Boro fail to hit the target
Stevenage Boro 0 Altrincham 1 IT was the legendary Jimmy Greaves who said football s a funny old game. This was certainly the case on Saturday as Boro played their best football for weeks but were beaten by a sucker punch for Altrincham. Few Boro fans wou
Stevenage Boro 0 Altrincham 1
IT was the legendary Jimmy Greaves who said football's a funny old game.
This was certainly the case on Saturday as Boro played their best football for weeks but were beaten by a sucker punch for Altrincham.
Few Boro fans would have been laughing at the final whistle though as the visitors snatched a 23rd minute lead before they defended resolutely for the remainder of the game.
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In truth Altrincham keeper Stuart Coburn had few saves to make as Boro failed to hit the target enough after carving out a number of promising situations.
A cold, wet, grey day produced a greasy surface and Boro knocked the ball around well for most of the afternoon.
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Yet luck was not on their side and coupled with too many final balls going astray, it made for a frustrating day for Mark Stimson's side.
Paul Hakim partnered Steve Morison up front with Steve Guppy playing in an unusual position of wide right.
Morison's low cross created havoc as early as the fourth minute but Altrincham somehow escaped - it was a sign of things to come.
The lively Mitchell Cole and Hakim also threatened while Mark Beard volleyed into the fairground at the Broadhall Way end of the ground following Cole's electric gallop down the left and cross.
Another Cole cross a minute later saw Boro go really close. Morison headed back across goal and Daryl McMahon was unfortunate to see both of his efforts well blocked.
It had been all Boro but Altrincham were the ones to find the back of the net.
Pinball in the Boro box eventually saw a shot fall to Chris Senior on the edge of the six-yard box and he smashed a shot beyond Alan Julian.
Julian was cautioned for his protestations about offside but the goal stood.
The game reverted to type with Boro pressing for the remainder of the half.
Luke Oliver headed wide from a Guppy corner and another Guppy cross saw Oliver's central defensive partner Ronnie Henry test out Coburn whose reflexes were up to the job.
Altrincham had an amazing escape in added time as right and left-foot shots from Morison were repelled by Coburn in quick succession.
It was more of the same on the restart with the visitors giving up any pretence of going for a second goal.
Morison misheaded another decent opportunity from a Hakim cross and then another header landed on top of the net.
Boro were doing everything but score at this point and penalty appeals were waved away when Morison's leg appeared to be hooked in the act of shooting.
Oliver hooked a shot just over from a John Nutter cross and a Cole cross screamed across the six-yard box.
Craig Dobson, new boy Stuart Lewis and Jon Nurse came on for Guppy, McMahon and Hakim as Stimson shuffled his pack a quarter of an hour from time.
Two of the three subs soon had an impact as Nurse's header was cleared off the line when Henry hooked back a Dobson corner.
A point seemed destined to be saved 90 seconds from time when Cole retrieved a Dobson cross. The ball fell invitingly on the penalty spot for Oliver but the big centre-back sidefooted wide a glorious opportunity.
Stimson said afterwards: "The result didn't go our way but the performance was first class.
"We probably didn't test the keeper enough despite all our opportunities. We were on the front foot but it wasn't to be our day.
"We moved the ball around very sharp and it's the best we've played for weeks.
"I can't really give Altrincham credit and I don't think they really deserved to win and take the points. We got behind the back of them loads of times but couldn't find the final ball.