Altrincham face Chester in the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy this afternoon.
The tie with has been switched to the Deva Stadium.
Much as the Robins wanted to proceed as planned, it became increasingly apparent the elements were against them and would force a rethink. Persistent rain in the Altrincham area on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday made another postponement look increasingly likely.
With Toby Mullarkey still at least a couple of weeks away from returning to fitness and pre-season signing Ritchie Sutton doubtful with a suspected broken big toe, Phil Parkinson has moved to solve Altrincham's defensive injury problems by snapping up accomplished young centre-back Harrison Holgate on a month's loan from Fleetwood Town. You can read a full update on Alty's progress with injuries here.
Altrincham come into this game after a victory at Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend, making it 5 wins out of 6 games with a thoroughly resilient display in East London. Jake Moult's tapped home from Matty Kosylo's floated free kick, lifting the Robins into 3rd place temporarily - with midweek games dropping the Robins to fifth.
They will be hoping to carry the strong league form into the Trophy, but Phil Parkinson was keen to ensure that no one gets ahead of themselves.
Everybody is pulling in the same direction and working their socks off. All I would say to everyone is don't get too carried away with the good form at the moment, because at this level it can soon flip the other way. All we can do is work hard and do the right things.
Our thanks to Chester for providing a stream of this afternoon's fixture. You can tune in on chesterfc.com/streaming. A match pass for access to this game only is £7.99.
You can listen to live commentary of today's game on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery and the broadcast starts at 2.45pm.
The match commentary sponsor is Terry Surridge.
The commentary team is Brian Flynn, Mark Simpson & John Edwards.
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre on the club website
2) Download and install the Mixlr app on Android devices from the Google Play Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
3) Download and install the Mixlr app on Apple devices from the Apple Store - start the app and search for 'Radio Robins'.
*What a winner .. Tom Peers lifts the ball over the Chester keeper to round off a stunning counter attack and seal another Alty win. Picture by Michael Ripley.
In a game of three outstanding goals, two of them went the way of Altrincham as Phil Parkinson’s in-form side marched into the last 32 of the Buildbase FA Trophy in fine style at Chester’s Deva Stadium.
There could be few complaints from the Alty camp about the way they were pegged back early in the second half, as Anthony Dudley turned on a pass and fired expertly past Tony Thompson from outside the area.
But if Chester’s goal was impressive, it was eclipsed by the two that settled an enthralling third-round tie in Alty’s favour.
Each, in its own way, was perfection. Joel Senior’s 30-yard screamer for the opener could not have been struck any more cleanly or accurately, while the second could justifiably be described as the ultimate example of how to punish a team on the break.
From start, just outside Alty’s own area, to finish, just inside Chester’s, it could not have been executed any better, as Matty Kosylo and Tom Peers combined to stunning effect.
Any panel tasked with judging the goals in order of merit would surely have found unanimity in placing Dudley’s third but might have struggled to split the other two.
My vote would, by the narrowest of margins, have gone to what proved the winner, such was the level of craft and clear thinking shown by Kosylo and composure behind an exquisite finish by Peers.
It’s certainly a talking point, and how Alty fans must have enjoyed mulling it over as they reflected on another performance full of authority, one that left little doubt about which team are currently operating at the higher level.
Chester started brightly enough, with ex-Robin John Johnston tearing past Senior on the left in the opening minute and delivering a dangerous low cross that Danny Elliott couldn’t quite turn to his advantage.
If that looked worryingly like a player with a point to prove, after Johnston was sent on his way with a few barbed comments ringing in his ears from disgruntled Alty fans at the start of the year, it’s fair to say it didn’t turn out that way.
Chester may have had their moments, in a competitive, compelling tie, but Johnston himself was largely anonymous and cut a forlorn figure when he was substituted in the second half.
After weathering that early pressure, Alty began to get a foothold in the game, not least when Yusifu Ceesay left Kevin Roberts trailing with a lightning turn of speed down the left and presented Peers with a golden opportunity near the left edge of the six-yard area.
The Alty striker should have scored, and normally would, but was left holding his head after steering the close-range chance into the side netting.
On-loan Fleetwood Town centre-back Harrison Holgate was making his debut alongside Tom Hannigan, and what a solid, effective combination they looked.
Hannigan was as resolute as ever, while Holgate’s ability to read danger, deal with it and bring the ball out constructively marked him down as a player destined for a higher level.
With the backline standing firm, skipper Jake Moult exerting his usual influence just in front and the likes of Kosylo, Alistair Smith and Josh Hancock coming into it more and more, Alty were not only establishing a firm grip but also creating the better chances.
There weren’t many of them in a tight first-half, to be fair, but Ceesay went close following a corner, when his firmly-struck volley flew through a crowd of players and hit keeper Louis Gray, just as it looked bound for the net.
Honours even at half-time appeared inevitable as added time ticked away, but Senior had other ideas.
The attacking right-back has been a revelation since joining shortly before the start of the season, and his first Alty goal will surely live long in the memory after he received a pass from Hancock and steadied himself before letting fly with a 30-yard thunderbolt that gave the diving Gray no chance as it crashed into the net off the inside of the left post.
What an absolute stunner and what a way to end a first-half that had been in the balance right up until virtually the last kick.
If Chester were deflated by Senior’s brilliant strike, they didn’t show it. Just four minutes into the second half, they were back on level terms after Dudley spun on a pass and drilled a low shot into the bottom right corner of Alty’s net.
It was a goal out of the blue that could have triggered a shift in momentum, but Alty were having none of it.
A further six minutes into an intriguing contest, the lead was restored, courtesy of a goal to treasure.
When a Chester corner was headed clear to Kosylo, he was probably nearer his own penalty area than the halfway line, but the little attacking midfielder had only one thought in mind.
Head down, he set off at pace, initially in a straight line as he crossed into Chester territory but then weaving one way and another to wrong-foot Jamie Morgan as he approached the edge of the area before releasing a perfectly-timed, perfectly-weighted pass to Peers on his right.
A brilliantly-constructed counter-attack still needed a finishing touch, and didn’t Peers provide it? With Gray leaving his line and hurtling towards him, the Alty frontrunner kept his cool admirably, timing a delicate chip to coincide with the keeper plunging at his feet and watching the ball sail through the air and bounce over the line.
Chester piled on some frenzied late pressure, mainly of the aerial variety, but the script had already been written. A goal of that quality simply had to stand as the winner, and so it did.
It was another sterling team effort, with stellar performances in all areas, and Alty go into the hat for the next round on Monday brimming with confidence.