Altrincham’s excellent league form came to an abrupt end on Tuesday night, where they were defeated by two goals to one against fellow highflyers Wrexham in the Vanarama National League.
“As we’ve been doing so well, we expected to win, but we were quite wasteful,” said Altrincham assistant manager Neil Sorvel. “Did we do enough in the second-half to win tonight? I don’t think we did.”
Initially, the game was scheduled to take place at the J Davidson Stadium, but due to a frozen pitch the game was rearranged to Broadhurst Park, the home ground of FC United of Manchester.
FC United’s immaculate surface should have been perfect for Altrincham’s on-the-deck style of football. But although the Robins showed moments of quality, particularly at the start of both halves, the hosts failed to reach the heights shown in recent weeks.
“When we went to Wrexham, we were a bit hit and miss with our performances, [but] we gave a really good showing,” said Sorvel. “[Tonight] we were a little bit sloppy, [it] shows how easy it is to lose a game in this league.”
Altrincham’s clearest chances fell to Byron Harrison and Yusifu Ceesay, but neither got the better of Wrexham’s impressive goalkeeper Christian Dibble. Apart from their close-range efforts, Altrincham were limited to shots from a distance.
“The play in and around the box wasn’t good enough,” said Sorvel. “But the one thing I did think at half time was the number of shots [we created] from outside box, we looked really threatening from those positions.”
It felt apt, then, that Altrincham’s only goal of the game came from a 25-yard scorcher from Ryan Colclough on 51 minutes. The former Scunthorpe United winger has been sensational for the Robins since his arrival in November. “He’s showing he’s a valuable player in terms of getting goals for us in important times,” said Sorvel.
Nonetheless, the management will dust themselves down from this defeat and look to today’s away fixture against Yeovil Town. Although the former Championship side find themselves in a relegation battle, the Glovers have experienced an uptick in form, with impressive league wins against Torquay United and Weymouth.
“They’ve done a lot better recently, they’ve won five out of the last eight games,” said Sorvel. “There are no gimmies in this league, [tonight] shows how easy it is to lose a game.”
Sorvel is keen to re-address the Robins’ shortcomings in attack. “We’ll analyse everything and see where we could’ve done better,” said Sorvel. “It was by no means a bad performance tonight, we just lacked that cutting edge up front.”
The introduction of Joe Piggott at the helm of Altrincham’s strike force will bolster the Robins’ forward options. Piggott’s large physique should improve Altrincham’s presence in the penalty area, and provide a much-needed replacement for the former target man Jordan Hulme, who was sold to AFC Fylde in the summer.
“He’s [Piggott] not played for a long time, we need to give him time to find his feet, get him minutes and get him match sharp,” said Sorvel.
Tuesday was a sobering reminder of the quality that professional outfits possess in the National League. But sixth in the league and half way through the season, Altrincham fans must feel that they’re still in dreamland.