Report by John Edwards
Picture by Luke Reynolds
FC United of Manchester 4 Altrincham 1
An inexperienced Altrincham side endured a tough night at Broadhurst Park as the Robins suffered a second successive pre-season defeat at the hands of FC United of Manchester on Tuesday evening.
With several senior squad members nursing minor 'niggles and knocks', manager Phil Parkinson was forced to take the safety-first option of turning to emerging youngsters and trialists rather than running the risk of key players picking up long-term injuries and throwing his plans for the new season into disarray.
He feared it may prove a step too far for a makeshift Robins line-up, and so it proved as Pitching In Northern Premier League promotion hopefuls FC United eased into a 3-0 lead inside half-an-hour and restored their three-goal advantage on the hour-mark after Alty reduced the arrears just before half-time.
There was a nice touch from the home club shortly before kick-off when Alty's skipper-for-the-night Regan Linney was presented with an autographed FC United shirt by their manager Neil Reynolds in recognition of his sterling efforts for the Broadhurst Park club prior to the Robins snapping him up in February.
Gifts were otherwise in short supply from Reynolds' team as they ruthlessly set about pouncing on any error and stunned Alty with three quickfire goals in the space of 18 minutes.
The triple whammy came after Alty created the game's first real scoring opportunity in only the fifth minute after Tom Jones superbly pulled down a crossfield pass, drilled high and with pace from the left, and whipped in a low centre that just eluded Linney and led to a corner. When the flag-kick reached Sam Roscoe near the edge of the six-yard box, the defender should have done better than steer his shot over the bar.
FC United were ahead seven minutes later, as Max Cane's mishit shot somehow bobbled past Ollie Byrne, and Keegan Hartley made it 2-0 in the 24th minute, stretching to touch home a low right-wing cross at the near post.
Michael Donohue capitalised on a defensive mix-up to force a low shot past Byrne on the half-hour, but there was some hope for the Robins in the 40th minute when a trialist finished smartly just three minutes after forcing a fine save from the home keeper with a fierce shot.
It proved shortlived, however, as Charlie Munro punished some slipshod defending with a low shot that took a deflection on its way past second-half substitute keeper Matt Gould to wrap up a deserved victory for an FC United side who looked sharp and cohesive throughout.
For Alty, Owen German again looked composed in central midfield, while it will have done Academy youngsters Sheriff Njie and Edson Cata no harm to have gone on as substitutes midway through the second half and sampled first-team football at this level.