The latest column for Altrincham Today from Robins boss Phil Parkinson…
Tuesday night’s postponement of our National League North game at Spennymoor was a tough one to take. To get all the way up there after a three and a half hour drive, to be told at 6.30pm that the pitch wasn’t playable, when for my money, we have played on a lot worse than that this season… it all made for a very difficult and frustrating night.
These are non-league footballers who had to pull in a favour with their employers for this trip and it’s a tough ask to be ready for a 3pm departure. Hopefully, it’s a one-off but decisions need to be taken a lot more effectively in future.
We sometimes get criticised for holding early inspections but when the opposition is travelling a long way, that is often the best way, making a decision based on the state of the pitch at the time of the early inspection, in conjunction with the weather forecast.
We have to travel to Kettering in 10 days and make the return trip to Spennymoor later in the season and players will have to take time off work again for those games and we really can’t afford what happened in Durham on Tuesday night to happen again.
I enjoyed last Saturday’s game with Guiseley, which was a hard-fought encounter, with both teams showing a lot of quality. I thought that we were the better side but if you are Guiseley, then you would certainly have felt hard done by if you had gone away with nothing.
Watch highlights from the draw against Guiseley here:
We’ve got an even longer journey today to the same part of the world as we head to the International Stadium to take on Gateshead. We must take the huge travelling into account in terms of how we manage this game.
We will need to be at our very best to get anything out of the match against a full-time outfit who are sitting in 12th place in the league but have played the fewest games of any team in the division.
I’m really looking forward to playing on a big high quality pitch that should suit us and whilst the stadium lacks atmosphere because there is a running track between the pitch and the fans, it’s a great stadium and one that I am relishing visiting, in the same away that I looked forward to going to York last season.
We’ve got a few selection challenges at the moment. Max Harrop sits this game out, which is the second of his three-match suspension and Simon Richman has a hamstring injury. We’ve got a few players who have niggles or knocks from previous games and we won’t make a decision on them until we are on our way this morning. If there’s a player on the bench today, who normally plays, it will probably be because we have decided not to take a risk on him starting.
We have brought in Josh Lundstram on a month’s loan from Crewe Alexandra. Josh is a bit of a mixture between Simon Richman and Sean Williams. He’s got great legs and great energy and as you would expect from any Crewe player, is accomplished on the ball, but for me his biggest asset is his ability to get around the pitch, make tackles, link the play and close spaces down. I’m very excited to see what he can do.
Yesterday, we recalled Lewis Walters from his loan at Trafford and we are hoping that the FA confirm his recall in time for him to be available for today’s game, although nothing had been received as of last night.
We’ve reached a play-off spot following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Guiseley, which I always felt that we would do, but our progress was delayed by our FA Cup run and then even when we started winning games, we still seemed to be stuck in 17th or 18th position.
Ironically, last Saturday’s point saw us jump three places to 6th, but that’s what this league is like. I didn’t get carried away when we were 17th or 18th and I’m not going to get carried away, now that we are sixth, particularly with the injury and suspension challenges that we have right now, but I’m very pleased to have taken 17 points from the last 21 and hope to add to that tally today in the North East.