Wrexham Triumph at Robins’ Nest
Dave Burin returns to write for Under The League, kicking off a new series of matchday reviews. First up is Wrexham’s trip to Altrincham.
Altrincham – 1
Wrexham – 4
3pm, 14th March 2015
The J. Davidson Stadium, Altrincham (Att: 1,525)
It is not a happy return for Stuart Coburn. The almost sole focus of this week’s Robins Review match program broke Alty’s all time appearance record at Welling United last weekend. But as Wrexham’s Connor Jennings rounds the Robins keeper to stroke home Wrexham’s fourth of the game, you wonder if the veteran Alty stopper might rather have curled up on the sofa to read the glowing tributes, instead of trotting out for an unprecedented 680th club appearance. But it’s a matter of loyalty – a loyalty also shown today by a surprisingly patient Robins crowd, who’ve seen their side comfortably vanquished. All in all, though, they’ve got rather a lot to be proud of.
An upmarket commuter town – now part of Greater Manchester, though retaining the leafy, quiet character which ticked many of the boxes of a stereotypical Cheshire town, Altrincham is well-heeled but friendly, refreshingly free of the snobbish feel of some of the county’s most ‘exclusive’ settlements. After a short train journey, I find myself in the pleasant town centre around 1pm. I sup a cold beer at Alty’s branch of the Slug & Lettuce – filled with middle-aged blokes discussing the upcoming game -, before nipping down the road to the charming (if slightly overpriced) Y McGregor café, where I rediscover the endless joys of chorizo and bacon encased in granary bread. From there, it’s a (relatively) short walk down to the home of Altrincham F.C..
Altrincham’s Moss Lane ground, recently renamed the J. Davidson Stadium, due to sponsorship by a local scrap metal company, has been the Robins’ home since 1910, shortly after Coburn made his debut for the club. Despite the new name, and its venerable age, there’s nothing especially scrappy about the ground more commonly known as Moss Lane. Entering the ground through the turnstiles, you first reach the impressive Main Stand, and just to the left of it, the Family Stand. Over beyond the opposite touchline is a small, covered terrace, with the hosts of Alty’s Robins Radio perched precariously above, on a structure which looks unlikely to survive a high wind. Behind each goal lies a terrace, though the away end’s is uncovered, and Wrexham’s hardy band of travelling supporters have wisely stocked up on gloves, scarves and, a few seem to have been warmed by a few pre-match drinks.
Before kick off, the mood amongst supporters seems positive. I sip a pint of San Miguel in the ground’s Sports Hall-cum-bar, a spacious bar screening the lunchtime kick-off, and offering a refreshingly short queue for refreshments.
The game begins at a lively pace, with both sides pushing men forward. With Altrincham in 14th place at kick-off, and Wrexham two spots below, both sides are well below the play-off spots, but in no real danger of being dragged into a relegation battle. It’s a situation which allows both sides to dispense with cagey football, and provide some entertainment for a healthy crowd of over 1,500. Young midfielder Kieron Morris made the breakthrough with a 7th minute goal, capitalising on a poor clearance to confidently stroke the ball home, sending the Wrexham contingent on the away terrace – and a few Dragons’ fans scattered around the main stand – into rapturous applause. Set-pieces, though, proved the real difference between the two sides. The more imposing Wrexham worked set-plays to their advantage, with corners the cornerstone of their victory. Ross White and Louis Moult scored almost identikit headed goals from swung-in corners on 40 and 44 minutes respectively, leaving Alty trailing by 3 goals at half time – a situation not improved for home fans by the scandalous lack of hot dogs at today’s club snack bar.
It’s a lovely, sweeping finish from the talented James Lawrie which sparks hopes of an Alty resurgence. It even garners whooping cheers from a group of Scandinavian teenagers, who are either here on a school exchange, or a pilgrimage to see the record-breaking Stuart Coburn. Probably the latter. Alty continue to push forward, and look more dangerous once the hard-working, but sluggish and *ahem* well-insulated Kyle Perry is replaced by former Huddersfield Town man Jordan Sinnott. Despite this, Alty struggle to get in behind a disciplined and solid Wrexham defence, and the introduction of Sam Finley just after Alty’s goal gives the Welsh side some added class in midfield. And, in the 85th minute, the former The New Saints man fed through Jennings, who skilfully rounded a helpless Coburn, before slotting into the net. Whilst 4-1 didn’t reflect the balance of play, this was clinical, composed football from a Wrexham side who hadn’t won on the road since Boxing Day, and at kick-off, had the league’s second worst goal return, beating out only Nuneaton’s measly tally of 29. “Oh dear”, said the exceedingly polite lady sat next to me, as the Dragons celebrated a well-deserved three points. One can only assume that Alty gaffer Lee Sinnott’s language might not have been quite so restrained.
Whilst the Alty fans understandably trudged out at full time, the respect for their opponents – one of non-league’s most refreshing attributes – was clear. Wrexham’s best play had been greeted with quiet admiration by many of the Robins fans in the main stand. Most stayed until the final whistle, and a few sought solace in heading to the bar to put a disappointing display to rights. Heading back to Altrincham station, the home side’s lack of penetration felt like the only downer. It’s easy to see why this small-town side still draws big crowds, long after the giant-killing heyday which saw them reach the FA Cup third round in four consecutive seasons, between 1979 and 1982. A likeable club with a community ethos and a friendly welcome, I’m sure I’ll return to Moss Lane before too long. Hopefully they’ll have some hot dogs next time!
Travel & Ticket info:
Tickets: Adults (£15 – Seating / £14 Standing), OAP’s £10/9, Under 17’s £5, Under 12’s £2
Travel: Altrincham Railway Station has a regular tram service from Manchester Piccadilly, and train services to & from Wigan Wallgate and Chester.
Ground Location: Located on Moss Lane, in the Hale area of Altrincham, a 15 minute walk from Altrincham Railway Station.
Posted on March 17, 2015, in Dave's Matchday Adventures and tagged Altrincham, Connor Jennings, Kieron Morris, Louis Moult, Ross White, Stuart Coburn, Wrexham FC. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.