Cutting edge the difference as Alty keep Wembley in their sights
Bracknell Town 1 Altrincham 3
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Finishing of the highest order proved the difference as Altrincham kept their Wembley dream very much alive by reaching the last eight of the Isuzu FA Trophy with a hard-fought win at Bottom Meadow.
Alty expected a tough test against their in-form hosts and they got one as Bracknell pushed them all the way before having to doff their caps to some clinical work in the final third from the Robins.
Tyrese Sinclair and Jordan Hulme gave Alty a slightly flattering 2-0 half-time lead, and when Phil Parkinson's side responded to Bracknell reducing the arrears by restoring their two-goal cushion with an excellent strike by substitute Junior Quitirna, they were home and dry and assured of a place in Monday's quarter-final draw.
The Robins couldn't have wished for a better start than the one Sinclair gave them in only the ninth minute, when he advanced towards the edge of the Bracknell area before rifling a shot into the bottom corner. The Bracknell keeper might have done more to prevent it getting past him, but there was no disguising the winger's elation at opening his account for Alty after joining on loan from Rochdale.
There was a scare for Alty - one of several, to be fair - when a 28th-minute effort from Kamaron English crashed against the underside of the bar but was deemed not to have crossed the line.
The Robins made the most of their good fortune when Bracknell failed to deal with a 31st-minute corner and Hulme's predatory instincts came to the fore as he pounced on the loose ball and forced it home to double his side's lead.
A 2-0 advantage at half-time might sound like cause for optimism, but Alty were acutely aware that they had ridden their luck at times and that Bracknell were far from out of it.
So it proved, as the home team applied pressure and halved the deficit when a mishit shot was redirected by Guy Hollis to send it looping over Ollie Byrne to make it 2-1 and give the Bracknell contingent renewed hope of causing an upset.
Alty weren't having it, though, and not only did they stand firm at the back, they made sure of advancing into the quarter-finals, as a couple of substitutions paid handsome dividends.
Maxo Oyedele replaced Sinclair and, a few minutes later, Hulme made way for Quitirna after battling gamely with an injury. The changes did not take long to have a positive effect, as Oyedele played an outstanding pass into the path of Quitirna, who made no mistake with an unerring finish that ended any doubts about the outcome and kept Wembley at the forefront of the travelling Alty fans' thoughts.
It was hard going, and Alty had to dig deep at times, but with Isaac Marriott again tireless and tigerish in central midfield and James Jones a tower of strength at the back, winning most if not all his aerial duels, there was a sense of satisfaction at mission accomplished on the long journey home.