The Robins enter Tuesday evening’s game hoping for a return to winning ways, as they welcome struggling King’s Lynn Town to the J. Davidson Stadium.
After embarking on a late comeback to secure a valuable point against Woking last Tuesday, Alty hosted an in-form Dagenham & Redbridge side that had won two and drawn two of their previous four matches.
Phil Parkinson’s side started the game well, as Ryan Colclough saw his goal-bound header cleared off the line by visiting defender Kenny Clark after only 16 minutes, following a great run and cross from Yusifu Ceesay.
Neither side could get on the scoresheet before the break, with Scott Wilson’s scuffed shot from the edge of the penalty area and Jake Moult’s header from a corner proving to be the best of the chances on offer.
Alty kept plugging away as the second half rumbled on, with Colclough, Ceesay and Piggott all looking dangerous on the ball. However, the Daggers took the lead with 11 minutes left to play, following Will Wright’s well-struck free-kick.
The Robins had chances to mount another late comeback, as Colclough’s dangerous ball into the box only needed a touch to go in, but they were out of luck as the referee brought an end to a game which left Parkinson’s side without a win in four games.
You can watch the highlights of our 1-0 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge by pressing play below
Following that result, Altrincham dropped two places in the Vanarama National League table to 15th, level on points with Aldershot Town and Yeovil Town above them, but having played one game more than the Glovers and three games more than the Shots. Further to that, the Robins are now six points behind Bromley in the last play-off place, having played three more games than the Ravens.
However, with 12 games still to be played this season, Phil Parkinson’s Altrincham side still have as good a chance as any at securing one of six play-off places. That being said, Alty will need to start finding some form ahead of a busy period of fixtures, with the Robins having won only one of their last ten games. Perhaps with eight of their 12 remaining games taking place at the J. Davidson Stadium, they can use home comforts to get back to winning ways.
This will be the first time both sides have faced one another this season, with Altrincham and King’s Lynn meeting in the reverse fixture in early April. You would have to look back at the previous season’s National League North campaign for the last meeting between the Robins and the Linnets.
On that occasion, Jake Moult’s last-second strike saw Alty claim a point at the Walks, in a game which ended 2-2. With Josh Hancock having levelled the score two minutes after Adam Marriott had given King’s Lynn the lead in the 77th minute, the Linnets striker doubled the hosts' score with only six minutes left to play. However, starting defeat in the face, the experienced Altrincham midfielder stepped up to send the Robins home happy.
You can watch the highlights of that 2-2 draw by pressing play below
After their rapid rise up the non-League football pyramid, King’s Lynn Town have struggled to maintain the same kind of form that left many wondering whether the Linnets were destined for the Football League, like Crawley Town and Fleetwood Town before them. Currently, the Norfolk-based club sit 21st in the Vanarama National League table, 14 points behind Altrincham and with only Barnet and Dover Athletic below them.
Following a 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Barnet at the Walks, the Linnets have been on a poor run of form which has seen them lose to Woking, Wealdstone, Sutton United and Torquay United, and draw against Weymouth, Notts County, and Hartlepool United. In their most recent game against the Gulls, a solo goal from Scott Boden at the beginning of the second half was enough to hand Gary Johnson’s side all three points.
In their last away fixture against Wealdstone, the Linnets struggled to get a foothold in the game, with Danny Green handing the Stones the lead after only nine minutes. Their struggles continued as striker Ross Lafayette doubled the Wealdstone score late in the first half, before Jacob Mendy’s goal in the 66th minute handed the hosts a 3-0 lead. Kairo Mitchell did reduce that lead to two in the 81st minute, but King’s Lynn Town were unable to mount what would have been an inspired comeback.
The Linnets are currently managed by Ian Culverhouse, who made his return to the Walks in October 2018 after a very brief spell in charge of Northern Premier League Premier Division side Grantham Town. During his first spell in charge of King’s Lynn Town in 2017, the Linnets were members of the Southern League Premier Division.
Since then, the former Norwich City defender has led the Norfolk-based club to play-off glory, helping them secure a place in the National League North for the 2019/20 season. Upon their promotion, many had installed the Linnets as relegation favourites, however they defied all the odds when Culverhouse’s side found themselves at the summit of the league, fighting all the way with York City for the league title.
Despite finishing in second place when the 2019/20 campaign was brought to a premature end by the Covid-19 pandemic, they were moved into first after the final league table was decided by the use of PPG. This proved to be the club’s second successive promotion with Ian Culverhouse at the helm.
As a player, Culverhouse began his career with Tottenham Hotspur, before moving to Carrow Road in 1985. After 297 appearances and one goal, he was transferred to Swindon Town in 1994, going on to spend four seasons at the County Ground. With only three games to play until his 100th appearance for the club, he left for Kingstonian in 1998 before joining Brighton & Hove Albion soon afterwards. He hung up his boots while a member of the Seagulls squad in 2000.
Despite keeping a majority of his NL North winning squad together, Culverhouse has used the loan market to further bolster his squad. Since the start of the season, he has added Alfie Payne from Lowestoft Town, Simeon Jackson from Chelmsford City, Theo Richardson from Cleethorpes Town, Jak Hickman from Bolton Wanderers, and Archie Mair from Norwich City.
A win for Altrincham on Tuesday could lift the Robins up to tenth in the league, above Yeovil Town, Aldershot Town, Maidenhead United, Chesterfield, and Boreham Wood. However, if King’s Lynn Town were to win, they would move to level on points with Weymouth, with only goal difference keeping the club in 21st.
