Sinnott Speaks: Battling point showed what character my tired players have

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Altrincham FC manager Lee Sinnott will be giving us the inside track on the Robins’ return to the Conference. Here’s his latest column for Altrincham Today.

I was pleased to come away with a point from our trip to Gloucestershire on Saturday. Forest Green had slipped down the table a place or two, but they are a quality side, and it was always going to be difficult after the week we’d had.

A lot of effort went in to turning things around against Kidderminster on the previous Saturday and then it was a case of heading down to Woking on the Tuesday night. Some of the lads only got to bed at about 4.30 the following morning, and they were up again for work two or three hours later.

A trip like that has a knock-on effect. Naturally enough, after getting home in the early hours, they are tired throughout that day, and the following day, and probably even Friday as well. There is mental and physical fatigue – the amount of each determined by the job they are doing – and the rigours of the game means they will be feeling some soreness and stiffness as well.

It all goes into the melting pot, but full credit to them for responding the way they did. We are a different animal from the full-time boys, and you just have to deal with it accordingly. So taking all that into account, I’d say our passing game was ok, without quite reaching the levels we are capable of, but looking at the big picture, with all the travelling involved, there could be no faulting the players for character. They showed it in abundance.

In a way, there are comparisons to be drawn from the two away games. Both Woking and Forest Green started very brightly, and we had to stand firm. Forest Green’s tails were really up with their early goal, but we didn’t let the deficit get to two or three. We didn’t let the game get away from us. We grew into the game as we had done at Woking, and though it wasn’t exactly a classic from either team’s point of view down at The New Lawn, we were good value for a point. We did enough to be able to say we deserved it.

Below: Highlights from the 1-1 draw at Forest Green

Tom Marshall had a ‘goal’ harshly disallowed at Woking but no-one was going to take his goal way from him on Saturday. Certainly not their keeper, he couldn’t get near it! We were right in line with it on the bench, and when he connected, it went straight as an arrow. It didn’t deviate at all. That’s how sweetly he caught it, and on his weaker foot. It was a good ball floated in and a quality finish.

We had to deal with a lot of balls into the box late on, and they do have some big guys, but we dealt with it well. The only negative was that you don’t really want that much coming into your area, but we did show character to stand up to it all in the last 10-15 minutes.

I thought that Dave Parton did well in goal, after Stuart Coburn sustained a groin injury at Woking. Different positions bring different responsibilities, and when a keeper hasn’t played for a while, it is a bit different suddenly coming back into the team, compared to an outfield player. But he made a wonderful save just before half-time, and that was crucial. If you are going in 2-0 down, you’ve got a lot to do to get back in to it, so that was a key moment.

Everyone is relishing the prospect of our FA Trophy 1st round game on Saturday at home to Macclesfield… it should be quite an occasion. The league game here at the end of September could have gone either way, and they have certainly picked up again and produced some good form and results since we beat them and have just gone second in the league after winning at Aldershot on Wednesday night. It is going to be eagerly contested again.

On the availability front, we could just be back to having a full squad to choose from. Scott Leather is back from suspension, Nicky Clee is progressing with his broken toe and could possibly be included, and the same applies to Stuart Coburn. If there is any doubt about Nicky, we won’t push him, but both he and Stuart are certainly not out of the frame.

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