After going five games unbeaten, the Robins have been left empty handed from their last four fixtures, losing to Wrexham, Yeovil Town, Boreham Wood, and Chesterfield, results which saw the club drop out of the play-off places.
In their last outing against Chesterfield, a game which finished 1-0, fate seemed to be against Alty as a series of near misses were compounded by Akwasi Asante’s goal shortly after the half time break.
The Robins started that game brightly, fashioning chances on the home goal through Yusifu Ceesay, Tom Peers, Matty Kosylo, and Byron Harrison.
With both sides level at the half time break, Parkinson’s side were looking to hit the ground running and put their slide to a stop, only for the in-form Asante to finish from close range only four minutes into the second period.
Alty were still well in the game and had a golden chance to claim a point, after Ceesay was fouled in the box by the Chesterfield ‘keeper. However, the home shot-stopper made amends for his mistake by saving well from Joe Piggott’s penalty kick.
You can watch highlights of our narrow 1-0 defeat to Chesterfield by pressing play below.
Following their fourth defeat on the bounce, Altrincham’s grip on a play-off place has weakened, with the club slipping to 10th in the Vanarama National League table, three points off Wrexham in 7th, having played one game more than the Red Dragons.
Despite a rotten run of form, Alty still remain competitive in their hunt for one of six play-off places available. However, our opponents on Saturday, who sit only two places below the Robins in 12th, still have three games in hand on the Robins, with a win for the Ravens on Saturday lifting them above Parkinson’s side.
Having flirted directly with those clubs chasing promotion, an indifferent run of form has seen Bromley’s charge up the table hit the brakes in recent weeks. After managing to play a total of 22 games so far this season, the Ravens have a record of eight wins, seven draws, and seven losses, scoring 34 goals but conceding 27. With the club looking to end their six-year association with the National League, a change of fortunes is needed to maintain their dream of the Football League.
Over the course of the 2020/21 campaign, Bromley have proved that they are a very hard side to play against, despite some underwhelming results. Since the beginning of the season, the Ravens have yet to concede more than two goals in any of their league or cup fixtures, with the 3-0 defeat to Dorking Wanderers in last season’s FA Trophy the last time the club conceded more in one game.
In their last league outing against Boreham Wood, a side also deeply entrenched in the chase for a play-off place, Courtney Duffus’ strike in the 55th minute managed to secure the club a point, after Boreham striker Tyrone Marsh gave the hosts the lead in the 30th minute. Before that game, Bromley surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Maidenhead United, with goals from Luke Coulson and Michael Cheek being cancelled out by Ryan Upward and Jerry Wiltshire.
Saturday’s meeting presents Phil Parkinson’s side with the chance to get one back against Bromley, after the Ravens secured the narrow 1-0 win earlier in the season. On that occasion, which saw Ben Williamson and Matty Kosylo sent off, James Alabi’s strike in the fourth minute was enough to secure all three points.
Our opponents are managed by Neil Smith, who took over the first team affairs in 2016, following the departure of Mark Goldberg earlier in that year. He was initially installed as an interim coach, having acted as Goldberg’s assistant prior to his departure, but after a successful run of games, he was handed the role on a permanent basis.
A former midfielder, Smith got his first taste of pro football when he signed for Gillingham in 1991. His success at the club saw him make a move to Fulham in 1997, before transferring to Reading two years later. Spells at Stevenage, Woking, Welling United, Bromley, and Maidstone United followed, all before he hung up his boots in 2008.
Smith led the Ravens to a credible tenth-placed finish in his first season in charge, before taking the club to ninth the following campaign, the highest position he has been able to secure during his time in charge of the club. He is also aided by the form of Michael Cheek, with the forward currently the league’s top goal scorer with 12 goals from 22 games.
Both sides will have plenty on the line this weekend as a win for either Altrincham or Bromley could lift them as high as eighth.
