Phil Parkinson will be looking for his side to end their season on a high this weekend as they welcome Torquay United to The J. Davidson Stadium.
Following an action-packed game which saw them secure a 4-3 win over Yeovil Town, their first win in eight games, the Robins backed up that fine performance with another impressive display, holding play-off-chasing Eastleigh to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday evening.
The Spitfires, chasing a fourth straight win to keep the pressure on their top-seven rivals, saw Tyrone Barnett's early effort drop over the crossbar while Altrincham's Tom Hannigan then had a shot drift just wide.
Eastleigh broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half as former Southend frontman Barnett headed home a deep cross from Michael Green.
With 12 minutes left, Alty equalised when Ryan Colclough slotted in after the referee allowed an advantage when Josh Hancock was hauled down.
The Robins came close to taking the lead with eight minutes to play when Joel Senior’s ferocious long-range effort was palmed into the air by Joe McDonnell and scrambled behind for a corner.
And seconds after Tom Peers curled his effort inches wide of the goal deep into added time, the referee brought the game to an end, with the hosts now unbeaten in two.
You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below:
Following that result, the Robins remain 17th in the Vanarama National League table, five points behind Aldershot Town in 16th, with only one game left.
This will be the second meeting between the sides this season, with Alty putting in a tremendous performance at Plainmoor to secure a 2-1 win over Gary Johnson’s side, courtesy of strikes from Josh Hancock and Ryan Colclough.
Torquay took the lead in the 22nd minute after a Connor Lemonheigh-Evans free-kick returned to him via Kyle Cameron, leaving the midfielder to convert from close range.
Josh Hancock was brought down in the area midway through the half, handing the visitors a golden chance to level, with the Alty top scorer subsequently converting from the spot.
Substitute Ryan Colclough then put the Robins ahead on the stroke of half-time, curling a beautiful shot from the edge of the penalty area into the far corner.
And despite having Jake Moult sent off with four minutes left to play, Phil Parkinson’s side hung on to secure what was a third consecutive win.
You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below:
Having led the way for much of this season, Torquay United will now need to turn their attention towards planning for the play-offs after Sutton United secured the National League title, overtaking the Gulls at the final hurdle.
Playing at this level since their relegation from the Football League in 2014, times have been tough for Saturday’s visitors, suffering relegation to the NL South in 2018. However, changes on and off the pitch have left Torquay in a much stronger position as they bid to return to the promised land, with the club guaranteed a bye into the play-off semi-finals.
So far this season, the Gulls have played a total of 41 games, winning 23, drawing 10, and losing eight. From those games, they have scored 68 goals (the joint-second-best scoring rate in the division) while conceding 39 (the third best defensive record in the division) for a goal difference of +29.
However, spotty patches of form have really cost them. In what is often described as the business end of the season, the Gulls could only draw their last three games (against Bromley, Stockport County and Barnet), with their most recent win coming against Chesterfield on May 3. Despite this, they do remain a hard side to beat, with Dagenham & Redbridge the last side to take all three points against them on March 27.
In their last game against Barnet, Jake Andrews put the Gulls ahead in the 13th minute with a fine finish at the back post following Ben Wynter's low cross from the right flank.
The hosts seemed to be cruising when Connor Lemonheigh-Evans doubled their lead, rounding Barnet goalkeeper Adam Parkes to slot into an empty net in the 23rd minute.
Nerves in the home camp were evident, though, when Sam Sherring brought down Harry Taylor in the box and Mike Petrasso slotted home the resulting 37th-minute spot-kick.
And the game was level when Themis Kefalas, who had had a first-half header cleared off the line by Adam Randell, headed beyond Lucas Covolan from a free-kick after 54 minutes.
Torquay United are managed by Gary Johnson, an experienced coach who was appointed to his position in September 2018, filling the void left by Gary Owers. Throughout the course of his career, Johnson has coached 10 clubs, including spells at Yeovil Town, Bristol City, and Cheltenham Town, the latter of which he led to the National League title.