Last five league games
Altrincham: WDLDL (F4 A5)
King’s Lynn Town: LLLDL (F3 A10)
Alty TV LIVE stream
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Listen to the game Live on Radio Robins
You can listen to live commentary on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, and the broadcast starts at 6:30pm.
The match commentary sponsor is 'Andys Man Club'.
The commentary team is Luke Edwards, Niall Finnegan and Andy Ainsworth.
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*Handy Hardy ... James Hardy slides home his first goal for Alty. Picture by Michael Ripley.
Altrincham ended a four-game winless run in style with two goals from Josh Hancock and a first in Robins colours for James Hardy on an action-packed night at The J.Davidson Stadium.
A pent-up sense of frustration had gradually been building during draws with Woking and Hartlepool United and defeats by Aldershot and Dagenham & Redbridge, and King's Lynn Town found themselves in the firing line, as Alty gave vent to it with a 15th minute Hancock header and further goals in quick succession in the second half.
Though Hancock took his chance expertly at the near-post for Alty's opener, the visitors had cause for feeling they were still in it, with Simeon Jackson hitting the bar from distance on two occasions, before goals in the 57th and 59 minutes removed any doubt about the outcome and returned the Robins to winning ways.
Simon Richman did enough to earn a rare start at right-back, after impressing as a second-half substitute against Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday, while Alistair Smith made a welcome return from injury in midfield and Hardy was given the chance to demonstrate his attacking qualities from the off after being on the bench in recent weeks.
Two of the trio featured prominently in a bright start by Alty, as Smith and Hardy both threatened a breakthrough inside the opening five minutes.
Toby Mullarkey launched the first of those openings in the third minute, surging forward from inside his own half and playing a pass that Josh Hancock flicked first-time into the path of Smith.
It was a clever, inventive bit of play by Hancock, and it had King's Lynn on the back foot, as Smith steadied himself and let fly with a left-foot shot that deflected off a defender and looped towards the visitors' goal.
It could have gone anywhere, with wrong-footed keeper Theo Richardson rooted to the spot, but unfortunately for the Robins, it drifted fractionally wide of the right-hand post.
A minute later, a weaving run by Hardy across the edge of a crowded area suddenly opened up space where none had previously existed, but the attacking midfielder spoiled his brilliant approach work by blazing over from an inviting position.
There was a hint of an attacking threat from King's Lynn in the fifth minute after Michael Gash set up Sonny Carey for a shot that was blocked and scrambled clear, a let-off for Alty considering the midfielder's positioning barely 12 yards out when the pass reached him.
There was more than a hint of attacking potency in the 14th minute, when a looping ball dropped over Jackson's shoulder and the midfielder unleashed a thunderous first-time volley that crashed against the crossbar, with Tony Thompson beaten.
It had been an open, adventurous start by both teams, and when an opening was finally converted, it was Alty who were celebrating.
Colclough was the creator twice over, initially by drilling a shot that was deflected behind, after a flowing move involving Smith and Hancock, and then by curling the resulting flag-kick towards the near post, where Hancock nipped in to glance a 15th-minute header into the net.
Alty stayed on the front foot and went in search of a second goal, as Jake Moult won a crunching tackle 25 yards out before firing over in the 21st minute and the ever-dangerous Colclough cut in from the left and hammered an angled drive straight at Richardson seconds later.
With the Linnets frequently troubling Alty's defence, a two-goal cushion might have helped soothe home nerves, and Moult thought he had provided it in the 38th minute after sweeping home a Joe Piggott assist, only for a linesman's raised flag to rule it out.
It continued to be a tale of both defences being put to the test by some vibrant attacking play, and King's Lynn took their turn to go close shortly before half-time, when Jordan Richards advanced towards the Alty area and powered a shot that produced a flying tip over by Thompson.
If Alty needed a reminder that King's Lynn were far from out of it, Jackson provided one with a repeat of the fireworks that so nearly broke the deadlock in the visitors' favour in the first half. Once again, there seemed nothing on as Jackson took aim, and once more there was nothing Thompson could do, as a piledriver of a shot thumped against the bar.
Even then, the danger wasn't over, as the rebound fell to the lurking Gash, but Richman responded brilliantly to deny the Linnets striker with a timely challenge.
While King's Lynn were left reflecting ruefully on fortune going against them, Alty were only interested in piling on the agony, as they added a further two goals in as many minutes.
Hancock took aim from a free-kick a good 25 yards out, slightly to the right of the D, and curled it imperiously over the wall and past the diving Richardson to record the 350th goal of Phil Parkinson's spectacular reign as Alty boss.
The 351st soon followed, as Hardy darted through on the right of the area and slid a shot past the advancing Richardson to make it 3-0.
All it needed to round off a highly-satisfactory evening was for Piggott to open his account in Alty colours, and he almost did it with a curling effort that was tipped round the post at full stretch by Richardson.
Credit to King's Lynn, they flatly refused to accept the game was up and gamely stuck to their task, even though damage limitation appeared to be the best they could hope for.
Substitute Michael Gyasi brought a fine save out of Thompson at the near post, after the Linnets forward wriggled past Smith on the right, and it took a timely intervention by the industrious and ever-impressive Smith to save the day when the persevering visitors made inroads into the Alty area again late on.
But the Robins had already done more than enough to secure the points, and it could have been four when Joel Senior sprinted through and fired narrowly wide near the end.