Steven Gerrard Academy 0 Altrincham 2
Match report by Alty player Jacob Hill
Picture by Luke Reynolds Photography
After a two-week break, following their loss to Morpeth Town in the Cup, Altrincham looked to regain some momentum in the National Youth League and grab a positive result against the Steven Gerrard Academy.
Alty made a very fast start, immediately putting the hosts under significant pressure. The young Robins were able to dominate possession in the opening 15 minutes, and their expansive, attacking football helped them generate promising positions for their attackers.
The first goal of the game came through Altrincham managing to isolate their opposition’s full-backs, leaving them in a one-on-one with the Robins' wide players.
Vlad Shtyhlian used incredible strength and technique to beat two defenders in the wide area, before playing the ball to Kian Gonzalez, whose emphatic near-post finish gave the visitors the lead.
The goal acted as a wake-up call for the Steven Gerrard Academy, however, and the home side were able to build their way into the game after the restart. They used their physical prowess to regularly win the ball back in midfield areas, helping them threaten the Altrincham goal.
But Alty’s back four did not shy away from the challenge. Desperate defending and a crucial last-ditch block from Kaiden Powell ensured that the lead remained intact.
Fortunately for Alty, the Steven Gerrard Academy’s dominance came to an end after a 10-minute spell, and the game’s intensity dropped. The game became stagnated in the centre of the park, with turnovers in possession becoming frequent from both teams.
The second half began with some Altrincham changes, as Will Knowles, Muhammad Suwareh, Ollie Dickson and Henry Shaw entered the field of play.
Despite the changes, an increase in intensity and hunger from the Steven Gerrard Academy hindered Alty’s ability to build attacks from the back. The young Robins adapted, however, and they began playing long balls into Vlad Shtyhlian, who successfully brought others into the game.
As the game progressed, the hosts became increasingly confident, looking to create goalscoring opportunities. After 80 minutes of frustration, they were finally presented with a long-awaited chance when the ball dropped in behind the Alty defence to a home team striker, but his effort was denied by a crucial save from Louie Fallon.
As the hosts’ desperation increased, it left them susceptible to late Altrincham attacks. With only five minutes to go, the ball was worked up to pitch to Kian Gonzalez in the box.
He controlled the ball with excellent technique and thundered it into the back of the net, completing his brace. It was the final moment of action in an even and hard-fought encounter, and Altrincham claimed a well-deserved three points.
Squad on day