Report by Joe Edgar
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Barnet 3 Altrincham 0
Altrincham slipped to a second successive defeat as an early goal from Danny Collinge, followed by second half strikes from Zak Brunt and Nicke Kabamba, saw league leaders Barnet to victory.
It was a slow start from Alty, the sweltering heat perhaps impacting their early intensity levels.
Barnet dominated the early exchanges and were rewarded with an opening goal, only nine minutes in.
After a succession of corners for the hosts, Barnet persisted with crosses into the box, and Altrincham’s defences were finally breached. The hosts played a short corner to Coker, who whipped in a fantastic left-footed cross, finding the head of his fellow-defender Collinge, whose header was directed powerfully into the bottom corner past a diving Ethan Ross.
Following the early setback, however, there was a clear improvement from Phil Parkinson’s men, and the clash evolved into a highly entertaining, box-to-box affair.
Less than 10 minutes after conceding the opener, the Robins were denied an equaliser by a fantastic save from Laurie Walker. Chris Conn-Clarke found Olly Crankshaw on the left-hand side, and the winger dangerously cut infield.
He fired an effort low towards goal, but he was unable to beat the Barnet shot stopper.
The tide had clearly turned from early exchanges, as Altrincham found themselves in dangerous areas of the pitch far more regularly. An effort from long distance from Justin Amaluzor went just wide, and a heroic tackle from Collinge denied Dior Angus a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, after a decisive Alty move.
Despite the brief switch in momentum, it was Barnet who had the best opportunity to score the second goal of the match. Brunt swiftly dribbled the ball into the box, before attempting to flick the ball in behind the defence.
Stood less than a metre away, it hit the arm of Amaluzor, and a penalty was given by the referee.
Harry Pritchard was the designated penalty-taker for the Bees, but his spot-kick was denied impressively by Ross. Low and to his left, Ross flew across his goal to save, ensuring the first half ended 1-0.
Following the half-time interval, the two teams remained on the front foot, with chances being created at either end of the pitch. Only five minutes into the second period, Barnet won a free-kick on the left-hand side and chose to cross it into the box.
Again, Collinge was left unmarked in the area, but, fortunately for Altrincham, he mistimed his volley, and the chance wasn’t converted.
Almost instantly after this chance was missed, Justin Donawa and Altrincham broke quickly, driving at the defence of the hosts. He found Amaluzor on the right-hand side who maintained the pace of the attack and successfully bypassed his defender.
Upon reaching the 18-yard box, he struck a right-footed shot at goal, but Walker saved well to keep his side’s lead intact.
Just after the 65-minute mark, the importance of this save was highlighted, as the league leaders doubled their advantage. A period of quick-moving, precise build-up play proved devastating, as Collinge found himself free inside Altrincham’s penalty box.
He cut it back into the centre, and after a clever dummy, Brunt fired the ball past Ross in the Altrincham net.
From this point forward, Barnet managed the game exceptionally well, making it extremely tough for Altrincham to create any chances. Much of the play was in Alty’s half, and Barnet’s domination was solidified in added time, as Kabamba ended all hopes of an Altrincham comeback.
A short corner again proved to be the downfall of the visitors, as a ball hit fiercely across goal found it’s way to Kabamba, who tapped it into an open goal.
After Alty’s unbeaten streak came to an end in heart-breaking fashion only a week before this game, another defeat will be hard to take for Parkinson and his men, but on the back of such a promising start to the campaign, the team will not worry as they look to put it right against Wealdstone in their next match.