Preview: Altrincham v Harriers
September 4, 2010

Preview: Altrincham v Harriers

This afternoon Harriers face a stiff test of character with a trip to bottom-of-the-league club Altrincham.

Although it's a bit too early in the season for it to be called a relegation six pointer Harriers need to pick up maximum points to move away from the foot of the table and ensure that The Robins are not in a position to leapfrog them next weekend.  Steve Burr will make changes to the team again, two of them enforced; Mark Albright is suspended following his Bank Holiday and Marc Williams is now away with Wales Under-21s.  Ollie Thorne should come in for his debut in place of Albrighton and Dave Hankin could return in place of Williams, although so could Michael Briscoe which would free Chris McPhee to move further forward.  Callum Gittings could return to the squad after recovering from a shin injury, John Finnigan is approaching fitness but won't be ready for this afternoon and Aman Verma will miss out after breaking a bone in his hand in the game at Newport.

Altrincham have had a dreadful start to the season, picking up just one point from their opening six games and losing the last four without scoring, leaving them four points adrift at the foot of the table already.  Graham Heathcote has a number of injury doubts ahead of the game with Nicky Clee, Robbie Lawton and Chris Denham all carrying knocks.  Returning from injury, however, is Kevin Holsgrove who spent time with Harriers as a trialist in pre-season.

Harriers don't have the best of records against Altrincham; since  their return to the Conference they have won at Moss Lane just once in five visits.  Last season's game ended in a 3-2 win for Alty, Harriers' two goals coming from Robbie Matthews.  At Moss Lane Harriers have won just seen of 22 games while overall they have won 14 to Altrincham's 18 from 43 games.

I expect Harriers to line-up as follows (4-4-2); Lewis; Vaughan, Mike Williams, McPhee, Thorne; Hankin, Briggs, Shaw, Byrne; Morris, Wright.
Subs (from): Griffiths, Briscoe, Blair, Gittings, Hadley, Stevens.
Missing (injured): Finnigan, Sharpe, Verma.
Missing (suspended): Albrighton.
Missing (international duty): Marc Williams.

This afternoon's referee is Russ Fletcher from Derbyshire.  This will be the ninth time he has refereed a Harriers game, last season he did the 4-1 win over Grays and the 1-0 defeat by Salisbury.  Overall he has been in charge of four Harriers wins, two draws and two defeats.

The weather forecast for this afternoon suggests that the southern part of Greater Manchester will be mostly cloudy around kicj-off time with a temperature of 19°C.