Boss puts faith in Altrincham to play their way out of trouble

Altrincham FC
MANAGER Jim Harvey feels attack is the best form of defence for his new club ALTRINCHAM.

The experienced Northern Irishman took charge earlier this month and after two heavy defeats in the National League North, the Robins got their first win under Harvey – and this season – as they knocked Gainsborough Trinity out of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Harvey encouraged his new squad to go out and express themselves, and they did just that. Although they needed Damian Reeves to bundle in a late goal to clinch a 3-2 win, the Robins made a host of chances and should have booked their place in the third qualifying round long before that.

“Looking at the make-up of the team when I took over, I just thought we needed to defend and shut the goals down, but I don’t think we are a defensive team. That didn’t work,” Harvey admitted.

“As I got to know the boys better, I realised they are all footballers who want to get forward. So it was a case of ‘we’d better let you do what you can do’ and encourage that. If you are feeling good about your job, you will do it better. So it was pretty much just getting them on the front foot.

“I must say, though, John Cyrus’ return from injury (against Gainsborough) has given us a bit of a platform. It helped us look solid and enabled us to get forward. Alan Goodall alongside him (at centre-half) was excellent as well. His experience shone through, and he kept the back four in good order. That allowed us to get on with the game.

“There was a lot of good football. You could see confidence flooding back with all the possession we had, and that was great. I feel the boys are good to go.”

Harvey has vowed to maintain that philosophy as Alty host Boston United in the league on Saturday before having a home tie against Northern League side Morpeth Town in the FA Cup on October 1.

“I have to identify what the players have to offer, and I am beginning to see they are good going forward,” said the former Stalybridge Celtic boss. “They have the look of a footballing side.

“That will be our theme going forward, and it suits me, because that’s the way I want to coach and develop players. We will look to harness that now and put in place better structures when we are moving the ball forward.

“Coming out of our own half of the field towards the attacking third, it’s still a little bit random, still a little bit risky, so we want to be safe and sure, and play with a little bit more know-how, so we can be a bit more competitive on a regular basis. But the players have shown they are capable of playing a little bit and also defending.”

STALYBRIDGE joined Alty in the third qualifying round after earning a 2-1 win in Tuesday night’s replay with Witton Albion. Matty Hughes and Andy Owens scored early in the second half and Witton didn’t really threaten an equaliser after Thomas Owens pulled one back with nine minutes left.

Jordan Wright’s second-half goal at Consett AFC was enough to give CURZON ASHTON a 1-0 win in their replay, ensuring that all six local National League North sides have made it through.

Revised draw:
ALTRINCHAM v Morpeth Town
FC Halifax Town v STALYBRIDGE CELTIC
CURZON ASHTON v Bedworth United
STOCKPORT COUNTY v SALFORD CITY
FC UNITED v Harrogate Town