Quickfire double the difference for Shots as Robins' run of wins comes to an end

Words John Edwards | Pictures Noah Shulman-Miller

Two goals in quick succession at the end of the first half condemned Altrincham to a defeat that dashed their hopes of reclaiming fourth place in the Vanarama National League at a rainswept EBB Stadium this evening.

There was little to choose between the sides in an evenly-fought opening 45 minutes but all that changed as the half headed towards added time.

First, Tyler Frost hammered a rising drive into the Alty net in the 45th minute, and the Robins were still absorbing that setback when Lorent Tolaj's poaching instincts enabled him to pounce on a loose ball inside the six-yard box and double his side's lead moments later.

With three straight wins behind them, Alty were desperate for another three points that would have sent them leapfrogging Solihull Moors back into fourth, but it wasn't to be as the Shots stood firm to keep scoring opportunities for the Robins to a bare minimum.

Alty were on the front foot from the first minute, Regan Linney winning a free-kick on the right edge of the area and Alex Newby curling it into the side netting.

Aldershot responded two minutes later when the Robins failed to deal with a right-wing cross and Tolaj volleyed wide from an inviting position just inside the Alty area.

On a slick surface, with driving rain making the ball zip along a sodden pitch, it was the sort of lively start TNT Sports viewers might have expected from two such attack-minded sides.

There was another scare for Alty in the ninth minute when they lost possession near the halfway line and the ball broke for Tolaj to drag a shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post.

Despite both sides showing attacking intent in the opening couple of minutes, the quarter-of-an-hour mark came and went with little sign of the deadlock being broken.

Alty at least managed to test Jordi Van Stappershoef in the 18th minute when Chris Conn-Clarke latched on to a Lewis Banks pass and hit a shot with the outside of his right boot that had the home keeper flinging himself full length to palm it away.

A stray elbow by Tolaj made painful contact with Lewis Baines' face in the 21st minute, leaving the Alty defender with a cut that needed treatment and costing the Aldershot skipper a yellow card.

Alty's brightest moment so far came in the 27th minute, when Conn-Clarke controlled a pass and swivelled towards the Aldershot goal in one fluid movement before surging forward and setting up Linney for an angled drive that was saved by Van Stappershoef.

The Robins should have gone ahead in the 32nd minute, and Conn-Clarke was again the creator, seizing on a loose ball and advancing towards the home area before rolling a pass through to Justin Amaluzor.

The former Aldershot forward was through and looked sure to score until taking one touch too many and giving Ollie Harfield the chance to slide in and block his shot.

Alty were left to rue that missed opportunity when the home side took the lead in the 45th minute.

Harfield's cross from the left was only half-cleared, and Frost controlled the ball with his first touch and lashed an unstoppable left-foot drive into the roof of the net with his second.

Worse followed for Alty in the fifth and final minute of first-half added time, as Aldershot doubled their lead with a goal on the break. Josh Stokes released Jack Barham on a run that ended with a low right-foot shot that Matt Gould could only parry, Tolaj reacting quicker than anyone to fire the loose ball home from close range.

Alty needed a response and almost got one in the 51st minute when Linney pursued and caught up with a Conn-Clarke pass on the left flank and cut inside before trying his luck with a curling effort that took a deflection and flashed just wide of the far post.

Nothing came of the corner, and when there was still little sign of the arrears being reduced just after the hour-mark, Phil Parkinson decided it was time for a change and sent on Sam Roscoe for Amaluzor.

If that was a tactical change of shape, it was more of a like-for-like switch in the 69th minute as Matty Kosylo was introduced at the expense of Newby, and there was another similar substitution in the 75th minute when Dior Angus replaced Linney.

It was all to no avail, though, as Aldershot soaked up whatever pressure Alty were able to muster and effectively protected their two-goal advantage to secure a victory that lifted them into the play-off places.

Aldershot van Stappershoef; Mnoga, Harfield, Widdrington (Thomas, 79'), Frost, Tolaj (c), Stokes, Glover (Mullins, 86'), Barham (Daly, 67'), Menayese, Tetek. Subs not used: O'Keefe, Akpan.

Altrincham Gould; Banks, E.Jones, Baines, Osborne, Marriott (c), Linney (Angus, 75'), Conn-Clarke, Amaluzor (Roscoe, 63'), Cooper, Newby (Kosylo, 69'). Subs not used: Wilson, Mooney.

HT 2-0

Goals Frost 44', Tolaj 45'+4 | None

Yellows Tolaj 21', Glover 85' | Baines 78'

Reds None | None

Referee James Oldham

Assistants Will Cavanagh & Samuel Clayton

Fourth official George Warren

Attendance 2,507 (92 away)

Next Up

Another away trip, this time to the North East to take on Hartlepool United. Tickets for the game are available here - and to book your away travel click here.

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