Last five games
Bromley: LWLDD (F6 A6)
Altrincham: WLLLL (F5 A9)
Watch the game live
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Listen to the game live on Radio Robins
Bromley will not permit Radio Robins to broadcast from Hayes Lane, therefore Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery will provide a remote broadcast from The J.Davidson Stadium, starting at 2.50pm.
The match sponsor is Andys Man Club & the commentary team is Paul Salt & Ian Wilkinson
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Altrincham fell to a fifth successive defeat and it was a depressingly familiar story for Alty fans – a decent performance, plenty of possession and moments of real promise. But a lack of cutting edge in the final third and defensive lapses are really hurting the Robins at the moment and the heady days of the win at Torquay currently seem a very long time ago. Altrincham showed three changes from the midweek defeat at Chesterfield, with Ritchie Sutton and Connor Hampson returning to the line-up and a first start for new signing James Hardy. There was also a welcome return for Sean Williams on the bench.
On a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon in South London, Altrincham had made a decent start but fell behind to Bromley’s first attack of the game in the fifth minute. The ball was worked well down Bromley’s right-hand side and Michael Cheek was left with a simple close-range finish. Altrincham had a chance to respond five minutes later but when Matty Kosylo found himself in space in the Bromley area, his shot was high and wild.
The Robins then enjoyed a good spell of possession around the edge of the Bromley box and that turned into a couple of chances after 18 minutes, when Alistair Smith’s fierce shot from twenty yards was well blocked. From the resulting corner, Tom Hannigan’s flicked header was nearly turned in at the back post but the danger was cleared. Shortly after, the dangerous Yusifu Ceesay won a free kick inside the Bromley D, which he himself took but his effort hit the wall.
Bromley had the next chance when Courtney Duffus headed over from a good first-time cross from the left by Frankie Raymond. And then Duffus had an even better chance when he evaded two Altrincham defenders down the Bromley left and cut into the area but his low shot was saved by Tony Thompson before Hannigan cleared the loose ball for a corner.
Altrincham found the equaliser after 36 minutes. A great ball by Kosylo inside the Bromley full back found Hampson and his cutback from the byline was thumped home by Jake Moult. But just two minutes later, Alty were behind again went a right-wing Bromley corner was comfortably headed home by Joe Kizzi at the back post. And disaster struck when Alty conceded again immediately after – a silly push in the box was rightly penalised by the appropriately-named referee Sunny Gill and Cheek blasted the resultant penalty down the middle.
Alty enjoyed plenty of possession in the early stages of the second half without really threatening Mark Cousins’s goal. But the Robins suffered a blow when Connor Hampson limped off, to be replaced by Shaun Densmore. And as the half wore on, the home side started to gain the upper hand. Bromley’s first chance of the half came from a freekick from Chris Bush, which whistled narrowly over the bar – the referee gave a corner, suggesting Thompson had got a touch on it.
Twenty minutes into the second half, the Robins made their second change with Tom Peers replacing Byron Harrison. Peers went on to the right-wing, Kosylo to the left and Ceesay up front. But it was Bromley who had the next chance, counter-attacking well to set up Cheek for a low shot which Thompson saved to his right. Cheek then missed a glaring chance to complete his hat-trick when he headed wide, unmarked, from another right-wing corner.
Half an hour into the second half, an off-the-ball incident resulted in yellow cards for Kosylo and Bromley’s Luke Coulson. Alty then made their final change as Mullarkey replaced Hardy, who’d looked tidy on his full debut. Bromley continued to dominate with Coulson trying his luck from distance on a couple of occasions. Alty carved out their first real chance of the half when Senior got to the byline and cut the ball back for Ceesay, whose shot was well saved by Cousins.
Tempers boiled over in the closing minutes, with the referee booking four players after one skirmish – Bingham and Duffus for Bromley, Smith and Sutton for Alty. And then Chris Bush was given a straight red for a clash with Smith which produced loud protests from the Alty players. Bromley’s ten men though saw out the closing minutes comfortably enough to enhance their play-off chances and leave the Robins’s looking increasingly slim.