Phil Parkinson will be hoping his side can secure their first win in four games this weekend when Dagenham & Redbridge visit the J. Davidson Stadium.
After finding themselves on the wrong end of an agonising 2-1 away defeat against Aldershot Town last Saturday, the Robins looked to be staring down the barrel of a second consecutive defeat on Tuesday, at the hands of a Woking side they had beaten only weeks ago.
Tuesday’s game saw the Cards take the lead after only 18 minutes, converting the first real chance of the game, when midfielder Kane Ferdinand was judged to have gotten the final touch to a Charlie Cooper cross, despite teammate Kyran Lofthouse also claiming the goal.
Chances were few and far between for Parkinson’s men as Woking continued to control proceedings in the first half, with Tony Thompson executing several top-quality saves to give his side a fighting chance of getting something from the game.
Alty stepped up their efforts after the break as Ryan Colclough came close on two occasions to pegging Woking back, firing over from close range with his first effort before shooting into the side netting with his second.
With the game heading for defeat, the Robins were awarded a penalty in the 92nd minute, one which top scorer Josh Hancock converted to level the score, before Thomson’s heroics in the dying seconds secured Parkinson’s side a point.
You can watch the highlights of that 1-1 draw against Woking by pressing play below.
Following that result, Altrincham remained 13thin the Vanarama National League table, level on points with Yeovil Town in 12th, having played one more game than the Glovers. Further to that, defeats for Aldershot Town and Chesterfield during the week means that both clubs were unable to leapfrog Alty, while still having multiple games in hand.
Despite collecting only one win from their last five matches, Phil Parkinson’s side do have a more than realistic chance of securing one of the six play-off places on offer. Currently, the Robins are only four points behind seventh placed Notts County and only five points behind FC Halifax Town in sixth. However, with Alty having played the most games in the league so far this season, both Notts and Halifax still have many more games to play than the Robins.
Both sides have already faced one another this season, in a game which took place at the Chigwell Construction Stadium on December 12, 2020. In what was a closely fought tie, Jake Moult’s strike in the 39th minute proved to be enough to secure Altrincham all three points.
Before that, we must look all the way back to April 14, 2007 for the next meeting, although it is one that Alty fans would likely choose to forget. On that day, Colin Little’s strike was not enough
as the Daggers ran out 4-1 winners, courtesy of goals from Jamie Taylor, Glen Southam, Chris Moore, and Sam Saunders
Despite many installing the London-based side as possible contenders for automatic promotion, after an impressive recruitment drive over the summer, the Daggers found the going tough this season, with the club currently sitting in 16th after what has been described as an injury hit campaign. Having said that, with key players returning to the starting line-up, their fortunes have begun to change, with supporters wondering whether a late play-off charge is possible.
Since the 1-0 away loss to Yeovil Town, Dagenham have developed an impressive unbeaten run of four games, one which has seen them defeat Solihull Moors and Maidenhead United, while collecting a point against Boreham Wood and Weymouth. This run could have been even more impressive but for an injury time Weymouth equaliser which saw them share the spoils in a game they had largely dominated.
The Londoners had started the game strongly, with Scott Wilson and Will Wright creating chances on the Terras’ goal. They were rewarded for their dominance in the 43rd minute, when Bolton Wanderers loanee Liam Gordon scored a wonder goal, taking the ball from the halfway line before curling it into the top corner from the edge of the area. Dagenham wasted numerous chances to take control of the game and in stoppage time, they were punished, when Jake McCarthy’s acrobatic effort found the back of the net.
As mentioned earlier, this afternoon’s tie is the second meeting between both sides this season. In the previous encounter, Parkinson’s side followed up impressive victories against Maidenhead United and Wrexham by securing a narrow 1-0-win, courtesy of Jake Moult’s effort. At the time, that result had lifted Altrincham up to fourth in the Vanarama National League table.
You can watch highlights of that 1-0 win by pressing play below.
Saturday’s visitors are managed by Daryl McMahon, who took over the Daggers’ first team squad in January 2020, only 24 hours after resigning from his position as managers of Macclesfield Town. The Irishman took over from Peter Taylor, who had departed the club in December 2019, following a poor run of form which saw the club lose its grip on a play-off place.
A former player who came through the West Ham United Academy setup, the midfielder developed a wealth of experience across the Football League, featuring for the likes of Port Vale and Leyton Orient, before stepping into non-league with Stevenage Borough in 2007. He spent two years at Broadhall Way before transferring to Cambridge United.
Between 2009 and 2015, McMahon featured for no less than seven different non-league clubs, making a collective 223 appearances, scoring 31 goals, before hanging up his boots while playing for National League side Boreham Wood, a club where the Irishman endured his fourth play-off final defeat in only six years.
Originally acting as a caretaker, McMahon got his first taste of management with Ebbsfleet United in 2014, going on to spend four seasons with the Fleet, helping promote the club from the NL South with a play-off victory over Chelmsford City. After leaving by mutual consent, he was handed the reins at Macclesfield Town in August 2019, but with the club in deep financial trouble, he resigned from his position on January 2, 2020.
In a bid to push the club further up the National League table, McMahon has been able to make additions to his side, bringing in Tom Smith on loan from Bath City, adding former Carlisle United midfielder Mo Sagaf, while also signing ex Barnet winger Mauro Vilhete. Coupled with the likes of Adrian Clifton, Charlee Adams and Myles Weston returning from injury, the Daggers’ head coach now has plenty of options to choose from for the remainder of the season.
