Altrincham suffered a first defeat of the campaign in Berkshire in a contest that hinged on one key phase of play in the 13th minute, reports Brian Flynn from York Road.
Without the injured Matt Gould and with the protracted issue of Ollie Byrne’s international clearance still not resolved, Phil Parkinson drafted in Dermot Mee on loan from Manchester United and included a keeper on the bench, with Ryan Forde, who is currently dual registered with North West Counties League side, Alsager Town, amongst the five substitutes.
The Manchester United keeper was put under unnecessary pressure by a lofted backpass that put the 19-year-old in a difficult situation. A moment’s hesitation in the corner of the penalty area proved fatal, as Adrian Clifton, dispossessed the loanee, to steer the ball into an unguarded goal, before James Jones had the opportunity to try to cover, as the home side scored its first goal against Alty at the fifth attempt.
The goal came after the Robins had totally dominated both possession and territory and had produced an excellent move, involving Ryan Colclough and Chris Conn-Clarke that ended with Marcus Dinanga being denied by a wonderful save from Dan Gyollai along with a questionable offside flag from the assistant referee.
James Jones timed his run perfectly to glide onto a well delivered corner from Chris Conn-Clarke, but his left-footed effort from 10 yards was wayward.
Clifton could have doubled his and the Magpies tally in the latter stages of the first half, but dragged his shot wide, after dispossessing Toby Mullarkey in front of the Alty dugout.
After the interval, Alan Devonshire’s side were content to sit on their lead and allowed their Cheshire visitors plenty of possession, however too many players were unable to capitalise on this opportunity and territorial dominance did not translate effectively into chances, which were at a premium.
Midway through the second half, Toby Mullarkey’s incisive right-wing cross set up Marcus Dinanga, who spun neatly to fire a powerful shot, only to be denied by a fine save from Gyollai and when the ball fell to Ryan Colclough, the Hungarian was once again equal to the task, at the expense of a corner.
The final quarter of an hour was a little ragged & Maidenhead looked quite comfortable, before sealing the game with a late goal, as a routine ball down the middle seemed to catch Alty’s defence unaware and substitute Shawn McCoulsky gleefully rifled in a smart finish from 15 yards past the exposed Mee.
Maidenhead deserved their win for a disciplined, organised performance and for capitalising on the gilt-edged opportunity that they were gifted for the opening goal that ultimately defined this encounter.
For Alty, a second long trip in 4 days, proved to be a bridge too far for a newly assembled team in the highly competitive and unforgiving environment that is The National League.