A league fixture between Altrincham and Notts County. Sounds good, doesn't it? Tonight Alty will visit Meadow Lane for the first time, in the hope of securing a first win of the season and kicking on from Saturday's goalless opener.
I'm informed that the Robins have never played at Meadow Lane before, which makes tonight's lack of fans that much harder to stomach. We've all worked so hard to return the club to these heights so you can't help but feel gutted that the Alty faithful won't be there to roar the lads on, particularly with tonight being one of the quintessential underdog scenarios that our more recent National League campaigns have been built upon.
You have to look as far back as 1972 for our last meeting with the Magpies. In an FA Cup First Round tie at Moss Lane, Alty fell short 1-0 to an 81st minute penalty. I'm also informed that this was 'never a penalty', perhaps tonight's game can provide some retribution for fans of a certain vintage who have grievances with the decision on that day, nearly 50 years ago.
The Robins will play in yellow this evening, and will go into the game with the objective of taking all three points home with them - of that we should make no mistake. It's easy to compare tonight's game to last season's encounter with Portsmouth, but Alty share this league with Notts County, and they are here completely on merit.
It makes for a fascinating encounter where an 'unknown quantity' Altrincham side, back in the National League with a point to prove, will look to take the game to a club that has its sights set firmly on a return to the Football League.
Two contrasting opening days for tonight's teams, then. As we know, Alty's home encounter with Weymouth never really got going as far as either team would have liked, with the game completely held back by biblical conditions. Notts County, meanwhile, were upset on the road with a 1-0 loss at Dover.
Harry Ransom's 89th minute winner was a blow for Notts County. Speaking after the game, manager Neal Ardley commented:
"We had those chances, we had those moments but we didn't take them. Then you get into the last minute or so of the game and you're thinking about your team talk, 'we've come away with a nil-nil, we've dug in and we've done the jobs that we had to do' - and all of a sudden I'm giving you a different after match talk."
Speaking after Alty's 0-0 draw with Weymouth, Phil Parkinson looked ahead to tonight's game:
"Not the perfect result for us, is it, with them losing - because you would expect a reaction from a club, and a team such as them. As you would from a team like ourselves. It will be a special occasion for us because we're going to Notts County for one, also BT Sport will be there - but we won't be overawed by it. We've had these experiences ourselves, Portsmouth away, those types of games. So we will be going there full of confidence."
It remains to be seen how the Robins will shape up for tonight's encounter but fans can take encouragement from the return of Dan Mooney, who is in contention for a place in tonight's squad after completing his suspension on Saturday.
Notts County, meanwhile, do not expect to change too much from the side that competed on Saturday:
“I wouldn’t expect to make wholesale changes but we’ll have a look at whether we make a tweak here or there. I’ve said to all the players that when I rotated last season everybody was fit and in a good place, which made it easy because whoever I brought in was going to play at the same high levels as those who I took out. The players not in the 11 have to make sure they’re absolutely at it.”
Read more from Neil Ardley ahead of tonight's game, over on the Notts County website.
Tonight's game will be broadcast live on BT Sport 1. Coverage starts at 19:30 and runs through to 22:00.
On Radio Robins, tonight's commentary team is Niall Finnegan, Paul Salt & Brian Flynn
You can listen to live commentary of today's game on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery, and the broadcast starts at 7.30pm.
The match commentary sponsor is 'The Non-League Lounge.'
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our MatchCentre 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'.
5) There is also a temporary Radio Robins WIX website at https://rr5977.wixsite.com/radiorobins
Altrincham’s second fixture of the 2020-21 National League season ended in defeat against Notts County at Meadow Lane.
Phil Parkinson named an unchanged starting 11 for the game, with one change on the bench – Dan Mooney replacing Max Clayton.
Alty started the game brightly having the first opportunity of the game in the third minute, Matty Kosylo did some great work down the right, crossing to Sean Williams - the Robins’ number eight let fly but his effort went wide of Sam Slocombe’s goal.
Jim O’Brien tried to open the scoring nine minutes later, his 20-yard effort went wide, Wes Thomas tried his luck shortly after but like his teammate, his effort went wide.
Notts opened the scoring in the 15th minute, Kyle Wootton cut inside from the left and beat Tony Thompson at his near post.
Altrincham almost responded perfectly, Josh Hancock worked his way through the middle and found himself space – his resulting shot was saved by Slocombe.
The hosts had their second and so did Wootton, some poor defending from Alty led to a cross and the 23-year-old headed home.
Six minutes before half-time the Robins gave away a penalty, Tom Hannigan brought down Wootton in the box. The Magpies’ number nine stepped up but his effort was saved brilliantly by Thompson.
Half-time | Notts County 2-0 Altrincham |
Altrincham started the second-half brightly, Williams from 20-yards fired an effort at goal – Slocombe caught the ball well.
Thompson was called upon again in the 48th minutes, Wootton tried to turn his man and get his hat-trick, but the Alty stopper made himself big and prevented it.
Cal Roberts was eager to add a third for Notts, he cut inside from the right four minutes later, shooting just wide.
Some good play from Williams in the 54th minute found Kosylo, the winger rolled the ball onto Densmore, who whipped a cross in but Slocombe caught well.
The Magpies had their third, this time through Jake Reeves, the midfielder riffled an effort from 25-yards beating Thompson.
The Robins made their first change of the game with 22 minutes remaining, Dan Mooney replaced Yusifu Ceesay.
Both teams made more changes as time went on, but it was Mooney who would be the most significant, with 13 minutes left of play, the Robins’ number seven beat two men and cut inside from the right and fired past Slocombe.
The Robins finished quite strongly but the Magpies held on fairly comfortably to chalk up their first win & points of the season.
Final score: Notts County 3-1 Altrincham
Altrincham travel to Eastleigh in their next league fixture on Saturday, kick-off is 3pm.