A win for Altrincham on the weekend could lift the club past Yeovil Town, Boreham Wood, Maidenhead United, and Eastleigh into ninth. However, three points for Dagenham could see them leapfrog Chesterfield into 15th, depending on results elsewhere.
Last five league games
Altrincham: LWDLD (F5 A7)
Dagenham & Redbridge: LWDWD (F6 A5)
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*Agonisingly close .. Ryan Colclough's first-half header is cleared off the line. Picture by Jonathan Moore.
An outstanding late free-kick by Will Wright proved decisive for Dagenham & Redbridge and completed an afternoon of frustration for Altrincham at The J.Davidson Stadium.
In a game that was low in quality and hardly overflowing with clear-cut scoring opportunities, Wright made the most of one that came his way in the 78th minute, as he curled a 20-yard effort into the top right corner to leave the Robins flat and deflated.
Other than a Ryan Colclough header that was cleared off the line and a mini-spell of pressure early in the second half, little was seen of the Robins as an attacking force, and they will be hoping to carry a greater scoring threat when King's Lynn Town visit The J.Davidson Stadium on Tuesday night.
Dagenham's pace up front, particularly on the right, was an early concern for Alty, as the visitors started brightly and purposefully.
It was never more evident than in the fifth minute, when Scott Wilson burst clear down the right flank and picked out Liam Gordon beyond the far post with a low cross that looked tailor-made for the left wing-back to convert.
The angle was tight but the Alty goal was gaping invitingly, and Gordon should have done better than miscue his shot back across the six-yard box.
If that was an escape for Alty, the Daggers had one of their own in the 15th minute, after an outstanding piece of defending from Tom Hannigan was swiftly followed by a near-miss at the other end.
When another probing cross was whipped in from the right, Hannigan read the danger brilliantly, stretching out a leg to clear his lines and prevent it reaching Angelo Balanta, who would have had the simplest of finishes from the edge of the six-yard area.
The ball was played straight upfield to Yusifu Ceesay on the right, and suddenly Alty looked in prime position to put the Daggers defence under pressure, as the Alty winger found himself with space and time to look up and assess his options.
The one he chose involved aiming a deep cross towards Ryan Colclough, lurking beyond the far post, and it almost paid off, as the winger sent a header that looped over keeper Elliot Justham and looked to be dropping just inside the opposite corner until Ken Clark popped up to nod it off the line.
Alty were growing into the game, after a shaky start, and they almost snatched the lead with a helping hand from their opponents midway through the half.
A brief bout of pressure led to a corner on the left, and when Colclough fired it in low towards the near post, it flicked off Wilson and appeared to strike the upright before being scrambled clear.
The game was still waiting to catch light, but Dagenham almost provided the spark needed on the stroke of half-time when Sean Williams was penalised for handball near the Alty D and Will Wright curled the resulting free-kick a fraction wide of the left post, with Tony Thompson rooted to the spot.
Ogle's difficulties in dealing with the visitors' right-flank threat were addressed in typically-decisive style by Phil Parkinson at half-time, as the on-loan defender found himself replaced by Simon Richman, who slotted in at right-back with Joel Senior switching to the left.
Alty finally mustered a shot that needed dealing with by Justham in the 46th minute, as Colclough cut in from the left and hit a shot that the keeper gathered with ease, moving to his right.
Not for the first time this season, Colclough was proving the biggest danger to the opposition, and he was heavily involved in two Alty chances in quick succession as the game finally began to warm up.
After receiving a pass from Williams in the 53rd minute, Josh Hancock quickly switched it to the left, where Colclough accelerated past his marker on the outside and fired a left-foot cross-shot that flew narrowly wide of the far post.
Seconds later, the former Scunthorpe man was left reflecting ruefully on how heading doesn't figure quite as prominently on his list of attributes as running at defenders or shooting with either foot.
Colclough timed to perfection his run into the heart of the area to meet Richman's right-wing cross, but the header was disappointingly mistimed and bobbled harmlessly wide.
Richman was getting forward at every opportunity, as befits a player of his boundless stamina, and when he teed up Yusifu Ceesay for a cross in the 56th minute, the resulting delivery flashed across the edge of the six-yard area and just eluded Joe Piggott's attempt to flick it home.
The ball was travelling, and it was no easy task trying to connect with an attempted back heel, but it was a chance, nonetheless, for the recent signing to open his Alty account.
It was the third of three Alty openings in as many minutes, but if that suggested the Robins were warming to the job in hand, it was to prove a misleading impression.
The game continued to be one of fits and starts, and when the breakthrough finally arrived in the 78th minute, it was perhaps appropriate it came completely out of the blue, rather than as the product of an inspired, free-flowing move.
Wright had served notice of his set-piece prowess just before half-time, and he wasn't about to pass up a second opportunity, from a similar position, after Alty conceded yet another free-kick.
Aiming with deadly precision, the Daggers midfielder curled an unstoppable right-foot effort over the wall and beyond Thompson's despairing dive to put the visitors in front.
It was a lead that only came under genuine threat at the very end of added time, when Williams passed to Richman on the overlap, and the driven low cross was so nearly turned in by Jake Moult, whose outstretched boot couldn't quite make the necessary decisive contact.