12 septembre 2022
Agony for Reserves as spot-kick sickener denies them a point
Middlewich Town 2 (Smith 88, Hughes 90+4)
Altrincham Reserves 1 (Williams 76)
Picture, courtesy of Bryn Jackson, shows Alty skipper Josh Jordan shaking hands with opposite number Jamie Garner prior to kick-off.
Altrincham Reserves conceded two very late goals, including a controversial last-gasp penalty, to leave Middlewich empty-handed on Saturday.
The young Robins started very well at Seddon Street against a very good and experienced side who are currently second in the league.
Islam Sharif and Yusuf Adeniyi almost scored early on, following some excellent build-up play that started with Junior Bopde in goal and developed across the pitch, with no fewer than nine players involved.
For all that, neither team could find a breakthrough in a very tight affair in the first half.
The deadlock was broken in the second half, and what a very dramatic 45 minutes it proved to be.
Middlewich Town created several chances, working Bopde hard in the Altrincham goal, but Josh Jordan and Liam Evans remained resolute at the heart of the visitors' defence, giving them the platform to go in front.
It was Academy second year forward Loui Williams who was on the scoresheet for Alty, with his first senior goal, and what a brilliant effort it was.
Collecting a pass from Ewan McGeady just inside Middlewich's half, Williams beat two defenders out wide before cutting into the penalty box and bending the ball into the far bottom corner from a tight angle.
It was a goal worthy of winning any game, and it looked like proving decisive in this one, as Altrincham's defence held out with the clock running down.
But Middlewich's pressure paid off in the 88th minute, when James Smith beat Bopde with a good finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to level the scores.
Worse followed after Altrincham were reduced to 10 men when Bopde paid the price for confronting a Middlewich player who stopped him from throwing the ball out.
Islam replaced him in goal for the final five minutes and, in the last seconds of added time, he was harshly judged to have made contact with a Middlewich forward before securing the ball.
To the dismay of everyone, the referee pointed to the spot for a contentious penalty that Steven Hughes dispatched with what proved the final kick of the game to deny Altrincham any points on the road.
"I am bitterly disappointed with how the game ended," said Reserves boss Ross Speight. "It was a good, entertaining game, and I could have accepted it if Middlewich had scored from open play late on, as they were in the ascendancy.
"But not one person on the pitch or in the crowd believed that was a penalty. We had to play very well to get ourselves in front against a very good Middlewich side but our inexperience showed in the final five minutes.
"We will learn the lesson from that and take it into our next few games. Some of the football we played was excellent at times, and myself and the coaches are really encouraged by that and how well that bodes for the rest of the season."