive field in which they operate their business'".


14 December 2015

BOGNOR FOR WINNERS OF TUESDAY'S TIE

The winners of Alty v Leamington FA Trophy tie on Tuesday will travel to Sussex to play Bognor Regis Town of the Ryman Premier in Round Two. The full draw is..

FA Trophy Second Round Proper, matches to be played on Saturday 16 January, 2016.

  • Dulwich Hamlet v Guiseley
  • Dover Athletic v Southport / Worcester
  • Havant & Waterlooville v Welling United
  • Truro City v Macclesfield / Ashton Utd
  • Braintree Town / Bromley v Stourbridge
  • Chester v Hungerford Town
  • Eastbourne Borough v AFC Fylde / Skelmersdale Utd
  • Sutton U/ Concord R/ Lowestoft v Curzon Ashton
  • Torquay U. v Wrexham
  • Grimsby T / Solihull Moors v Weston Super Mare / Wealdstone
  • FC Halifax Town v Barrow
  • Eastleigh v Gateshead
  • Bognor Regis Town v Altrincham / Leamington
  • Bradford PA / Lincoln C v Nantwich Town
  • Woking v Maidenhead United
  • Oxford City v Cheltenham Town

TROPHY ON TUESDAY

Following the postponement of Saturday's FA Trophy tie at home to Leamington, the match has been rescheduled for this Tuesday (15th) at 7.45pm. Should a replay be necessary, that would take place on Tuesday, 22 December.

Above: AFC official photographer Gavin Rathbone captures Kyle Perry's goal against Leamington at Moss Lane in January 2014. Alty won the game 3-2.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

From NL Pitchero comes news that "Vanarama National League South club Truro City have entered a 'groundshare' agreement with National League outfit Torquay United to play their matches at Plainmoor next season. The Gulls have made no official announcement, but Truro chairman Peter Masters has issued a statement confirming the deal.

Truro are due to leave their current Treyew Road ground at the end of this season, but a new stadium has been plagued with difficulties. 'The plan is that we will vacate here after the final game at the end of April and start at Torquay,"', said Masters. 'We have the whole season booked there if we need it but, if the new ground is finished, we can go back and play there'".

On the pitch "Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division club Chesham United earned a replay in the FA Trophy First Round by holding Vanarama National League side Torquay United to a goalless draw at the Launa Windows Stadium on Sunday.

The Generals, who enjoyed a fine run in the FA Cup, were pegged back in the early stages with Louis Briscoe especially prominent for the home side... Chesham`s veteran striker Barry Hayles went close to breaking the deadlock, but the home defence managed to smother the chance.

Near the end Lavercombe denied Dave Pearce with a fine fingertip save as Chesham came closest to scoring and winning the tie, but they will have to do it all again at The Meadow on Tuesday. "

Not altogether surprising news of a former opponent comes from NL Pitchero which reports that "According to the club, Thomas Guerriero has resigned as a director of Oxford City (Trading) Ltd due to continuing concerns about his health. Since his appointment to the Board in March 2013, Guerriero has worked tirelessly bringing sponsorship to the club. He has been seriously unwell for several months and has recently endured repeated surgery.

However, it has also been revealed that Guerriero has been charged by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with a 'classic boiler room fraud' relating to the club. A statement claims Guerriero touted his company, Oxford City Football Club Inc., as being 'the largest publicly traded diversified portfolio of professional sports teams in the world.' It made claims of profits of over $700million over the next five years including nearly $500million from an online university that simply did not exist, and $20million from a radio station they did not own. It also claimed to own $100million of land and stadia that were actually Council owned.

The company was then touted to mailing lists with pressure tactics to earn a reported $6.5million in share sales from unsuspecting buyers, who were lured in on the back of promises of 50c a share returns in the first year. The $6.5million is a similar figure to that attributable to 'consulting fees' paid to Guerriero by his company (link), with a total book debt of over $17million. Guerriero took over the club in April 2013, promising a new stadium and expanded facilities.

He rebranded a failed Texas based indoor league side to the Oxford City name, claiming at the time he owed three 'professional' English clubs, essentially the Oxford City first-team, their Nomads side in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, and a futsal side, and the stadia they play in. He also claimed a 'professional' basketball team in Oxford that currently plies its trade in the amateur fifth tier of the English League."

The Liverpool Echo reports that "Gary Brabin insisted he will not stand down as Tranmere manager after they suffered an eighth defeat in twelve games. The alarming slump continued with a 4-2 defeat at home to Wrexham as Rovers were dumped out of the FA Trophy...

'I’m confident in what I’m doing,' he said. 'I understand the frustration because results need to be better. I’m alarmed at the goals we’re conceding. We are working hard to put it right. I don’t mind the frustration being aimed at me. But I just ask, can we give the lads a little bit more... What we don’t want is that frustration spilling out onto the players.'

One particularly vocal section of the Tranmere fanbase showed their anger at yet another defeat once Wrexham struck their fourth goal... The manager struggled to answer whether he had the backing of Mark Palios. 'The chairman loves the club... He’s got the club at heart. He feels the frustration and I feel like I’m letting him down as well. I’ve been brought here for two years to get the club back on track... It’s uncomfortable for me to come here and answer the question, because I understand the fans' frustration'...

One positive from the performance was a brace for striker James Norwood. That takes his tally for the season to nine...

'I’m not really taking any pluses from today', he continued... 'We feel like everything’s against us and we need to just roll out sleeves up, keep battling on and working hard'".

Barrow boss Paul Cox told the NW Evening Mail, "I do think the squad needs strengthening, I've already spoken to the board and the chairman (Paul Casson). I think that the lack of quality in depth - I think there are some good players at the club that I wouldlike to add to. You look at us now, we are basically down to the bare bones, we've got two available recognised central-midfielders in the squad at the minute and, even if I could do it (bring players in) before January, with one or two players with potential and that I've got my eye on, then I'll do it. We've got our hands tied a little bit in this period because we can only go for players from the Conference North and South and below.

But I've done a lot of scouting over the past couple of months and I know a lot of young players who could step up and could do it for this month. This month is going to be tough for us because of the lack of numbers; the injuries and suspensions. But that doesn't give us any excuse to feel sorry for ourselves. If anything it gives people the opportunity to put themselves into my mind and tell me that they want to stay at this club."


13 December 2015

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

Stockport County report that "County and Wrexham FC have agreed to instruct the FA to withdraw the request to FIFA for validation of Kayden Jackson's loan deal to the Hatters. Although the loan is within permitted regulations, due to County playing outside The Football League and the National League's top flight, validation was required from FIFA due to the transfer window being closed until 2nd January.

Despite The FA making the request on Tuesday 1st December, and persistent efforts from SCFC, FIFA had yet to confirm or deny the request at close of business on Friday 11th December, some eight working days later. The FA Wales had given assurances that they would act promptly to issue International Clearance once FIFA had validated the request, which after numerous phone calls and emails has not been forthcoming leaving both clubs and the player in limbo.

Kayden will rejoin Wrexham for their trip to Tranmere Rovers in the FA Trophy."

From the Bury Times we learn that "Bury have recalled Anthony Dudley from his loan spell at Guiseley with immediate effect. The striker scored five goals in seven games for the National League side but manager David Flitcroft has opted to activate the 19-year-old's 24-hour recall clause... Flitcroft was left short of options after Chris Hussey was ruled out with a virus and Leon Clarke failed to recover from a knock picked up against Rochdale last weekend".

FA TROPHY FIRST ROUND

The FA Trophy First Round proper rewards the winners with £5,000 apiece...

  • FC Halifax Town P-P Tamworth
  • Grimsby Town 1-1 Solihull Moors
  • Sutton Coldfield Town 0-1 Barrow
  • Burscough 2-2 Guiseley
  • Macclesfield Town A-A Ashton United (abandoned at 0-2)
  • Nantwich Town 2-0 Matlock Town
  • Southport P-P Worcester City
  • Curzon Ashton P-P Nuneaton Town
  • ALTRINCHAM P-P Leamington (rearranged for Tuesday 15th, 7.45pm)
  • AFC Telford United 0-2 Chester FC
  • Stourbridge 2-1 Kidderminster Harriers
  • Gateshead P-P Stocksbridge Park Steels
  • AFC Fylde P-P Skelmersdale United
  • Bradford (Park Avenue) P-P Lincoln City
  • Tranmere Rovers 2-4 Wrexham
  • Eastbourne Borough 7-4 Hemel Hempstead Town
  • Tilbury 3-4 Welling United
  • Truro City 2-2 Cirencester Town
  • Torquay United v Chesham United (Sunday 3pm)
  • Whitehawk 1-3 Dover Athletic
  • Corinthian Casuals 1-2 Hungerford Town
  • Boreham Wood 1-2 Woking
  • Concord Rangers P-P Lowestoft Town
  • Maidstone United 0-1 Bognor Regis Town
  • Cheltenham Town 3-1 Chelmsford City
  • East Thurrock United 1-4 Maidenhead United
  • Oxford City 3-1 Ebbsfleet United
  • Aldershot Town 0-1 Eastleigh
  • Weston Super Mare P-P Wealdstone
  • Havant & Waterlooville 2-0 Forest Green Rovers
  • Bury Town 1-2 Dulwich Hamlet
  • Braintree Town P-P Bromley

Replays must be played on or before Thursday 17 December 2015, kick-off 7.45pm.


12 December 2015

MATCH POSTPONED

Following a pitch inspection this morning, the game between Altrincham and Leamington in the FA Trophy has been postponed. Steady rain has fallen overnight and it continues to rain this morning making the pitch unplayable. The match is now rescheduled for Tuesday, 15 December at 7.45pm.

SAM SIGNS

Altrincham FC is pleased to announce that Sam Heathcote has signed an eighteen-month contract with the club following his step-up from the reserve side this season. Manager Lee Sinnott and assistant boss, Neil Tolson, are extremely pleased with the progreess that Sam has made and were keen to tie up his services for this season and next.

Background: 18 year-old Sam was a junior striker at Manchester United and, following his release, he graduated through Altrincham's youth team and reserves to sign Conference forms, as a back-up for the first-team, in March 2015. He had been converted to a centre-back by United and was included for 2015-16 in the first-team squad. The son of former Alty player and manager, Graham Heathcote, Sam has also represented Cheshire County FA Youth.

So far this season, he has started five first team games and been a used-substitute on seven occasions.

