FC Halifax Town 3-4 Altrincham

Alex Titchiner
Alex Titchiner

Altrincham moved above FC Halifax Town in the Blue Square North as they battled back from behind twice to win 4-3 at the Shay.

An amazing game between the two play-off contenders featured more ups and downs than a see-saw in a lift, but the visitors edged a dramatic match to haul themselves above the Shaymen in the table.

Substitute Alex Titchiner scored twice, but so did Damian Reeves and Simon Richman for the Robins as Town twice contrived to surrender well deserved winning positions.

Adriano Moke and Liam Needham came in for Jon Worthington and James Knowles as Neil Aspin continued to freshen up his starting eleven after the 1-1 draw at Guiseley on Wednesday.

One change the Town boss didn’t have to make though was finding a replacement for Matt Pearson, after parent club Rochdale allowed the defender to stay at the Shay until the end of the season, barring an injury crisis at Spotland.

But it was an injury at the Shay that Aspin had to contend with after less than ten minutes when Lee Gregory was forced off with a head injury.

After around five minutes of treatment in the dugout, Town’s top scorer was replaced by Alex Titchiner, and his personal duel with opposite number Damian Reeves was brought to a premature end.

But that only fired he starting gun for a half of action probably unparalelled at the Shay this season as the lead changed hands three times before the half-time whistle sounded.

Dan Gardner had already seen three shots fly wide of the bear post in he first ten minutes as Halifax started brightly, but Titchiner ended a barren personal spell by his standards by putting Town in front after a lovely one-two with Dan Gardner before finishing low under Stuart Coburn.

And that was just the start.

That goal came amidst a superb spell of dominance from The Shaymen as Titchiner shot just wide from close range following an outstanding phase of play that saw Moke’s flick to Gardner returned with a first-time pass back to him before the winger’s cross into Titchiner.

That was almost a carbon copy of a move that saw Moke play-in Toulson on the overlap, but Liam Needham failed to connect properly in the middle while the scoresheet was still blank.

Reeves and his team-mates had hardly had a kick in the opening half an hour, but a chance for the former Leeds youngster that saw him race in behind the Town defence before dragging his shot wide turned out to be the shape of things to come. For the next eight minutes anyway.

Reeves was on hand to tap-in unmarked at the back post from Nicky Clee’s cross just after the half hour mark as 30 minutes of anonymity from the striker evaporated into thin air and the game turned completely on its head.

Three minutes later, Duncan Watmore broke free in behind the Town back line before rounding Matt Glennon, but he ran out of room and his shot hit the side-netting.

Town didn’t heed the warning though, and Simon Richman was in almost exactly the same spot as Reeves had been at the far post, again unmarked, to prod the ball home and put the visitors into a barely believable lead.

But a spell of three goals in ten madcap minutes was completed when Scott McManus blasted Town level from a corner after Needham’s header had been cleared off the line.

Incredibly, Town then regained the lead a minute before the break when Titchiner’s persistence saw him rob a dallying Coburn near the goal-line before calmly rolling the ball in from an acute angle.

Throughout it all, Moke had been a constant threat down the right, fully justifying Aspin’s decision to play him from the start with a series of direct runs, flicks and crosses.

The winger was even turning out to be a better outlet than Gardner and gave Scott Leather a real hiding down the Altrincham left. It wasn’t too much of a surprise to see a different left-back in former Shaymen Matt Doughty come up against him after the restart.

Astonishingly, there was a ten minute spell at the start of the second-half where neither team scored, but normality was soon resumed when Watmore’s low shot was saved by Glennon, but Richman was perfectly placed to turn in the rebound.

That seemed to burst Town’s bubble though as a calm spread over proceedings after the storm of the first-half.

The hosts were never quite the same electrifying prospect after the interval, and weren’t helped by the departure of Gardner, presumably with a knock.

After another quiet spell, Reeves then came to life again like the flick of a switch as he latched on to a through ball and showed all the composure you’d expect of a man about to score his 35th goal of the season as he lifted the ball over Glennon and completed Altrincham’s second comeback of the afternoon.

But a game of so many twists and turns had no further surprises up its sleeve as Altrincham held out.

Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Pearson, Needham, Lowe, Worsley, Williams (Knowles 73), Moke, Gardner (St Juste 46), Gregory (Titchiner 14). Subs not used: Senior, Jackson.

Scorers: Titchiner (23, 44), McManus (42)

Shots on target: 6

Shots off target: 7

Corners: 3

Altrincham: Coburn, Densmore, Leather, Roger, Havern, Hall (Doughty 46), Richman, Boshell (Moult 86), Watmore, Reeves, Clee (Brooke 86). Subs not used: Wetherby, McMillan.

Scorers: Reeves (32, 69), Richman (40, 56)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 0

Attendance: 1,435

Man of the match: Adriano Moke