ALTRINCHAM v WOKING
12:00am, Thu 31st Jan 2008
ALTRINCHAM v WOKING (live on Setanta TV)
7.45pm on Thursday 31 January 2008
Only a handful of Cards fans are able to travel to Moss Lane tonight for this match (assuming it?s on!), but don?t worry: it?s being televised on Setanta! So, head for the Cardinals? Bar at Kingfield and settle down with a nice bottle or two of Cardinals? Gold to watch the game in comfort! (The bar opens at 7pm and there?s a special offer of Draught Guiness and Draught Stella at ?2 a pint!) Altrincham are putting up their familiar fight against relegation and have just managed to edge out of the bottom four for the first time this season. Manager Graham Heathcote has been busy strengthening his part-time squad in the transfer window, so the Cards will have a tough battle on their hands if they are to maintain their good record against teams below them.
Outsiders looking at the Club?s 16th place in the table, our early exits from the FA Cup and FA Trophy and three recent defeats at the hands of the Shots may be puzzled about the air of optimism around Kingfield at present. But Cards fans can see distinct signs that Frank Gray?s young side is on an upward path, although, as Frank says, there will no doubt be blips along the way. In particular, the new front pairing of Jason Norville and the rejuvenated Marvin Morgan (who has scored in three games in succession) are looking lively. Marvin ?on song? is great to watch! Off the field too, guided by a committed owner (Chris Ingram), a Chairman (David Taylor) who is clearly serious about communicating with fans, and an energetic and enthusiastic Board, the Club is edging ever closer to its aim of redeveloping the ground in order to create crucial revenue-producing facilities. All (!) it needs is Woking Borough Council to approve the planning application when it?s submitted and the Club could achieve ?lift off?!
But enough of that flight of fancy and back to the more mundane matter of Altrincham away (sorry, Robins fans)! With no injury worries and no suspensions, Frank can be expected to play the same side that began against Crawley Town on Saturday, although if he wanted to tighten things up a bit he could restore Adam Green to the starting line-up in place of Gez Sole. Tom Hutchinson and Bradley Quamina picked up their fifth yellow cards on Saturday but their one-match suspension won?t kick in until the Setanta Shield game at home against Forest Green Rovers next Monday evening.
After two wins and a draw in their last three league games, the Cards will be hoping to pick up at least another point tonight to continue their good run.
After being spared relegation by Boston United?s double demotion, Graham Heathcote set about strengthening his side for another season of struggle. He opted mainly for bringing in experienced Conference campaigners, including Darren Tinson, 37 year-old central defender, who was with Burton Albion for the previous two seasons but who won promotion to the League with Macclesfield Town; Chris Lane, a 28 year-old right back from Southport but who has also appeared for Hereford, Morecambe, Chester and Leigh RMI; and midfielder Jake Sedgemore, who was released by Kidderminster Harriers after spells at Shrewsbury, Northwich and Burton Albion amongst other clubs. A transfer deadline day signing was Carlos Logan, released by Darlington at the end of last season. Alty?s prize asset, however, is striker Colin Little: without his goals in recent seasons the Robins would have been dead and buried.
Heathcote has so far brought seven players into Moss Lane during the transfer window: Richard Battersby, a defender from Northwich Victoria; Greg Young, the powerful Halifax defender; Tom Cahill and Liam King, two 20 year-olds on loan from Rotherham; James Jennings, a left-back on loan from Macclesfield Town; Ryan Toulson, a utility player on loan from Halifax; and he has also extended the loan of Ryan Shotton, a centre back from Stoke City.
Darren Tinson, Val Owen and Tom Cahill are unavailable for the Robins.
SEASON SO FAR
Alty recently leapfrogged Farsley Celtic to escape at least temporarily from the relegation zone. They have lost ten of their fifteen home league games, winning three and drawing two. In the process they have scored 18 but conceded a hefty 34. However, their recent league form has improved, with wins over Northwich Victoria and Kidderminster Harriers and a draw against York City to balance out defeats at the hands of Oxford United and Cambridge United (2-1 away on Saturday). In the FA Cup the Robins lost 2-1 at home to Millwall in the First Round. They are out of the Trophy and Setanta Shield, having been beaten by York City (3-1 at home) and Nuneaton Borough (2-1 away) respectively.
We have won all four games played against Altrincham since they were promoted. In December 2005 the Cards had a superb 4-0 away win over the Robins, having put thirteen past Camberley Town in a midweek Surrey Senior Cup game. Justin Richards and Steve Evans gave us a 2-0 lead at half-time, and Justin again and Steve Ferguson added two more in the second half. In the last league game of that season the Cards triumphed 3-1 over Alty in a sparkling display which proved to be no guide at all to how we would perform in the FA Trophy Final a few weeks later. The goalscorers were Craig McAllister, Justin Richards (penalty) and Paul Watson, with Shola Oyedele pulling the strings in midfield. Last September the Cards won 3-2 away during our Jon Nurse-inspired run of good form. Goma Lambu scored twice and Craig McAllister grabbed the third. In January, by which time all optimism had vanished, the Cards gained a vital 2-0 victory, with two second-half goals from Craig McAllister. James Bittner, Adam Green and Neil Barrett made their debuts in that match.
Cheshire WA15 8AP
Tel: 0161 928 1045
The Supporters? Club is not running a coach to this match.
Leave M6 motorway at junction 19 (Manchester and Airport sign). Join A556 and follow Airport signs to M56. Do NOT take the M5 but carry straight on at roundabout on A56. At first traffic lights (1 mile) turn right for Bowdon/Hale (passing The Quality Hotel on the right). Go through the traffic lights, then right at the mini roundabout into Hale Road (avoiding town centre). Carry on for approximately 1 mile, turning left into Westminster Road (opposite cemetery entrance). Carry straight on for approximately 3/4 mile into Moss Lane. The football ground is on the right.
OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW
* Admission prices ? Terrace: Adults ?12, Concessions ?7; Seating: Adults ?14, Concessions ?8; Children U14 ?2. If segregation is in place, away supporters are directed to the Golf Road End, an open terrace behind the goal nearest the town centre.
Come on, you Cards!
Don?t forget that the Cards are at home on Monday evening to Forest Green Rovers in the Setanta Shield. Kick-off 7.45pm. Also live on Setanta if you can?t make it to Kingfield. Come and support the Cards, if you can, though, to cheer the team on. Reduced admission prices: LGS, ?10 adults, ?6 concessions, Juniors/Students ?2; Elsewhere, ?8 adults, ?5 concessions, ?2 juniors/students.