He made a remarkable debut for the first team, coming on as an injury-time substitute against Cheltenham Town on 5 September 2015. Within some ninety seconds he had scored the winning goal!

Sam is pictured, right, with chairman Grahame Rowley, at the signing of his contract.

BEFORE THE GAME

Since our clubs last met, in Conference North, Alty have been promoted to the Vanarama National League and Leamington have been relegated to the Southern League (Premier) so there are now two steps of the pyramid between them.

Mike Garnett provides Alty's record against Leamington and their previous incarnation as AP Leamington.

Record v Leamington FC

  • Home p.1 w.1 f.3 a.2
  • Away p.1 w.1 f.1 a.0
  • Overall p.2 w.2 f.4 a.2

Record v AP Leamington

  • Home p.3 w.2 d.0 l.1 f.9 a.4
  • Away p.3 w.3 d.0 l.0 f.9 a.3
  • Overall p.6 w.5 d.0 l.1 f.18 a.7

Before Saturday's game, the Leamington Courier reported that "Leamington manager Paul Holleran believes Jack Edwards has become a target for opposition players after the midfielder received his second red card of the season at Poole Town on Saturday. A rash challenge from Edwards had already brought him to the attention of referee Ben Knight before the midfielder’s angry reaction to a tackle from Steve Devlin saw Knight dish out a second yellow midway through the first half.

'Teams see Jack Edwards as a threat,' said Holleran. 'Word gets around and clubs like to rough him up a little. He’s got to manage that and I’m pretty sure he will learn. It’s not the first time he’s reacted and experienced players will suss him out. Jack will feel he was caught after the ball had gone and it probably should have been a free-kick but he left his foot there and gave the referee no option. It’s an element of his game that we’ve got to get on top of and it has been dealt with internally.' Holleran had much more sympathy for Jamie Hood, however. The defender received a straight red card for hand ball after throwing himself in the way of a close-range shot, with Holleran deeming it a harsh call from Knight. 'It’s hit Jamie and he’s no more than two or three yards away. The ref’s given a penalty but to send the player off... His interpretation is that it is a clear goalscoring chance but there are about 15 players in the box and about ten, 12 behind the ball.

'I felt sorry for Jamie because, to be 30 games in and only have got four cautions playing centre-half, he hasn’t done too bad.'

The two sending-offs meant Leamington were reduced to nine men for the third time this season, but the Brakes boss was quick to defend his side’s disciplinary record. 'It is a little bit out of character for us. Our disciplinary record has always seen us in the top half of the fair play table. It’s not like we are out of control. We just have these moments. That’s three games, St Neots, Biggleswade and Poole, where we have missed out on points because we didn’t have 11 players on the pitch. We’ve got to learn from it.'

Leamington, who sit fourth in the Southern Premier Division after the 1-0 defeat at Poole, switch their attentions to the FA Trophy tomorrow when they make the trip to Conference Premier side Altrincham... Despite Altrincham’s cup pedigree and the two-division gulf between the sides, Holleran said Brakes will travel to Moss Rose [!]full of belief. 'We’ve got through some difficult games to get here and we know that when it gets to 5pm there will be one or two shocks. We’ve got to cling on to the thought that it might be us and we’ll have a real good go and see where that takes us.'

Ross Oulton will return to the squad tomorrow after suspension while Lee Chilton should be available after missing the trip to Poole due to his partner going into labour. James Mace is back in full training, but Joe Halsall is cup-tied."

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

According to the Daily Echo, "Eastleigh chief executive Mark Jewell says the club's live TV snub has given them even more incentive to reach the FA Cup fourth round. The Spitfires have missed out on a £144,000 windfall after their FA Cup third-round game against Bolton Wanderers was not chosen as one of the five televised ties.

Instead Exeter v Liverpool, Wycombe v Aston Villa, Spurs v Leicester, Chelsea v Leyton Orient/Scunthorpe United and Manchester United v Sheffield United will be shown live.

Spitfires' chairman Stewart Donald made his views clear, while chief executive Mark Jewell said, 'It would have made a massive difference, not just the money but the spin-offs we would have got from the extra exposure. It's a shame. I'm sure we'll be on the extended highlights package so we'll still get coverage but you can't beat a live game. We're disappointed but they make a commercial decision based on their viewing figures and we're a non-league club playing a Championship club.

'The romance of that is obviously not as as strong as the commercial element, which is why Man United's game has been chosen for years and years. We understand that, but it's disappointing. Not that we need it but there's even more incentive now to get to the fourth round!'

Eastleigh will at least bank £67,000 if they beat Bolton and Jewell expects the tie to be confirmed as a 3pm kick off on Saturday, January 9. He said, 'Being able to play at 3pm on the Saturday is some consolation. We're meeting with the safety advisory group next week but I'm sure playing at the same time as Saints v Crystal Palace won't be a problem. It's an opportunity to showcase the club to a new set of fans. Hopefully a percentage of them will come back and even become season-ticket holders'...

Jewell added, 'First and foremost we've got a big game against Aldershot in the FA Trophy tomorrow'".

From NL Pitchero we learn that "Rob Dickie has extended his loan with Vanarama National League club Cheltenham Town until the end of the season. The defender, on-loan from Sky Bet Championship side Reading, has started every game since joining in August, scoring 2 goals, including the winner on debut against Barrow AFC. 'I'm very happy, it's another half season that can add to my experience. I just want to win games!' said Dickie".


11 December 2015

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR REUNION EVENT

TASC chairman Brian Flynn tells us that, "TASC is organising a reunion of the teams that played against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup 3rd Round ties in both 1979 and 1995. This event will take place on Friday, January 15th 2016 at 7.30pm in the Community Sports Hall.

Tickets will be available at Saturday's FA Trophy game at home to Leamington and can be purchased at the TASC table between 2-3pm or from the club office from Monday-Friday during normal office hours.

Tickets are priced at £15 and include a two-course meal, provided by Club caterer, Richie Bentley.

This should be a great evening of nostalgia, commemorating two magnificent achievements in the history of Altrincham Football Club. For further details or information about this event, please e-mail Brian Flynn or ring him on 07860 561011, or call the club on 0161 928 1045 during office hours from Monday-Friday".

GET YOUR CHRISTMAS KIT!

Ian Senior, in his role as owner of SKkits, announces that he will be at the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday "from 11am with a number of items of club merchandise for sale and also to take any orders for Christmas".

PENSIONERS' CHRISTMAS LUNCH - JUST £10

TASC chairman Brian Flynn announces the Altrincham FC Pensioners' Christmas Lunch details.

He writes, "For the first time, this year's Pensioners' Christmas Lunch will take place in the new Community Sports Hall, at 12.30pm on Wednesday, December 16th.

Our Christmas Chef is Richie Bentley and the menu is as follows:-

  • Cream of Fresh Vegetable Soup
  • Roast Cheshire Turkey (Chipolata Sausages/Chestnut Stuffing) with Sprouts, Carrots & Roast Potatoes
  • Christmas Pudding & Cream
  • Traditional Mince Pies
  • Tea or Coffee
  • Red or White Wine & Soft Drinks will be served with the meal.

All this for just £10!

To reserve your place at this festive culinary extravaganza simply pick up the phone and call the Football Club on 0161 928 1045 or send an email here."

JORDANIAN VISITORS AT ALTY

Grahame Rowley advises that Altrincham FC's former Police Liaison Officer, "Steve Lewis, brought a group of Jordanian senior Police Commanders down to the J. Davidson stadium so that they could see how policing / stewarding is carried out in this country. Jordan will be hosting the EUFA Women's Under-17 tournament next October. Steve Lewis spent a week out in Jordan looking at their facilities and this was the return trip, sponsored by the British Embassy.

The visitors arrived last Friday and went to watch Manchester United v West Ham on Saturday as well as Manchester City on Tuesday. However, most of their stadiums are the same size as the J. Davidson stadium and thus it was a better environment to teach/advice them on policing/stewarding of games".

NW NEWS

The National League reports that "Stalybridge Celtic chairman Rob Gorski has announced a groundshare agreement with Oldham Rugby League Club. Gorski said, 'I have long said to the Board that we need to "sweat the asset" that is Stalybridge Celtic, much more. In simple terms, we cannot simply use the place once every two weeks. We need to have a new social club that, ideally, will be two storeys high, where we can rent it out several days a week, we need to utilise the lounge more often and so on. Similarly, we need to look at optimising the pitch itself.

'With that in mind, I am delighted to announce that 2016 will see us have a groundshare, with a difference! Commencing Sunday, 7th February, we shall be hosting the home games for Oldham Rugby League Club. This will continue until the end of the rugby league season, which is September. Oldham's chairman Chris Hamilton rang me a couple of weeks ago explaining their situation and although, after SIX failed attempts to gain promotion to the Championship, they finally succeeded last season, they still needed a Championship-graded ground to play in.

Oldham hosted St. Helens at our ground in 2002 with over 4,000 watching. We hope that Oldham can enjoy many more great days at Bower Fold in the months ahead. 'I have discussed the whole concept with manager Liam Watson and, being a very commercially astute guy, he sees the bigger picture and is right behind the new partnership. Rugby League does not have contested scrums where union players dig deep into the surface and they use tees now for conversions too. Moreover, we play on the Saturday, then Oldham on the Sunday and so Pete Owens, our brilliant groundsman, will actually have twelve days to get the pitch ready for our next home game.

'Financially, it is much-needed revenue and we cannot turn away this opportunity. I think that it is great for the club and for local fans, it's also an opportunity to watch Championship level Rugby League with teams like the Bradford Bulls coming to visit'".

OLD BOY

The Guardian has images from Duncan Watmore's graduation ceremony at Newcastle University.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

From Torquay United we learn that The Gulls have "released striker, Ashley Yeoman. It ends a seven-year association with the club for the 23 year-old, who came through the youth ranks here".

Alty's next league opponents, Cheltenham Town announce that "Winger Ryan Jennings has extended his loan stay with the Robins until at least the end of January from Wigan Athletic. The speedy midfielder has started the last two matches for Gary Johnson's side".

In the LIncolnshire Echo we learn that "Bob Dorrian believes the new financial investment due to be ploughed into Lincoln City could help secure them a place in the National League play-offs. The Imps have announced they are close to securing a long-term seven-figure cash injection from an overseas investor in the coming weeks. A total of around £1million is expected to be pumped into the club over the next five years, with Dorrian hoping some could be used during the upcoming January transfer window.

