Alton Town 3, Whitchurch United 0

IN-FORM Alton made it eight wins in a row on Saturday to roar to the top of Wessex League Division One.

Goals from Scott Sanderson, Phil Moore and Luke Perkins saw them comfortably see off Whitchurch United at The Enclosure.

And it completed a fine week for the Brewers, who had earlier been named team of the month for November in Division One.

This game pitted fourth against seventh in the table and the result reflected the league positions, but there were perhaps not three goals between the two sides.

But there was a difference, and a telling one at that.

Whitchurch defended well, competed as equals in midfield but fell away in the final third of the pitch. Apart from one spell in the second half, they never seriously threatened the home goal whereas Alton looked dangerous throughout.

The game was slow to get in to its stride, although Alton had two early free kicks from dangerous positions. Matt Benham took both, with the first headed wide at the far post by Scott Sanderson and the second collected by Whitchurch goalkeeper Will Barnett.

Good work on the left then found Benham and his shot-come-cross bounced back off the far post with the visiting goalkeeper struggling and the follow up by Sanderson was well blocked by a Whitchurch defender.

Barnett was then forced to race from his area to head clear before the first scare at the other end saw Alton goalkeeper Justin Courtnage save at Ryan Long’s feet after confusion in the defence as to who should deal with the through ball.

A dangerous-looking home attack was then halted by the referee, who brought play back some 30 yards to award them a free kick in their own half, before the deadlock was broken with the half-hour mark in sight. Another Benham free kick was hoisted in to the area from the right touchline, Sanderson headed across goal, Steve Black headed it back and Sanderson’s shot on the turn found the bottom corner.

An unnecessary flare up by the dugouts resulted in a yellow card for the visitors’ Aaron Randall and one for the home side’s George Bowerman.

The home side were now monopolising possession with shots from Black and Liam Knight inches too high or wide and Oli Graham’s free header from a corner going the wrong side of the post.

At the other end, Whitchurch were struggling once they reached sight of the home penalty area but would not have been too despondent with a one-goal deficit at the break – only to concede a second goal with virtually the last kick of the half.

Bowerman’s through ball sent Knight clear though there seemed little certainty he would catch the ball, which was running wide of goal, but Whitchurch keeper Barnett thought otherwise and raced from his line to comprehensively fell the forward and earn himself a caution and Alton a penalty kick which was coolly converted by Phil Moore to give Alton a two-goal interval lead.

After the re-start, Whitchurch started brightly. Long cleverly provided a shooting chance for Nick Yeomans, which Courtnage was at full stretch to save, and Lloyd Thompson’s attempted lob, when Courtnage strayed from his line, was not far away.

The visitors, perhaps stirred at half time, enjoyed a good spell of possession in the second half but without any end result.

Long’s persistence took him clear on the right but his inviting cross found a dearth of yellow shirts in the area, and there was a carbon copy a couple of minutes later when Thompson produced a similar cross – only to be met by another lack of support.

Yeomans and Thompson then combined neatly with the latter foiled by the legs of Courtnage, but it was Alton who still looked the more dangerous.

The Brewers worked the ball from left to right and found Black unmarked, but his shot was straight at Barnett.

The busy keeper then tipped a header from Oli Graham over the bar before Whitchurch broke on the left through Yeomans who slid the ball past the advancing goalkeeper but the wrong side of the post.

And with 13 minutes remaining it was in effect game over as the visiting defence for once got their bearings wrong and substitute Luke Perkins had the time and space to beat the advancing Barnett following a through ball from Jack Fowler to complete the scoring and put Alton top of the league.

Alton Town: Courtnage, Green, Moore, Evans, Phillips, Black, O Graham, Bowerman, L Knight, Benham, Sanderson. Subs: Fowler, M Graham, Perkins, E Knight.