Robbie Lawton and Matt Doughty celebrate

Altrincham duo refuse to give up on survival ahead of Saturday’s derby with relegation rivals Stalybridge Celtic

ALTRINCHAM’s interim manager Matt Doughty and his assistant Robbie Lawton held a fans’ forum on Tuesday night, which was met with a positive response by the Robins’ faithful.

Alty have been on an 18-month horror show, falling out of the National League last season with another possible relegation looming this term. The Robins sit bottom of the National League North on just 16 points, 14 points from safety with 9 games left.

Yet recent performances under Doughty and Lawton have been commendable, with wins against Worcester City and Boston United and a hard-fought display against AFC Telford showing that progress is being made under the managerial duo.

Around 50 Altrincham fans attended the forum at the clubs’ Community Sports Hall and one of the first questions on everyone’s lips was whether Doughty will be in charge next season. The former Alty left-back said that a board meeting later this month will likely decide his fate, with it thought that results in the next couple of weeks being will be pivotal in that decision.

But Doughty said he needs time to build a successful team and that it would take years to do that – not the months he has had so far.

The 35-year-old admitted, repeatedly, that he would love to take the Altrincham job, if it was offered to him. But the Warrington-born boss went on to say that he wants to give the club the best opportunity for next season, regardless of his future position. That’s why most of the 7 players that he’s signed were bought in on the basis that they would be willing to stay on irrespective of which league the club is in next term.

However, Elliot Newby, the 21-year-old winger who has scored 3 in the last 4 games, including the only goal in last Saturday’s win at Boston, will be returning to Barrow when his loan is complete at the end of this month.

Doughty went on to discuss the complete lack of confidence in the players upon his arrival, mentioning that the dressing room was the worst he had seen in 20 years of football, and
that was why it took a lengthy period to mould a winning mentality within his team.

Lawton – another ex-Alty player who impressed many supporters during the forum – developed this further by saying that the players needed to know that 1-0 down did not necessarily mean ‘game-over’, adding that his teaching of sports psychology had helped the players approach games with a stronger mindset.

When quizzed about their survival hopes, Doughty said that “8 wins from the last 9 games” would see them over the line, but the pair refuse to accept relegation until it is confirmed – as
they have done since they took over from Jim Harvey in December.

With its ‘out in the open’ format, the meeting was a stark contrast to last month’s horrendous summary of the club’s Strategic Review, which inadvertently spawned Saturday’s pending walk-out protest against chairman Grahame Rowley.

The prospect of the walk-out was brought up on Tuesday night but the pair shrugged off any claims that it would impact the players’ performance, saying their focus will be entirely on the match.

During the closing stages, an impressed member of the audience stated that he wants Doughty and Lawton to succeed with the club, and this was met with applause from the rest of the attendees.

But their challenge has been made tougher with STALYBRIDGE CELTIC grabbing a 4-3 win over Bradford Park Avenue the same night – a result which saw them leap back over Alty to 2nd-bottom. Last Saturday’s win at Boston had seen the Robins climb off the bottom for the first time since November.

However, the 2 sides face each other this Saturday at the J. Davidson Stadium and a home victory would give Alty 2 wins on the bounce for the first time since November 2015. It would also lift them back off the bottom and could prove a huge turning point for the side.

There are surely only better things to come for Altrincham, and it seems that the momentum has now started under Doughty and Lawton.