The Imps are currently out of the top five in the National League on goal difference and Dorrian revealed he has already had conversations with manager Chris Moyses about providing the financial support he needs to seal a play-off berth at the end of the season. 'The ambition has been to get a play-off place and hopefully this investment can make that happen,' said Dorrian. 'It will all come down to how Chris Moyses decides he wants to spend the money... He proved over the summer that he knows what needs to be done in terms of recruitment. He has worked hard to bring the right players in and forge a togetherness that I believe has been fundamental in bringing the success we have seen so far. It is up to us to make sure he has the money to get over the line.'

The identity of the investor has yet to be made public, but City's acting managing director Kevin Cooke says he has attended games at Sincil Bank and has children at university in this country... 'Although it's a seven-figure sum, he won't be taking over the club,' said Cooke. 'That would need a much bigger sum of money because we've got around 800 shareholders. It's not enough money to take over the club, but then he's not interested in that. He doesn't want to buy a club and run it; he just wants to be part of it and he will join the board. He's fanatical about the club. He follows us online and he emails me every other day and he speaks to the chairman every week.

'He's very, very passionate and I'm really looking forward to working with him.' While Dorrian and Cook have said they are '99.9 per cent' confident the money is coming in, Imps boss Moyses is understandably refusing to count his chickens... He views the news the club has finally agreed a deal with the Co-operative Bank as the most encouraging... The deal the club brokered will see City pay the Co-operative Bank back the mortgage it holds on the Play Zone facility to the tune of £70,000 and also an overdraft of up to £300,000.

Dorrian has provided a loan to pay off the mortgage, while the club will have to find £25,000 a year for the next 10 years, then £10,000 a year for the following five years, to pay off the remaining debt. 'It means we need to find more savings and more ways to raise money,' admitted Dorrian... 'Some of the investment coming in could go to plugging that gap but we are well aware that we need to make sure we do not take money away from the playing budget to pay off our debts'...

Dorrian revealed in his programme notes last season that the club was operating on a wage bill to the tune of around £500,000. However, by his own estimates, a club needs to have a budget of around £750,000 if it wants to pull together a strong, competitive squad for the division... The Imps' situation will be made trickier next season following the Football League's decision to increase parachute payments to the teams which are relegated into the National League this coming summer.

As it stood, a team going down would have a payment of around £200,000 in the first season and a further £25,000 the season after... Next season, though, the Football League has decided to give the full amount as a parachute payment, believed to be around £800,000, and then the following season it will be half that sum...

Said Dorrian, 'The league table is making good reading, even in the face of last weekend's defeat at Woking. 'Off the field we have been strengthening our relationships with the fans. Our bi-monthly meetings with different supporters' organisations have been a really good way of making people aware of our situation'...

Lincoln City secured their financial future after agreeing a deal to pay off their debts to the Co-operative Bank... The two parties agreed a deal which will be signed off at today's board meeting. The £70,000 mortgage for the PlayZone soft-play area next to the club's ground has been paid up. Dorrian loaned the Imps the full amount and as a result brought his loans with the club up to £157,000. The £300,000 overdraft has been structured into two payments. A total of £150,000 has been packaged as a loan, which the club will pay off over a 15-year duration. The other £150,000 will remain as an overdraft, but it will be reduced by £15,000 each year for the next 10 years".

The National League reports that "January will for most Vanarama National League clubs involve cup competitions aplenty but the chase for promotion at the start of 2016 will remain uppermost as important league fixtures come thick and fast too.

BT Sport have selected a mouth-watering taste for viewers on Sunday, 24th January with a lunchtime appetiser in the shape of Dover Athletic versus Cheltenham Town... The match will kick-off at 12.15pm at The Crabble Ground."


10 December 2015

RADIO ROBINS

Brian Flynn writes that "We weren't able to record the first half of Sunday's game but the second-half commentary, preceded by an interview with Josh O'Keefe and Stuart Coburn, is here.

YOUTH EDUCATION TEAM RESULT

The Altrincham FC Football Careers, Scholarship & Education Programme team lost 4-1 away to FC Halifax Town on Wednesday.

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The Liverpool Echo reports that "A recent slump in form has not blown Tranmere's promotion ambitions off course, chairman Mark Palios says. Rovers remain within six points of the play-offs zone in spite of taking only eight points from the last 30 at stake in the National League.

Palios said, 'At the start of the season our aim was to ensure we were at least in the play-offs. There's still plenty of time to achieve this aim. If we get to the play-offs, we feel we have a chance because will be taking on teams who come out and play. We have been okay in games against the best teams. What we have not done effectively is deal with teams for whom playing us is their cup final.'

Palios says he has regular discussions with manager Gary Brabin. 'I can talk on the technical side with the manager, which most club chairman can't do,' he said. The former chief executive of the FA admits to being "more impatient the most" to see results take an upward turn. He added, 'I understand that [there is] a lot of the frustration among fans. But I asked them to keep the faith and be patient."'".

The same source adds that "Chairman Mark Palios insists advances in turning around Tranmere’s off-the-field operations are not being made at the expense of boardroom focus on team affairs. Rovers have made rapid progress in upgrading facilities at Prenton Park so they can generate non-match day revenue for the club.

A new five pitch training set-up at Solar Campus in Wallasey is due to open in time for the start of next season, a Futsal facility, opened at Prenton Park in September, is proving hugely popular while commercial and sponsorship revenues have increased significantly since Mark and Nicola Palios bought control at Prenton Park in the summer of 2014.

However, Tranmere results in their first season outside the Football League in 95 years, are disappointing... Palios said, 'I’m disappointed with where we are in the league. The manager and the playing staff all feel the same. Football clubs are different to any other business. Everything you do is seen through the prism of what is happening on the pitch. Progress is filtered through results. That’s what we are judged by. One criticism we are hearing is we are spending too much time focusing on the off the field issues instead of on the pitch. That’s not the case.

'The two are not mutually exclusive. The people who focus on the commercial and community aspects of the club are not involved in the playing side, so one does not detract from the other'...

Tranmere’s £1 million budget for players this season puts them in the top third of the division. The Palios plan is to generate enough revenue to give Tranmere a top third budget at whatever level they compete at. The hospitality suites and function rooms Prenton Park, refurbished last summer, are pulling in new business through the week. Work on a new front entrance and club shop at Prenton Park is due to be completed within a matter of days'".


9 December 2015

A COACH IN EVERY SENSE

As well as the players, a lot of people at Altrincham FC multi-task. One such example is Ian Senior who on Sunday combined his pre-match goalkeeping coach duties with Tim Deasy and Callum Williams, with his kit-supplier role as owner of SKkits and also drove a coachful of Alty supporters to the FA Cup tie at Colchester, a ten-hour round trip. Ian possesses the appropriate driving licence from his former role as a fireman.

It is not the first time Ian has performed a driving role for Alty. Right, we see a grainy image of him at the wheel of the team coach as he and the TASC supporters' coach met head-on in the narrow confines of Braintree Town at the end of last season.

ALTY TEAMS

Altrincham FC Youth beat the foul weather last weekend to win 6-2, away to Salford City. The lads lie second in the NWYA Premier table, level on points with Chester FC Youth. Next Sunday they are at home to Prescot Cables.

Next Sunday sees Altrincham FC Ladies entertain Ellesmere Port Town Ladies at Mersey Valley FC, Banky Lane, Sale.

MIDWEEK NATIONAL LEAGUE GAMES

Tuesday, 8 December
  • Gateshead 0-1 Southport (att. 582)
  • Macclesfield Town 1-2 Eastleigh (att. 1,087)

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

Alty are away at Cheltenham a week on Saturday. The Western Daily Press says "There is only one present that Billy Waters wants for Christmas; a hat-trick ball. The in-form Cheltenham Town forward netted his fourth brace of the season in Saturday's 3-1 win against Chester to move joint top of the Robins scoring charts with 11 for the season.

Six goals in five games make the likeable 21-year-old one of the form horses in the National League, although it hasn't made him top dog in the house he shares with three team-mates. His inability, so far, to turn two goals in a game into a hat-trick has brought Waters nothing but grief and an ear chewing from one of his partners in crime, Jack Munns.

Munns claimed the match-ball in the 7-1 thumping of Halifax earlier in the season and, despite being behind Waters in the overall scoring charts, that still earns him a notable bragging right. Having passed his first aim of ten for the season, the former Crewe forward has set himself two more targets.

'I am going to say that the target is 20 by the end of the season as I want to keep it in sight, as I seem to score in twos at the moment, that's four braces now', Waters said. 'I am desperate to score that hat-trick as Munnsy has one and keeps telling me that I haven't got a hat-trick ball yet... I really want that hat-trick. and I am sure that I will get one this season, it's just a case of when and where hopefully'".

According to the Lincolnshire Echo "Lincoln City will be without a match on Saturday, if their opponents in the FA Trophy fail to settle their third qualifying round tie in 90 minutes. Buxton host Bradford Park Avenue tonight, with the winner due to entertain the Imps in the first round this weekend.

However, the two sides have opted against deciding the tie on the night with extra-time and penalties. Therefore, if the match ends in a draw, the[y] replay the tie at Park Avenue's Horsfall Stadium on Saturday, meaning the Imps would be left kicking their heels. The original match on November 28 was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch. It was then agreed that the tie would be played to a conclusion the following Tuesday.

However, with Buxton's pitch still waterlogged, the match was postponed... Lincoln enter the competition at the first round stage, with the tie worth £5,000 to the winners."

CHESHIRE SENIOR CUP

From Tranmere Rovers we learn that in the "Cheshire Senior Cup, Tranmere's away tie against Cheadle Town in the 1st round of the Cheshire Senior Cup will be played on Wednesday 13 January, kick-off 7:45pm".

FA CUP

Salford City have struck TV gold again as "The Football Association have announced the following Emirates FA Cup Second Round replays which will be shown live on BT Sport.
  • Tuesday 15 December: Hartlepool United v Salford City – Live on BT Sport
  • Wednesday 16 December: Whitehawk v Dagenham & Redbridge – Live on BT Sport

8 December 2015

FA TROPHY OPPONENTS: LEAMINGTON

News of the most recent game, against Poole, for our FA Trophy opponents on Saturday, Leamington, comes from the Leamington Courier, which tells us that "A generally sound defensive performance and an outstanding goalkeeping display from skipper Tony Breeden were the only positives Brakes could garner from a disappointing trip to the south coast...

