Report by John Edwards
Picture by Jonathan Moore
York City 2 Altrincham 2
Substitutions don't come any more inspired than the one that steered Altrincham towards a richly-deserved point as the Robins continued their unbeaten start to the season in impressive style at The LNER Community Stadium.
Alty were trailing 2-1 when manager Phil Parkinson sent on Justin Amaluzor and Matty Kosylo midway through 64th minute. Midway through the 65th, the Robins were level, courtesy of a telling first touch by Amaluzor and even more significant one by Kosylo.
Not even in his wildest dreams could Alty boss Parkinson have wished for his double substitution to have worked any better, as Amaluzor whipped in a low shot that keeper David Stockdale spilled and Kosylo pounced to gleefully make it 2-2 from close range.
It was no more than the in-form Robins deserved after contributing most to another hugely-entertaining high-quality advert for the Vanarama National League and twice coming back from arrears, Chris Conn-Clarke scoring their first equaliser.
That's two draws and a win from three games so far, and levels of excitement and anticipation will surely continue rising between now and the next opportunity to see a talent-packed Alty side in action, when Boreham Wood visit The J.Davidson Stadium on Saturday.
Alty looked to be carrying on where they left off at Woking as they carved out the game's first scoring opportunity in only the third minute.
Conn-Clarke was the instigator with a pass that sent Regan Linney surging clear, but a slightly heavy touch from the Alty frontrunner allowed keeper Stockdale to deny him a third goal of the campaign.
Unfazed by the early let-off, or by Alty's enviable record against them in recent times, York began to impose themselves as the 10-minute mark approached.
Ethan Ross had to be at his best in the eighth minute, flying to his right in a manner that made him such a firm favourite during a loan spell at York to tip a fierce drive from Quevin Castro behind for a corner.
The reprieve was only temporary, however. Alty looked to have got a clearing header to the flag-kick, but it rebounded off a nearby player and fell obligingly for record signing Dipo Akinyemi to fire home from close range.
Ross again underlined what an imposing presence he is between the posts in the 16th minute, stretching to his right to keep out a 20-yard free-kick from danger man Akinyemi that was struck with pace and curl.
To their credit, the Robins regrouped and gradually began to force York on to the back foot.
A 19th-minute free-kick from a central position 25 yards out looked tailor-made for Conn-Clarke, but, instead, Eddy Jones stepped up to whip in a left-foot effort that needed a diving save from Stockdale to push it round the post.
Stockdale excelled again in the 26th minute, diving full length to thwart Conn-Clarke after the Alty attacker fastened on to a flick on the edge of the area and let fly with his left foot.
Alty kept the pressure on and threatened twice in the space of a few seconds in the 29th minute.
First, Linney brilliantly shrugged off the attentions of two close markers with a slick turn on the right of the area that gave him the chance of a shot that was deflected behind.
From the resulting corner, Con-Clarke unleashed a rising drive that stung the hands of Stockdale as the keeper reacted swiftly to palm it away.
Still the Robins kept their foot firmly on the pedal, and it led to a thoroughly-deserved equaliser (pictured on the main news page) in the 37th minute. What a cracking goal it was, too.
Lewis Banks threaded a superb ball through to Conn-Clarke, who calmly wrong-footed a defender who was shadowing him before rolling the ball past Stockdale with equal coolness.
It was no more than Alty merited, yet parity lasted barely two minutes, as a York attack down the right ended with Callum Harriott cutting in and rifling a low shot past Ross.
It had been a lively, eventful first half, but Alty may well have felt aggrieved at going in a goal behind, not least after they were awarded a stoppage-time free-kick on the edge of the York area for an offence that looked to have been committed just inside it.
If there was a sense of injustice in the Alty ranks, it spurred them on in the second half, as they continued to looked the more polished, threatening side.
A great move on the right in the 56th minute ended with a cutback that was met first time by Linney, whose low shot was blocked on the line.
Seven minutes later, a quickly-taken free-kick released Conn-Clarke on the right of the area for a low angled drive that Stockdale was again equal to as he blocked it with his feet.
There was drama aplenty just after the hour mark as Alty made a double substitution in the 64th minute and equalised in the 65th.
Amaluzor created the opening with a quick turn on the right, followed by a low left-foot drive that seemed to take Stockdale by surprise, the keeper unable to hold on to the shot and Kosylo pouncing to despatch the ball into an empty net from a couple of yards out to make it 2-2.
What a first touch for Amaluzor, and what an even better first touch for Kossy, while Alty boss Parkinson must surely have permitted himself a quiet smile of satisfaction on the touchline at the decision to make a change and his choice of replacements.
So swift was the impact made by Alty's two substitutes that it even took the York public address system unawares, with the introduction of Amaluzor and Kosylo only being announced 30 seconds after the former had made the goal and latter scored it!
Alty were growing in stature by the minute and almost snatched what would have been a deserved winner in the 86th minute when a deep Eddy Jones corner from the right reached an unmarked Sam Roscoe at the far post, only for the defender to miscue a header back across goal.
That said, it still needed an excellent save by Ross from Akinyemi in the first of eight added minutes to prevent York going ahead again, as the relentless pace continued right to the end, Conn-Clarke going close to a late winner himself with a rising drive that just cleared the bar.
Rousing stuff from the Robins in what was a compelling, competitive encounter - roll on Saturday.
Altrincham - Ross, James Jones, Roscoe, Baines (Kosylo 64), Banks, Osborne, Joey Jones (Amaluzor 64), Marriott, E.Jones, Conn-Clarke, Linney (Angus 74). Unused subs - Cooper, Wilson.
Booked - E.Jones, Conn-Clarke, Marriott.
Attendance - 4,334 (214 away).