Altrincham U-16s 1 Irlam U-16s 1
Report by Alty player James O'Gara
After a few controversial matches and a week off, the young Robins were keen to get playing again, and they knew they were in for an evenly-contested game against opponents who were level on points with them, going into the match.
Irlam started the stronger of the two sides, with most of the football being played in Alty's half, and they took the lead when a teasing ball across the box was unfortunately turned in by Robins centre-back Sam Taylor.
An early substitution in the first half saw Kian Gonzalez off for Mo Elnagi, in order to try and create a more attacking sense in the final third, but to no avail.
Back on the pitch for the second half, and changes were made, with Oscar Cooper substituted for Jack Chandler and Lincoln Goddard for Harry O’Gara shortly after.
The speed Chandler brought to the left wing saw Alty beginning to create more chances, putting pressure on the Irlam defence and shifting the focus from Alty's half to Irlam's.
A change of shape from Alty completely flipped the game on its head, as substitutes Harrison Howells and Henry Shaw entered the pitch for Mo Elnagi and Afernee Denise.
The attacking combination brought the Altrincham side to life. There was speed down the left and right side, and with O'Gara and Howells up front, the young Robins suddenly became the dominant side.
As Chandler burst down the left wing, skilfully past numerous Irlam
players, the only way to stop him was by fouling him, which resulted in the Alty youngster being brought down in the area for a penalty.
James O'Gara took the responsibility and kept a cool head to place the spot-kick confidently in the back of the net to equalise.
The young Robins kept the pressure on in their quest for a winner, creating numerous chances. However, Irlam didn't give up and a nervy 30 seconds saw the away side thunder the crossbar from outside the box, the ball bouncing around before being collected by the Alty keeper, George Huyton.
Manager Adam Bond commented: "After picking some up positive results against both St Helen’s and Runcorn, we wanted to keep momentum going against Irlam.
"A large majority of our group are familiar with Irlam, with them also being an Under-16s side. That said, this was the first encounter between the sides.
"We were struggling to get a grip of Irlam's four central midfielders in the first half, and they deserved their lead at half-time.
"We made some changes with system and personnel, switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2, and we finally got a grip of the game, starting to dominate both in and out of possession and finally being rewarded with James O’Gara's goal.
"It was still very evenly-matched, and the game could have gone either way, with Irlam being a threat on the counter. Overall, a 1-1 draw which I don’t think either side could grumble at. A great advert for NWYA, with both Under-16 sides going toe to toe."
1. George Huyton
2. Teddy Woolland
3. Oscar Cooper
4. Sam Taylor
5. Harry O’Gara
6. Henry Murphy
7. Afernee Denise
8. Kruze Pryce
9. James O’Gara
10. Kian Gonzalez
11. Lucas Edwards
12. Lincoln Goddard
14. Harrison Howells
15. Mo Elnagi
16. Jack Chandler
17. Henry Shaw