It is to Leamington’s credit they [Poole] only finished with the single goal... Poole were in front in the 20th minute, Marvin Brooks finding the net with a thumping downward header from Luke Burbidge’s diagonal ball in from the right. Breeden got a hand to it but was unable to keep it out.

Brakes attempted to respond and Joe Halsall was in a good position to receive James Fry’s ball in from the right, but headed over the bar... The visitors were clearly frustrated with their lack of impact on the game, and this was highlighted when Edwards received a booking for a rather late challenge on Luke Roberts in midfield, with the home players and crowd feeling the card should have been red. They did not have to wait long for that outcome, though, as the Brakes midfielder reacted to Devlin leaving his leg in as they challenged for the ball, giving referee Ben Knight little option but to send him off...

Jamie Tank registered Leamington’s only effort on target in the game with the last action of the first half, getting on the end of a corner, with his header comfortably dealt with by Nick Hutchings. Leamington came more into the game in the second half... without fashioning anything of note...

Sensing there might still be something in the game for Leamington, Paul Holleran brought on loanee Nat Kelly, enabling Richard Taundry to return to a more familiar midfield role. Will Green was also introduced, but a tough task became harder still with 11 minutes remaining when Hood was shown a straight red card after referee Knight deemed him to have deliberately handled a shot... Breeden dampened the sense of injustice a little by diving low to his left to keep out the resulting penalty from Devlin...

Brakes: Tony Breeden, James Fry, Richard Taundry, Joe Magunda, Jamie Hood, Jamie Tank, Rob Ogleby (14 Nat Kelly, 75), Joe Halsall, Ben Mackey (Will Green, 79), Jack Edwards, Lee Moore (Ben George, 90). Subs not used: Martyn Naylor, Eddie Caviezel-Cox."

Mike Garnett provides Alty's record against Leamington and their previous incarnation as AP Leamington.

Record v Leamington FC

  • Home p.1 w.1 f.3 a.2
  • Away p.1 w.1 f.1 a.0
  • Overall p.2 w.2 f.4 a.2

Record v AP Leamington

  • Home p.3 w.2 d.0 l.1 f.9 a.4
  • Away p.3 w.3 d.0 l.0 f.9 a.3
  • Overall p.6 w.5 d.0 l.1 f.18 a.7
The clubs have never previously met in a cup match.

Above: Altrincham line up against Leamington on 4 January 2014. Left to right: Reeves, Moult, Richman, Griffin, Higginbotham, Clee, Marshall, Perry, Leather, Coburn and Havern.

The sides last met on 4 January 2014 when Alty took a two-goal lead, through Reeves and Perry, but were pegged back to 2-2 before an 86th minute winner arrived via Walshaw. It was the debut game for Danny Higginbotham; the line-up for Altrincham that day included only five of last Sunday's starters at Colchester. It was: 1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Scott Leather, 3. Adam Griffin, 4. Danny Higginbotham, 5. Gianluca Havern (capt), 6. Tom Marshall, 7. Simon Richman, 8. Jake Moult, 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Damian Reeves, 11. Nicky Clee. Subs: 12. Matt Doughty, 14. Shaun Densmore,15. Greg Wilkinson, 16. James Walshaw, 17. James Lawrie.

Earlier that season at Leamington, on 7 September 2013, a Damian Reeves goal secured a 1-0 win.

FA CUP

Monday 7 December
  • Grimsby Town 0-0 Shrewsbury Town

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The Holker Street Newsletter reports from Barrow that "Simon Grand suffered a quirky injury at training on Tuesday night when, in a collision with Brad Carroll, he broke his nose, and was left with black eyes and is likely to wear some form of protective face-mask if he plays on Saturday at home to Boreham Wood. [The match was postponed].

Paddy Lacey [ex-Alty] will be out after damaging his knee during the Woking game, and Andy Haworth injured his right ankle/foot in the same game and is likely to be out for up to a month. But wait, there's more, central-midfielder David Mellor also visited hospital after fainting during training on Tuesday. No wonder the club have recalled Mo Fofana from his loan at Oxford City".

From the Liverpool Echo we learn that "Manager Gary Brabin admits he is considering a fundamental change in Tranmere's tactical approach to National League games, together with a shake-up of the squad as his team fall further adrift of the division's promotion chasers. Rovers' sixth defeat in nine league outings, at the hands of Braintree Town at Prenton Park, left them 16 points behind leaders Cheltenham Town.

The team, beaten at home for the fifth time this season, left the pitch to chants of 'You are not fit to wear the shirt' from supporters in the Kop stand. Brabin admitted Tranmere had been 'second-best all over the park' and immediately convened a meeting of his coaching staff. 'It might be worth us taking the same tactics as everyone else, shutting up shop and trying to play on the counter-attack,' Brabin said. 'At the moment we are in a situation where we think we are better than we are.'

Tranmere's attempts to take the game to opponents home and away this season have yielded only limited success. The team backed with the largest infrastructure in the division and a healthy £1 million playing budget have struggled to impose themselves on opponents through the first half of the campaign...

'Players did go missing,' Brabin said of Saturday's performance. 'If I'm honest I have probably made my mind up with a couple. We are not in the transfer window at the moment so we can't do anything until January. But we certainly need to strengthen if we're going to get back into the (promotion chasing) pack... Individually we have strong characters. That is not showing at the moment.... If they can't handle the pressure of playing in front of 5,000 people, how would they react if they were playing at a higher level in front of 40,000?

'They should not be feeling the pressure. They should be thriving on it. They are professional footballers... I thought the fans kept going right to the ended trying to support us. Again we disappointed them. I don't blame them for hating my guts at the moment. I'm the manager and responsible for the results. It's been a total rebuild job here so I am responsible for bringing those players in. We need to get more from them. I did not think we would fall this many points behind at this stage of the season. I'm really disappointed. But I believe in myself. I will be working hard to get it right.'

We learn from NL Pitchero that "Kidderminster Harriers confirmed the signing of winger Omari Patrick ahead of Saturday`s home clash with Gateshead at Aggborough. The 19-year-old has penned a contract until the end of the season.

A graduate of the renowned FAB Academy, Patrick has first-team experience after a spell with Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central side Beaconsfield SYCOB over the last year or so, where he’s scored 14 goals in forty-nine appearances. The youngster, who is comfortable out wide or as a striker, made his Harriers debut as a second half substitute in Saturday`s 1-0 defeat by Gateshead. "

And, finally (quite literally), the Daily Post says that "Avid Wrexham FC fans can bow out in style by making their final journey in a red hearse emblazoned with the club badge. Cross Lanes-based DG Carriage Masters offer a unique sports-themed funeral package for loyal Dragons’ supporters who want to show their love for the Reds until the very end....

From £150 you can have your team’s badge on the front of the red hearse with flags and scarves draped over the coffin. The vehicle is also fitted inside with green astro turf. The hearse has so far been hired out four times – once for a Wrexham AFC fan, once for a Welsh rugby lover, and twice for Liverpool FC supporters".

FA CUP ROUND THREE DRAW

Monday's draw for the FA Cup Third Round was...
  • Watford v Newcastle Utd
  • West Bromwich Albion v Bristol City
  • West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Salford City/Hartlepool United v Derby County
  • Exeter City v Liverpool
  • Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City
  • Colchester United v Charlton Athletic
  • Peterborough United v Preston North End
  • Northampton Town v MK Dons
  • Arsenal v Sunderland
  • Newport County v Blackburn Rovers
  • Ipswich Town v Portsmouth
  • Birmingham City v AFC Bournemouth
  • Wycombe Wanderers v Aston Villa
  • Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham
  • Oxford United v Swansea City
  • Brentford v Chesterfield/Walsall
  • Bury v Bradford City
  • Manchester United v Sheffield Utd
  • Everton v Dagenham & Redbridge/Whitehawk
  • Southampton v Crystal Palace
  • Eastleigh v Bolton Wanderers
  • Nottingham Forest v QPR
  • Carlisle United v Yeovil Town
  • Chelsea v Leyton Orient/Scunthorpe United
  • Doncaster Rovers v Stoke City
  • Leeds United v Rotherham
  • Cardiff City v Grimsby Town/Shrewsbury Town
  • Huddersfield Town v Reading
  • Middlesbrough v Burnley
  • Norwich City v Manchester City
  • Hull City v Brighton & Hove Albion

7 December 2015

LEE SALUTES PLAYERS AND SUPPORTERS

Above: Alty fans celebrate the opening goal. Picture courtesy of Gavin Rathbone who has more images here.

John Edwards, joint Press & Media Officer at Altrincham FC, interviewed Alty boss Lee Sinnott after the game at Colchester on Sunday.

"Lee Sinnott has described his pride at the support Altrincham received at Colchester's Community Stadium and apologised for not mentioning it in the immediate aftermath of a heartbreaking FA Cup defeat.

The Alty manager faced the written press, then radio then television and answered questions about every aspect of an enthralling but ultimately agonising 3-2 second-round exit, as Colchester survived an injury-time chance Nicky Clee so nearly converted before going ahead for the first time with virtually the last kick of the game.

As he headed out of the ground and began the journey north, though, it struck him he hadn't quite covered every aspect. The moment he walked through the front door at the Sinnott household, he phoned me and said, 'Are you back home yet, John? Right, would you mind taking this down, please?' This is what he said.

Left, Mike Ripley picks out Jake Moult as he celebrates the opening goal with Scott Leather and Sam Heathcote in attendance.

'I just want to place on record huge thanks from myself, all the staff and, of course, all the players for the support we had today, the number of people who travelled, the effort and input from them, the noise levels, everything. Given the distance involved, the time they had to set off for a 2pm kick-off and the expense, it was quite exceptional, and every single one of them is a credit to Altrincham Football Club.

'It involved travelling a good 200-plus miles, yet you would have thought we were the home team, the way they got behind the players and stuck by them to the very end. That level of vocal backing most certainly played a part in lifting the players and driving them on to a performance that so nearly took us over the line.

'I said afterwards we could take a lot of pride from the performance, even if the result didn't go our way, and I can tell you the club take a lot of pride from the way our supporters rose to the occasion as well. For me, they deserve as much praise as the players for showing Altrincham in such a good light.

