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Altrincham FC 4 Dorking Wanderers 1 Vanarama National League Premier

October 8th 2022

Dorking were defeated on the road for the third time this season as Altrincham ran out convincing winners at the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Ryan Colclough and Toby Mullarkey's goals either side of half-time gave the home side a deserved lead, and Aaron Bennett's superb strike just beyond the hour gave Marc White's team a mountain to climb. Dan Gallagher pulled a goal back as Wanderers re-gained control of possession for much of the second half, but Marcus Dinanga managed to add further emphasis to the score line with a late tap in.

One change was made to the side which started against Yeovil in midweek, Dan Quick replacing Barry Fuller on the right side of the defence to make his first competitive start for the club. Wanderers captain Fuller was absent from the matchday squad due to having to undergo a procedure. James McShane would take the skipper's armband for the afternoon.

The game began in open fashion as both sides got forward quickly and carved out good early chances. McShane forced Ollie Byrne into a low save palming the ball round the post from 12 yards out after receiving the ball from the left channel, the first effort of the game was then swiftly followed up by Marcus Dinanga finding space in the Wanderers box and bringing Lincoln into action, getting down well to push away the striker's effort across goal. For the goalkeeper's it was very much a sign of things to come to as both stoppers turned in excellent display's for their sides.

Approaching the mid-point of the half Phil Parkinson's team began to really assert themselves on the game, an organised and committed press forcing Wanderers into sloppy play between the defensive and midfield lines, the imposing Dinanga supported well in the attacking areas by Chris Conn-Clarke and Ryan Colclough. The pair would go close with deflected strikes in and around skipper Toby Mullarkey heading just wide at the back post and side-footing narrowly off target after the defender stayed up from the back.

Colclough forced Lincoln into a good reaction save after Conn-Clarke advanced down the left at pace, the man on loan from Fleetwood Town was then brought off shortly before half-time after picking up a knock and was replaced by Aaron Bennett, a fellow EFL loanee from Preston North End. Defender Ross Barrows then came off worse in an aerial clash with Ottaway and had to receive treatment outside the Altrincham box, adding further delay as the latter stages of the first forty-five slowed up.

Into the first of three additional minutes indicated at the end of the half, The Robins managed to make the breakthrough. Dan Quick lost out trying to win the ball in the air centrally against Dinanga, the striker then surged to the edge of the left side of the area. Muitt initially won the ball with his recovery challenge but then mistimed his attempt to get it back again, receiving the game's first yellow card as a free kick was awarded right on the edge of the box. Colclough stepped up, and despite the wide angle managed to rifle the set piece into the back of the net off the underside of the bar.

Wanderers nearly found an immediate equaliser; Bowerman's measured cross finding Ottaway who's header was brilliantly kept out by Byrne, Ottaway then having another opportunity in the air as play was recycled but this time nodding onto the roof of the net.

Half-Time: Altrincham 1 Dorking 0

James McShane had picked up a knock late on in the half and was replaced by Jack Jebb at half-time, Josh Taylor taking over the captain's armband.

The hosts got back into the ascendancy they had built up through the course of the first half, and after Elliot Osbourne's strike from range was well tipped over by Lincoln, Alty doubled their advantage within three minutes of the restart from the resulting corner ball. Lincoln made another top save, reacting at point blank range to a stab at goal inside the six-yard box, but Mullarkey was quickly on hand to tap in the rebound.

Sami El-Abd came on for Harry Ottaway not long after as Wanderers went to a back four, and began to take a stronghold of possession, Bowerman going close to halving the deficit cutting in from the left and seeing his strike deflect out.

Against the run of the play though, The Robins scored a third goal to really put the game beyond Wanderers with just under half-hour remaining. Jebb's low clearance near the touchline arrived straight at the feet of Bennett, who after taking a touch curled a superb strike which looked like it was perhaps bending outside of the post from a distance into the top right corner from 25 yards out.

Bowerman continued to be Wanderers main attacking threat with his positive work down the left, searching for the bottom right corner he brought Byrne into action with a delayed tip round the post in wake of the third goal.

Dan Gallagher did pull a goal back with just over fifteen minutes to play, slamming the ball home through a crowd of bodies inside the box after a Seager low strike and El-Abd header were initially kept out.

Byrne had to keep out consecutive efforts at his near post as Wanderers continued to push on, but Altrincham found another goal towards the end of normal time to further punctuate the score line. Bennett had just made a lively dart down the left channel, and at the second time of reaching the byline in quick succession his cross deflected into the feet of Dinanga at the back post, and it was a straight forward tap in and deserved goal for the striker who had been causing Wanderers difficulties all afternoon.

In not dissimilar fashion to Wanderers last away fixture at Scunthorpe United, Marc White provided another brutally honest assessment of his side's performance in his post-match interview, acknowledging a combination of getting the tactical set up wrong plus poor performances from certain individuals had been costly, at the same time praising the opposition's approach. A run of four games unbeaten in the last five ahead of today's game had Wanderers entering the game in good form, but today's defeat will serve as another early reality check as acclimatisation to the league continues.

Next up for Wanderers is a break from National League action as the FA Cup make it's return, Wanderers will welcome Eastleigh to Meadowbank next Saturday afternoon as the Step 1 teams enter the competition as the 4th Qualifying Round stage.

Dan Stobbart

Altrincham FC (4-2-3-1): 1 Ollie Byrne, 22 Ross Barrows (26 James Jones 46'), 5 Toby Mullarkey (c), 23 Jake Cooper, 2 Eddy Jones; 8 Josh Lundstrum, 10 Elliot Osbourne; 17 Brad Jackson (18 Ben Pringle 73'), 16 Chris Conn-Clarke (27 Aaron Bennett 38'), 11 Ryan Colclough; 30 Marcus Dinanga

Unused Subs: 9 Jordan Hulme, 31 Dan Malone

Goals: Colclough 45+1', Mullarkey 48', Bennett 64', Dinanga 87'

No Yellow Cards

Dorking Wanderers (3-5-2): 1 Dan Lincoln, 25 Dan Quick, 20 Dan Gallagher, 3 Bobby-Joe Taylor; 7 Jimmy Muitt (15 Adam Mekki 73'), 6 Niall McManus, 17 Josh Taylor, 11 James McShane (c) (23 Jack Jebb 46'), 30 Seb Bowerman; 24 Harry Ottaway (4 Sami El-Abd 52'), 9 Ryan Seager

Unused Subs: 12 Callum Kennedy, 29 Alfie Egan

Goal: Gallagher 73'

Yellow Cards: Muitt 45+1', Gallagher 53', McManus 90'

Referee: Paul Marsden

Att: 1862 (79 Wanderers Fans)

Man Of The Match: Ollie Byrne (Official Home Selection)

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