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Leigh RMI 2 Altrincham 0

By Matt Lawton
July 24 2006

A resolute defensive performance provided a sound base for RMI as they ran out deserved 2-0 victors over Conference visitors Altrincham at Hilton Park this evening. Visitors Altrincham featured two ex-RMI players in their line up in the form of goalkeeping hero Stuart Coburn, who received a warm reception on his return to Hilton Park, while his ex-RMI team mate Warren Peyton certainly wasn't as well-received following controversial comments he made in the media in the aftermath of his departure from Leigh last year. Meanwhile, former Alty stalwarts Mark Maddox and George Melling featured in the heart of RMI's defence as they continued to form a partnership ahead of the start of the season.

It was RMI who started by far the brightest and they took the lead within five minutes when Coburn failed to deal with a terrific swerving shot from Scott Willis, deflecting the ball in to the path of right winger Lee Shillito, who lashed the ball in to the net from an acute angle to put his side in front.

After James Mann had appeared in goal in last Tuesday's 1-0 victory at St. Helens Town, John Lamb started between the posts for RMI for the first time in this pre-season campaign, and he was called in to action to stoop low and make a terrific one-handed save to palm the ball away and prevent a certain equaliser. With captain Andy Roscoe making a rare appearance on the left wing, Steve Brockley had the chance to impress Leigh manager Andy Nelson at left back, and he certainly didn't disappoint with an undoubted man of the match performance, culminating in an amazingly calm clearance off the line, flicking the ball away from danger with the ball seemingly heading straight for the back of the net as Altrincham came back in to the encounter.

On a warm, bright Lancashire evening play stopped for a water break at half-time, but that didn't deter the enthusiasm of either side as they continued to play out an entertaining battle with both sides showing decent passages of play, although RMI were certainly the more impressive of the two with every player doing their best to get the ball on the ground and play good football, with the returning Gareth Stoker working had in midfield, even though it had appeared that he was set to be released by the club during the summer.

A hamstring injury forced George Melling from the action towards the end of the first half, but RMI stayed in control despite a defensive re-shuffle, and maintained their one goal advantage until the half time break.

As is usually the case in pre-season games, the second half saw widescale changes from both sides, with Steve Brockley moving to centre half and Will Ryder coming on at left back in the aftermath of Melling's injury. It was Ryder who turned provider for RMI's second goal, never giving up on a seemingly lost cause and cutting the ball back from the by-line to a grateful RMI striker who poked the ball in to the empty net, doubling RMI's lead despite the protests of the Altrincham defence.

Scott Willis nearly made it three when he hit the stanchion behind the goal, but a three goal victory would've just been greedy against their more illustrious opponents, though it certainly wouldn't have been undeserved as RMI continued to hold firm at the back, even with James Mann in goal after he came on to replace Lamb.

A very encouraging performance at both ends of the field for RMI with Steve Brockley certainly the stand-out performer over the 90 minutes, staking a huge claim for a place in Nelson's starting eleven when the Conference North season kicks off on August 12th with a visit to Vauxhall Motors. Both Andy Roscoe and, as previously mentioned, George Melling had to leave the field through injury during the course of the game, but it is hoped that neither have suffered a particularly serious injury and were taken off merely as a precaution.

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