Here’s my column from last week’s Leader. It forms part of the paper’s comprehensive pre-match coverage every Friday, featuring interviews, an in-depth look at the opposition and lots of statistical analysis. All content in the column (c) www.leaderlive.co.uk.
Our record against Altrincham is quite surprising. You might have expected us to have played our neighbours from over the border quite often, but in fact we’ve only met eleven times. Also, one would perhaps think that we would have the upper hand in this fixture, but in actual fact our record is pretty mediocre against The Robins.
The last time Altrincham came to The Racecourse was in February 2011. We won 2-1, but only after a frantic conclusion. Andy Morrell gave us the lead just before the break and when Adrian Cieslewicz put us 2-0 up with five minutes left it looked like we’d secured the three points. However, straight from the restart The Robins pulled one back and we had to endure a nervous last few minutes before the final whistle.
Previous to that match, the only home win we’d enjoyed over Altrincham came in an FA Cup first round replay. In November 1963 we survived a goalless draw at Moss Lane and won 3-0 at The Racecourse three days later with Mickey Metcalf scoring two and Tecwyn Jones getting the other.
Between those two results came a succession of disappointing results against The Robins. We didn’t host them again until we dropped down into the Conference, welcoming them in April 2009. It wasn’t a pleasant reunion for us as an Aurelien Collin own goal presented them with a win to spoil an eighteen-year old Chris Maxwell’s debut.
The following season they came to The Racecourse twice, and both games ended in draws. In December 2009 we kicked off our FA Trophy campaign with a home tie against Alty and started off in a promising manner. However, our momentum faded after Lamine Sakho missed an early penalty and a drab game drifted to a goalless conclusion. The replay saw us succumb to a goal from a set piece and our hopes of winning the trophy were over almost as soon as they’d begun.
Four months later they came to Wrexham again, and we were hopeful of gaining revenge as in the intervening period we’d run out 3-1 winners in a league match at Moss Lane. Wes Baynes gave us an early lead but we failed to build on it and a bad tempered match turned in Altrincham’s favour when Frank Sinclair was sent off for a reckless challenge which broke ex-Wrexham skipper Tom Kearney’s leg.
The ten men battled on bravely but our defence finally cracked with eight minutes left and Alty earned a draw through a strike from Greg Young, the centre back who’d scored the goal which had knocked us out of the FA Trophy! Young has moved to Buxton, thankfully, so he can’t strike against us again tomorrow.
Clearly we need to improve our home form against Altrincham. In fact, our away record against them is a cause of more satisfaction as we’ve won as many matches at Moss Lane as we have at The Racecourse, and have only lost there once in six games.