Conn-Clarke double downs Harriers - and now Alty are up to fifth!

Words John Edwards Pictures Jonathan Moore

Kidderminster 1 Altrincham 3

IT'S a pivotal weekend for Altrincham's play-off aspirations, potentially a defining one, and they could scarcely have wished for a better start than returning from Aggborough with all three points.

Seldom the most rewarding of journeys for Alty sides in recent times, it looked like being another lengthy, arduous afternoon when Kidderminster came racing out of the traps and went in front early on.

But, long before the end, it was clear there was going to be only one outcome, as the Robins found their rhythm, got their passing game going and carved out another three additions to their catalogue of eye-catching goals.

Regan Linney levelled in the 24th minute, and it was all about Chris Conn-Clarke after that as he turned on the full repertoire of his match-winning attributes with a decisive double in the second half.

Plenty, then, to keep the travelling 272 Robins fans in party mood on the long journey home, not least the impudent nutmeg by Conn-Clarke for his second and the team's third goal and the sight of Alty climbing another place in the table to fifth.

Kidderminster started the brighter and almost went ahead after only five minutes.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas created the danger with an impressive piece of footwork on the right of the area, and when the ball reached Ash Hemmings in the middle, the former Alty attacking midfielder was unlucky with a half-hit shot that came back off the foot of a post.

Emmanuel-Thomas was proving surprisingly nimble for such an imposing physical presence, and when he fizzed a low centre across the face of the Alty six-yard box in the eighth minute, the Robins were relieved to be able to clear their lines.

Alty had hardly ventured outside their own half in the opening quarter-of-an-hour, save for a lightning raid involving Conn-Clarke and Linney that eventually came to nothing.

They were having to defend for all they were worth, and while they were doing it well enough, Kidderminster found a way through in the 20th minute.

When a corner from the left was only half-cleared, the ball was lobbed back into the area, where Zak Brown hooked it just inside the right angle of bar and post to give the Harriers the lead.

Out of nothing, Alty fashioned an equaliser in the 24th minute, and what a well-worked goal it was.

Looking up midway inside the Kidderminster half, Conn-Clarke spotted Lewis Banks in space on the right of the area and picked out the Alty right-back with a pinpoint floated pass.

Watching it all the way on to his right boot, Banks turned it across the area first time towards the unmarked Linney, who completed the routine task of sidefooting the ball into an empty net to silence the home crowd.

It was the perfect response from the Robins to all the home team's earlier pressure and it raised the volume levels still higher among the away fans behind the goal at the other end.

Linney threatened again in the 31st minute following an exceptional piece of control by the Alty striker from a drop-kick clearance by Ethan Ross.

It travelled high and long deep into the Kidderminster half, but Linney controlled it with an exquisite first touch that was followed by a shot that brought the best out of Chris Dibble in the home goal.

This was much more like it from Alty, who were growing into the game and looking increasingly assured as the half wore on, though Ross had to be alert in the 41st minute to turn aside a low raking shot by the lively Hemmings.

The perfect start to the second half beckoned for Alty in the 49th minute when, after a period of possession in midfield, Banks took it on himself to burst forward and thread a superb pass through to Conn-Clarke.

The Alty attacker was clean through, with only Dibble to beat, but the keeper did well to force him wide, and the chance was lost.

There was no mistake from Conn-Clarke two minutes later as he continued his excellent goalscoring season by putting Alty in front.

Linney did brilliantly in a tight space on the left to work enough room for a pass down the touchline for Alex Newby to fasten on to. A brief glance to his right by Newby, and the ball was squared to Conn-Clarke, who made light of the angle to fire a shot unerringly into the roof of the net.

It was almost 3-1 in the 54th minute after Newby launched a typically-quickfire Alty counter-attack.

After slipping the ball to Conn-Clarke on his right, Newby kept motoring forward and was not far off the target as he stretched to reach the return pass from his team-mate and steered a shot towards goal.

Alty were pressed back for a spell after that but still found time to push forward and threaten a third goal just after the hour-mark when Banks again ventured forward and, latching on to a pass from Newby, hit a shot that was blocked with his legs by Dibble.

A third Alty goal did inevitably materialise in the 73rd minute, and it was another that had class written all over it. Newby, Conn-Clarke and Eddy Jones were playing their own game of keep-ball near the left corner flag, to the delight of the Alty fans packing the terrace to one side of the Kidderminster goal, just a couple of yards away from them.

Finally, Conn-Clarke decided he'd had enough of toying with Alty's opponents and it was time to put them out of their misery, as he headed towards goal and left Alex Penny standing with a delightful nutmeg before tucking a shot beyond Dibble's reach into the far corner.

Brilliant stuff, just brilliant, and Conn-Clarke fully deserved the ovation he got when he was substituted seconds later after setting Alty up nicely for Easter Monday's titanic promotion clash with Oldham Athletic at The J.Davidson Stadium.

Kidderminster Dibble; Penny (Robinson, 80'), Richards, Pearce (c), Morgan-Smith, Hemmings, Lambert (Miller, 80'), Brown, Kpekawa, Emmanuel-Thomas (Omotayo, 79'), Weston. Subs not used: Preston, Bellis.

Altrincham Ross; Banks, E.Jones, Baines (c), Osborne, Linney (Angus, 64'), Conn-Clarke (Hancox, 74'), Cooper, Donawa, Wilson, Newby (Roscoe, 81'). Subs not used: Kosylo, Mooney.

HT 1-1

Goals Brown 20' | Linney 24' (Banks), Conn-Clarke 51' (Newby), Conn-Clarke 73'

Yellows Weston 71' | Banks 75'

Reds None | None

Referee Ross Martin

Assistants Timothy Walker & Sam Wesson

Fourth official Niall Smith

Attendance 3,688 (272 away)

Next Up

Our Easter Monday ALL TICKET clash with Oldham Athletic at the J.Davidson Stadium (3pm). Get your home tickets here and important match day info here.

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