Unreliable defence lets Rebels down again

Slough Town

Slough Town

Blackman (38)


Hardy (13), Sherratt (55)
League Attendance: 991 Mark Pye
The Rebels failed to stop Altrincham extending their unbeaten run at Wexham Park to five visits out of five.

The defence spooked early on and continued the theme of unreliability which has been its trademark since the start of the season.

The difference was that the Conference's most prolific attack - reshuffled in the continuing absence of Graham Bressington with top striker Mark West pushed into midfield - was unable this time to score more than the back division conceded.

The match, nevertheless, was balanced on a knife edge until well into the second half after Garfield Blackman had matched Neil Hardy's 13th minute goal from a corner when he appeared on the end of a Mark Fiore cross seven minutes before half time.

The points were decided in the 55th minute when Neil Whalley released the unmarked 'Chris Sherratt inside the six-yard box and the ball was stabbed home under a spread-eagled Trevor Bunting.

The warning signs came early for the Rebels that this might not be their day. Andy Green allowed a free header at a Hardy cross in the second minute which really should have been netted.

West had a glorious chance - one of three for him in the 20 minutes that followed - which he smashed onto the crossbar from 10 yards after Ansil Bushay had got behind the defence to cross after a run down the right.

The Robins made the most of their luck, rushing back down the other end and winning the fateful corner from a quickly taken freekick. Some more slack defending allowed Hardy an easy goal at the far post.

Back went the goal-hungry West, but another great opportunity went begging when he found room to receive, then struggled to control, another cross from the left and Paul France was able to force the ball away to safety. An even easier chance then fell to Whalley who misjudged a lob after Bunting had come off his line, while the Rebels keeper bravely dived at the feet of Green who was booked for feigning a dive as he went for goal.

But West also sent in a goal bound corker from the edge of the box in the 32nd minute which forced Robins keeper Paul Collings flying through the air to push off course.

In the end Blackman appeared, as he has on several occasions already this season, in the right place to direct home an aggressive cross from Fiore which took a deflection towards the far post.

Largely able to contain the Rebel forwards, the Robins then all-too easily penetrated the defence a second time 10 minutes after the break.

The mercurial Rebels replied instantly with three quick-fire shots, two scrambled off the line and another that hit the upright.

But it was the Manchester side which looked the more likely to add to the scoreline, France heading close from a free-kick and Hardy's volley after Bunting had flapped at a corner skimming the bar.

West, eager for goal number eight this season, did the same at the other end with an ambitious bicycle-kick while Bushay - one of several Rebels having an off-day - utterly wasted a useful cross from Barry Rake.

Mark Pye, looking in a different class altogether, summed it all up by choosing to position a shot with the side of his foot instead of giving it the full-blooded treatment.

Altrincham Lineup

Collings, Cross, Heesom, France, Butler, Hardy, Terry, Whalley, Green, Carmody, Sherratt. SUBS: Royle, Bolland, Allen (none used).


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