Altrincham and Bradford (Park Avenue) left off from where they finished in their last league meeting three weeks ago as they played out yet another high scoring thriller at The J.Davidson Stadium as the Robins moved into the Emirates FA Cup fourth qualifying round.
The tempo for the game was set early on as with only three minutes on the clock, Sean Williams made a 60-yard run forward on the counter attack and his effort on goal, aided by a flick by Jordan Hulme, hit the post.
It was Max Harrop’s turn to come close to opening the deadlock as his effort from all of 30 yards forced Bradford keeper Drench to make a good save to his right.
Alty had made the better start and enjoyed the early chances but the visitors got into the game and had an excellent chance themselves with McKenna hitting the post on 20 minutes. As the game flowed from end to end, Mark Bower’s men earned a penalty when Jake Beesley went down under a challenge by Jake Moult.
The striker, on loan from Salford City, stepped up and drove the ball past the diving Tony Thompson. After being handed a recall to the side, Thompson dived the right way, but there was too much power on the ball for him to save the spot kick as Alty went one down.
As has so often been the case this season, Phil Parkinson’s men were not to be deflated and they responded well with an equaliser shortly after. Play started down the left wing on the halfway line as Connor Hampson took the ball past Nicky Clee and drove forward. He fed the ball into Jordan Hulme who turned his man before providing the return pass to Hampson who bundled the ball home to equalise.
The delight of the home fans quickly turned sour however as Bradford went back ahead within two minutes of Alty’s equaliser. Wroe’s floated corner from the left saw captain Killock ghost in at the far post and volley calmly past Thompson much to the frustration of the Alty players and coaching staff.
The character of this team has been one of the standout features of the season so far as the Robins responded brilliantly for a second time and this time it was skipper Jake Moult on his 300th appearance for the club. Alty regained possession in Bradford’s half and Moult unleashed an effort from distance and the deflection from a Bradford defender left keeper Drench completely wrong-footed as the ball flew into the net.
Bradford were forced to make a couple of changes at half-time and early in the second half which disrupted their play, and it was Alty who took control in the second period.
John Johnston gave a warning sign to the visitors as his curling effort after cutting in from the left was well saved by the diving Drench. The Bradford keeper could do nothing moments later as James Jones finished superbly with a flick direct from Max Harrop’s corner.
The visitors committed more players in attacking areas as the half progressed and forward Adam Nowakowski was brought on to give them another option in attack, but Alty were in control of the game. They put the tie to bed with just four minutes remaining as Jordan Hulme carried the ball from the left touchline inside and fired a glorious shot past the hapless Drench to wrap things up.
It was no more than Alty deserved as it was a strong team performance with some top performers like Max Harrop, Jordan Hulme, and skipper Jake Moult. Despite going behind twice in the first half, Alty raised their level in the second half to control the game and progress.
The Robins now go into the draw for the Emirates FA Cup fourth qualifying round on Monday at midday. The FA Cup’s famous velvet bag returns and the draw will be broadcast live on talkSPORT 2.