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Neil Thomason Trophy semi-final match
played at Manchester Health Academy, Wythenshawe
on Sunday, 22 April, at 2.30pm


ALTRINCHAM (Red & white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks): 1. Matt Loizou, 2. Will Hall, 3. Dontai Gabidon, 4. Harry Sheridan, 5. James O'Hara, 16. Calvin Boyd (c), 17. Fergus Grogan, 8. Lewis Barrett, 9. Dylan Scanlan, 10. Scott Milner, 11. Curtis Miller. Subs 12. Reiss Hughes, 14. Kane Hussain, 15. Sean Walker


Leading 2-0, Altrincham looked set to reach the Final of the Neil Thomason Trophy, a competition named after the club's former youth coach by the NW Youth Alliance. But, after a mass brawl had prompted three red cards, one for each of the teams and a third for Curzon's unused and only substitute, Alty conceded twice in a minute before the interval before Curzon Ashton drove home a second-half freekick to clinch the tie.

Report to follow...

What was to be a eventful afternoon started with a late change of pitch. The normal 3G surface had already been ruled out for some unknown safety reasons before the replacement grass pitch was also discounted, because one of the crossbars was deemed to be unsafely attached to the uprights!

The adjacent replacement pitch was of small dimensions and the match only started after the linesman paced out its width to confirm its legality. And, before kick off, there had also been a spat between a Curzon player and a non-participating Alty player. But this was as nothing compared with what was to come...

Curzon kicked off and, after trading a freekick apiece, Alty gained another, on the left wing. Grogan's well-struck deadball was met by a fine header from Barrett to give Altrincham an eighth-minute lead.

After Sheridan had twice been penalized for fouls, play stopped once more as the visitors' no.9 went down with a cry, seeming to have suffered a serious injury which had not arisen from any contact with anyone else. Play resumed but, after lengthy treatment on the sidelines, the Curzon striker returned to the game.

The game continued to be punctuated by minor fouls. Alty's first corner arrived from a fine Gabidon cross (26 mins). Soon after the half-hour mark, Sheridan was fouled by a late challenge from the visitors' no.9. The Altrincham centre-back responded rashly by going for the offender and a mass brawl ensued (32 mins).

When peace had been restored the referee consulted his assistant and produced a red card for both of the main protagonists, Sheridan and the visitors' striker. In the aftermath of the brawl, Curzon's coach and their lone substitute had come onto the pitch and after being told to leave by the referee, the unused substitute contrived to receive two yellow cards in a matter of ten seconds, before he became the third red-carded player of the match. After a four-minute hiatus the game finally resumed.

The game's unusual incidents continued as Barrett was fouled inside the Curzon box but an indirect freekick for obstruction was awarded inside the penalty area rather than a penalty (40 mins).

Soon afterwards, a cross from the left came off a defender, struck the incoming Scanlan and found the back of the net to make the score 2-0 (41 mins).

With the game into added time, a Curzon player was trying to shepherd the ball out for a corner when Hall's challenge conceded a penalty, which the no.6 converted confidently to halve Alty's lead (46+1 mins)

And the visitors were level little more than a minute later when Alty failed to clear the ball and the no.8 scored (45+3 mins).


At the break, Alty brought on Reiss Hughes on the left wing, replacing midfielder Scott Milner, with Dylan Scanlan moving to right-back and Will Hall to centre-back.

The half started with the game being rather frantic and devoid of chances before Hughes fired over the bar at the end of a good move (56 mins).

Then Miller got between two defenders to win a corner before Curzon headed just wide at the other end.

Walker came on to replace Barrett (67 mins) with Scanlan moving to the right wing and Walker going to right-back. Next a Grogan foul gave Curzon a freekick in a central position, 20 yards or so from goal. The visitors' no.6 drove a low freekick past Loizou's left hand into the bottom corner of the net to put Curzon ahead (71 mins).

In a match riddled with curious incidents, Alty's restart after the goal saw a player touch the ball twice in succession and, as a result, a freekick to Curzon resulted on the centre spot.

Alty were unable to threaten a goal as the visitors won three corners by the 84th minute. Amidst these, the referee stopped play and booked the Curzon no.7, presumably for dissent (78 mins).

When Boyd was penalised he had a rant at the referee who had no option but to book him, too (88 mins). The incidents continued as, before the freekick could be taken, the linesman had to intervene in a spat between the Curzon left-back and Miller.

The bookings continued into added time when O'Hara was cautioned (90+2 mins). Next, Scanlan won his side a very late corner for which goalkeeper Loizou came upfield but this came to nothing as the referee spotted an Alty push inside the box (90+6 mins).

And so an eventful afternoon in Baguley came to a disappointing conclusion for Altrincham and above all for Harry Sheridan who, 24 hours earlier had been celebrating winning the NPL title as an unused first-team substitute at Grantham.

The referee was to be congratulated for keeping a lid on a volatile afternoon.