Report by John Edwards
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Lancaster City 1 Altrincham 0
Not the result most would have predicted, but there was no shortage of plus points for Altrincham fans as the Robins launched their build-up to the new season with a highly-competitive work-out at The Giant Axe.
Minutes under the belt for the whole squad plus a couple of trialists, with Alty fielding an entirely different Xl in each half, most of the new signings being put through their paces, three of the four Academy graduates showing what they are about and Matty Kosylo back in action and looking like he'd never been away all added up to an extremely worthwhile afternoon at Lancaster City's picturesque ground.
As manager Phil Parkinson ruefully admitted afterwards, there was an air of inevitability about the deadlock being broken by none other than former Alty loanee Aaron Bennett, looking a lot leaner than in his time with the Robins last season and seizing on the chance to slot a low left-foot shot beyond Matt Gould midway through the first half.
From an Alty perspective, the highlights of an evenly-contested first half were supplied mainly by new signing Justin Amaluzor, a box of tricks in an attacking role on the right, Kosylo, who looked eager to make up for lost time after sitting out all of last season with a knee injury, and Dior Angus, whose ability to turn a close marker and accelerate into space bodes well.
What a tribute to the club's fantastic Academy set-up, as well, to see Loui Williams grabbing his opportunity with both hands in the first half and Owen German and Tom Jones doing the same in the second half, with the added bonus of 17-year old centre-back Joel Bailey showing why he is so highly-rated and being likened to Ben Harrison for his calmness in possession.
Amaluzor looks a natural crowd-pleaser, while, in a match of few clear-cut scoring opportunities, Angus went close twice in the first half, with a header that flew narrowly over and a shot that stung the palms of the Lancaster keeper.
The one downside in the first half was the early loss of Joey Jones, so keen to make a favourable impression but forced off early on after a stray elbow opened up a cut near his eye.
Regan Linney's introduction at the start of the second half was always going to add extra urgency to Alty's attacking endeavours, and so it proved as the Robins' livewire striker turned his marker, accelerated into space on the right of the area and hammered a shot across the face of the goal and just beyond the far post.
Lancaster's defence stood firm in the face of mounting Alty pressure, but Robins boss Parkinson still had good cause for declaring himself satisfied with the opening-day work-out as his squad headed back down the M6 and turned their attention to the next pre-season friendly at FC United of Manchester on Tuesday evening.