Six of the best as ruthless Robins reignite play-off push

Words John Edwards | Pictures Jonathan Moore

Altrincham 6 York City 1

Altrincham found their shooting boots in devastating style to leave the rest of the Vanarama National League promotion candidates in no doubt that they still mean business in the chase for play-off places.

The Robins were given a helping hand by an error-prone York City keeper, but that should not detract from a performance full of attacking intent, sweeping moves and clinical finishing.

Sharper-than-ever Alex Newby led the way with a double, and there were further goals from Eddy Jones, irrepressible man-of-the-match Justin Amaluzor, Jake Cooper and Chris Conn-Clarke as an Alty side supposedly shorn of confidence and without a recognised striker in the absence of the suspended Regan Linney ran riot to add another 6-1 scoreline to those racked up already this season against Ebbsfleet and Solihull Moors.

York may have been there for the taking, but there was still a ruthlessness about the way the Robins ripped them apart and capitalised on every single shortcoming that should fill everyone of an Altrincham persuasion with renewed optimism that a play-off place can yet be secured.

A goalkeeping howler gave Alty the morale-boosting bonus of an opening goal in only the second minute.

A clever combination between Conn-Clarke and Matty Kosylo gave the latter the time and space to measure a pass through to Newby on the left. That was followed by an equally-effective link-up between Newby and Eddy Jones, who exchanged passes in a way that enable the Alty left-back to curl a low cross towards the near post.

To the dismay of travelling York fans behind the goal, keeper George Sykes-Kenworthy made a complete hash of dealing with it as he dived towards the post and succeeded only in parrying it into his own net to gift Alty a welcome lead.

It was just the early lift the Robins needed, and the spring in their step was discernible as first Newby on the left and then Amaluzor on the right skipped past their markers inside the next few minutes to set alarm bells ringing in the York defence.

The trick, of course, was to cash in while the going was good, and they so nearly did in the 13th minute.

An exceptional turn by Amaluzor to shake off a close marker near the right touchline was followed by a pinpoint through ball that sent Kosylo scampering towards goal. As Sykes-Kenworthy advanced from his line, Kosylo looked up and saw the chance to chip the ball into an empty net, only for the execution to have too much loft as it sailed over.

With fit-again Amaluzor looking such a handful, it came as a concern to see him laid out on the turf and in need of the physio in the 20th minute. Thankfully, treatment did the trick, and he was able to continue, to much rejoicing all round, not least when Alty doubled their lead six minutes later.

Amaluzor it was who got a vital touch to the ball on the edge of his own area to propel it into the path of Newby, who suddenly had a clear run deep into York territory with team-mates supporting him and making themselves available to his right and his left.

Amaluzor to his left was the option he chose, and when the ball was rolled towards the winger just inside the area, he steadied himself before rifling a low shot across the diving Sykes-Kenworthy to complete a stunning breakaway Alty goal.

We all knew Amaluzor had been missed during a lengthy injury lay-off. We just didn't realise how much.

He was at it again on the half-hour, somehow managing to control a kick-out by Ethan Ross and turn on a sixpence in one movement to once more leave a close marker floundering, and away he went before whipping in a low cross that so nearly set up the lurking Kosylo in the middle.

York's only response was to risk a double glazing bill, as two wildly inaccurate shots flew over the Venditan Golf Road End roof and thudded against the houses behind.

It really should have been 3-0 in the 40th minute when, after another penetrating run by Newby, Lewis Banks squared an inviting ball across the area for the onrushing Amaluzor to meet first time. For once, the big man's usual sure touch deserted him, as he ballooned the chance over from eight yards.

There was a welcome swagger back in Alty's play, and when George Wilson tried his luck from 20 yards with a well-struck shot, it was turned round in unconvincing fashion by the suspect-looking Sykes-Kenworthy.

The York keeper's unhappy night went from bad to worse at the start of first-half added time as a free-flowing Robins side moved three goals clear.

