Altrincham secured another valuable three points after a dramatic eight-goal thriller against a tough Chorley side at The J. Davidson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Jordan Hulme, Tom Hannigan, Shaun Densmore (2) and James Poole were enough to overcome the resilient visitors, whilst also increasing the club's league goal tally for the season to 80, making Altrincham the highest scorers in the Vanarama National League North.
Phil Parkinson made only one change to the starting line-up that faced Telford in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday evening, as Max Harrop replaced an unavailable Josh Hancock.
It was a slow start to the half, with neither side creating any significant efforts on goal. The first real shot on target came from Chorley through an Adam Blakeman strike, as he hit the ball hard and along the floor, but Tony Thompson gathered it up with ease.
Only three minutes later, Altrincham’s first shot on target became the first goal of the game. It was a brilliant piece of link-up play between Yusifu Ceesay and Jordan Hulme, with the pair exchanging a quick one-two before Hulme muscled his way past the Chorley defence and struck a low shot into the bottom left corner to make it 1-0.
Altrincham continued to press and create a number of chances, coming close again in the 15th minute after Sean Williams took a shot at goal. Max Harrop, with an incredible piece of skill, seemed to back-heel and flick the ball past his marker before squaring it to Williams, who couldn’t quite guide his effort on target.
On the half-hour mark, more excellent link-up play between Hulme and Ceesay almost lead to Alty doubling their lead. Ceesay did well to intercept a Chorley pass and win the ball in midfield, turning his man and passing to Hulme, but his cross was unable to pick out an Alty team-mate.
The dynamic duo were involved in another Alty chance just minutes later. Hulme played a perfectly-weighted ball to Ceesay, who used his blistering pace to sprint down the left flank and fire a cross towards John Johnston, whose first-time effort went wide.
Despite Alty being comfortably in control for the majority of the first half, Chorley came close to equalising minutes before half-time after Elliot Newby struck a curled effort that forced Thompson to rush out and make a brave save, collecting the ball in the air.
The Magpies came close again shortly after, but some terrific defending by James Jones prevented Marcus Carver from going through on goal, as he executed a slide tackle to perfection, at the expense of a corner.
Seconds before the half-time whistle, Altrincham created their last chance of the opening 45 minutes, and it involved more brilliant build-up play. Williams, in the centre of the pitch, passed the ball to Harrop, who played in Johnston on the right wing. Johnston lofted the ball over to Ceesay, arriving at the back post, but his side-footed effort went just wide as the half ended 1-0.
Chorley started much stronger in the second half, coming close to scoring instantaneously. Andy Teague clipped in a ball towards Carver, but Jones managed to get there first and head the ball away from danger.
Despite that early threat, the visitors found themselves two goals adrift exactly five minutes later. Johnston’s perfectly delivered free-kick found Hannigan, whose bullet-like header flew straight past Matt Urwin and into the roof of the net.
However, an instant response from Chorley brought them straight back into the game in the 51st minute. Almost a carbon copy of Altrincham’s second of the match, Alex Newby played in a free-kick, and Teague rose highest, in a crowded box, to head past Thompson.
It was real end-to-end football as the second half continued, with both sides creating chances and Chorley looking much more of an attacking threat.
Chorley’s attacking pressure and persistence was soon rewarded after Teague notched his second of the game. A Chorley corner, taken by Alex Newby, was launched into the box. The ball ricocheted around the area and eventually fell to Teague, who volleyed an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net to bring the scores level.
The remaining 20 minutes of the game seemed to be goal after goal as, a mere three minutes later, Altrincham were back ahead. Densmore played the ball into Hulme, who did well to hold off his man and slip the ball back to the full-back, whose cool finish slipped past Urwin to make it 3-2.
Densmore, clearly now with a taste for goal, had a chance to grab his second a minute later, as he raced towards goal, setting up his shot but he couldn’t keep it down as the ball continued to rise just over the bar and into the back of the Golf Road End.
Chorley scored their third of the game after Courtney Meppen-Walter's header flew in the back of the net following a dubious corner decision. Hannigan was pushed in the back as the ball went out of play, but the referee saw nothing wrong with the incident and proceeded to give a corner.
But the away side weren’t level for long, as Densmore grabbed his second, and Alty’s fourth, in the 83rd minute. It was an incredible free-kick, inch perfect, as the ball curled over the wall and into the top left corner, giving Urwin no chance.
In the 88th minute, a penalty to Alty gave them the chance to well and truly put the game to bed, and they did. Ceesay was outstanding on the left wing, showing incredible skill and strength to get past three Chorley defenders surrounding him as he strode into the box, until being taken down by Scott Leather. The substitute, James Poole, stepped up to convert the penalty, tucking it into the bottom right corner and making it 5-3, securing all three points for The Robins.
Altrincham are back in action on Tuesday evening, as they take on play-off rivals Brackley Town in what is bound to be another exciting crunch match at The J. Davidson Stadium.