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20.03.2007 @ 19:45 Moss Lane Crowd: 829
Altrincham 1 - 0 Grays Athletic
Referee: J Waugh Conference National-Match

Joe O'Neil (29) None
Starting Line-ups
Stuart Coburn
Lewis Chalmers
Stephen Rose
Karl Munrow
Peter Band
Warren Peyton
Robbie Lawton
Steve Bushell
Joe O'Neil
Colin Little
Chris Senior
Ashley Bayes
Andy Sambrook
Jamie Stuart
Anthony Tonkin
Tom Kemp
Ashley Nicholls
Glenn Poole
Ben Harding
Dennis Oli
Alex Rhodes
Matt Bodkin
Andrew Scott
Stephen Aspinall
Richard Acton
Patrick McFadden
Gary Talbot
Danny Knowles
Tom Williamson
Anthony Barness
Dean Howell
Leroy Griffiths
Patrick McFadden -> Chris Senior (56)
Gary Talbot -> Colin Little (90)
Leroy Griffiths -> Alex Rhodes (53)
Dean Howell -> Matt Bodkin (66)
Yellow cards
Karl Munrow (62)
Peter Band (82)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
A bad week took a turn for the worse for toothless Grays who yet again failed in front of goal at Moss Lane.

Last week's morale-boosting win against Tamworth seemed a world away after Blues were dumped out of the FA Trophy at the weekend with their leading light in front of goal languishing in a jail cell and on Tuesday at Altrincham they capitulated in a relegation showdown.

With striker Gavin Grant unavailable because of his misdemeanours Alex Rhodes led the line alongside Dennis Oli for Blues but he lasted just 53 minutes before being replaced by Leroy Griffiths.

But the fans' favourite also failed to spark in front of goal, though he did have a significant impact on the match.

It was the classic game of two halves.' Altrincham held sway in the first and Grays had them on the back foot for most of the second but the visitors are a side remarkably short of finishing power and once more they paid the penalty as part-time Altrincham dealt their Nationwide Conference survival hopes a major blow.

Joe O'Neill scored the only goal of the game on 29 minutes as Altrincham opened up a vital six point gap on their fellow relegation strugglers.

There was a strangely subdued atmosphere considering the importance of the game for both sides.

Not only did the fans seem somewhat lacking in get up and go' neither team exhibited the fire and passion normally associated with a clash of this nature.

Instead, the football was played in a surprisingly relaxed manner, pleasing on the eye but strewn with errors.

Altrincham were by far the better of the two sides during the first half and virtally monopolised the scoring chances from the off.

O'Neill could have put his side ahead as early as the sixth minute but could only muster a weak effort after latching onto Lewis Chalmers' flick on.

Similarly Colin Little failed to get enough on his shot after twisting and turning on the edge of the area to create an inch of space.

Grays' only chance of note was not even close enough to set Altrincham hearts racing. Space opened up in front of Ben Harding but his shot was straight at keeper Stuart Coburn from 20 yards.

That was only a momentary lapse from the home side, however, and the onslaught soon continued.

The Robins took the lead on 29 minutes as the Grays defence seemed completely unaware of the danger posed by Chalmers' long throw. They watched it sail over their heads towards the six yard box and O'Neill simply turned and fired past Ashley Bayes.

Not even this seemed to wake the visitors from their slumber and it could have been 2-0 when O'Neill went clean through eight minutes before the break. It was Bayes to the rescue though as he got down well to keep his side in the game.

As dominant as Altrincham had been during the first 45 minutes, the flow of the game changed almost completely after the break.

The introduction of Griffiths revitalised Grays and they began to seriously threaten.

Jamie Stuart's looping effort from a corner almost dipped under Coburn's bar, while Oli wasted two good chances.

First the striker completely scuffed his shot from point blank range and then glanced a header wide from Glenn Poole's right wing cross.

Try as they might, Grays could not find a breakthrough and were consigned to a seriously damaging defeat.

Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report.