'Straight after the final whistle, when the papers, radio and TV are after quotes, you get caught up in all the dramatic moments they're asking you about. It slipped my mind to mention our supporters, and I'm sorry about that. I wasn't asked, but perhaps it should have occurred to me, so I would like to apologise now and set the record straight by saying they were brilliant. Thanks so much for all you did, all your sterling efforts, and that's from the whole team as well as me.'

Earlier, as he reflected on Alty twice going in front before having a lucrative televised replay cruelly snatched away, Sinnott said: 'Maybe mistakes cost us in the end, but I don't want to be critical after the way we stepped into the arena of a League One team. You have to respect that, and when you consider how we responded and took the game to Colchester, you have to say there were plus points wherever you looked.

'Colchester looked dangerous going forward at times, but so did we. We created plenty of opportunities. We all wanted a better outcome, but it wasn't to be. Even so, there were individual performances that kept us in the hunt for a win, let alone a replay, for so long.

Right, Gavin Rathbone of GR Photography captures Simon Richman battling in midfield.

'Sam Heathcote coped superbly with the occasion for such a young lad. Look at the age of some of the players, Scott Leather as well as Sam, and they all did really well. You just couldn't fault any of the players. The way they crossed the white line with a positive attitude and were not fazed by it spoke volumes for them. It was a bitter pill at the end, but they will have learned a hell of a lot from the experience of playing an FA Cup tie in that type of atmosphere.

'I thought Jake Moult (left) and Simon Richman (right) were superb in the middle of the park and, as a team, we pushed them a long way. We pushed them for 93 and a half minutes, in fact, and on another day, we could be saying Colchester are out of the Cup. If Nicky's shot had gone in, who knows?

'There's nothing anyone can say that's going to make it any easier for the players, because at the end of the day, they are out of the Cup. I noticed a lot of Colchester fans stayed to applaud our lads off the pitch, which was a nice gesture. To be honest, though, I didn't want the gesture. I'd rather we were still in the FA Cup.'

In his post-match interviews with the media, the Alty boss said: 'I've got a very quiet dressing room in there. I would imagine even people looking on with an even eye would say we deserved a replay at least, but you don't always get what you deserve in football.

'It can kick you in the teeth, and that's just what happened to us today. Sixty seconds has dictated the outcome. Nicky has gone through and twisted and turned, only for the keeper to make a great block, then they've gone down the other end and won it with a third goal. It was like a boxing match with two big punches going in, but theirs has counted, unfortunately.

'We made a wonderful start and scored a wonderful early goal through Jake Moult but, each time we went ahead, they pegged us back a bit too quickly. You just wonder whether, if we could have held on a bit longer, it might have been different.

'There's a bit of a stunned silence in our dressing room. I've got a squad of players who are going to take some picking up. They've nothing to reproach themselves about, of course. Full credit to them for the way they played. There were great performances all over the pitch, and they deserve every plaudit that comes their way.

'It will be no consolation, though. None of the words of praise from me or anyone else will provide any comfort to them, especially at 7pm on Monday night, when they will feel, to a man, that they should be in the third-round draw.

'It will take a bit of getting over, but they'll do it, because when the dust settles, they will realise just how much they put into the game and how well they performed against a League One side who had home advantage. They will learn from the experience as well, so hopefully that should stand them in good stead.'".

COLCHESTER UNITED 3-2 ALTRINCHAM

Above: Jake Moult is buried under his team-mates after opening the scoring.

Altrincham were the better side for much of this game but paid the price for defensive lapses, losing to a goal in the fourth added minute at the end of the match.

They got off to a great start when Jake Moult expertly lobbed the United keeper from outside the box in just the third minute. But 11 minutes later they gifted the hosts a leveller when Leather dwelt on the ball and lost possession, Harriott going on to score.

The start to the second half was even more electric as Rankine scored after 16 seconds but, again, the lead could not be held. When Deasey slid to collect the ball, low down near his right post, the ball escaped his grasp. The resulting cross was headed in by Lapslie at the back post.

Late on Deasy made a couple of fine saves and at the other end, Clee had a great chance to net a third for Alty. But when Leather's header came to Harriott, the United man lashed a shot past Deasy to clinch a very late winner in the fourth and final minute of added time.

Match report here

COLCHESTER VIEW

For their part Colchester United report that "United made it through to the Third Round in dramatic style on Sunday afternoon, as Callum Harriott broke Altrincham's hearts with virtually the final kick of the game.

In what turned out to be a full-on, proper cup tie, Altrincham pushed the U's to the limit, but Wayne Brown's men fought back from behind twice, before winning the game in injury time. The visitors got off to the perfect start as Jake Moult scored a spectacular goal with an audacious chip from 30 yards that caught Jamie Jones off his line with only three minutes on the clock...

After 13 minutes, the U's equalized as Callum Harriott coolly slotted past Tim Deasy from 12 yards after being sent through by Marvin Sordell...

Altrincham started the second half in even better fashion the first; Michael Rankine chased down a loose ball, bustled his way past Eastman and scored low past Jones... The U's equalized within 5 minutes of going 2-1 down as Tom Lapslie was the quickest to react to a Sordell cross and headed past Deasy...

Seconds after the fourth official announced there would be 4 minutes added time, Harriott forced Deasy into yet another great stop, before Clee broke through and Jones produced an excellent save to deny what would surely be a match-winning goal.

A replay seemed destined but there was a final sting in the tail. The U's went forward and with the last attack of the game Callum Harriott was on hand to rifle a half volley into the net to make it 3-2 to the U's".

FA CUP ROUND TWO

Above we see the Altrincham line-up at Forest Green last Saturday. Changes will be necessary at Colchester next Sunday with Luca Havern suspended, after his first ever red card, at FGR, and midfielder Josh O'Keefe will join the Alty acting captain on the sidelines in Essex after he, too, was shown a red card at the New Lawn. Jake Moult, far right, is likely to assume the captain's role in the absence of Luca and injured captain Shaun Densmore.

Friday 4 December

  • Salford City 1-1 Hartlepool United

Saturday 5 December

  • Barnet 0-1 Newport County
  • Chesterfield 1-1 Walsall
  • Leyton Orient 0-0 Scunthorpe United
  • Millwall 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers
  • Northampton Town 3-2 Northwich Victoria
  • Portsmouth 1-0 Accrington Stanley
  • Sheffield United 1-0 Oldham Athletic
  • Stourbridge 0-2 Eastleigh
  • Yeovil Town 1-0 Stevenage

Sunday 6 December

  • Through the Years by Howard Watts
  • Bradford City 4-0 Chesham United
  • Cambridge United 1-3 Doncaster Rovers
  • Colchester United 3-2 Altrincham
  • Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Whitehawk
  • Exeter City 2-0 Port Vale
  • Oxford United 1-0 Forest Green Rovers
  • Peterborough United 2-0 Luton Town
  • Rochdale 0-1 Bury
  • Welling United 0-5 Carlisle United

6 December 2015

COLCHESTER UNITED v ALTRINCHAM: LIVE MATCH COVERAGE

If you cannot get to this FA Cup Second Round game, you can follow this fixture via this website's minute by minute text updates by clicking on the icon below. Alternatively, Radio Robins' coverage of the game is outlined below as well.

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Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, is providing full live commentary of Sunday's game at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. The match commentary sponsor is zFast, a UK web hosting company. As well as web hosting, zFast offer a wide range of online services, including Streaming, Reseller Hosting,Powerful Virtual Private Servers, Domains and SSL Certificates.

Radio Robins broadcasts using a SHOUTcast Hosting Server located in Manchester and you can find out all about zFast's high quality services at theirwebsite.

The commentators are Ian Wilkinson and Laurence Howarth and the match summariser is John Edwards. Coverage starts at 1.45pm and you can listen to Radio Robins on the internet at http://www.radiorobins.com/

Tickets for Sunday's FA Cup Round Two tie between Colchester United and Altrincham can be bought at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, Colchester (k.o. 2pm).

For more details, see the dedicated webpage for the Colchester game, which is here and there is a mobile version too.

Those travelling by the TASC supporters' coaches are reminded to bring their coach tickets with them - details of timings and other information are here

BEFORE THE GAME

Sunday's match will be Altrincham's first ever visit to the Weston Homes Community stadium. However, the sides did meet at United's former home, Layer Road, during the two seasons when Colchester were relegated from the Football League. In those games the record, as provided by Mike Garnett, was...

  • At home: P2 W0 D1 L1 F3 A4
  • Away: P2 W0 D2 L0 F4 A4
  • All: P4 W0 D3 L1 F7 A8

With midfielder Josh O'Keefe and defender Gianluca Havern both suspended after their dismissals last week, goalkeeper Stuart Coburn and defender Tom Marshall sidelined with long-term injuries, and captain Shaun Densmore having missed the last nine matches, Altrincham are again going to be short on numbers. There is some pre-match hope that Shaun might be named in the Altrincham squad which, otherwise, would include only 13 senior players.

LEE'S PRE-MATCH PREPARATIONS

In Altrincham Today we read that "Altrincham FC manager Lee Sinnott gives us the inside track on the Robins’ progress this season in the Vanarama National League....

"It’s a massive weekend for everyone at Altrincham Football Club as we travel down to Essex to take on Colchester United in the Emirates FA Cup for a second round tie. We are travelling today (Saturday) and staying overnight at a hotel at Stansted Airport with the match having been moved to a 2pm kick-off tomorrow (Sunday) as the game has been chosen as one of eight FA Cup ties to be covered live on BBC 1’s ‘Final Score’ programme at 1.45pm.

We have sold over 350 tickets and we know that many of our supporters, who are based in the south of England, will be buying tickets on the day, so we should have around 400 fans there, which is a magnificent travelling support.

Cochester’s impressive ground holds over 10,000 but the surroundings will hold no fears for our players, as we are used to playing in Football League standard stadia, with there being so many former Football League clubs in our own league. From that perspective, it will be no different than going to the likes of Wrexham, Grimsby or Torquay.

I played for a lot of managers during my career and I’ll be taking a similar approach to one of them to prepare the team for Sunday’s game.

In 1995, I was captain of the Huddersfield Town side that beat Bristol Rovers in the Second Division Play-Off Final at Wembley. There were almost 60,000 fans in the ground but our manager, Neil Warnock, said, 'This is a day of work, boys. It’s a game of football. Forget the surroundings and get on with it.' That will be the gist of tomorrow’s address to all of the players, because that’s how we got through against Barnsley.

