Rigg hits the winner on his debut
A stunning performance and result which has lifted everyone at the club, so full credit to the management and the last XI standing for completing an impressive double over the league leaders.
It was well reported that resources were stretched to the limit but Steven Rigg’s timely arrival completed a competent team with four teenagers named on the bench as back-up.
Credit the kids too, all of whom played for the Reserves twenty four hours earlier.
The line-up had a 4-5-1 feel to it but, after a confident start, quickly became 4-4-2. Whatever the shape, it was a superb disciplined performance with some heroic defending and some brave, incisive attacking.
Dav Symington fired one twenty-five yarder narrowly wide and then saw a free-kick saved by Anthony Thompson as Reds suggested a positive approach. Sit back against this powerful Alty team and there would only be one outcome, have a go at them and the unlikely is possible.
Then the breakthrough goal, after twenty-three minutes, with Symington providing the assist from the right. Scott Allison received the ball, got the better of two defenders and then planted an accurate right foot finish beyond Anthony Thompson.
The second goal was even better and proved that route one can be as beautiful as anything Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal produce with a dozen or more passes. Symington thundered a magnificent fifty yard assist to Allison and the stunning accuracy saw a brilliant first touch take him clear of James Jones and Ben Harrison before another sublime finish left Thompson helpless.
In between those stunning strikes, Josh Calvert ventured up for a corner but his goal-bound header was cleared. And right on half-time Allison and Sam Joel cut through Alty’s rearguard only for the latter’s shot to be smothered by Thompson.
It certainly wasn’t one-way traffic with the hosts bombing forward at every opportunity, forcing eight corners but hardly creating a clear-cut chance. Their best effort in the first half was a superbly hit Max Harrop shot from all of thirty-five yards which produced a magnificent Aaran Taylor save.
Within three minutes of the restart, Rigg released Allison whose attempt to go round Thompson resulted in the ‘keeper conceding a penalty. Having confidently converted from the spot in the two most recent games, Allison placed the ball but, with Thompson going the other way, his shot clipped the left-hand post.
Altrincham sensed a reprieve and it was like the Alamo for the next twenty minutes.
Reds seemed to get lucky when a Taylor fumble led to a Gari Rowntree own-goal but a raised flag by an alert assistant curtailed the home supporters’ celebrations.
But Altrincham did reduce the arrears after sixty-one minutes when Matty Douglas slipped in attempting to clear a pass for Tom Peers. The latter had all the time he needed to curl the ball beyond Taylor and it was game on, definitely.
Eight minutes later Alty restored parity with John Johnston clipping over a delightful cross from the right and Peers heading in off the post for his second. Jamie Mellen looked as though he might have cleared the ball off the line but video evidence suggested it was a brilliant decision by the assistant who had come to Reds’ rescue earlier.
Reds were hanging on by their finger nails and had to survive ten second-half corners, a staggering eighteen in total. Taylor’s handling was superb, however, and the only shot he had to deal with was a Johnston screamer which he brilliantly turned over the bar.
Having weathered the storm, Reds went looking for another goal themselves and it duly arrived with ten minutes to go. Allison somehow managed to lay the ball into Rigg’s path and the new boy capped a great night’s work by hitting the ball into the corner of the net from eighteen yards.
A great moment for him after so long out of the game, and a wonderful moment for the team and their small band of supporters.
The last ten minutes, plus the added four, wasn’t as nail biting as the previous half hour but there was one final scare when Johnston’s cross from the left skimmed Taylor’s crossbar.
Lee Andrews deserved that performance with recent frustration replaced by delight. “We know we are capable of playing like that week in, week out but haven’t quite reached the required levels recently.”
Altrincham Thompson, White, Hampson, Jones (Hannigan, 63), Harrison, Moult (Heathcote, 85), Johnston, Harrop, Hulme, Poole, Peers. Substitutes – Richman, Densmore, Deasy (not used).
Workington Taylor, Douglas, Rowntree, Wordsworth, Calvert, Mellen, Symington, Wilson, Allison, Rigg, Joel (Mossop, 89). Substitutes – Holliday, Harker, Hetherington (not used).
Referee Michael Barlow, Bolton
Bookings: White, Hulme, Poole, Peers (Altrincham), Taylor, Wordsworth, Calvert (Workington).