*Pick that one out .. Tom Peers and Toby Mullarkey celebrate after a rocket from Toby made it 3-1 to the Robins and sealed an outstanding first-day win at Torquay. Picture by Jonathan Moore.
After a blank Saturday, Altrincham are back in action tomorrow, eager to build on a stunning day-one win on the Devon coast with a similar performance and result over in West Yorkshire. Here, ED PAINTER previews the Robins' second Vanarama National League fixture of the new season.
Alty have the chance to follow up on their impressive opening-day performance when they face FC Halifax Town at The Shay on Bank Holiday Monday.
Coming up against last season’s play-off finalists at Plainmoor last Saturday, the Robins put in a heroic performance on the south coast, beating Gary Johnson’s Torquay United 3-1, courtesy of goals from Marcus Dinanga, Connor Kirby and Toby Mullarkey.
It only took 14 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring, with debutant striker Dinanga collecting Dan Mooney’s cross before turning the ball home beyond the reach of Mark Halstead.
That lead was doubled on the 20-minute mark as Kirby, who returned to Alty on loan from Harrogate Town, was in the right place at the right time to thump the ball into the back of the net, following some determined play from Joel Senior.
Torquay got a huge slice of luck to get back into the game, as a dangerous ball into the box was accidentally turned home by an Alty defender with just over a quarter of the game remaining.
Substitute Tom Peers almost restored the Robins’ two-goal advantage moments later, bursting into space after a great touch from Ryan Colclough and forcing the home shot-stopper into a fantastic save.
However, Phil Parkinson’s side were not to be denied, and with time running out, Mullarkey linked up brilliantly with Colclough before hammering the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area.
You can watch the highlights of that 3-1 win over Torquay by pressing play below.
Following that result, and after Saturday’s fixtures, the Robins sit seventh in the Vanarama National League table, three points behind table-topping Dagenham & Redbridge, having played one less game than the Daggers.
The last time the two sides met was towards the end of last season at The J. Davidson Stadium, with the Shaymen still harbouring hopes of securing a play-off place.
On that occasion, Jack Earing’s strike in the 11th minute proved to be the difference, as Pete Wild’s men secured a narrow 1-0 win.
After Josh Hancock saw his shot deflected on to the crossbar, the visitors edged ahead when Earing’s strike from the edge of the area beat a diving Tony Thompson on its way to the bottom corner.
Alty had several opportunities to draw level, with Colclough, Hancock and Yusifu Ceesay all testing the Halifax defence to its limit.
However, despite applying plenty of late pressure, the Robins were unable to find a way through as the Shaymen clung on to all three points.
You can watch highlights of that 1-0 defeat by pressing play below.
Born from the ashes of Halifax Town, who were wound up in 2008, the Shaymen have slowly but steadily worked their way from the Northern Premier League Division One North back to the National League.
Following their narrow opening-day defeat at home to Maidenhead United, our hosts on Monday were able to bounce back at the first time of asking, securing their first win of the season, by beating Woking 3-2 in an action-packed game.
Goals from debutant Jesse Debrah and midfielder Martin Woods, either side of a strike from Woking’s Jordan Maguire-Drew, handed Halifax a 2-1 lead at the break.
Catching their opponents cold, the Shaymen added a third only one minute into the second half as Billy Waters, formerly of Torquay United, drilled the ball home from 20 yards.
Woking did put up a fight when George Oakley curled the ball past Sam Johnson to reduce the arrears to one, but Town hung on to secure their first win of the season.
The Shaymen are currently managed by Pete Wild, who took over in July, 2019, after previous manager Jamie Fullerton, who also had a spell in charge of Notts County, resigned after leading the club to a 16th-place finish in the 2018/19 National League season.
In his first season, Wild led his side to a place in the play-offs, where they met Boreham Wood at Meadow Park in the quarter-finals. Despite Tobi Sho-Silva giving Wild’s side the lead after only 19 minutes, goals from Kane Smith and Matt Rhead saw Halifax fall at the first hurdle.
A lifelong fan of Oldham Athletic, Wild was given an opportunity to take charge of his boyhood club in 2018, having worked for them in different roles for the previous 10 years. Replacing Frankie Bunn, he was placed in interim control before Manchester United legend Paul Scholes assumed first-team duties shortly afterwards.
After only eight matches, Scholes departed Boundary Park, meaning that Wild was once again made interim manager in March, 2019. Towards the end of that month, he was given the job on a full-time basis, but, only two months later, he resigned for personal reasons. Two months after that, he took over at FC Halifax Town.
Following an impressive 2020/21 campaign, Wild lost several of his stand-out performers, with the likes of Jake Hyde, Jeff King, Neill Byrne and Jack Earing pursuing opportunities elsewhere, while centre-back Nathan Clarke hung up his boots.
