Altrincham cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win in their final match of their championship-winning season. On a bright afternoon, in front of a crowd of 1,856, they took a fourth-minute lead when Tom Hannigan slotted the ball home after a Harrop shot had been blocked. Alty slackened their intensity in the latter part of the first half but Hednesford were not able to take advantage.
The second Altrincham goal, their 100th of the campaign, arrived in the 53rd minute when goalkeeper Veiga handled a Hednesford back-pass. The freekick, from well inside the box, was teed up for Moult to volley superbly through the massed ranks of defending players.
And Moult's superb long ball forward for Hancock laid on the third goal in the first minute of added time, Alty's no.11 finishing calmly past Veiga. After the match there were massed celebrations on the pitch before the team received the EvoStik NPL championship trophy.
REFEREE: Mr Elliott Swallow
After the midweek game with Marine for which nine first teamers missed the starting eleven, Phil Parkinson was able to bring back Richman, White and Hancock to start today.
ALTRINCHAM (Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, red socks) 1. Tony THOMPSON, 2. Simon RICHMAN, 3. Connor HAMPSON, 4. Tom HANNIGAN, 5. Andy WHITE, 6. Jake MOULT (c), 7. John JOHNSTON, 8. Max HARROP, 9. Jordan HULME, 10. Tom PEERS, 11. Josh HANCOCK. Subs 12. Rhain DAVIS, 14. Theo BAILEY-JONES, 15. Chris MERRIE, 16. Sam HEATHCOTE, 20. Andrew JONES
HEDNESFORD TOWN (Grey shirts and shorts, yellow socks) 1. Jose Veiga, 2. Tom Thorley (c), 3. Matt Curley, 4. Louis Harris, 5. Sam Oji, 6. Charlie Gatter, 7. Jack Rea, 8. Joe Fitzpatrick, 9. Joey Butlin, 10. Danny Glover, 11. Anthony Dwyer. Subs: 12. James Lawrie, 14. Ben Bailey, 15. Reece King, 16. James Fitzgibbon, 17. Callum Mendez-Jones.
Altrincham had already won the championship, whilst Hednesford were in lower mid-table.
Mike Garnett provides the data on previous meetings between our clubs...
A large crowd was boosted by the championship win, the Beer Festival and the issue of free tickets to the Alty Juniors.
After Hednesford had kindly afforded Altrincham a guard of honour, in recognition of their championship title win, the Pitmen kicked off towards Golf Road on a bright afternoon at the J. Davidson Stadium.
The ground eventually filled up to 1,856 spectators, the highest gate of the season, just three days after it had witnessed the poorest attendance of the campaign for the visit of Marine.
After a quiet opening, Alty gained a fortuitous corner on the right. From this, the ball came out to Harrop who was allowed the time to advance a couple of paces before shooting. His effort was blocked but came to Hannigan who netted from close range to make it 1-0 (4 mins).
Next, Hulme fed Johnston who won a corner, from which a Peers shot went so high that it hit the roof of the three-storey apartment block behind the Chequers end.
Alty were now well on top as Hancock was halted in the box and a Hulme dink ran to Veiga. Johnston then got to the byline, just before Richman fired over the bar after a feed from Harrop, following a good build-up (13 mins).
Richman now had to come off the pitch to change into a numberless shirt after his original had been ripped. On the pitch, the one-way traffic continued as a White cross-shot was saved (15 mins).
But now the Pitmen began to get a foothold in the game though it was Alty who were still the more penetrative with Hulme's flick to Johnston running on to Veiga before Hancock lifted a shot out of the ground from a promising opening (20 mins).
From his corner on the right, Johnston put the ball onto the roof of net underlining how Alty had now lost some of their earlier intensity.
The referee played "advantage" to Hednesford after Harrop had tripped a man with a late challenge but the man in black then went back and booked the Altrincham midfielder (26 mins). Next, a Harrop 20-yarder was screwed wide before a well-struck Dwyer shot, their best to date, hit Hampson.
For Alty, Richman now got free but he misdirected his pass, before Peers sat down for treatment and was replaced by Bailey-Jones, who went to the right wing (30 mins).
The game had now gone a bit flat, with little if any goalmouth action, before Veiga had to smother the ball ahead of Johnston (38 mins). A couple of minutes later Hulme put in a late challenge on Gatter and was booked (41 mins).
After Moult had been tripped by Butlin, the hard working visitors' striker was spoken to by the referee for the second time, having earlier been addressed by the official along with Richman.
Half-time arrived with the game having gone off the boil after a bright start.
|Half-Time: ALTRINCHAM 1
HEDNESFORD TOWN 0
A few uneventful minutes were played before Veiga gathered a clear back pass with his hands, to give Alty a freekick inside the box, to the right of goal (50 mins). With all of the Hednesford men back in the goalmouth to block the freekick, it took a minute or more to get the kick taken. It was worth the wait as the ball was teed up from the freekick and Moult volleyed it superbly into the net to make it 2-0 (52 mins).
It was Altrincham's 100th goal of the league season.
After the restart there was an unbelievable melee in the visitors' box as at least three goalbound shots from close range were blocked by defenders (53 mins). Alty won a corner on the right soon after this, following which a Hancock shot was saved by Veiga.
Now, Mendez-Jones came on for Rea (56 mins). After this, White let the ball go and Butlin got in a shot which Thompson did not hold but it was cleared (57 mins). From a Hednesford freekick, about 22 yards out in a central position, Dwyer struck the ball just wide (60 mins).
After 62 minutes each side made a change as ex-Alty man James Lawrie replaced Glover whilst the hosts introduced Merrie for White, Moult moving into the back line and Hampson to left-back.
When Veiga now kicked clear to Hulme, the striker took a heavy touch as he ran towards the keeper, allowing the Portuguese custodian to regain the ball (63 mins). A foul by Dwyer on Harrop earned the Pitman a booking (64 mins).
At the other end, a Butlin cross was held, low down, by Thompson. When Johnston jinked into the opposition box, Veiga fumbled the ball but it was cleared.
On 70 minutes, King replaced Harris for Hednesford as the home crowd remained in good voice with choruses of "Championes" in the bright sunshine.
The matchday programme had announced goalkeeper Tim Deasy's retirement and manager Phil Parkinson now brought him on to replace Tony Thompson (74 mins).
Deasy had little to do in the next few minutes whilst Veiga saved a Johnston cross from the byline. On 88 minutes, Johnston won a corner on the right but, just as the game seemed to be winding down to a 2-0 conclusion, a magnificent diagonal ball from just inside the opposition half by Moult, near the left touchline, located Hancock on the edge of the box.
Altrincham's number eleven controlled the ball before slotting it past the exposed Veiga to make it 3-0 (90+1 mins).
Results elsewhere confirmed that Altrincham had won the title by a remarkable thirteen points. After prolonged celebrations on the pitch by the team and their supporters, the award of the championship trophy took place in the Carole Nash Main Stand.
|Full-Time: ALTRINCHAM 3
HEDNESFORD TOWN 0