Wishing you a Happy New Year from all at Altrincham FC. We’re looking to kick 2021 off in style this afternoon when we make the short trip over to Stockport County, which has been a less than happy hunting ground for the Robins since the two clubs have become acquainted in recent years.
It has been a mixed Christmas period for Altrincham. Boxing Day’s 1-1 draw with County was followed up with a luckless 3-2 defeat at FC Halifax Town. Phil Parkinson’s men paid the price for starting the second half cold, going 3-1 down inside the reopening minute. The Robins dominated the second half and Dan Mooney pulled one back, but it wasn’t enough and a five game unbeaten run came to an end.
You can listen to a post match interview below.
Elsewhere, Stockport grabbed three points with a 2-0 victory over Wrexham - Jordan Keane and Richie Bennett the scorers.
Looking ahead to today’s game and the idea that Alty may look to ‘stifle’ County, manager Jim Gannon commented:
“It’s a difficult one because maybe they’re respecting us, and might have a little bit of fear of us, but they’ve got their own skillset. They’re a capable football side if they are allowed to play and we stopped that, so they have to become a fairly direct or counter attacking side.
Stockport County do not allow any radio commentaries, apart from the BBC who have contractual rights, to be broadcast from Edgeley Park this season.Radio Robins will broadcast this game remotely from The J.Davidson Stadium.
*Mobbed ... Alty players celebrate Ryan Colclough's equaliser. Picture by Michael Ripley.
Two goals behind and seemingly down and out, Altrincham launched a stirring fightback to snatch a well-earned point from the grasp of promotion favourites Stockport County and launch the New Year in style at Edgeley Park.
There seemed no way back for the Robins after danger man Alex Reid and attacking midfielder John Rooney put County firmly in control inside the hour mark.
But Yusifu Ceesay reduced the arrears in the 70th minute and Ryan Colclough celebrated his earlier-than-expected return to fitness with a brilliant equaliser five minutes later.
Incredibly, substitute Tom Peers almost pulled off the most dramatic of victories in stoppage time, forcing a fine close-range save from keeper Ben Hinchliffe, but there were still jubilant faces in the Alty ranks after a comeback that spoke volumes for the resilience instilled by manager Phil Parkinson and his assistant Neil Sorvel.
Dan Mooney briefly looked to be in on goal after robbing Jamie Stott in only the second minute, only for Liam Hogan, effectively the last line of defence for County, to slide in and save the day with a crucial intervention.
In a lively opening 20 minutes or so, there were few other moments of encouragement for Alty, as the home side took the eye with a series of quick, incisive attacks.
The first of them broke the deadlock in only the fifth minute, as Macauley Southam-Hales surged past Connor Hampson on the right and whipped in a low cross that Alex Reid expertly flicked past Tony Thompson into the roof of the Alty net.
It was the worst possible start for the Robins, and it nearly got worse two minutes later when Jacob Blyth, on his full debut, lost possession in the centre circle, and Reid seized on the chance to advance towards the area.
An unselfish pass to John Rooney created a clear-cut scoring opportunity for the County midfielder, but Thompson read the danger and was off his line in an instant to spread himself and block the shot.
Thompson was called into action again in the ninth minute, when Reid let fly from the edge of the area with a shot that needed a full-length save from the Alty number one to keep it out.
Alty penalty appeals fell on deaf ears in the 12th minute when Blyth set up Yusifu Ceesay for a shot that cannoned into Hogan and flew behind for what the referee decided was a corner, rather than a penalty for handball.
In truth, it was difficult to be sure which part of Hogan's anatomy had deflected the shot off target and it wasn't even clear whether he was inside the area, so the appeals were presumably more in hope than expectation.
Either way, they made little impression on referee Simon Mather, just as Alty were making little impact on the game, as Stockport swiftly switched the focus back to the other end and came close to a second goal in the 14th minute.
Reid was again the main source of danger, lining up a shot from the left of the area that deflected off a defender and looped high into the air before dropping obligingly towards the lurking Ryan Croasdale near the far post.
It was the simplest of headed finishes for Croasdale, but, fortunately for the Robins, the linesman's raised flag indicated he was offside and cut short the County celebrations.
Alty gradually began to work their way into the game, without ever seriously threatening Stockport's goal, as all the endeavours of Mooney and Alistair Smith in midfield and Joel Senior on the overlap foundered whenever the home penalty area came in sight.
County continued to carry the greater threat and went close again on the half-hour mark, when Rooney twisted and turned to open up the space for a shot that the busy Thompson turned round the post at full stretch.
It had been an uphill struggle for Alty, and it came as no surprise when Josh Hancock came on for the start of the second half for Blyth, who had struggled more than most on his full debut.
In the rejig that followed, Ceesay took over as lone striker, Ryan Colclough switched to left wing and Mooney reverted to his usual right flank role to allow Hancock to slot in at number 10.
For brief spells at the start of the second half, Alty at least looked a more cohesive unit, though once more, an end product was conspicuous by its absence.
How Alty could have done with some of the finishing expertise that enabled Stockport to extend their lead in the 56th minute.
There seemed to be nothing on for John Rooney, as he looked up around 30 yards from goal, but he was soon celebrating a goal big brother Wayne would have been proud of, as he floated a chip that beat Thompson and went in off the underside of the bar.
Midway through the half, fit-again Toby Mullarkey replaced Ritchie Sutton, who had been his usual solid self and even provided a rare attacking threat with a header that went narrowly wide from a corner shortly before Alty made their second change of the game.
Alty desperately needed a way back into the game, and they found one in the 70th minute.
Colclough, looking far more comfortable in his more customary left flank position, advanced towards the left corner of the County area before spotting Hampson on the overlap and rolling the ball into his path.
The Alty left-back did brilliantly against his former club, as he skipped past a challenge to reach the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Ceesay to scramble home at the second attempt.
County may have seen it as nothing more than a consolation, but Alty had other ideas as they stunned the home side with a superb equaliser in the 75th minute.
Colclough cut in from the left and just kept going, biding his time until eyeing an opening he exploited with a firm low drive that flew in off the left post from 25 yards, with keeper Ben Hinchliffe rooted to the spot.
With the game entering four minutes of added time, could there be a winner? One final twist? There very nearly was, and, unbelievably after trailing 2-0, it was Alty who went agonisingly close.
Smith picked out Senior on the overlap, and when the Alty right-back pulled the ball back, substitute Tom Peers met it with an outstretched boot, only for Hinchliffe to react brilliantly and claw away the point-blank effort at full stretch.
What drama, and what a point for Alty to secure as a starting point for 2021.