View From The Dugout

View from the Dugout: Vital we bounce back and get a result against full-time rivals

By Neil Sorvel at

Altrincham FC assistant manager Neil Sorvel with this week’s column…

It was always going to be a big test to play the leaders on their own ground and it really was the proverbial game of two halves. We were very pleased with our first-half performance but we started the second half poorly conceding some unnecessary corners which allowed Chorley to put us under pressure immediately.

We knew that Chorley had the capability to play through teams and would be a threat from set pieces and crosses and in the second half we fell down in all three of these areas.

At 1-1, we had a really good chance when John Johnston skinned Courtney Meppen-Walter and delivered a good ball across the six-yard box, which was really well defended by Andy Teague and in some ways that showed the difference between the two sides as they took almost all of the chances created to finish up 4-1 winners.

Watch highlights of the game here

Chorley deserve to be top, having won 15 of their 25 games to date… the most wins of any team in the Vanarama National League North.

It was a good benchmarking exercise for us and we are striving to be as good as they are and when we reach that point, we will be able to mount a challenge for the title.

After four games out of five away from home, it’s good to be back at the J Davidson Stadium on Saturday as we welcome Southport for a league fixture with a 3pm kick-off.

The Robins celebrate after going ahead at Chorley   Pic: Michael Ripley

Liam Watson’s side had a very poor start to the season but are rising up the table rapidly on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run in the league that stretches back to October. I went to see them grind out a hard fought 1-0 victory over Guiseley at their Merseyrail Community Stadium a week last Tuesday. It was a game of few chances but Southport took one of theirs and that was the difference.

They are full-time with one of the highest budgets in the division and should be making the play-offs as a minimum. We won 3-1 there on our opening away game of the season and will be facing quite a different side with four to five loan players drafted in that have added bite, energy and power to their game.

They also pose an attacking threat, particularly Dion Charles, who looked sharp against us back in August.

John Johnston on the ball at Chelsea  Pic: Jonathan Moore

Our opponents are four points behind us, so whilst we will be going out for all three points as we do for every game, it’s important that we at least take something from the encounter, to prevent the Sandgrounders closing that gap to just one point.

We have got a clean bill of health player wise… everyone trained on Tuesday and Thursday night this week. We have been trying to strengthen the squad over the last two weeks as we look to increase competition for places but there will not be any additions before Saturday’s game… possibly though for the home game with Blyth Spartans on Tuesday. Players are available but we need to pick the right player for us.

One aspect of our remaining fixtures that we are happy about is that eight of our nine remaining home fixtures are against teams in the top half of the league, whilst seven of our remaining eight away games are against teams in the lower half of the table.

With 17 games to play in 15 weeks, it promises to be an exciting and enthralling last three months of the season… let’s get those 17 games off to a good start on Saturday!