EVO-STIK Premier leaders ALTRINCHAM have a great chance to bolster their title bid as they have 2 home games in the next 4 days.
The Robins had a 4th meeting of the season last Saturday with fellow promotion hopefuls Warrington Town, and they needed a stoppage-time equaliser from James Poole to claim a 1-1 draw at the J. Davidson Stadium.
That ensured Alty go into this weekend 7 points clear of 2nd-placed Grantham – and 12 ahead of Warrington in 5th.
Manager Phil Parkinson said: “When you get one back in the final minutes – as we’ve had against us – it feels more like a win than a draw. But I thought we thoroughly deserved a point as a minimum. I thought we were brave, we really went for them.
“I’ve got to give Warrington full credit. They always give us as good as we give.
“They were happy with a draw, we wanted to go on and get the win. The way the game was going we could have easily gone on and won it, but I’m not going to change the way I do things.”
As neither City nor United played on Saturday, season-ticket holders of Manchester’s Big Two were allowed in for a fiver.
The offer clearly worked as Alty got a season-best home gate of 1,419, topping the 1,013 that attended the 4-3 defeat by Witton Albion on New Year’s Day.
The Robins had the first major chance of the game through striker Jordan Hulme, who was slotted through by the former Salford City team-mate Poole, but the frontman’s effort was saved by the feet of Warrington shot-stopper Anthony McMillan.
The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute through Dylan Vassallo. Gerard Kinsella’s cross was cleared by Ben Harrison but the ball fell to the feet of Vassallo, whose volleyed effort somehow found the back of the net as Alty keeper Tony Thompson slipped in the mud.
In the previous 3 meetings between the sides there was little to separate them, with 2 draws and a Warrington win in the FA Trophy (in a replay on December 19).
But Alty avoided another defeat by the Yellows as Poole levelled deep in added time. Some determined work by Shaun Densmore – playing his 350th game for the Robins – meant that he could put the ball into the Warrington box and eventually Poole slotted home his 10th goal of the season, the ball trickling over the line as Moss Lane erupted with noise.
Alty are back there twice more over the next week as they welcome Mickleover Sports on Saturday before hosting a derby against the other Robins, ASHTON UNITED, on Tuesday night (7.45pm kick-off).
After finishing 11th last term, one-time Alty forward Jody Banim has got Ashton back into promotion contention as they are currently 4th, 10 points behind Alty.
The Tameside outfit drew 0-0 at 3rd-placed Shaw Lane last Saturday and visit lowly Rushall Olympic this weekend looking to stretch their unbeaten league run to 13 games.
2nd-bottom STALYBRIDGE CELTIC lost 1-0 at Barwell last Saturday but, just like last season, they have games in hand and have a great chance to boost their survival hopes as they host 2 sides in the bottom half in the next 4 days (if the Bower Fold pitch is playable!) – namely rock-bottom Sutton Coldfield (Saturday) and Stafford Rangers (Tuesday).