Gary began his coaching career back in 1986 with Newmarket Town, a team he has once lined up for as a player. A two-year spell with the Jockeys ended when he became the reserves manager at Cambridge United, before progressing to become first-team manager with the club.
In 1999, the Gulls boss surprised many by dipping his toe into the waters of international management, taking over the Latvian national team, before returning to the UK two years later with Yeovil Town. After helping the Glovers to successive promotions, he became the manager of Bristol City in 2005, enjoying a five-year spell at Ashton Gate and helping the Robins to a place in the Championship.
Following short spells with Peterborough United and Northampton Town, Johnson returned to Huish Park in 2012, leading the club to the Championship after beating Brentford in the League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium.
His trophy-winning record did not end at Huish Park as in 2017, two years after taking over at Whaddon Road, he led Cheltenham Town to the National League title, finishing 12 points ahead of second-placed Forest Green Rovers. He was let go by the Robins in 2018 and subsequently signed on at Plainmoor.
A win for Altrincham on Saturday could see the club move to within two points of Aldershot in 16th, while a win for Torquay United would do little to change their league placing, with the Gulls having already secured second.
Last five league games
Altrincham: DLLWD (F7 A11)
Torquay United: WWDDD (F9 A5)
Alty TV LIVE
Join John Edwards & Luke Edwards at 12.20pm to watch the whole match on Alty TV Live.
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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 12.15pm.
The match commentary sponsor is 'Andy's Man Club'.
The commentary team is Paul Salt & Niall Finnegan.
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre on the club website
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Photos: Michael Ripley
Brazilian goalkeeper Lucas Covolan repels a 2nd half Alty attack.
Altrincham finished the season as they started it with a 0-0 draw at The J.Davidson Stadium against a team from the South West.
Conditions on the final Saturday in May were markedly different from the October splashfest against Weymouth as the crowd of 1032 basked in glorious sunshine & watched the Robins & the Gulls each take a deserved point in a competitive end of season encounter that was short on goalmouth action but enjoyed by the faithful Alty fans, clearly delighted to have 3 opportunities in the final week of the season to see their favourite team after a 14 month absence from the terraces & stands.
Before the game, Altrincham unveiled new signing, Brad Jackson, who joins the Robins from Chester & Co-Chairman, Bill Waterson, announced a 'Role of Honour' for all of the people connected with Altrincham Football Club who have sadly passed since the beginning of last year.
Altrincham FC 'Role of Honour' for the people connected with Altrincham Football Club who have sadly passed since January 2020.
Gary Johnson opted to field a strong side, even though his side were guaranteed to finish as runners up to Champions, Sutton United, but it was the home side that were quickly out of the blocks, with Dan Mooney particularly lively early on.
The Devon side found their feet after 10 minutes or so & put the Robins under a fair degree of pressure, without really creating any clear cut chances & the highlight of the first half was a fine effort from outside the penalty area from Alistair Smith that brought an acrobatic save from Lucas Covolan who did well to hold on to the ball.
Lucas Covolan holds on well to this fine effort from Alistair Smith.
The second half continued in a similar vein, although it was the visitors who went closest to scoring with a looping Kyle Cameron header from a corner that was headed off the line by Jake Moult.
Adam Randell also nearly broke the deadlock but his header was marginally off-target.
Adam Randell's 2nd half header drifts just wide.
Alty were threatening on the break but in general both defences were fairly comfortably in charge of the opposition attacks & there was a sense that a point was a satisfactory outcome for both Phil Parkinson & Gary Johnson.
The opening & closing matches of this campaign have been the first matches at The J.Davidson Stadium without a goal in the 4 seasons that Phil Parkinson & Neil Sorvel have been in charge. The only previous scoreless games came in the 2017/18 season at Stalybridge Celtic, 2 games at Warrington Town (Northern Premier League & FA Trophy) & at Buxton.