A Newby corner on the left was played towards the edge of the area, where Conn-Clarke twisted past a defender before hitting a shot that was deflected towards Sykes-Kenworthy. For some unfathomable reason, he decided to swing his left boot at the ball, instead of picking it up, and that inexplicable lapse was further compounded by his kick being hopelessly mishit and dribbling straight to Jake Cooper 15 yards out.

Bad enough, you might think, but the nightmare wasn't over as he then dived over Cooper's low shot and succeeded only in helping it over the line.

York may have created next to nothing in the first half, but they squandered a gilt-edged chance to reduce the deficit in the 50th minute when Lenell John-Lewis lobbed the ball over the stranded Ross and saw it land just the wrong side of the far post.

Back came Alty two minutes later, as Amaluzor burst forward and slipped the ball inside to Conn-Clarke, who fired an effort inches wide of the left post.

The Robins were wresting control back after a bright start to the second half by the visitors, and they went close again when Newby drilled a low shot narrowly off-target in the 62nd minute.

The picture didn't look quite so comfortable for Alty, though, when York pulled a goal back out of the blue in the 66th minute.

Substitute Maz Kouhyar could count himself fortunate to emerge with the ball from a tackle he didn't look like winning, but there was nothing lucky about the way he capitalised on the shooting opportunity that then presented itself, as he unleashed a 25-yard drive that flew past Ross' outstretched left hand to breath new life into the Minstermen.

They soon had it knocked out of them again, however, as Sykes-Kenworthy's horror evening was rounded off by another costly clanger in the 71st minute. As Newby sprinted forward, he had plenty of passing options but instead chose to set his sights and have a go himself.

And why not? With the keeper's nerves clearly shredded, there was always the likelihood that anything on target would find the net, and so it proved as a shot by Newby that was struck well enough but straight at Sykes-Kenworthy slipped through his hands and gave Alty their fourth goal.

As Alty players celebrated, and the clearly distraught Sykes-Kenworthy stood in isolation near the penalty spot, York skipper Callum Howe walked over and did his best to offer a few consoling words to his crestfallen colleague. It was impossible not to feel sorry for a young keeper who was having the most traumatic night of his career.

Ross pulled off a wonder save on a rare attacking sortie by York, but there was no stopping Alty as they added two further goals to make it six of the best for the third time this season.

In the 81st minute, Conn-Clarke won possession just outside his own area and sent substitute Dan Mooney racing clear down the right flank. When the winger squared the ball across the face of the six-yard box, there was Conn-Clarke, completing a lung-bursting run to apply a close-range finish.

Six minutes later, Newby cut in along the left bye-line and squeezed a shot between the keeper and a post to round off the scoring and send out an unmistakable message that Alty aren't ready to be counted out of the chase for play-off places just yet.

Harvey Nichols Man Of The Match | Justin Amaluzor

Altrincham Ross; Banks (Roscoe, 46'), E.Jones, Baines (c), Osborne, Kosylo (Mooney, 46'), Conn-Clarke, Amaluzor (Haygarth, 74'), Cooper, Wilson, Newby. Subs not used: Angus, Gould.

York Sykes-Kenworthy; Fallowfield, McLaughlin (Latty-Fairweather, 51'), Davies, Akinyemi, Castro (Chadwick, 51'), John-Lewis (c) (Kouhyar, 58'), Howe, Hunt, Woodyard, Smith. Subs not used: Batty, Watson.

HT 3-0

Goals E.Jones 2', Amaluzor 26' (Newby), Cooper 45'+1, Newby 71' & 87', Conn-Clarke 81' (Mooney) | Kouhyar 65'

Yellows Kosylo 25', Ross 84' | None

Reds None | None

Referee David Richardson

Assistants Niall Felton & Jason Roberts

Fourth official Richard Holmes

Attendance 1,554 (269 away fans)

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