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Exiled City battle well despite defeat
5:54pm Sunday 18th August 2013 in Sport By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTER City may not have made a winning start to life in exile but they provided enough evidence to suggest their tag as relegation candidates is premature.
Faced by one of the league’s perennial play-off chasers, City’s youthful team looked set for a baptism of fire in the club’s first match at Aggborough, following 108 years at St George’s Lane.
But they were the better side for most of the first-half, taking the lead through a stunning Danny Glover volley, and stuck to their guns until the end, despite being overpowered in the second period.
Many of the larger than expected 714 crowd would have left feeling both disappointed yet encouraged at the same time following this 3-1 defeat.
Carl Heeley’s team, which featured five players making their debuts, know they have a tough campaign ahead but they have a few dangerous weapons in their armoury to test opponents.
Chief of these are striker Daniel Nti and winger Luke Hubbins, new signings who bewildered the Altrincham defence in the first 45 minutes.
Nti, deployed as the central target man in a flexible 4-3-3 system, has pace and power, while Hubbins delved into his box of tricks on the right flank, supported by overlapping right-back George Williams.
With their play came chances. Nti forced Stuart Coburn to block at his near post before Hubbins danced between two defenders and set up Aaron Williams to also fire at the Robins’ keeper.
Every time an Altrincham player tried to escape their own territory, they were hustled off the ball by a City counterpart. When the goal arrived, it was as much deserved as it was spectacular.
Captain Tom Thorley picked out Nti, he nodded the ball down and Glover’s left boot met it with a crisp, perfectly-timed volley that left Coburn helpless and the home crowd ecstatic.
But after that, Worcester seemed to lose their way. A knee injury to Nti, which forced the youngster off at the break, stifled Worcester’s threat and Altrincham took control.
In Graham Hutchison and Richard Munday, City appear to have found two capable centre-halves but they eventually buckled under the visitors’ pressure.
With Altrincham manager Lee Sinnott also able to bring on new signing Kyle Perry, seasoned winger Nicky Clee and midfielder Carl Rodgers, Worcester became increasing over-run.
By contrast, rookies Ebby Nelson-Addy and Danny Williams did not carry the same prowess coming off the home bench. However, almost 20 minutes of the second-half had elapsed before goal-machine Damien Reeves planted a free header past the hitherto assured figure of Matt Sargeant.
An unmarked Perry did likewise 10 minutes later and Rodgers added a breakaway third with a minute to go.
In between, Clee rattled the bar with a dipping volley but any more goals would have been harsh on the hosts.
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