Words by Brian Flynn
Altrincham can take many positives from a gallant display at Meadow Lane on Saturday, yet the Robins are still to achieve any sort of positive result from their four visits to Nottingham and this game finished with the same score-line as our first visit two years ago this week.
Phil Parkinson and Neil Sorvel’s game plan worked well but it was the hosts who had the x-factor in the shape of Macauley Langstaff, who in two years has emerged from being released by York City, to become one of the hottest goalscoring properties in English football.
Alty measured up well with a team that has a very good chance of achieving a return to the EFL in May, creating a number of excellent opportunities, but only converting one, whilst Langstaff, gave a largely anonymous display, yet turned the game on its head with two simple but predatory strikes in three minutes just before the interval to make it fourteen league goals in eleven games, since his big-money move from Gateshead.
In a first half where both sides rattled the crossbar with powerful strikes, Quevin Castro seeing his free kick from thirty yards thunder against the underside of the woodwork, whilst the best move of the game saw Toby Mullarkey advance into the opposition half, threading a neat ball to Ryan Colclough to deliver a perfectly executed wall-pass to release Marcus Dinanga, whose powerful rising drive smashed against the goal frame, before bouncing into the grateful hands of Sam Slocombe.
Langstaff was on hand to capitalise when Oliver Byrne turned Cedwyn Scott’s shot from just outside the area into the former Gateshead striker’s path, then reacted quickest again after Tobi Adebayo-Rowling got the better of Eddy Jones and when the wing-back’s rather curious effort bounced off the foot of the post, Langstaff pounced again.
It was game-on again within two minutes of the start of the second half, when Marcus Dinanga scored his first National League goal since the Robins beat the Magpies by a single goal at The J.Davidson Stadium last season, converting from close range, after a lovely run from Colclough.
Alty’s football was a joy to watch as Notts were on the back foot, but Luke Williams’ team’s nerves were steadied, when the impressive Adebayo-Rowling delivered a right-wing cross, Langstaff’s header was inches away from being a hat-trick goal, with Adam Chicksen providing the finishing touch to restore the home side’s two goal margin.
Inspired by an immense display from Ryan Colclough, Alty continued to probe and open the Magpies defence, with Chris Conn-Clarke, substitute Jordan Hulme and Colclough himself having excellent goalscoring opportunities.
Eight points from eleven games represents a lower-than-expected points haul and the league table does not make pleasant viewing for Alty fans, but on the evidence of this performance, it seems likely that an upturn in results is not too far away.