ALTRINCHAM’s acting manager Matt Doughty believes new signing Gary Jones could lead a Robins revival over the festive period.
Doughty has signed Jones on a month-long loan deal from Southport, which may be extended to the end of the season, and the veteran midfielder made his debut in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at STOCKPORT COUNTY.
Doughty played alongside Jones when he was at Rochdale between 2001 and 2004, and while Doughty then dropped into non-league, enjoying two spells with Alty, Jones went on to break Dale’s appearance record.
Jones left Notts County for Southport in the summer of 2015 and was their players’ player of the season last term. The 39-year-old remained a regular until October but Port boss Steve Burr has let him join Alty in a bid to boost their survival hopes.
Doughty has also brought in young left-back Kyle Brownhill from Hyde United while Nicky Clee has rejoined the Robins after previous boss Jim Harvey missed out on signing the winger last month, but Doughty, 35, reckons Jones could be the key man.
“Nothing was sticking (up front),” he said after Saturday’s game. “We had patches in the first half when Gary Jones was running the show. He was getting it wide, getting it back and playing it forward. But I expect that off Jonah, he’s been doing it for 25 years.
“He’s a scary, scary man. I’ll be lucky to walk at 39, but his energy was brilliant. He lasted 90 minutes and I’ve not got enough plaudits for him. I know the guy as a friend, I’ve played with him and he’s a leader.
“Some of his passing, he was like a 25-year-old, and he’ll continue to do that. He won’t drop that level because he’s a proper professional. I need players around him now to galvanise themselves and say ‘right, this is what needs to happen’.”
The arrival of Jones, Clee and Brownhill lifted spirits at the J. Davidson Stadium but Alty still suffered their seventh straight league defeat, leaving them 13 points from safety at the bottom of the National League North.
Clee came on for Craig Hobson at half-time and struggled to make an impact in his first game back. However, Doughty admits there are more important things in life and it seems that part of his philosophy as a manager is encouraging his side to play with no fear.
“I’m disappointed because of the positivity around the place with me bringing Nicky here,” said the Alty boss. “I’ve told him he was absolutely shocking when he came on, we’ve had a laugh and a joke about it.
“Granted, you’re going to be down and upset, but there are worse things in life than losing a game of football. Like my Dad’s not very well at the minute. I’ve come here and it’s a release, it’s a weight off my shoulders and I don’t have to think about him at home.
“When you come here, just give me your effort, give me shots and crosses. That’s what I want and that’s what the fans want to see. There are more bad things in life than good things so when the good things happen, like you’re playing football and getting paid for it, enjoy it, enjoy yourself, because there’s going to be a time in your life when you think ‘wow, I wish I did more when I was playing’.
“I’m not going to fault them for effort but we need to do more going forward. Maybe that’s my fault because I’ve worked on the shape defensively and with players on their job defensively. We did OK, Tom Hannigan and Jake Moult were brilliant again (at centre-half). The two goals in the second half, you hold your hands up. Fair enough, they were great goals, but the first goal was poor. If I get the time then hopefully we’ll get better offensively as well, and I’ll be working on getting in players in those positions.”
Doughty will be pleased with Tuesday night’s performance, though, as they drew 1-1 with local rivals MACCLESFIELD TOWN in the FA Trophy, when neither Jones, Clee nor Brownhill were available. Sean Miller’s first-half strike for Alty was cancelled out by Kingsley James after the break, before keeper Tim Deasy made a string of saves for the Robins.
That ensured an unwanted replay for both sides at Macclesfield next Thursday (December 29), but the result was a step in the right direction for Alty as they prepare to host another of their local rivals, FC UNITED, for the first-ever league meeting between the two sides on Boxing Day. The Rebels are 12th after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Boston and stage the return fixture on New Year’s Day. Both games are a 3pm kick-off.