Words by Brian Flynn
Altrincham swept aside a Dorking Wanderers side that has made an excellent start to life in the National League, with an eye-catching display in a hugely enjoyable game. In front of a crowd of 1862, including 79 who had made the long trip from Surrey to see the first ever meeting of these two clubs, the Robins made it back-to-back wins.
A magnificent one handed save from Ollie Byrne denied the visitors skipper, James McShane, in the second minute. The league’s second highest goal scorer did everything right, but Byrne prevented the Robins from conceding inside two minutes for the second consecutive game with a top-class piece of goalkeeping.
Phil Parkinson and Neil Sorvel’s team were soon into their stride though, creating a number of opportunities, the best of which was when Ryan Colclough released Marcus Dinanga, but Dan Lincoln made a good block to his right.
Chris Conn-Clarke and Toby Mullarkey also went close to opening the scoring, but it took a memorable piece of skill in first half added time to break the deadlock. Dinanga was clipped on the left-hand side of the penalty area and Colclough’s brilliantly executed free kick sailed over Lincoln and clipped the underside of the bar before nestling in the bottom corner, a sublime moment that gave the Robins a fully deserved lead.
Toby Mullarkey doubled the advantage early shortly after the restart, converting from close range after Dinanga did enough to keep Eddy Jones’ corner alive.
The home side had already been forced into two changes, with Aaron Bennett replacing the lively Chris Conn-Clarke, who was feeling ill and Ross Barrows not reappearing for the second half, after sustaining a head injury in the latter stages of the first half. James Jones returned to central defence with Mullarkey replacing Barrows at right-back.
Bennett picked up where Conn-Clark had left off, with a delightful display, capped by a perfect curling effort from outside the box to make it 3-0 in the 65th minute.
Despite the visitors’ defensive shortcomings, there was a lot to admire about Marc White’s team, who piled forward at every opportunity, pulling a goal back with just over a quarter of an hour remaining through Dan Gallagher, who drilled a low shot through the legs of Jake Cooper from about eight to ten yards out.
The end-to-end nature of the game continued to the finish and it always seemed likely that there would be at least one more goal, which duly put the cherry on the cake for Alty. Substitute, Ben Pringle’s astute pass picked out Bennett, who twisted and turned the tortured Dorking defenders, before setting up Dinanga, who slid the ball in from close range.
Ollie Byrne was announced as the Harvey Nicholls Man of The Match just as he made one final excellent save to deny Dorking a second goal, but this game should be remembered for a truly outstanding number nine performance from Marcus Dinanga, whose first touch was impeccable in a display that will be remembered for years by the Alty faithful.
Two chances missed, early and late in the game, were the only missing pieces to the complete number nine performance and three goals in eight days have provided a platform for further growth and development for the highly-rated striker.