Starting from Scratch – Part 12

Twitterless Matthew is here to brighten your Tuesday. Altrincham are now an established football league side, so much so they are buying players from Borussia Dortmund. Catch up with part 11 here.

We’re into the fourth update of season 2 and it’s a case of so far, so good. We’re flying high in the league and shortly due to kick off our FA Cup campaign. Two of our strikeforce from last season have left us for Bolton, however the new recruit Tomlinson marked his debut with a hat trick so the omens are good up front.

Ferguson has been a bad lad and starts a 3 match suspension for accrued disciplinary points. In addition, N’Diaye is knackered yet again as we face Bradford City at home. N’Diaye is at 82% fitness but Zerrouki is only 6% better off so I decide to stick with it and sub them later on if necessary.

1

Tomlinson continues his dream start with another 2 goals either side of the half, and Browning makes it 3 with 25 mins left to play. Watson pulls one back for them in the last few minutes but we’re fully in control and close out a very comfortable win.

Old man Wilkins decides he wants to move, and I’m not going to stand in his way. Good luck finding a club that want a 37 year old who’s out for 3 months with a damaged spine though.

2

The midfield are well rested for the trip to York, who came up with us last season but haven’t shared the same sort of success as they’re currently 20th. It’s another assured performance and we run out easy 2-0 winners, though I am still concerned with Roberts. His form has dropped from superb to average and he actually went into half time with a rating of 4. I’ll give it another few games before jumping into action on that front though.

3

The fixture list is pretty relentless at the moment, and we’re back in action the following Wednesday as we travel to midtable Wigan. There are no fresh injury concerns so I keep the same 11 that started at York.

4

It’s a hard-fought game, and a glaring example of a game of two halves. We start dreadfully and are under the cosh for the entire first half, going in with a fully deserved 2-0 deficit. This isn’t the fault of Roberts though, as he’s made a couple of smart saves to limit the damage, it was simply the relentless attacks that had been the problem. We’re completely different after the break though, and Browning gives us hope 3 minutes in. It’s then the Graeme Tomlinson show as he grabs a brace to turn the game around and further endear himself to the Altrincham support. Wigan have a couple of chances to level it up after that, but Roberts does commendably and keeps them out. Duncan is sent off in the 86th minute for a professional foul but it’s too late and we take maximum points home. I don’t know what Bound did for those final 4 minutes but it can’t have been good – I’ve never actually seen a 3 rating before.

N’Diaye simply can’t handle 2 matches a week in that central role it seems, and he’s benched for the home game against 4th-placed Brighton due to fatigue. Zerrouki takes his position and Ferguson returns from suspension in place of Gattuso.

5

We find ourselves behind after a fairly even first half, with Roberts having another good game for us. The game turns when Brighton go a man down however and Tomlinson levels it up a few minutes later to improve his ridiculous record to 8 goals in his first 5 appearances for us. We push for a winner but can’t find a way past Ormerod and have to settle for a point.

There’s trouble brewing with Duncan as he’s finally decided that he’s too good for us. I’ll have to look for another centre back after our next game as I don’t think he’ll be with us much longer.

Our second Windscreen Shield game is at Scunthorpe, who we also shared a group with last year. Roberts is a cup-tied so Hammond gets another chance to impress and N’Diaye is rested in anticipation of a game that actually matters.

6

It’s an understatement to say that Hammond doesn’t take his chance to regain the number 1 spot as he lets in Scunthorpe’s only chance of the first half and goes in with a rating of 4. We rally for the second half though and Tomlinson scores yet again before Harris opens his account for us in an impressive 20 minute cameo. As embarrassing as it would have been, a defeat would have knocked us out of this Micky Mouse trophy but it wasn’t to be and we’ll have to suffer through at least one more round.

We’re not back to the league yet though as the next game is the opening round of the FA Cup against Bristol City at home. They’re second from bottom in Division 2 and their keeper is out with fractured ribs, leaving an autogen in goal. Tomlinson may well improve his goalscoring record even further in the next 90 minutes. Hunter is struggling with his fitness level which draws attention to the fact that I only have one right wingback – I’ll remedy that after the match.

7

It’s a frustrating first half as my team fail to realise the ease at which they could score with an autogen in goal if only they actually tested him. I’m shouting “JUST GET ONE ON TARGET YOU TURDS” futilely at the screen as chance after chance is deflected wide or flies over the bar, but Tomlinson finally gets his act together in the second half and bags yet another brace. It’s now 11 from 7 and I suspect he may catch the eye of one of the bigger boys soon, as he has a big club release clause sadly.

I can’t find a suitable right wingback on a free so I move instead for this German regen, who looks pretty average but will do fine at filling in for Hunter in the odd game and won’t break the bank at £42k

8

The hairy-faced madman is out for a couple of months, which is a shame but he’s become a bit-part player recently so it’s not a huge spanner in the works

9

Heinrich is happy to sign so we finally have cover for Hunter

10

The defence takes a hit for our next match, which is away at Stockport. Duncan is suspended following his sending off at Wigan and Taggart is away with NI so we’re two players down. Stockport are one place above the bottom though with a solitary win in their last 15 matches and they’re also facing an injury/suspension crisis of their own so I’m hoping the damage is minimal. Young John Butler makes his first appearance at the back and new signing Heinrich takes to the bench.

11

It’s a very routine win, and we do the damage early before sitting back and riding it out. Butler tries a little bit too hard on his debut, picking up a booking and later injuring Stockport’s Parker with an over-zealous lunge, but all in all it’s a good performance from the lads.

England, Wales and Scotland have qualified for this Summer’s European finals, all as best runners up, but this evidently is not good enough for the FA who expect first place or NOTHING

12

The final game of this update is (sort of) a top of the table clash between us and Peterborough, who are currently third. Duncan is back from suspension and Taggart from international duty so it’s a much more familiar defence.

13

We end up on the wrong end of the result in a game of few chances. They get a quick couple of goals after the break and although Browning pulls one back with 15 minutes to go, I never really feel like we’re going to level it up and so it proves. So our first loss in quite a while puts a dent in what’s otherwise a really good set of results in this update.

14

Ah, stop rubbing it in! They really know how to kick a man when he’s down, jeez…

Anyway a quick look at the tables, as is customary:

15

The loss lets Peterborough make up some ground but we’re still 6 points clear at the top as we approach the midway point in the season – a pretty damn fine place to be.

As for Colwyn Bay, They’re still enjoying their first league season sitting in tenth place and, like last time, just a point off the play off places. Promotion of these non-league sides usually happens 2 or 3 seasons in, but it’s pretty rare to achieve it in the maiden campaign. Scarborough have gone from strength to strength and are knocking on the door of automatic promotion places, which is quite a turnaround from their last two consecutive 23rd placings.

16

The race to avoid the drop into obscurity is very, very close this year and Darlington are currently at the bottom of the pile. No doubt more twists and turns are on their way as only a point or less separates each team all the way up to 14th, so a win or two can massively change a team’s fortunes.

17

1 thought on “Starting from Scratch – Part 12

  1. Pingback: Starting from Scratch – Part 13 | CM 97/98

Leave a Reply