View From The Dugout

View From The Dugout: We had galvanised the team, but now stability has gone out of the window

By David Prior at

The latest column for Altrincham Today from manager Matt Doughty.

Today’s game at Salford is a must-win game for us. Anything other than victory will mean that we are relegated and if we do prevail at Moor Lane, then we need to rely on Worcester not winning at Telford to maintain our slim hope of survival.

We will be without John Cyrus again, who is suffering with sciatica and Kyle Brownhill is also missing with ligament damage, which forced him off at half-time in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue. Simon Richman has been ill this week and is also a doubt.

On a more positive note, Stuart Tomlinson is available again and Tom Hannigan is fit enough to start, having been on the bench at the Horsfall Stadium last Saturday, where having conceded fairly early on, we equalised with a fantastic goal from Elliot Newby after a great ball from Sam Heathcote.

Elliot’s sending off, just after the break, probably galvanised us a bit, because we were opened up a few times in the first half, whereas it didn’t really happen in the second half. It was all balls in the box, and we defended them really well. It was disappointing to lose to a late goal, because I thought we deserved a point for the work we put in alone. It’s a difficult one to take, because there was nothing in it. In fact, we were growing into the game, if anything.

Elliot Newby is shown a red card last Saturday

On the red card, the linesman said Elliot intentionally elbowed Wayne Brooksby. I didn’t see it, but he’s just not that sort of lad. He’s not an aggressive type. He doesn’t really tackle people, so he’s not going to do something like that. Maybe there was a straight arm to block someone off, but that is all. He is disappointed, because it’s his last game for us, but he has been great. For a loan player, he has been phenomenal. He’s just really disappointed it has ended on this note. He says he honestly didn’t do what he’s been accused of, and I believe him. He was trying to fend the player off, not deliberately swipe at him with a pointed elbow. Their lad has got up and taken the free-kick as well, so that shows what state he was in.

We went very close late on, and Jake Moult had a header cleared off the line, and you can’t fault the effort the players put in. We are all aware of what is happening with the managerial situation, with the club going for an open process and inviting applications. As a player, that can affect you, and for the first 10 minutes, it probably did, because their front three caused us problems.

But we grew into the game, and we told them at half-time to give it a right go, and that’s what they did. It’s the board who run the club and make decisions like this, but, for the sake of everyone, it has to be right. The only thing I would say is that you are looking for stability among the players and management, but by going for the open process, that has gone out of the window.

Watch highlights from last week’s defeat:

Robbie and I took over a losing team, and what we have done is galvanise them and get them going again. We have changed their mindset, and the performances have started coming, as have the results. We are bottom of the league, so we are going to lose games. But it’s how you shape up. You need to see evidence things are turning around.

Under Jim Harvey, we were losing with barely a whimper. We were going down, and players were coming off without any sweat on them. They can hardly walk in that changing room. They can hardly move, because they’ve left nothing out on the pitch. There has to be signs of moving in the right direction, and there are.

Regarding signing Elliott, following the completion of his 93-day loan, which is the maximum allowed, I spoke to Barrow’s manager, and they want to keep him, which is fair enough. I just hope he gets games for them now and shows what he can do. He has got talent. He is a tricky winger. He can probably do better in the final third, putting crosses in, but he knows that. His goal last Saturday showed what he is about. Great control on the chest to bring it down, then stuck it away into the bottom corner. It was some goal. That’s Conference National standard.

Graham Heathcote is leaving the club

Gary Jones is player-coach now, because Graham Heathcote has stepped down. He’s got 800 League games under his belt, so if anyone can step up to that plate and fill both roles, it’s Jonah. Whilst very disappointed to lose Graham, I respect his reasons for leaving and the support that he has shown to the Board, in advocating that me and Robbie should be appointed for next season.

When that didn’t happen last week, he felt that the right thing to do was to step down and that’s a shame because whilst we know that we haven’t pulled up any trees since being in charge, we are heading in the right direction, particularly in terms of defending as a team and Graham has played a big part in that.