It’s very disappointing to be without Josh O’Keefe (right) and Luca Havern through suspension, who were both sent off in last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Forest Green. We hadn’t had a player sent off all season until that game, then two players see red in five minutes. There were no complaints about Luca’s two yellow cards, but we were disappointed to lose out on the appeal against Josh’s straight red, although to be fair, the camera angle wasn’t the best for the video evidence to be conclusive.

I believe that Altrincham haven’t reached the FA Cup 3rd Round for over 20 years. I know this set of players are capable of getting a result at Colchester and it would be a great achievement if we can be in the draw on Monday evening".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The National League rounds up Saturday's games, saying "Cheltenham Town beat Chester FC 3-1 at the World of Smile Stadium to move four points clear at the top of the Vanarama National League table. It was a hard-fought, gritty win by Gary Johnson`s side in very windy conditions...

Dover Athletic shrugged off a comeback by Aldershot Town to secure their eighth home win of the season and move to within three points of second-placed Forest Green. Struggling Aldershot had lost their last five matches in all competitions and they could hardly have made a worse start, falling behind inside 90 seconds... [At 2-0] Dover looked really comfortable... but within 90 seconds of the second half starting the game had been turned on its head.

Aldershot's Sam Hatton punished hesitancy in the home defence to bundle home the first after 23 seconds of the whistle and then Charlie Walker swept home Hatton`s cross to make it 2-2... before Payne pounced from close range on the hour-mark to restore the Dover lead. Raggett added the fourth from close range in the 70th minute and 5 minutes later he struck again with a powerful header from Deverdics's free-kick.

Wrexham moved into the play-off places as Mark Carrington scored the only goal at Plaimoor against struggling Torquay United... with 12 minutes remaining...

Braintree Town are sixth and level on points with the Dragons after coming back from behind to secure a fine 2-1 victory at Prenton Park against Tranmere Rovers. The Iron conceded inside 3 minutes when Adam Mekki powered home a 25 yards effort. But the visitors were back on level terms in the 5th minute with another effort from outside the area from Dan Sparkes. And on 24 minutes Simeon Akinola made it 2-1 with the third goal scored from long range. That eventually earned Braintree all three precious points and stretched their unbeaten run to five games.

Lincoln City slipped down to seventh in the table... after going down to a 3-1 defeat at Kingfield to a Woking side who are now eleventh...

Southport moved to within a point of the safety-mark after a fine 3-1 win against Macclesfield Town at the Merseyrail Community Stadium. The game was only 19 minutes old when both teams were reduced to ten-men with Port's Andy Bishop and Macc's Neill Byrne dismissed for violent conduct following a melee...

A late Sam Walker goal rescued a point for FC Halifax Town in a hard-fought derby against Guiseley AFC at The Shay. It’s now thirty-one league games without a clean sheet for the Shaymen after Anthony Dudley gave Guiseley the lead 3 minutes after half-time... {The draw] ensured Halifax went three league matches without defeat for the first time this season.

Kidderminster Harriers find themselves eight points from safety after losing 1-0 at Aggborough to a last-minute goal against Gateshead. The Tynesiders were always in control on a wild and windy afternoon and had the better opportunities".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE

National League, Saturday 5th December
  • Barrow P-P Boreham Wood
  • Cheltenham Town 3-1 Chester FC (gate 2,501)
  • Dover Athletic 5-2 Aldershot Town (1,012)
  • FC Halifax Town 1-1 Guiseley (1,355)
  • Kidderminster Harriers 0-1 Gateshead (1,489)
  • Southport 3-1 Macclesfield Town (861)
  • Torquay United 0-1 Wrexham (1,512)
  • Tranmere Rovers 1-2 Braintree Town (4,224)
  • Woking 3-1 Lincoln City (1.432)

DUNCAN'S CAREER PATH

The Times has a feature on Duncan Watmore. "To sit down with a young footballer, who is scoring goals and making waves in the Barclays Premier League, is usually to hear talk of 'living the dream'. It is a dream that Duncan Watmore quite happily abandoned during his teenage years, throwing himself into his school sports and his studies. University beckoned and, beyond that, he hoped, a job with a blue-chip company.

It has certainly not been the conventional journey to the Premier League for Watmore. His father, Ian, was the chief executive of the FA as well as the managing director of Accenture; his mother, Georgina, is a rector; he has brothers at Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cambridge University.

He was rejected by Manchester United at the age of 12 and barely gave professional football another thought; at 18 he started off at Manchester University, 'living a full-on student life' while playing non-League football for Altrincham; next Thursday, at 21, he will graduate in economics and business management from Newcastle University...

'For a lot of footballers, everything, from a young age, has been building up to this stage we’re at now,' the Sunderland forward said at the club’s training ground yesterday. 'For me, it wasn’t like that. I was training with United, with Tom Lawrence and Tyler Blackett up to the age of 12, but then I was released... I still played and watched football, but I never even considered going to another academy or anything like that'...

Watmore was playing for Altrincham’s first team when he started his degree course in September 2012, but he says, 'I just thought I would finish my degree and use economics to go and get a job somewhere. I was a full-on student in that first year. Ten of us were living in a flat in Fallowfield with a communal kitchen. Everyone around me was always going out, drinking, and, to be honest, because I hadn’t gone down the football route, I hadn’t realised what a taboo drinking was. You can’t do it.

'For the first couple of months at uni, I was going out and making friends and the manager at Altrincham [Lee Sinnott] quickly realised my performances had dipped. He took me to one side and said, ‘I know how difficult it is, juggling both sides of life, but...' So when my friends were going out three times a week, I would go out once a week. I could still afford to do that when I was at Altrincham.'”

In May 2013, though, after a prolific season at Altrincham, Sunderland came knocking. Watmore says their interest came as a 'big shock', but once it became clear he could continue his degree course, by transferring to Newcastle University, he and his family felt it was an offer that was too good to turn down...

'I was like any other student. My second and third year, I was living on my own, training full time with Sunderland, getting back at 4pm and then working on my degree in the evening. I didn’t really know anyone on my course... because I couldn’t make the lectures or the seminars,' he says. 'It was a night-time thing for me, watching lectures online, catching up on reading and writing essays. It was hard work, especially the third year, but I couldn’t complain'...

'When Sunderland signed me, Robbie Stockdale [the coach] told me "We’re not going to coach that out of you. It’s something you’ve developed and we’ll keep that, but we’re going to build up the other sides of your game"' he says... I have got what coaches call "rawness", which hasn’t been coached out of me... It is strange at first, playing with and against people you’ve watched on TV for your whole life,' he says...The manager [Sam Allardyce] and his staff have been a huge support'".


5 December 2015

MEDIA COVERAGE

Brian Flynn and John Edwards, Alty's joint Press Officers, report that "The Times have interviewed Lee Sinnott this week and had a photographer at training last night. Their feature is scheduled to be published either in 'The Times' on Saturday or 'The Sunday Times' on... Sunday!

Michael Rankine and Damian Reeves have been interviewed by National Newspapers during the last 24 hours, so watch out for those articles.

For the Manchester Evening News, John Edwards has compiled features for both today's and tomorrow's paper, so Alty fans are not short of reading and viewing material!"

SAM'S PEDIGREE

Below is a fuller version of John Edwards's piece in Friday's Manchester Evening News,

"The last time Altrincham filled three supporters' coaches for an away game, Sam Heathcote was mascot for the day as they took on Eastbourne Borough in a promotion play-off final at Stoke's Britannia Stadium. A starry-eyed eight-year old, he proudly remembers leading the team out alongside skipper Eddie Hussin and seeing Rod Thornley and Val Owen score the all-important goals before finally being carried shoulder-high round the pitch by Alty's triumphant manager, his dad Graham.

He will be just as proud stepping out at Colchester's Community Stadium tomorrow (Sun), though his role has been upgraded slightly. With Luca Havern suspended, the 18-year old youth team graduate will partner Scott Leather in a central defensive pairing crucial to Alty's prospects of joining the likes of Manchester United and City in the FA Cup third-round draw. The tie has aroused similar interest to the Eastbourne game 10 years ago, with just a few seats on the third coach still available on 0161 928 1045, and Heathcote jnr is hoping for another historic day in Alty's fortunes.

'My dad didn't want any distractions, so I didn't travel on the team bus or go in the changing room before kick-off,' he said. 'But I do remember walking out with Eddie and hearing the noise from the crowd. I watched the game with my mum, halfway up the main stand, and though it was a long time ago, I can still picture the goals and the scenes at the end.

'I managed to force my way on to the pitch, and my dad picked me up and carried me round on his shoulders. Then my brother Charles picked me up, and I gave the Alty fans a salute - great memories of a great day.'

Right: Sam being carried on brother Charles Heathcote's shoulders at the promotion play-off final at Stoke in 2005.

With three years' training at United already under his belt and his dad an Alty legend, a career in football looked nailed on for young Sam. Yet it nearly didn't happen.

'I was on United's books from aged five, and being released at 15 came as a massive setback,' he said. 'To begin with, I dreamed of playing in the Premier League for United, like any kid that age, but after going in every day for so long, I started taking it for granted a bit. I just got used to it, rather than thinking this was the chance of a lifetime I had to make the most of, and that probably contributed to my downfall.

'I wouldn't say I was disillusioned when they told me I wasn't being kept on, but I certainly lost all interest in playing. For a year-and-a-half I didn't play. My dad said, "Listen, you've just finished at United - there will be others wanting to take you on trial and have a look at you." But I just didn't fancy it. I can't really explain why. I just wasn't interested.

'Then I went to the college Alty run and found some of my friends were playing for the club's under-17s. I had a game and suddenly found I was enjoying playing again. I moved up to the youth team with George Heslop and Chrissie Adams, and it went from there, though four months out with a fractured ankle last October could have held me back.

'Fortunately, (assistant manager) Neil Tolson coached the college team and kept an eye on me, and he got me training with the first team. Even so, I couldn't have envisaged an opportunity like this so quickly. I'm loving it, and the target now is to break into the team permanently.

'The way I play shows I'm quite a relaxed person, though I know there are loads of things I need to improve in my game. I've never really suffered from nerves, and though there may be a few if I'm picked on Sunday, I would love to be out there, playing a part in such a massive game. If we play like we can and pass the ball like we can, we can cause problems for any team, so I know we'll go there believing we can get a positive result.'

