Robins are 90 minutes from promotion as Parkinson’s plan comes together

By Tom Scotson at

There’s nothing more satisfying in football than when a manager’s plan comes to fruition; when all the cogs fit into place and work in unison.

Altrincham FC’s 2-0 victory against York City in their Vanarama National League North play-off semi-final exemplified how much of a well-oiled machine the Robins have become under Phil Parkinson and his deputy Neil Sorvel.

“It’s a great result, and it was a great performance to achieve it. You always need an element of luck, and York should have scored in the opening couple of minutes and also in the opening minutes of the second half.”

Although York looked strong in parts, this was a very modest remark from Parkinson, whose side looked comfortable for large sections of the game.

Jordan Hulme joins in the celebrations after Tom Peers made it two for Alty

Altrincham started brightly and after some initial pressure, Josh Hancock put Parkinson’s side in-front, after his effort ricocheted off Jameson, York’s goalkeeper, and found the back of the net. To date, Hancock has scored in every one of his four play-off games for the club – an impressive feat.

What preceded this, however, was a sublime pass to the right flank from Jake Moult, which was then expertly controlled by Dan Mooney, who then went on to assist Hancock for the goal. “Dan Mooney has been a breath of fresh air after lockdown, and some of the stuff he has done shows exactly why we brought him to the club,” said Parkinson.

Although Altrincham looked first-rate for most of the game, it was always going to be difficult to prevent York, the initial favourites to win the Vanarama National League North, from creating opportunities.

In the first-half the Minstermen saw an effort clip the top of the bar from a shot/cross. But their clearest chance came late in the second-half when Burrow, York City’s number nine, spurned an excellent through ball wide from eight yards.

Josh Hancock puts the Robins ahead after only eight minutes

Altrincham remained solid however and continued to press on. On 77 minutes, Tom Peers settled the game, when the substitute finished a rebounded header from Jordan Hulme that had hit the crossbar. Parkinson added: “He does like scoring goals here [Peers]… you have to be in the right position, and it was another important goal for us.”

Parkinson and Sorvel will turn and focus on the final play-off, where Altrincham will travel to Boston, who beat Gateshead in a 5-3 thriller. “Boston are the most improved team this year,” said Parkinson. “We are looking forward to the game, but we know we are going to have to be at our very best.”

The last time Altrincham visited The Jakemans Stadium, Boston’s home ground, the Robins were subjected to a humiliating 5-0 defeat. This was, however, at the beginning of the season and during a period when Altrincham looked at their weakest under the current management. Nevertheless, the Robins should be confident going into the final after having executed two fine performances against Chester and York thus far.

Fundamentally, a shot in the play-off final provides an excellent chance for Parkinson to achieve what he set out to do at the start of his Altrincham career: to attain National League football status.

Photography: Michael Ripley