Back in business! Alty's 10 men dig deep to claim vital win

Words John Edwards | Pictures Jonathan Moore

Altrincham 2 Dorking Wanderers 1

THE 10 men of Altrincham called on all their reserves of resilience to carve out a precious three points on a night of high drama and no little incident at The J.Davidson Stadium.

Desperate to put a five-match run of defeats behind them, the Robins looked to be cruising at 2-0 up after 10 minutes, only to then prove the old adage that, when it comes to Alty, things are never done the easy way.

Regan Linney was shown a straight red card for an off-the-ball skirmish in the 45th minute, and how the picture changed as Dorking halved the deficit with a 60th minute penalty and threw everything at securing an equaliser that had looked so unlikely early on.

That it eluded them was entirely down to the indefatigable 10 men digging deep and refusing to give an inch in a tense final half-hour of constant away pressure. Such was the protective ring round Matt Gould's goal, the Alty keeper was seldom unduly troubled, a measure of how much it meant to the entire squad to end their recent lean spell and bank another much-needed three points.

It lifted the Robins up a place to eighth in the table, two points off the play-off positions, and they will be keen to build on this valuable win at home to Woking on Saturday and York City next Tuesday, though they may well have to do it without Linney, who would appear to be facing a three-match suspension.

A positive start was imperative for the Robins after the perils of recent weeks, and it was duly delivered after only four minutes.

Two clever first-time flicks by Linney and Alex Newby directed the ball to the feet of Chris Conn-Clarke, who was unceremoniously upended after twisting past a defender on the edge of the area.

Without a moment's hesitation, and with Dorking in disarray, the resulting free-kick was rolled sideways and slightly forwards by Conn-Clarke to Linney, who drilled a low shot unerringly into the far corner of the net.

Dorking's players were up in arms at the set-piece being taken so quickly, but referee Robert Massey-Ellis was unmoved as he waved away the protests and confirmed Alty's early lead.

There was an alarm for Alty in the 10th minute when two close-range goalbound efforts were blocked, at least one of them by Gould, as Dorking sought a way of hauling themselves back on level terms.

Instead, the visitors found themselves further adrift a minute later, as Alty once more served up the sort of attacking verve we've been familiar with for so much of this season.

Linney turned superbly on the left and set off for goal at a rate of knots before slipping a reverse pass to Newby on his left near the corner of the six-yard box. Mindful the angle was against him, the winger ditched any idea of trying his luck in favour of delivering a low ball to the far post, where Matty Kosylo applied the finishing touch to make it 2-0.

What a start for Alty, and the sense of dismay on the away bench was such that they were moved to make a double substitution in only the 18th minute.

It had little immediate effect, as Alty threatened a third goal in the 25th minute, Lewis Banks threading a ball into the area for Eddy Jones to try and latch on to. When the Alty left-back was crowded out, Banks followed up and fired in a shot that was safely gathered by keeper Harrison Male.

Jones found himself bearing down on goal again in the 35th minute after being played in by a pinpoint pass from the outstanding Lewis Baines. The Alty defender managed to get a shot away this time, but his radar was found wanting, as it flew well wide of the left-hand post.

Dorking eventually began to exert some pressure as the half wore on, with Baines getting his head in the way of an on-target shot and Tom Blair nodding narrowly wide in the 44th minute.

Alty's goal stayed intact, but the Robins suffered a significant setback in first-half added time when Linney was sent off following an off-the-ball flashpoint. The Alty frontrunner appeared to clash with a Dorking defender, and after consulting his linesman, the referee produced a red card to leave Alty with 10 men for the whole of the second half.

Dior Angus replaced Conn-Clarke at the start of the second half, and Alty didn't have long to wait to discover just how much Dorking sensed they might be in with a chance after Linney's controversial dismissal.

The Robins failed to deal with a low cross from the right in the 47th minute, and when the ball reached Blair, he crashed a shot against the bar from around 10 yards.

Dorking were making their numerical advantage count, and they reduced the arrears from the penalty spot on the hour. Jones was guilty of a trip as a Dorking forward turned inside him, and Blair stepped up to thunder the kick into the roof of the net, giving Gould no chance.

It was developing into a long second half for the Robins, and the lead was almost wiped out in the 69th minute when Bobby-Joe Taylor let fly with a rocket of a shot from 25 yards that hit the angle of bar and post and flew over.

Gould did well to keep out a close-range header by Jason Prior in the 78th minute, but Alty fashioned a threat of their own through substitute George Wilson seconds later. Advancing towards the Dorking area but still a good 25 yards out, the Alty midfielder unleashed a swerving drive that almost caught out Male, who had to change direction and dive full length to get a hand to it.

What welcome respite that would have provided for the 10 men, had it gone in, but they still looked determined to preserve what they had fought so hard for as they reverted to defensive duties in the face of renewed pressure.

Preserve it they did, standing tall throughout stoppage time that stretched to six minutes to ensure the final whistle was greeted with roars of relief and acclaim for Phil and his players from 2,000 appreciative Alty fans. 

Harvey Nichols Man Of The Match | Lewis Baines

Altrincham Gould; Banks, E.Jones, Baines, Osborne, Kosylo (Roscoe, 66'), Marriott (c), Linney, Conn-Clarke (Angus, 46'), Cooper, Newby (Wilson, 75'). Subs not used: Amaluzor, Mooney.

Dorking Male; Pybus, Briggs, Prior, Rutherford (Craig, 18'), Cook (Taylor, 18'), Carter, Taylor, Hollis, Fuller (c) (Muitt, 61'), Blair. Subs not used: McManus, Moore.

HT 2-0

Goals Linney 5' (Conn-Clarke), Kosylo 11' (Newby) | Blair 60' (pen)

Yellows Marriott 45'+3, Kosylo 51', Angus 75' | Cook 11', Taylor 45'+5

Reds Linney 45'+3 | None

Referee Robert Massey-Ellis

Assistants Jamie Waters & Matt Malton

Fourth official Luis Griffiths

Attendance 2,005 (187 away fans)

Next Up

It's Woking at the J.Davidson Stadium on Saturday - kick-off at 3pm - as we celebrate International Women's Day. Grab your tickets right here.

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