Sam hasn't exactly been short of advice or on-the-job assistance during his rapid rise to first-team prominence.

'My dad's like any other dad, in that he's always ready with a word of advice, like stay calm, when to get tight on someone, win your headers, that sort of thing,' he said. 'I'm in a double win situation, because I can be at home, talking things over with him, or at the club, listening to the gaffer or Tols or Alan Ainsley. There's lots I've learned from the manager already, because he was a centre-half at such a high level, but there's still a lot of learning to do.

'I need to improve my use of the ball, even though I feel comfortable in possession, and I particularly need to work on the physical side. That will come with age, but there's certainly room for improvement there. On the pitch, Scott has been fantastic. Ever since I got in the side, he has helped me so much, in games and training. I think I've already become a better player for having had a few games alongside him. Comparing now to how I was at the start of the season, I would say I'm already a much better player.

'Long-term, every young player wants to play in the Premier League, but I'm realistic enough to know it's not going to happen for everyone. So at the moment, I'm just concentrating on trying to nail down a place in the Altrincham team. And I'm not kidding myself - there's a lot of work ahead before I can do that.'

Who better to advise an 18-year old on how to handle a big FA Cup occasion than manager Lee Sinnott, who was 18 when he played for Watford in the 1984 final against Everton.

'It was too long ago to recall exactly what Graham Taylor said to me, but my message to Sam would be it's a game of football,' said Sinnott. 'Forget the stadium and everything else, get over the white line and it's us against them. I remember before Huddersfield's play-off final against Bristol Rovers, Neil Warnock said: "This is a day of work, boys. It's a game of football. Forget the surroundings and get on with it."

'That will be the gist of Sunday's address to all the players, because that's how we got through against Barnsley. We wouldn't be here without that mindset. I'd say Sam has been a bonus for us. We wanted to have a look at him pre-season, but then suddenly injuries opened a door for him. It's ok the door opening, but you have got to step through it.

'Now, I'm not saying he's the finished article, far from it. But he has stepped through that door. When anyone crosses that white line for the first time, there's always the same question - is it going to be too much for you? Well, Sam has passed that now. There's still a lot for him to work on, but he has shown he is not fazed by first-team action. It's my position, so I can understand the challenges he is facing, but he has a very good temperament and, at 18, he has been a positive bonus for us.

'It's important he's ready for each test that comes his way. I spoke to him before the Forest Green game and said: "You've been magnificent and done nothing wrong, but Luca is coming back." Then what happens after 75 minutes? Luca is out of the equation for Colchester, and the whole picture has changed complexion again.

'Even at Wrexham, when I played him in a different position and we lost, he did exactly what I wanted him to. He did all I asked of him, so fair play to the kid.'

Heathcote snr is renowned as one of non-League football's great characters but is not easily pleased. When Sam scored a dramatic late winner with only his second touch as an Alty player against Cheltenham earlier this season, the deadpan delivery from dad was 'well done, son - just another 152 to go', referring to his own mammoth goal tally in Robins colours.

'He can be quite funny, though I'd never tell him that,' said Sam. 'He's going to Colchester, and I know he'll be willing me to do well. I have heard him say he's proud of me, though you know what he's like - he'll deny all knowledge of it if he sees it in print!'"

COLCHESTER CARETAKERS

Sky Sports tell us that "New caretaker boss Wayne Brown has a tough choice to make to turn the fortunes round of flagging Colchester ahead of their FA Cup second-round tie with struggling Vanarama National League side Altrincham.

Midfielder Owen Garvan will be hoping to get back into the squad after overcoming a hip injury and full-back Richard Brindley could be in contention after he returned to training following a knee injury. Brown will be hoping for a win after five straight defeats but the U's convincingly beat Wealdstone 6-2 in the first round of the FA Cup and chairman Robbie Cowling believes it could be the perfect test.

'I have got to get the right blend for the (managerial) team and I don't feel that we've got that quite right at the moment,' he told East Anglian Daily Times.

Altrincham will be without defender Gianluca Havern and midfielder Josh O'Keefe for Sunday's trip as both players start suspensions... Captain and midfielder Shaun Densmore could make his return to the matchday squad after a spell sidelined by a medial ligament injury."

And Colchester United say that "The U's face Altrincham on Sunday, with Wayne Brown taking charge for the first time. Having been installed as Caretaker Manager earlier this week, he has named a twenty two man squad for the FA Cup Second Round tie...

Full back Richard Brindley will be hoping to add to his sixty minute outing last weekend after a long absence through injury, but Macauley Bonne remains sidelined with a foot injury. Kane Vincent-Young, another defender who has been out injured, was back in action this week in the Essex Senior Cup but this weekend is too soon for a first team comeback for the youngster.

"U"s: Parish, Jones, Bransgrove, Brindley, Olufemi, Briggs, Eastman, Elokobi, Kent, Lapslie, Gilbey, Edwards, Massey, Curtis, Moncur, Szmodics, Harriott, Wright, Ambrose, Sembie-Ferris, Porter, Sordell".#

And in the Essex Green 'Un we learn that "Colchester United chairman, Robbie Cowling, has admitted that he needs more time to make the important decision of who is going to become the next manager of the League One club. And Cowling has not now ruled out the possibility of recruiting from outside the club.

Cowling had initially hoped to name a new boss, from within the club, in the lead-up to this Sunday’s FA Cup second round tie against Altrincham. But, instead, the "U"s' supremo has chosen to install Wayne Brown as a caretaker manager, with John McGreal as his assistant. Both men have been coaching in the Academy environment with the under-18s and under-21s. McGreal was the joint interim manager with Richard Hall for the U’s 5-1 defeat at Burton Albion last Saturday, with Brown in an assisting role.

But now Brown, a former club skipper who guided the "U"s into the Championship in 2006, will be in temporary charge for what seems to be at least the next two matches.

Speaking to the ‘East Anglian Daily Times’, Cowling said, 'Like with bringing through our young players into the first team so, at the same time, we’ve got make sure we bring through our young managers. 'But we’ve got to be really careful that we bring them through at the right time. We remain very serious at wanting to bring through our managers internally but we’ve got to make sure that we do it in the right way. We mustn’t bring them in too soon.

'It’s a big decision to make and I have given myself more time'".

FA TROPHY OPPONENTS

Mike Garnett provides Alty's record against our FA Trophy opponents on 12 December, Leamington and their previous incarnation as AP Leamington.

Record v Leamington FC

  • Home p.1 w.1 f.3 a.2
  • Away p.1 w.1 f.1 a.0
  • Overall p.2 w.2 f.4 a.2

Record v AP Leamington

  • Home p.3 w.2 d.0 l.1 f.9 a.4
  • Away p.3 w.3 d.0 l.0 f.9 a.3
  • Overall p.6 w.5 d.0 l.1 f.18 a.7
The clubs have never previously met in a cup match.

VANARAMA NATIONAL NEWS

The BBC reports that "Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince has defended the club's £5.4m debt, insisting it is sustainable. The club posted losses of £2.5m and £2.9m in the last two seasons. However, Vince believes investment in infrastructure and the playing squad, as well as a need to address existing debt, has [have] given the figure a distorted look.

'We've probably reached peak losses,' Vince told BBC Points West. 'It's like any business really, you've got to invest to get to where you want to be.' Forest Green, who were promoted to the Conference in 1998, are currently second in the renamed National League and the club also have plans for a new £100m sports facility, which will include a new stadium. Vince, who took over in 2010, believes their playing budget is similar to the majority of clubs in the division.

'There are plenty of clubs in this league with our kind of money and our kind of budget,' he said. 'The focus has been on us, as we are a bit of a village club and it's unexpected, but there is no way our budget and our means is [are] out of proportion to at least a top quarter of the teams. It's a very competitive league, it's half full of ex-League clubs with big crowds and big ambitions.

'At all levels football relies on benefactors. Football is not a business, only a few make money such as Manchester United, but at most levels it takes investment, belief and time to get the infrastructure right.' Vince believes promotion to the Football League as well as the move to the new site will make a significant difference to the club's finances.

'The new site is important but getting into League Two is more important,' he added. 'I think, from next year, League Two clubs get £1m a year and in this league you get nothing so, to become financially sustainable, getting Two is a massive part of that. When we achieve that, overnight we'll be running at virtually break even."

On the playing side, Stroud Life reports that "Forest Green have had a bid rejected for experienced Eastleigh midfielder Andy Drury, according to the Hampshire club. The 32-year-old played alongside Rovers manager Ady Pennock at Gravesend and Northfleet more than a decade ago, since when he has had two spells at Luton Town

A Spitfires spokesman said, 'Eastleigh have received an offer from... Forest Green Rovers for influential midfielder Andy Drury. The offer was immediately declined by Eastleigh Football Club as Andy is seen as an integral part of the squad.'

It is unusual for clubs to go public on potential player business outside of the transfer window, suggesting Eastleigh, who are managed by former Forest Green defender Chris Todd, are less than impressed with the overtures for Drury from Nailsworth. However, it is understood a bid was encouraged for the services of a player who has made 27 appearances this season, scoring five times.

Rovers' chairman Dale Vince has already said the club are likely to be active during the January window, with Pennock’s men just a point behind Cheltenham Town at the top of the table."

Also from the BBC we learn that "Chester defender Michael Kay has decided to leave the National League side to take a break from football. The 25-year-old moved to the Blues in the summer of 2013 from Tranmere and has made 77 appearances, scoring twice...

'He always gives everything he's got for us', manager Steve Burr told the club website. 'Michael has told us he's decided to take a break and he's looking at other avenues in his life to proceed with and we respect that. He knows he's always welcome back here at the football club'".

According to the NW Evening Mail, "DavidMellor will not be rushed back into action as further investigations are carried out after he fainted this week and was found to have an irregular heartbeat. The central midfielder underwent an ECG, which detected the irregular heartbeat, after he passed out during training on Tuesday. According to Barrow’s head therapist Dan Anderton, irregular heartbeats are not uncommon and he said that the ECG did not identify anything hospital staff were worried about it...

On Monday, Mellor will see the same cardiologist he met with a couple of years ago, when he suffered a similar episode during his time at Oldham Athletic... Bluebirds boss Paul Cox said, 'From what I’m hearing, Mells could be out for a considerable amount of time... We were training and Mells passed out and collapsed... It was very worrying, not just to myself and my staff, but to the other players as well'...

