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Subdued City end Lane cup exploits
IT’S a shame that Worcester City had to bring the curtain down on cup games at St George’s Lane like this.
Well below par for the majority of this third qualifying round tie, City no longer have silverware to challenge for this season.
The FA Cup and Worcestershire Senior Cup have come and gone, and now their FA Trophy hopes are over for another year.
With the club due to leave their home of more than a century next June, that means the 785 who ventured out last Saturday witnessed City’s final bow as far as cup competitions are concerned at the ground.
There was a strange atmosphere after the final whistle. One of disbelief at how City could have capitulated so dramatically, as they did in the space of six first-half minutes which proved decisive.
The playing of the highly emotive theme from Saving Private Ryan, known as the Hymn To The Fallen, as the teams left the field was equally as surreal given the poignancy of the weekend.
Unusually, too, the players said little as they trudged out of the changing rooms, the overwhelming sense of disappointment etched on their faces.
Manager Carl Heeley, himself part of so many joyous cup occasions down the years at the Lane, also cut a slightly subdued figure.
The manner of this defeat hurt, and there was no escaping that.
For 20 minutes, City looked like a team riding high in the league. They were in the ascendancy and producing some attractive football.
Yet, as has so often been the case this term, it lacked a cutting edge and boy did Altrincham make them pay.
Nicky Clee drilled home the opener from the edge of the 18-yard box, although James Moult’s presence in front of keeper Glyn Thompson could have been seen as interfering with play.
Then, in the space of 60 seconds, Danny Hall doubled the visitors’ lead from close range and the prolific Damian Reeves made it 20 goals for the season with a simple tap-in as City’s defence crumbled.
Having swept Hinckley United aside with a similar salvo, now it was City’s turn to be stunned.
Provider of all three goals, and at the centre of everything the Mancunians did, was ginger-haired dynamo Duncan Watmore.
He was to Altrincham like Tom Thorley is to Worcester — instrumental and pivotal to their chances of success.
Watmore shone, and was even clapped off by the City faithful when he was replaced eight minutes from time. Thorley, on the other hand, fell short of his usual high standards and his side struggled.
City made a fight of it in the second-half, Jacob Rowe heading a gilt-edged chance over, but the damage had been done and the final whistle was greeted with sighs of relief.