Twitterless Matthew is back with season 2 of his Altrincham save. Having started with nothing they’re doing pretty well for themselves. Catch up with part 9 here.
Hi and welcome back to part 2 of Altrincham’s second season in the league. I put a bid in for a promising striker last week, and he’s happy enough to sign terms. He’s managed to injure himself since I bid for him but never mind, he’ll be available soon enough
My new recruit up front, Bobby Raven, looks pretty rough around the edges but he’s only 16 so there’s still plenty of time for him to come good. I list him for loan, maybe debutants Colwyn Bay will take him on.
We’re at home to fellow promoted team Torquay for the first game of this update, and N’Diaye is knackered again so I bench him,Zerrouki taking his place in the middle of the park. The playmaker role seems to be more demanding than other positions, as Zerrouki was frequently more tired than the other midfielders when he played there too. It’s a pretty disjointed performance and we’re lucky to go into half time all square. We are let off on 24 mins as they have a goal chalked off, but they have the ball in the net again a few minutes later and this one counts. We equalise almost immediately as half time looms. I bring N’Diaye on for the second half as Zerrouki is having a poor game. We just about edge the second half but can’t find a winner and it finishes with honours even.
Taggart gets a call up for the Norn Iron team which reminds me to recruit another defender. This lad is a steal at 60k so I move in to sign him up
We’re away at Grimsby for the next match, and they’re in a poor run of form. We take full advantage and start brightly, N’Diaye and Tokely putting us 2 up within 20 minutes. N’Diaye gets a second 5 minutes before half time, and a fairly uneventful second half means it finishes at 3-0, though 4 or 5 wouldn’t have flattered us too much.
Butler’s deal is finalised, and he only asks for a one year contract which suits us fine
Our next game leaves us with a bit of a problem up front, as Tokely is annoyingly unavailable due to his involvement in Scotland’s U21 match. New signing Harris is still out for a couple of weeks, so I’m forced to field the unfancied McGarrigle up front. He had a brief run in the side last season, but 2 goals in 13 didn’t really justify his place in the team and he’s been frozen out since, he is in fact transfer listed but without any interest so far.
Fair play to the lad though, he takes his chance and gets our second after Allardyce had put us in front a few minutes earlier. It’s another comfortable victory, the only blemish being an injury to Zerrouki which doesn’t look serious but will probably keep him out of the next match
It’s confirmed after the match that he’ll be out for a week with a bruised head so we travel to Chesterfield without him in the squad. Gerry Taggart is the latest player to be unavailable due to international commitments, so Bound gets a recall and Tokely returns up front. It’s a hugely frustrating game as we take a 2 goal lead but miss a whole host of chances to add to it. We’re punished as Chesterfield take advantage of Hammond’s patchy form and score 2 in the second half to add to their goal at the end of the first to nick it 3-2. I’m amused to see a 35 year old Winterburn has swapped Highbury for…Chesterfield’s pokey little stadium, whatever it’s called
It looks like Taggart was needed by his country at least, as the Iron get one over England in Euro qualifying
Next up, Hammond faces his old club as Reading are the visitors for our latest home fixture. There’s pretty much a full squad to select from so there are recalls for Taggart and Zerrouki as we look to immediately bounce back from that undeserved loss in the last match.
It’s hardly a vintage performance but we just about get the job done. We go in front thanks to Ferguson but finish with 9 men as Taggart brings down Lovell as the last man soon after half time and Hughes picks up his second booking in the last 5 minutes. We manage to hold on though and get back to winning ways, the suspensions are going to be a pain in the arse though.
Hammond has been shaky in the last few games and I’m starting to worry that he’s past his peak. He’s only 31 but keepers seem to age prematurely in this game and I think it’s time to give him some competition. Rivals Torquay are surprisingly willing to let their keeper go despite him averaging over 8 per game so I put in a bid
My fears for Hammond deepen in the next game, as he lets in Millwall’s first 2 attempts on goal to give us a mountain to climb. We give it everything to get back into the match and a goal on the 30 minute mark is ruled out to my extreme annoyance. We keep plugging away though and get rewarded with another goal before half time as Allardyce’s long-range effort is spilled and a brief game of penalty area pinball ensues before Tokely slams it in. It’s looking like another defeat is on the cards but a last-minute corner gives us one final chance. Browning nods it in to rescue a point – so we predictably witness quite a few of our shiny new(ish) seats ripped out and hurled at our supporters by the animals that follow Millwall. Some things never change.
The Windscreen Shield group stages kick off next, and we’re at home to Hartlepool for our first match. They evidently want to exit the competition just as badly as we do, and Their defender Lee handles in the box after 2 minutes, granting us a penalty which Allardyce converts. It’s then a familiar story as the keeper and our crap finishing combine to see chance after chance go begging. They even have a second man sent off, before scoring with their only attempt all game to draw level. If another example was required of the need to replace Hammond at the moment, it’s this match here.
Roberts puts pen to paper 2 days later to ease our goalkeeping fears, and Hammond is relegated to training only until he can demonstrate that he’s able to stop at least 1 attempt per game. It’s still rather mystifying that Torquay were happy to sell him to their rivals for such a reasonable price.
We’ll finish up with a look at the table, where our strong start has put us in third place
As promised we’ll also look in on new boys Colwyn Bay, to see how they’re finding life in Division 3 after promotion last season. Well, they’re just about doing enough but they’re not comfortable by any means. They currently sit two places and two points clear of the bottom
A quick look at their squad offers a clue as to their inconsistent results
What on earth? How many loan players do you need for Christ’s sake? At least they took my advice and invested in some permanent signings, but that’s the craziest amount of loanees I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be comfortable betting on them to survive right now but we’ll have to wait and see.