Barrow are facing up to an injury crisis, and central midfielder Mo Fofana has been recalled from his loan spell with Oxford City. Fellow engine-room operator [ex-Alty man] Paddy Lacey may require surgery after an attempt to unlock his injured knee, by manipulation, failed on Wednesday... with Anderton initially suspecting that Lacey has suffered a cartilage tear.

Winger Andy Haworth could be sidelined for three or four weeks after suffering ankle ligament damage and a stress fracture in his foot. Danny Livesey should be ruled out of tomorrow’s game as he continues his recovery from a groin injury. Fellow centre-back Simon Grand broke his nose in training this week, but he should receive a protective facial mask today...

Despite the deadline for loan moves expiring last week, Cox believes he may still be able to loan players from clubs that operate below National League league level... Requiring a new central midfielder, Cox will have to get the go-ahead from club owner Paul Casson should he want to make a move.

Striker Andy Cook been suffering from a flu-like illness this week, but he trained yesterday and should be available to play tomorrow".

We read in the Lincolnshire Echo that "Lincoln City Football Club have reached an agreement with lender Co-op Bank on repaying almost £400,000. The agreement will see them pay back around £25,000 each year until the debt and interest is paid off.

Chairman Bob Dorrian said, 'I think it will be damaging to us to a certain degree. I think the Co-op Bank have been quite good about it in the end and done what they can to help us'. Speaking to the BBC Radio Lincolnshire, he added, 'All in all, it's a good solution for both parties.'

He also revealed that the club has been speaking to a potential new investor... The Imps owe £80,000 in a mortgage for the Playzone activity centre, next door to Sincil Bank, and have an overdraft facility which can reach up to £300,000.

In a letter to shareholders and supporters in February, Mr Dorrian said the Co-operative had asked the football club to find new banking arrangements due to the club no longer fitting 'the core customer profile' of the organisation. He said the club has been unable to find a bank willing to take them on as a customer after spending around 12 months trying the main High Street banks..

The club... made plans for a giant Dambusters mosaic, but they were ditched after the club couldn't get the £150,000 of crowdfunding needed for it... In May, Lincoln City's acting managing director Kevin Cooke said the club had made encouraging progress in trying to pay the debt, with around £160,000 being raised from share issues and bonds and expecting to net more than £25,000 from the Madness concert at Sincil Bank.

The deal with the Co-op Bank announced on Friday, December 4 means the club will no longer have to find a lump sum to pay back."


4 December 2015

DON'T MISS ALTY ON TV, RADIO AND IN PRESS

Joint Press and Media Officer at Altrincham FC, Brian Flynn, writes that "There has been a lot of media interest in Sunday's Emirates FA Cup 2nd Round game at Colchester which we would like to make all Alty fans aware of.

ITV Granada were filming at training last night and there will be a feature on ITV's 'Granada Reports' programme tonight around 6.15pm.

The BBC were also filming at training last night and there will be a feature on BBC 1 on 'North West Tonight' around 6.45pm tonight.

Radio 5 Live will be interviewing Lee Sinnott on their '5 Live Sport' programme which starts at 9pm tonight. Lee is scheduled to be interviewed between 9.05-9.15pm and as well as talking about Sunday's game, he will be discussing Duncan Watmore's sensational progress at Sunderland.

The Times have interviewed Lee Sinnott this week and had a photographer at training last night. Their feature is scheduled to be published either in 'The Times' on Saturday or 'The Sunday Times' on... Sunday!

Michael Rankine and Damian Reeves have been interviewed by National Newspapers during the last 24 hours, so watch out for those articles.

For the Manchester Evening News, John Edwards has compiled features for both today's and tomorrow's paper, so Alty fans are not short of reading and viewing material over the next 48 hours!"

In addition, Joe Bernstein from the Daily Mail has conducted a sit-down face-to-face interview with Lee and it is due to appear in this weekend's Mail on Sunday".

SUNDAY'S REFEREE

The match officials on Sunday for the Colchester United v Altrincham FA Cup tie are:
  • Referee: Andy Davies
  • Assistant Referees Matt Eva and Adrian Waters
  • Fourth Official John O'Brien

DAMIAN REEVES ON THE COLCHESTER TIE

NL Daily reports that "Altrincham striker Damian Reeves urged his side to take their chance of a shot at one of the Premier League elite as they head into their FA Cup Second Round tie at Colchester United.

The Robins travel to Essex on Sunday for game being tipped by many as a potential giantkilling. The U's sit one point and one place above the SkyBet League One relegation zone, having won just once in their last ten league games. And although the Robins are sat [sitting] in eighteenth in the Vanarama National League table Reeves is still eyeing a glamour third round tie.

'Things are going well, apart from the defeat last weekend. We have to put that behind us and, if you can't get up for a game in the FA Cup, then you shouldn't be playing in the game. We have that carrot of the next round too, we know there could be a big tie around the corner against a Premier League club. Anybody who says the third round isn't in your mind is lying. You are aware, you do know but we have to focus on the game.

'We know the rewards, you can't say what if, we have to make it happen'...

'I don't think the giantkillers tag helps us, it is a long time since we did something like this. It is nice to be at a club with a bit of history behind it and, especially when it comes to the FA Cup and the stories it brings up, but I don't think that helps us on the pitch, it's not an advantage to have that. Anybody in football will know all too well that the tag doesn't mean a thing, it's all about what happens on the day. You saw that against Barnsley, we played well, they didn't and we got the win'.

Reeves, who struck the winner in the First Round tie against Barnsley, heads into Sunday's tie with a wealth of experience behind him... 'It is a tough game and we are away, that doesn't help, but it is eleven against eleven, anything can happen. If we are on top of our game for ninety minutes, and luck goes your way, then you have a chance. They are struggling a bit this season so it would be great to put the boot in a bit more and get the win'" he added.

COLCHESTER MANAGEMENT

From the other side, Colchester United "Chairman Robbie Cowling has installed Wayne Brown as Caretaker Manager. The former "U"s' defender will be assisted by John McGreal while decisions are made on a permanent appointment.

Robbie said of the interim arrangement, 'Wayne Brown and John McGreal have been asked to take charge of first team matters at Colchester United on a caretaker basis whilst with the help of my fellow directors, I determine the next full-time management team. I am pleased to say that they have both accepted those roles and I would like to express my thanks to them both for helping the club out... For last weekend's match at Burton, the U's were led by Richard Hall and Robbie added, 'Richard very much remains a part of the club and the equation going forward'".

VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NEWS

The National League reports that "The Vanarama National League our Manager of the Month Award goes to Paul Hurst of Grimsby Town. The Vanarama National League Player of The Month Award goes to Kristian Dennis of Macclesfield Town".

From NL Pitchero we learn that "Striker Jordan Murphy has been recalled from his loan spell at Kidderminster Harriers by parent side Walsall. Murphy has scored twice in seven appearances as a Harrier".

Still at Aggborough, we read that "Kidderminster Harriers have confirmed that striker Matthew Barnes-Homer is to remain at Aggborough after his loan spell was extended. Barnes-Homer’s initial one-month spell on loan from league rivals Aldershot came to an end after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Grimsby Town. But the two clubs have agreed a deal for the hit-man to stay in Worcestershire until January 23rd 2016".

At Chester "Grenville Millington, chairman of City Fans United and Chester Football Club, has advised fellow Directors that he has reluctantly decided to resign from his position, and the Board of City Fans United, with immediate effect due to full time work commitments.

Millington, who had a long playing career including 345 games for Chester City... was ultimately named Chairman of the CFU Board after his successful election at last year`s City Fans United AGM. He leaves his position after combining the role over the past year with full time employment...

As vice-chairman of City Fans United, Jim Keegan will initially assume the role of Chair until a planned board meeting takes place later this month".


3 December 2015

LEE PULLS NO PUNCHES

John Edwards, joint Press and Media Officer at Altrincham FC wrote, after the FGR match and before the appeal against Josh O'Keefe's red card had been turned down. (FGR's Bennett did succeed in his appeal, however).

"Angry Altrincham boss Lee Sinnott pulled no punches as he reflected on a calamitous trip to Forest Green Rovers that ended with a 2-0 defeat and red cards for Josh O'Keefe and Luca Havern.

Alty are appealing the straight red for O'Keefe, with chairman Grahame Rowley commenting, 'We felt it seemed very unjust. The tackle by Josh was not malicious, and the conditions were also a factor. They were far from ideal.'

However, Alty are still bracing themselves for the loss of their energetic midfielder, as well as Havern, for Sunday's FA Cup second-round tie at Colchester. A decision is expected this week, but even if the appeal is upheld, the fear is the red card may be downgraded to a yellow, which would take O'Keefe to five bookings and a one-match ban.

Either way, Sinnott was fuming over a performance that began with a gift-wrapped opening goal for Forest Green inside the opening minute.

'I don't like to come out and criticise players individually,' he said. 'They knew at half-time and full-time who I was directing it at. The game was over after 43 seconds, because it set a mental seal into our team that was still there 45 minutes later. People may say we made a better fist of it in the second half but, no, I'm not having that. We didn't turn up in the first half, and I must apologise to the supporters who made the long trip down.

'It was one of those performances that really annoy you as a manager, one that stays with you a good few weeks. I remember as a player, you would maybe chew it over for a few days then move on but, as a manager, it really sticks in your throat. I'm not happy, not one bit.

'I'm looking at the psyche of the team in the first minute, the first five, first 10, first 15 and so on, and I didn't like what I saw. They are better than that, and they know they are. One thing's for sure - we're going to have to be a hell of a lot better at Colchester next week.

'Just because we are coming to second in the league doesn't mean we haven't got the right to compete, play our football and ask questions. I know in my day, I would have fancied going to second in the league. Bring it on. Maybe that asks a question in itself, because there was none of that about our performance.

'Our defending was too powder-puff. Jon Parkin got two goals and could have had more. He was allowed the run of the park, and if you are going to defend like that, you are giving yourself a problem. We changed the system at half-time, then instigated a bigger change with 20 minutes to go, but we still moved the ball too slowly. You've got to move it quickly and stretch the opposition out. We had a little flurry around the 75-minute mark, but what I saw overall, both offensively and defensively, was below what we are capable of. That's why we came away with nothing.

'You never like losing, but it wasn't so much the result that annoyed me as the fabric of our performance. It left a completely bitter taste in my mouth.'".