Altrincham fell at the first-hurdle of the FA Cup at Mill Farm, where they were beaten by two goals to one against National League North side AFC Fylde.
The game aptly reminded Altrincham of the type of uphill battle they will face this season. “The reality is we’re a part-time team in a full-time environment,” Parkinson said.
Like the vast majority of the Robins’ new league opponents this season, AFC Fylde are a full-time outfit with a stronger financial arsenal.
A further set-back for the Robins was that neither the players or staff were permitted to train together for 17 days after the round of positive Covid-19 tests within the squad.
But this did not stop the game from being a close contest. “Every game that we have played so far… there has not been a great deal in it,” added Parkinson.
Regrettably for the visitors, it was the ex-Altrincham key striker Jordan Hulme who made the breakthrough with his first goal of the season. The once prolific forward for the Robins capitalised on an error between Altrincham keeper Tony Tompson and new signing Darren Potter to make it 1-0.
Parkinson nevertheless remained upbeat about his side’s defensive display. “Bar Jordan’s goal I don’t think he did a great deal and that’s full credit to Toby [Mullarkey],” said Parkinson.
Fylde’s second goal of the game was prompted by a real visionary piece of distribution by Burke. The full-back’s long-range pass found Tollitt’s inward run from the left-flank into the penalty area. This set Tollitt up nicely with a one-on-one opportunity with Thompson, who quickly dispatched the ball into the bottom left corner.
With the quality that Fylde possessed, a team trailing by a two-goal deficit could have easily capitulated. “At 2-0 other teams would’ve crumbled. We didn’t and that shows and abundance of character in the lads,” added Parkinson.
Instead of resigning themselves to defeat, Altrincham recharged and energised themselves. It only took three minutes after AFC Fylde’s second goal for the visitors to create a well-worked move that resulted in a close-range finish from Tom Peers.
In his post-match interview, Parkinson stressed that although Altrincham remain winless in their opening fixtures, this is a time for composure rather than trepidation. “We’ll get more confident. I just need everyone to stay positive and be patient, which I know is difficult when you’re not winning every week,” said the Altrincham manager.
As the Robins’ FA Cup run is over, minds will pivot back to the National League, where they will travel to the North East and take on Hartlepool this Tuesday night. “[It] doesn’t get any easier going to Hartlepool on Tuesday…we’re playing against a team that are pushing for promotion,” said Parkinson.
It’s another mountain to climb for the part-timers. As they showed in their display against highfliers Eastleigh in their last National League encounter, coming away with a result is not beyond the Robins’ reach.
Photography: Jonathan Moore