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.
For the second Saturday in succession, we are playing the team who are in second place in the Vanarama Conference. Barnet went to the top of the table in August and stayed there until Tuesday night when Bristol Rovers leapfrogged them after beating Braintree Town 2-1.
Martin Allen’s team have faltered in recent weeks and will be under pressure to take all three points when they visit the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday… hopefully, we can capitalise on that pressure and get amongst them to get back to winning ways after three games without a victory.
When we visited The Hive in September, Barnet were really impressive and inflicted our heaviest defeat of the season, fully meriting the 5-0 scoreline. As a team, we have come a long way since then and Saturday is a chance to demonstrate the major progress that we have made in adapting during the season to life in the Vanarama Conference.
Saturday’s game brings to a conclusion a run of four games against teams in the top five and I have been very pleased with the way that we have acquitted ourselves in the first three, whilst being disappointed with just the single point gained. Perhaps five points would have been a fairer reflection of the games, as I feel that we deserved a point at Macclesfield and Bristol Rovers and probably should have beaten Forest Green Rovers at home.
Below: Highlights of Saturday’s defeat at Bristol Rovers
I was very proud of my players last Saturday. In front of a massive crowd of almost 7,000, which included excellent travelling support of 162 from Altrincham, we pushed the in-form team in the league, who are on an unbeaten run of 18 or 19 games, all the way.
Having played well throughout the game, without creating too much against a team who are very well organised defensively, we had the crowd baying for the referee to blow his whistle as we had a couple of chances late on to equalise, as well as having a superb header by Damian Reeves ruled out by the linesman flagging for what was a close offside call.
We lost the game through switching off from a corner in the last minute of the first half and Bristol capitalised as Tony Parkes wasn’t picked up and headed the winning goal from the edge of the six-yard box.
Despite this, I was so pleased with the way the players responded to this disappointment and went about their jobs in the second half.
One thing that the last three games have shown is that, whilst we are probably a bit short of the top teams in this league, the gap is not that great and we certainly can compete with any team in this division now… that wasn’t always the case in the early part of the season.
A victory over Barnet would be a great way to finish what has been a tough month and then we can focus on the final two months of the league campaign.
Below: Action from the game in Bristol