Conn-Clarke cracker caps Alty masterclass in winning on the road

Words John Edwards Pictures Noah Shulman-Miller

Boreham Wood 0 Altrincham 1

Chris Conn-Clarke made it 20 goals for a remarkably-productive season as Altrincham reasserted themselves as bona fide play-off contenders with a classic away performance at Boreham Wood's Mangata Pay UK Stadium this afternoon.

Under the cosh early on, and indebted to some typically-agile heroics from Ethan Ross, Alty grew into the game and increasingly stamped their authority on proceedings against a side who, despite their current lowly position, having always been among the toughest of nuts to crack.

Crack 'em Alty duly did in the 72nd minute when Conn-Clarke controlled a pass by Elliot Osborne and hammered a shot into the bottom corner to reach the 20-goal mark - some achievement, that, for an attacking midfielder.

It was Alty's third win in four games, lifting them to sixth in the table, and suddenly the blip of just a few weeks ago seems a distant memory.

Alty must have been wondering what had hit them following a barnstorming start by Boreham Wood.

After exactly 36 seconds, Mo Sagaf curled an effort that looked destined for the top left corner of the Robins net until Ross took off to his right to pull off an exceptional full-length save at the expense of a corner.

From the flag-kick, the ball fell for Chris Bush, who hit a low shot from close range that brought the absolute best out of Ross once more, as he reacted brilliantly to get a hand to it and stop it crossing the line.

What a start by the home side, and they went close again in the third minute when another corner was half-cleared to the edge of the area, where Jack Payne returned it with interest, only for Jake Cooper to save the day for Alty by getting in the way of it and deflecting it behind.

The storm looked to have been weathered, as Alty gradually began to get a foothold in the game, though there was another concern in the 17th minute when Kabongo Tshimanga worked enough space to fire in a shot that flew narrowly over.

Finally, the Robins fashioned a scoring opportunity of their own in the 24th minute, and it needed an excellent save by Nathan Ashmore to deny them.

Justin Donawa looked up to assess his options after gaining possession on the right, and when he picked out Conn-Clarke with a pinpoint cross, Alty's marauding midfielder met it with a first time shot from just inside the area.

The connection could not have been any cleaner, but Ashmore was equal to it with a superb reflex save, diving away to his left to turn it aside.

The Robins were warming to their task and stepping things up, and when Conn-Clarke skipped past a couple of challenges on the left of the area and rolled the ball to Alex Newby on the half-hour, the Alty winger drilled a low shot no more than a couple of inches wide of the left post.

They stepped it up even more in the 35th minute, with firstly Justin Amaluzor and then George Wilson going close to a breakthrough goal.

Amaluzor seemed to have done everything right after receiving a pass from Conn-Clarke on the right edge of the area, only for his low drive to hit the inside of the left post and bounce back to safety.

It was so nearly only a temporary reprieve for the home side as, within a couple of seconds, George Wilson seized possession and unleashed a rising drive that Ashmore tipped over, stretching to his left.

Alty were finishing the half strongly, and they threatened again in the 45th minute with an accurate low effort from Osborne that again had Ashmore diving full length to turn it round the post.

Tshimanga almost latched on to a through ball in the 52nd minute and might have done but for Lewis Baines reading the danger with his usual calm authority and hooking the ball away from him.

It was Ross to the rescue again for the Robins in the 58th minute after Angelo Balanta played Tshimanga through in space on the right of the area. The former Chesterfield danger man had time to weigh up his options and looked sure to score, but Ross was off his line in an instant to throw his imposing frame in the way of the striker's shot and deflect it behind for a corner.

A minute later, Boreham Wood found themselves down to 10 men after a dangerous late challenge by Chris Bush left Donawa in agony on the floor and the referee reaching for his pocket to produce a red card.

Alty almost capitalised on their numerical advantage in he 63rd minute when Matty Kosylo met Donawa's low right-wing cross with a first-time flick that may well have ended the deadlock but for Jamal Fyfield sliding in behind the Robins midfielder to block it.

Phil Parkinson's men were looking the more polished, assured side, and it came as no surprise when they were the ones to go in front in the 72nd minute.

Osborne received the ball from Cooper and surveyed the scene ahead of him before measuring a pass towards Kosylo just outside the area. A clever dummy by Kosylo allowed it to run through to Conn-Clarke, who controlled it and glanced up for a mere second before firing a shot unerringly into the bottom corner of the home net, to the delight of travelling Alty fans behind the goal.

Kosylo made way for Dior Angus before the game could restart, but no-one should underestimate the value of his final contribution, a typical piece of Kossy invention that threw Boreham Wood's defence off guard.

A second goal that would have made sure of the points almost materialsed in the 82nd minute after Payne was booked for hauling down Angus as he bore down on goal. Newby took responsibility for the free-kick from just outside the area but curled it agonisingly wide of the right post.

It made no difference, as the additional six minutes was negotiated safely for an outstanding away win that sets Alty up nicely for next Saturday's massive game with Gateshead at The J.Davidson Stadium.

Boreham Wood - Ashmore, Ilesanmi, Payne, Bush, Sagaf (Whelan 85), Ndlovu, Fyfield, Balanta (Coxe 78), Agbontohoma, Tshimanga (Marsh 85), Sousa. Subs not used - Sass-Davies, Clayden.

Altrincham - Ross, E.Jones, Baines, Osborne, Kosylo (Angus 73), Conn-Clarke, Amaluzor (Mooney 89), Cooper, Donawa, Wilson, Newby (Hancox 87). Suns not used - Gould, Roscoe.

Goals - Conn-Clarke (Osborne/Kosylo)

Yellow cards - Payne; Angus.

Red cards - Bush.

Referee - James Durkin.

Attendance - 1,007 (97 away).

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