Altrincham extended their strong run of form by overcoming a solid Telford outfit in difficult weather and pitch conditions on Saturday afternoon. The 3-1 win means Alty have now picked up 22 points from a possible 24 in their last eight league matches and have moved up to third in the Vanarama National League North.
The key moment of the game came with just 15 minutes left on the clock when Connor Hampson stepped up to curl a stunning free kick past Andy Wycherley in the Telford goal to break the stalemate and put Alty 2-1 ahead.
It was far from plain sailing for Phil Parkinson’s men despite making it eight consecutive home wins in all competitions (excluding the Cheshire Senior Cup).
After the pitch passed an inspection at 11am, there was plenty more rain between then and kick off that left the match in some doubt right up until 3pm. The referee deemed it playable as the rain eased up but conditions were not ideal especially for Alty’s preferred style of play.
It was Telford who marginally made the better start in the opening minutes as the players found it difficult to adapt to the conditions with water sitting on some areas of the pitch. Alty were further disrupted by an injury to in-form full-back Andy White who was forced off and replaced early by Shaun Densmore.
It was Alty however who drew first blood with the first real moment of danger in the game for either team. John Johnston was fed the ball on the halfway line and he made one of his trademark runs as he skipped past a couple of challenges and into the box. Josh Hancock was one of the few players to keep up with Johnston’s pace as the Alty wide played it across to Hancock who neatly slotted home.
The lead did not last long however as Telford he back minutes later. A chipped cross from the right was knocked down at the far post and after something of a goalmouth scramble, the ball fell invitingly to Telford’s topscorer Daniel Udoh who smashed the ball into the net on 24 minutes.
The flurry of action was hardly representative of how the game was playing out though as neither goalkeeper were particularly involved. After being pegged back, Alty had a couple of long-range efforts through Hancock and Hampson, but they failed to test Wycherley.
In truth, the 1-1 scoreline at half-time was about right with neither team particularly excelling in the conditions.
The second half started in relatively tame fashion like the first ended, but John Johnston was proving a threat down the right despite playing on the most affected part of the pitch. He produced the first real opening since the break with a stunning whipped cross which found Jordan Hulme and the Alty striker’s header was well saved by Wycherley.
That signalled a spell in the game where the play was beginning to flow from end-to-end and chances were coming.
Alty had another glorious chance as they continued to gain a foothold in the match as Kallum Mantack went through on goal only to be thwarted once again by Wycherley as Theo Streete tugged the Alty wide man’s shirt.
It was another bright attack that led to the Robins’ second and decisive goal. The play came across from the left and as Shaun Densmore flew forward, he was tripped just outside the box. In a prime position for a left-footed strike, Connor Hampson stepped up to curl a magnificent effort into the far corner giving Wycherley no chance and sending the Alty faithful into raptures.
Telford manager Gavin Cowan made a series of substitutes to try find a way back into the match as former Alty loanee Brendon Daniels was one of the three players to come on. The play was frequently disrupted once again however and Alty were able to manage the game superbly well with the back four and midfield protecting Tony Thompson extremely well.
As Telford became increasingly desperate, Alty grabbed a third to kill any hopes the visitors had of grabbing a late equaliser. It was superb vision by new boy Ash Hemmings who had come off the bench and fed a lovely pass through to an unmarked Hancock who added his second and Alty's third.
Plenty of positives once again for Alty to take in what was a far from easy match. Next week, Alty face Alsager in a friendly on Tuesday night to give playing time to some of the squad players. Then we welcome Stockport in the FA Trophy next Saturday, where the Robins will look to avenge the loss in the FA Cup in October.