Altrincham 1-2 Manchester United XI – Moss Lane, Altrincham (22/07/2016)
Competition: Pre-season friendly
Admission Price: £8
Programme: £1 (covers entire pre season campaign)
This wasn’t my first visit to Moss Lane, I’d lived in Altrincham in for three years and had attended many games as the Robins fluctuated between the bottom of the National League and top end of the Conference North.
Altrincham are a big name in the non league circuit, proudly holding the non league record for the most giant killings in FA Cup history. Moss Lane has been their home for over a 100 years now and the ground is a lovely traditional non league ground.
As I arrived at the ground there was an announcement that kick off was being moved back to 7:45pm, but as soon as I’d picked up a portion of chips and gravy, both teams had made their way onto the pitch in time for the original 7:30pm kick off. No explanation was given for the timing confusion, but as it’s pre season it didn’t really matter.
Altrincham and Manchester United have a long standing relationship and the Robins had invited their near neighbours to unveil their new playing surface. The pitch looked fantastic and will certainly help the Robins, who have had to call a number of games off over the last few years due to an unplayable surface.
As for the ground itself since my last visit a new club house has been erected next to the main stand and looks the part, and of course brings in much needed revenue. With three sides of the ground designated for standing, you can make your way around the ground comfortably allowing you to get close to the action throughout the game.
Altrincham were relegated back to the National League North at the end of last season and the pre season has seen a number of changes with the highly rated Neil Young taking up the managers job. According to the programme only seven players were retained, with Young looking to build his own team for a promotion challenge.
United’s team featured several players who have featured for the first team lately, with James Wilson leading the line. A personal highlight for me was seeing Alan Goodall captain the home side, bringing back memories of watching Bangor City from the early 2000’s.
The game kicked off with local Premier League referee Anthony Taylor officiating, and it started off at a steady pace with neither team threatening. Against the run of play Altrincham opened the scoring when United keeper Dean Henderson dropped a cross at the feet of the prolific Damien Reeves who buried it.
The lead didn’t last for long with the impressive Tosin Kehinde finishing of a great move ensuring the sides headed into the break level. In total United were able to make ten changes during the second half, and their youngsters gave their part time opponents the run around late on.
Callum Gribbin’s excellent finish ensured United eventually found their way past the stubborn Alty back line with 15 minutes left. The goal killed off the game as contest with United keeping hold of the ball and seeing the game out.
Game Rating: 7/10 entertaining evening in the sun.
Man of the Match: John Cyrus (Altrincham) – Looked assured and confident looks a great addition to the Alty backline.