Alty back in the play-off places after second-half attacking masterclass

Words John Edwards | Pictures Jonathan Moore

Altrincham 4 Wealdstone 1

A second half that showcased Altrincham's irresistible attacking flair left little room for doubt that there remains within the Robins camp an appetite for chasing down a play-off spot over the final few weeks of the season.

Trailing to a 33rd minute goal and only on level terms at half-time, following an Alex Newby equaliser, Alty turned on the power in the second 45 minutes in a style befitting one of the Vanarama National League's most prolific outfits.

Three goals spread over 25 minutes left Wealdstone out for the count, two of them absolute classics by George Wilson and Lewis Banks and the third scrambled home from close range, with Wilson initially appearing to be the scorer but the plaudits going to Regan Linney, who did indeed get the final touch.

The win lifted the Robins to sixth in the table, and while others around them have games in hand, there must be a renewed sense of belief among Phil Parkinson's players that a place in the play-offs can still be secured if they continue in the same vein at Kidderminster on Friday and beyond.

It was Wealdstone who fashioned the first threat on goal in the fifth minute, and Ethan Ross had to be at his most alert to prevent the Londoners from going in front.

A quick free-kick found Micah Obiero on the right, and, after cutting in towards the edge of the Alty area, he let fly with a left-footed shot that had Ross diving full length to turn it away.

To be fair to Wealdstone, they had dominated possession during those opening few minutes, but once Alty began to find their rhythm, the ball started fizzing from one red shirt to another, for a spell at least.

One such passage of Alty interplay nearly led to a breakthrough in the 11th minute.

A pinpoint pass by Elliot Osborne sent Dan Mooney scampering away down the right, and when the winger looked up and picked out Chris Conn-Clarke on the edge of the area, he flicked it on first-time to give Linney the chance to try his luck from 15 yards.

The shot cannoned into a defender's midriff, though, and hopeful claims that a hand may have played a part in the goal-saving block fell on deaf ears.

Wealdstone showed they were not fazed by the brief bout of Alty pressure and brought Ross into action again in the 20th minute with a fierce drive by Aaron Henry that was beaten away by the Robins keeper.

The clearance chance so far went the way of Alty in the 24th minute.

An outstanding through ball by Linney, measured to perfection along the ground, sent Newby surging clear, with just keeper Marcus Dewhurst to beat.

The in-form winger looked sure to score, only to delay drawing back his boot and shooting a fraction too long in a momentary hesitation that allowed Brandon Mason to rescue the visitors with a saving last-ditch tackle.

What an opportunity for the Robins and what a boost a goal would have given them after what, in truth, was proving a bit of a struggle to impose themselves on their opponents.

In its absence, the struggle continued, and Alty could have few complaints about going behind in the 33rd minute.

Ross looked to have saved the day, not for the first time in his Alty career, when he reacted brilliantly to get a hand to a Manny Duku shot and turn it behind.

But, from the resulting corner, the ball was bundled over the line from close range by Charlie Barker, and to dismay all round, Wealdstone were ahead.

To their credit, Alty dug deep to force their way back on terms in the 37th minute.

Another superb Osborne pass sent Newby sprinting down the left, with Conn-Clarke in support. When Newby slipped the ball to Conn-Clarke but saw him crowded out by defenders, the Alty winger had the presence of mind to follow up and fire a low shot just inside the far post.

There should have been a repeat outcome to another link up between Newby and Conn-Clarke two minutes later.

Conn-Clarke turned and ran at rapidly-retreating defenders, as he so often does, and rolled an inch-perfect pass to Newby on his left, only for the finish to lack its usual accuracy and drift wide of the right-hand post.

The second half could not have started any better for Alty as they went ahead with an absolute gem of a goal.

Newby executed a clever flick near the centre circle to Conn-Clarke on his left and then began motoring down the flank, as if anticipating his team-mate would thread a pass through for him to latch on to.

Conn-Clarke duly obliged, and when Newby controlled it near the left bye-line and looked up to assess his options, the cutback was perfect for the onrushing Wilson to meet it with a thunderous first-time volley into the roof of the net.

It was vintage Alty at their imperious attacking best, and it was almost followed by another goal a minute later, when Linney worked the ball across the face of the area before hitting a shot that was deflected narrowly wide of the angle of bar and post.

Wealdstone began to look increasingly deflated, and the wind was well and truly knocked out of their sails when Alty made it 3-1 on the hour.

Osborne's passing range was to the fore once more as he delivered a ball down the right for Mooney to clip towards the six-yard box, where Banks met it with an unerring first-time shot that flew high into the net.

Conn-Clarke looked as eager as ever to add his name to the scoresheet, and he almost succeeded a couple of minutes later with an impudent angled drive that only just cleared the bar.

Wealdstone were being torn apart, and there should have been another Alty goal in the 68th minute when Conn-Clarke advanced towards the area, with passing options either side of him.

He chose Mooney to his right, but, for once, the livewire winger got his timing wrong and miscued a sidefooted effort wide.

Alty's goal difference was looking better than ever when they added a fourth in the 72nd minute.

Linney cut in from the left and drilled a low shot that was blocked by the keeper's legs, with the Alty striker and Wilson both in close proximity of the loose ball and eager to capitalise on it.

It was difficult to be certain who got the all-important final touch, as the rebound was rammed home, but the congratulations went to Linney, whose hard work and endless endeavour leading the line certainly merited some reward.

Onwards and upwards to Kidderminster on Good Friday and Oldham at home on Easter Monday, and more of the same from a rousing second half here this evening, and Alty for the play-offs will have an ever-more convincing ring to it.

Harvey Nichols Man Of The Match | Elliot Osborne

Altrincham Ross; Banks, E.Jones, Baines (c), Osborne, Linney, Conn-Clarke (Kosylo, 75'), Cooper, Wilson, Newby (Hancox, 81'), Mooney (Donawa, 75'). Subs not used: Angus, Roscoe.

Wealdstone Dewhurst; Cook (c), Barker, Barrett, Duku, Kretzschmar (Bowen, 84'), Obiero, Young, Mundle-Smith, Henry, Mason (Cesay, 67'). Subs not used: Andrews, Seaman, Adams.

HT 1-1

Goals Newby 36', Wilson 47' (Newby), Banks 60' (Mooney), Linney 72' | Barker 33' (Henry)

Yellows None | None

Reds None | None

Referee Dean Watson

Assistants Neil Evans & Jack Nield

Fourth official Jonathan Chadwick

Attendance 1,740 (37 away fans)

Next Up

It's Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough on Good Friday (3pm) - tickets here.

We then host a huge local clash with Oldham Athletic on Easter Monday (3pm) in front of the live cameras of TNT Sports. The game is ALL TICKET at the J.Davidson Stadium, with admission available to purchase for home fans here.

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