Altrincham were decisively beaten 3-1 by Notts County at Meadow Lane on Wednesday evening.
Robins assistant manager Neil Sorvel had fully expected the match to be a difficult occasion. In his post-match interview, he conceded that “they’ve [Notts County] got some good players, players of experience”.
Although Altrincham arguably started off as the better team, it was the hosts who took the lead. Clinical striker Kyle Wootton cut inside the Altrincham penalty area and beat keeper Tony Thompson at his near post with a right-footed finish.
Many Altrincham fans and BT commentators watching the game from home believed Wootton was offside in the build-up play for the first goal. But Sorvel was confident that this assumed refereeing error did not skewer the overall outcome of the game. “It is what it is. I don’t think that changes the outcome of the game. After they got their first, I think we were under a little bit of pressure,” added Sorvel.
There were segments of the game where Altrincham performed strongly. Before the Magpies’ first goal, some individual brilliance from newly signed Matty Kosylo on the right-flank created a goalscoring opportunity for Sean Williams – only for the central midfielder to spurn his effort wide.
And straight after Notts County’s first goal, Josh Hancock produced a decent effort from long-range, forcing a save out of shot-stopper Sam Salcombe. “Generally, in possession, we looked good. We looked comfortable in moving the ball in-between the first two thirds,” said Sorvel.
Nevertheless, on 26 minutes Wootton scored his and the host’s second goal of the match. After Shaun Densmore was dispossessed on the right-hand side of the pitch, the ball was then chipped into the six-yard box and eventually headed home by County’s number 9.
Just before the interval, County were awarded a dubious penalty after Tom Hannigan was alleged to have brought down Wottoon in the box. “At that stage we were struggling to stay in the game, but it was a fantastic save from Tommo”. The Altrincham man between the sticks pulled off an excellent stop to prevent Wootton from a first-half hat-trick.
The penalty save failed to disrupt the home-sides stride. The Magpies remained confident in possession, versatile in their formation and relentless going forward.
In this same manner, Jake Reeves confirmed the win for the home side in the second half after an excellent piece of build-up play. The central defender was gifted copious amounts of room on the edge of the penalty area, enabling him to timely pick out the bottom corner.
On 77 minutes Altrincham did manage to claw a consolation goal out of the game. Dan Mooney feinted once and fired a spectacular effort from outside the box into the bottom-right corner of Solcombes net. “He likes to drive inside, and although he got lucky with the ricochet [before the goal], it was a hell of a finish.” said Sorvel
On Saturday Altrincham will travel to the south coast to take on Eastleigh FC. It’s going to be another tough challenge for the Robins – the Hampshire club sit in first place, having won both of their opening exchanges. But the Robins assistant boss remains upbeat: “We’ll try and identify where we can exploit them and where the dangers are.”