Alty step it up in second half but late leveller pegs them back
Report by John Edwards
Picture by Alan Jenkinson
Altrincham 2 Dagenham & Redbridge 2
The quest to improve on last season's points tally will go to the last home game of the season after Altrincham overturned half-time arrears only to be pegged back late on in an incident-packed match at The J.Davidson Stadium.
After a first half with little to recommend it, Alty sprang into life and were rewarded for some enterprising approach play with two goals, only for Dagenham & Redbridge to equalise in fortuitous style in the 77th minute, just as the Robins looked set for a morale-boosting victory.
Safe though they are from any threat of relegation, it means Alty could still do with a win at home against Torquay United on Saturday or away to Aldershot seven days later if they are to achieve Phil Parkinson's objective of bettering last season's return of 55 points from 44 games.
After a distinctly low-key opening 20 minutes, the game was crying out for someone with a spark about them to liven things up. Cue Regan Linney.
Alty's dynamic frontrunner is as likely as anyone to conjure up a moment of inspiration when it's needed, and he injected some much-needed urgency into proceedings as the 20-minute mark came and went.
Latching on to the ball on the right-hand side, he burst into the Dagenham box and clipped a low cross towards the far post that just eluded Joe Hugill when any sort of contact would have put the Robins in front.
There had been few signs of a goal at either end, but the visitors put that right, following an attack down the right in the 40th minute.
Myles Weston tangled with Alty left-back Eddy Jones and went sprawling to the turf after surging into the area, and the referee immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty that Inih Effiong despatched confidently past Matt Gould, starting between the posts due to a slight injury to Ollie Byrne.
Alty responded by making inroads down the right themselves in first-half added time, but Jordan Hulme's angled drive flashed across the face of the goal and just wide of the far post.
In truth, it had been a flat first half, but Alty could scarcely have started the second 45 minutes any better, levelling matters within seconds of the restart.
Harry Perritt played a one-two on the right and whipped in a cross that flew past Joe Hugill but landed invitingly for Hulme to lash a first-time volley unerringly past the Dagenham keeper to make it 1-1.
The breakthrough put a spring in Alty's step, and it was much more like it from the Robins as they swarmed forward in search of a second goal that duly materialised in the 65th minute.
Another incisive passing move gave Linney the chance to dart into the area and set up a shot that he was looking to unleash when defender Harry Phipps intervened with an outstretched boot that inadvertently turned the ball past his own keeper for an own goal.
No matter the slice of good fortune, Alty were well worth their lead after seizing the initiative in a lively second half, and they almost increased it in the 74th minute when Hulme charged into the area only to slice his volley wide of the right post.
The visitors made the most of that reprieve three minutes later when a speculative ball in from the left by substitute George Saunders that looked more like a cross than a shot deceived Gould and dropped just inside the far post.
With the Robins eager to end their first season as a professional club with tangible evidence of continuing progress, there'll be plenty to play for at The J.Davidson Stadium on Saturday as they bring the curtain down on their home programme against a Torquay side desperately trying to avoid relegation from the Vanarama National League,