01 May 2021 by Admin

Preview: Altrincham v Notts County

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Phil Parkinson will be looking to put an end to Alty’s four-game losing run when they welcome Notts County to The J. Davidson Stadium this weekend. 

Following the 1-0 win over Maidenhead United, the Robins have struggled for form, losing four on the bounce against King’s Lynn Town, FC Halifax Town, Sutton United, and Barnet. 

In their most recent defeat against the struggling Bees, Alty had started brilliantly, taking the lead after only four minutes through Ryan Colclough’s tremendous strike. 

That lead was doubled in the 16th minute when Alistair Smith rose highest to turn Ritchie Sutton’s pin-point cross past Aymen Azeez into the back of the net. 

However, under the management of Simon Bassey, Barnet have become a much-improved side and just before the break, Courtney Baker-Richardson capitalised on a mistake to reduce the lead to one. 

Minutes before the final whistle, the Bees drew level through Ephron Mason-Clark, after the midfielder intercepted the ball before finishing well in the 88th minute. 

The comeback was complete moments later, after former Stoke City and Millwall Academy graduate Tomi Adeloye prodded home from close range. 

The Robins had a late chance for a point when Jake Moult looked to have broken through, but fantastic defending from Sam Beard condemned us to a fourth successive loss. 

You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below. 

Following that result, the Robins remain 17thin the Vanarama National League table, four points behind Yeovil Town but having played two more games than the Glovers. 

This will be the second meeting between the sides this season, with the Robins falling to a 3-1 away defeat at Meadow Lane. Two first-half goals from Kyle Wootton handed County a commanding lead at the break, before Jake Reeves’ goal midway through the second half looked to have put the game to bed. 

Dan Mooney’s strike with 13 minutes left gave Alty some hope of executing a comeback, but the hosts were able to keep the visitors at bay, handing the Robins their first loss of the season. 

You can watch the highlights of that game by pressing play below.

The Opponents

After relegation from the Football League for the first time in their 157-year history, following a disappointing 2018/19 season, our guests on Saturday set about making an immediate return. A successful National League campaign saw the Magpies qualify for the 2019/20 play-off final, beating Barnet 2-0 in the semi-final. However, they lost to Harrogate Town in the final at Wembley Stadium. 

In their second season at this level, Notts had looked on course at the very least to make it back into the play-offs, but a change in management and a drop in form has seen the historic club fall down the Vanarama National League table. 

Currently, our opponents sit 10th, after winning 15, drawing eight, and losing 11 of their 34 games. Despite going winless in their last five matches, losing four (against Hartlepool United, Solihull Moors, and Eastleigh twice) and drawing once (against Torquay United), the Magpies still hold a respectable +10 goal difference, after scoring 44 and conceding 34. 

What will be of concern for County supporters is that from their last five games, they have only scored three goals, while conceding nine. If you look further back at their record this season, form seems to tail off after the heart-breaking FA Trophy semi-final defeat to Hornchurch on March 27, winning only two of the following eight games. 

The Manager 

Notts County are managed by Ian Birchnall, who took over at Meadow Lane after the departure of Neal Ardley and Greg Abbott on March 24. This is the 38-year-old’s first spell as a manager in the UK, following periods with Sarpsborg 08, Viking, and Ostersund. 

Rather than starting out as a player and moving into the dug-out upon retirement, Birchnall is a man who threw himself into coaching at 22 years of age with a role at the University of Leeds. He quickly progressed and before long, he was handed coaching roles in the Academies of Leeds United and Bradford City. 

Despite enjoying plenty of opportunities on these shores, the current Notts manager got his first break when he became the assistant-manager to Brian Deane at Norwegian club Sarpsborg 08. After two years at Sarpsborg Stadion, he accepted a similar position with Eliteserien rivals Viking, before becoming first-team manager on November 24, 2016. 

However, after only a season with the Dark Blues, he moved to Sweden to take over at Ostersund, after previous manager Graham Potter accepted the first-team manager role with Swansea City. Despite struggling on the pitch, Birchnall is widely credited by the Ostersund support for keeping the club in the top tier of Swedish football and, as a show of gratitude, they hosted a party to thank him for his services after his departure. 

A win for Altrincham would see the Robins remain in 17th, potentially closing to within one point of Yeovil Town in 16th. However, were Notts County to come away with all three points, they could reignite their promotion campaign by climbing back into the play-off places.

Last five league games 

Altrincham: WLLLL (F3 A10) 

Notts County: LLLDL (F3 A9) 

Alty TV LIVE 

Join John Edwards & Niall Finnegan at 2.50pm to watch the whole match on Alty TV Live.

Click here to order our live stream at a cost of £9.99.

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 2.30pm.

The match commentary sponsor is Andys Man Club. 

The commentary team is Brian Flynn, Mark Simpson & Paul Salt. 

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'. 

4) https://mixlr.com/radio-robins

More

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All tonight's Vanarama National League results