After adding experienced players like Jordan Slew, Billy Waters and Matt Warburton to his team, alongside some other exciting young talent, Wild will be hoping that his Shaymen can better what they achieved last season.
A win for Altrincham on Monday could move them up to joint-first with Dagenham & Redbridge and Chesterfield, depending on results elsewhere. However, a win for FC Halifax Town would lift them to within touching distance of the league summit.
Adults - £21.00
Concessions (State pension age) - £18.00
12-17 years old - £9.00
Under 12s - £4.00
Last five league games
FC Halifax Town: DLWLW (F6 A8)
Altrincham: WDDWW (F10 A5)
Listen to the game live on Radio Robins
You can listen to live commentary on Radio Robins, sponsored by Ashley Mowers Garden Machinery. The broadcast starts at 2.45pm.
The match commentary sponsor is Andy's Man Club.
The commentary team is Niall Finnegan, Ian Wilkinson and Niall Flynn.
You can listen to Radio Robins in any of the following ways:
1) By visiting our Match Centre 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'.
*Story of the day .. an inviting low cross from Ryan Colclough (background) just eludes both Marcus Dinanga and Josh Hancock, and the chance of a 65th-minute equaliser is lost. Picture by Jonathan Moore.
Altrincham were beaten by the better side on the day and could have few complaints about the result, but a sense of frustration may still have accompanied them back across the Pennines after they contributed to their own downfall at The Shay this afternoon.
A slick passing FC Halifax Town side started on the front foot and stayed there most of the afternoon, calling the shots and constantly applying pressure with their quick movement and slick, precise passing.
But the fact remains - and what a galling one it is for Phil Parkinson's side - that the Shaymen had to rely on two defensive lapses in the away ranks for the 2-0 scoreline that secured the points for them.
Skipper Jake Moult, a tower of strength at the heart of the Robins midfield, made an uncharacteristic slip that was pounced on for the 59th-minute opener, and it was all over for Alty when substitute Ben Pringle's failure to clear in the 84th minute gifted Halifax a second goal.
Buoyed as Alty may have been by their stunning opening-day win at Torquay United, Halifax were fresh from an impressive away win of their own after beating Woking 3-2 on Saturday, and how it showed.
On the offensive from the first whistle, the Shaymen swarmed round the Alty goal and threatened twice inside the opening 10 minutes.
Left-back Jack Senior, a frequent thorn in Alty's side with his attacking forays, rounded off a sweeping fourth-minute move with a low drive that Tony Thompson saved easily enough.
If that was a routine stop for the Alty keeper, his reflexes and glove work faced much more of a test three minutes later when a fierce shot from Jordan Slew at the end of a spell of home pressure was palmed round the near post at full stretch.
Alty had barely made it our of their own half, and they stayed on the back foot as Matty Warburton advanced down the right flank in the 25th minute and clipped a low cross that Harvey Gilmour just failed to connect with as he slid into the six-yard box.
Still the pattern of home dominance continued, with two more near-misses to stretch nerves among the near-350 travelling fans before Alty finally began to assert themselves just before half-time.
A superb through ball by Martin Woods sent Jay Benn charging through in the 29th minute, and the young right-back looked sure to score until an immaculately-timed goal-saving sliding challenge by Tom Hannigan stopped him in his tracks.
Five minutes later, Warburton spun on the left edge of the area to create space for a right-foot shot that looked destined for the top near corner until Thompson took off to tip it round the post with an acrobatic, flying save.
Little, if anything, had been seen of Alty as an attacking force, but that belatedly changed as they carved out a couple of openings just before half-time.
Ryan Colclough's corner was headed back across goal for first Hannigan and then Toby Mullarkey to try but narrowly fail to force the ball home from close range, and then Marcus Dinanga mishit a difficult-to-execute first-time shot from Colclough's left-wing delivery.
The respite was brief, as Halifax started the second 45 minutes the way they had the first, in the ascendancy and intent on being the ones to break the deadlock.
Billy Waters headed a glorious chance over the bar from Benn's dangerous 47th-minute cross, and there was another let-off for Alty two minutes later when the same player inexplicably half-hit the tamest of shots straight at Thompson after being set up by Woods.
Alty were at least defending resolutely, but that went out of the window when a rare lapse by Moult, slipping unluckily inside his own half and surrendering possession in the process, led to a breakaway that ended in Slew's angled shot beating Thompson's dive.
Josh Hancock fired over after an all-too-rare reminder of Alty's silky passing skills in the 62nd minute, and they went agonisingly close to an equaliser three minutes after that, when Colclough's low right-wing cross evaded the straining boots of both Dinanga and Hancock, with the goal gaping.
It was to be the last real opportunity to get on the scoresheet, and Alty's fate was sealed five minutes from time, when Pringle misdirected a header into the path of Waters, who unerringly despatched the unexpected offering past Thompson to put the result beyond doubt.