South Shields 1 Altrincham 4
Match report by Alty player Harrison Howells
After two weeks out of action, Alty's Academy team returned to National League action, looking to make amends for their disappointing defeat to Boston in their last match.
The young Robins made the long journey to face a physical South Shields side who had won just one point from their last possible nine. Six changes were made coming into this game for Alty, and the new players looked to impact the game. With large amounts of determination and hunger to claim all three points, the away side kicked off, and the game was underway.
The game started with Altrincham dominating possession in the opening quarter, and they were rewarded with some early chances. Just before the 10-minute mark, Afernee Denise played a delightful ball straight across the face of the goal, where he found Max Whittle.
Whittle’s shot rebounded off the boot of a brave defender, however, and the scoreline remained 0-0.
Shortly after, the Robins threatened the South Shields defence again, this time through some clever link-up play between Jack Chandler and Oscar Cooper on the left.
Cooper threaded a wonderful ball to Harrison Howells, who, after deceiving the defender with a body feint, struck the post with his shot. Luckily for Altrincham, Whittle was on hand to smash home and give the visitors the lead.
But after taking their foot off the gas in the period after the goal, Altrincham began to leak chances at the back. Their lack of concentration was eventually punished after a dangerous South Shields cross was poorly dealt with. It fell to a South Shields forward, who lifted the ball into the roof of the net, sending the teams into the half-time break level.
The young Robins began the second half with a much more compact shape out of possession. They tried to prevent South Shields from playing in between the lines of midfield and defence.
Passes that were causing Alty problems in the first half were being intercepted, and the midfield of the visitors helped regain some control.
Altrincham did not just make defensive alterations; they found a weakness in the South Shields defence that they managed to exploit, with Dane Bryon’s distribution giving them a more direct style of play that helped pin back their opponents.
Around 15 minutes into the second half, a cleared ball from Kaiden Powell was poorly controlled by a South Shields defender. His mistake led to Jack Chandler being played through on goal, and the winger finished his chance expertly, regaining Altrincham’s lead.
Once again, however, South Shields responded magnificently to going a goal behind. After the hosts were awarded a succession of corners, an Altrincham clearance fell to the South Shields full-back. A menacing cross was met by an onrushing South Shields attacker, forcing Dan Byron into an astonishing save.
He stopped the ball on the line and followed up his staggering save by rushing out and snuffing any oncoming danger, ensuring Alty’s lead remained intact.
With around 20 minutes remaining, Altrincham were able to double their lead. A ruthless counter-attack from Altrincham began with Howells receiving a quick throw-in.
He broke away from his man and managed to cut the ball back into the centre of South Shields’ penalty area, finding substitute Charley Jarrald, who was able to calmly finish the chance.
Altrincham weren’t done there, however, and they remained on the front foot until the very end. After being denied by a disallowed goal earlier in the game, Howells finally made it on to the scoresheet.
Jarrald delivered a teasing ball into the box, and just before it could reach the goalkeeper, Howells quickly darted in front of him and leathered the ball into the empty net.
The Academy managed to put their disappointing loss to Boston right, and an emphatic 4-1 win sealed all three points. It was a much-deserved win, and the team are now back on track.