Defensive indecision proved costly for Hayes & Yeading United as they ended up losing a game they’d deserved to win at Altrincham on Saturday.
It was a lively game throughout and within minutes of the kick off, a long ball from Altrincham’s defence was flicked on by the tall striker John McAliskey and Chris Senior beat Simon Overland to the ball but prodded it wide.
McAliskey hit the bar from a long range shot after a clever dummy from team-mate Robbie Williams created room for him and after another long ball from Nicky Clee wasn’t cleared effectively, Anthony Danylyk fired just wide of the post.
United responded with Danny Allen-Page’s cross finding Steve Basham and Stuart Coburn was hesitant but just managed to keep the ball out of his goal.
However, three minutes later he was picking it out of the net. Esmond James seized upon a loose ball and embarked on a long run directly at the home defence before cutting outside and firing a low shot that came back off the far post to be touched home by Toby Little.
Overland gathered in McAliskey’s shot following Senior’s low cross from the right, but to the home fans’ dismay, United were to score again soon afterwards when a sweet passing move involving Allen-Page, Marc Canham and Matt Ruby put Adam Green in space and his shot was smashed into the net with the aid of a deflection which deceived Coburn.
Altrincham’s recovery was quick. Shaun Densmore curled a free kick into the near post and Chris Senior’s clever flicked header drifted in at the far post. Then nine minutes later, they were level when a long Clee throw in was flicked on by McAliskey causing all sorts of problems at the far post, Colin Little eventually popping up to head the ball in back across Overland.
Densmore almost gave the hosts a half time lead with a free kick, but his effort dipped too late and landed on the roof of the net.
An even first half with the score at 2-2 suggested a close but open battle for the second half, but in fact the remainder of the match was dominated by Hayes & Yeading.
Green’s free kick thudded into the wall but the ball rebounded out to Justin Cochrane whose long shot was caught by Coburn. The Altrincham keeper excelled himself with a double save when Basham headed Green’s cross goalwards and when he pushed out that effort he reacted quick enough to also block James’ follow up from point blank range.
Altrincham manager Graham Heathcote saw the need for radical change and made a triple substitution, but it didn’t really have much effect on United who continued to dominate with some sublime passages of passing play. And when Densmore’s pass was intercepted by James Mulley the midfielder led a 4 v 3 attack. His pass to Cochrane was laid off into Basham’s path and although he struck the ball firmly, Coburn was again able to react quickly enough to push the ball away.
But against the run of play, Altrincham were to claim all three points thanks to confusion in the United defence. A long ball over the United back line tempted Overland off his line but before it reached him, Sami El-Abd was put under pressure and hurried his clearance which landed at Senior’s feet. Although the striker was a good 30 yards from goal, Overland had vacated his area and the striker was able to roll the ball into the empty net.
Despite this setback, United resumed control and went in search of an equaliser. Substitute Ram Marwa passed to Mulley whose cross was headed onto the roof of the net by Scott Fitzgerald. Then Dale Binns went on a mazy run which ended in a shot which Coburn stooped to collect.
However, in stoppage time, an agonising moment for United suggested that it simply wasn’t their day when Allen-Page crossed for Ruby, who had been moved up front in search of a goal. His header beat Coburn bounced into the ground and somehow rose high enough to land on the roof of the net.
Report by Nick Bell. Photos by Ray Peploe.
United Man of the Match: Justin Cochrane.