Sinnott Speaks: Two superb wins… and yet another goal of the season

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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.

It’s great to have started the New Year so well with two very good wins.

The most pleasing thing about the 4-1 victory over Chester and the performance on New Year’s Day was the reaction from the players after the disappointment of losing at home to Nuneaton. We know we should have beaten Nuneaton, but the ball just wouldn’t go in for us, so to respond like that impressed me.

The opening goal of the game, from Nicky Clee, had everyone in raptures, and rightly so. I have never known a season like this one for being spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on goal of the season.

It was a wonderful strike, and he knew it was in as soon as it left his foot. It did a lovely little kink to straighten up, and it really was a beautiful exhibition of a quite brilliant technique. He punched it with his left foot, rather than lofting it high into the air, and that immediately took the keeper and any covering defender out of the equation. The trajectory meant they had no chance of getting back in time, and you could tell Nicky knew that, the way he turned to the crowd and took the acclaim before it had even crossed the line. Brilliant stuff.

Below: Highlights from the victory over Chester

We looked a bit tired on Sunday at Eastleigh, but that just makes the result even more pleasing. The normal spring in the step wasn’t there, but you accept that, because we’ve had four games in 10 days and, for that one, the players were up at six in the morning.

Most of them would have been up that early, because the bus left at eight. It was a massive ask to go all the way down to Hampshire under those circumstances and take on a team in one of the promotion places, but you simply couldn’t fault the desire and application the players put in.

It was a long day, and a bit of tiredness showed itself, in the way we were a bit wasteful, at times, in our decision-making and use of possession. The players were tired mentally and physically, but they showed character by the bucketload. They worked really hard for each other against a team who have been on a roll and hadn’t lost at home all season, and that graft, desire, stamina and sheer guts got them over the line.

We all enjoyed the coach trip back after that!

The first goal may have been a bit fortuitous, with one of their players miskicking into his own net, but there was nothing fortunate about the second. The way Shaun Densmore hit his free-kick with enough pace and dip to get it over the wall and into the net was superb, the best bit of skill in the game by far.

I know some people are beginning to wonder how high we can climb in the table, but our approach will remain exactly the same. We will continue to roll the dice and see where it takes us.

We are working hard and playing well, and to see us battling our way to such a good result at Eastleigh was another encouraging sign. When the programme caught up with us earlier in the season, we went to Barnet and got stuffed 5-0. This time, when we started feeling the strain, we went to another promotion-chasing team and secured a 2-0 win. That is a sign of progress. It gave us nine points out of 12 over the holiday period, which is a superb return for us.

Now it’s a case of patching people up and ensuring others are rested before we head to Kidderminster in the FA Trophy on Saturday. There are a lot of sore bodies, and Peter Cavanagh came off at Eastleigh with a stiff Achilles, though that was more a precaution than anything. The players had a well deserved breather by having Tuesday night off training, and we will reconvene on Thursday to see how everyone is fitness-wise and prepare for the Trophy tie.

Below: Highlights from the victory at Eastleigh

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