National League North: Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic stalemate does little for each side’s survival hopes

ALTRINCHAM’s interim manager Matt Doughty piled on the praise for his side after producing another committed display against fellow National League North strugglers STALYBRIDGE CELTIC.

Alty could have taken all 3 points on Saturday as they created a wealth of chances on a wet and slippery Moss Lane pitch, but ultimately they were unable to conjure up a goal with the derby finishing 0-0.

It was a result which does little for either side’s chances of avoiding relegation. 2nd-bottom Bridge are now 11 points from safety although they do have 3 games in hand. Rock-bottom Alty are 13 points adrift with 8 games left.

But Saturday’s game added to a run of creditable performances as over the Robins’ last 6 games they’ve won 2, drawn 2 and lost 2. A vast improvement on what had come before.

Doughty said: “In the first half we defended solidly, but in the final third we could have been better. But, overall, I’m more than happy with the performance. I believe that we could have scored 4 or 5, if it wasn’t for their keeper.

“Positivity has started to come to this club ever since we played Halifax at home (a 1-0 defeat immediately before this 6-game run). The results are now coming too, because the players are starting to believe in themselves.

“The back four have got another clean sheet so that’s 4 in 5 games now, which is fantastic for a team that is bottom of the league. If we play like that and create good chances like we did, we’ll win games – it’s as simple as that.”

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(Pictures courtesy of Michael Ripley Photography)

The match was played before a staged walk-out against the Altrincham chairman Grahame Rowley. The ‘Rowley Out’ group brought banners and flyers to the match, and around 30 spectators left in protest on 15 minutes, to applause some of the other fans, including a majority of the Celtic supporters.

There had been a decent crowd of 1,236 at the J. Davidson Stadium so while the dispute over Rowley’s continued presence at the club will rumble on, Doughty felt the protest had little impact on him and his players on Saturday – if any.

He added: “I noticed that some people walked out, but then I looked back towards the game again and that was it. My focus is entirely on the 11 players out on the pitch.”

However, despite the varying opinions of Alty supporters, Doughty said he was pleased they got behind the team throughout the match.

“We got over 1,000 here today, and those who walked out really added to the atmosphere during the first 15 minutes. I thought that everyone was brilliant today as they were all chanting and cheering the players on. To have so many supporters here is fantastic.”

The Robins will need all the help they can get in their remaining games and they are at home again tomorrow night (Tuesday) against mid-table Nuneaton Town.

Having come from behind for a thrilling 4-3 win over Bradford Park Avenue last Tuesday, Stalybridge have now taken 4 points from a possible 6 and have games in hand.

However, they have lost another of those games to the weather. Celtic were due to host Harrogate Town in midweek but it’s been rained off so that’s another game they must squeeze into what was already a busy schedule.