Altrincham boss Lee Sinnott praised his team’s belief after Jake Moult’s late winner secured a comeback win in their play-off semi-final first leg with Brackley Town.
Jefferson Louis headed the Saints ahead at Moss Lane but Simon Richman nodded Alty level before Moult’s spectacular strike secured victory in injury time.
Sinnott was delighted that his players kept the pressure up on the visitors – despite going behind.
“This tie was never going to be over tonight, it’s important that we kept the momentum going,” he said.
“I thought Brackley started really well in the first 20 minutes, closing us down extremely quickly.
“But after that little salvo where we hit the post and crossbar three times in ten seconds, I thought it spurred us, we got into our passing game and got things going.
Brackley substitute Louis headed the visitors in front midway through the second-half but Sinnott was proud of his team’s determination to get back in the game.
“It was a little bit against the run of play when they took the lead but I was impressed with our reaction to that as well,” he said.
“We didn’t let our quality or energy levels drop – in fact it may have edged up a little bit higher.
“This game is about belief and that didn’t drop when we went one-nil down.”
Hard work from Duncan Watmore set-up Richman’s equaliser, which sent all but 50 of the 1,600-strong crowd into raptures.
Sinnott believes everything is to play for in Saturday’s second leg at St James Park as both teams’ nerves will be settled after the experience.
“Now we’ve had a look at each other, my players have had a look at what the occasion is and nothing will be new on Saturday,” he said.
“Yes the scenery will be different but they experienced everything else tonight.”
Moult fired the winner three minutes into stoppage time from just outside the area, prompting Sinnott to pay tribute to his substitute midfielder.
“It was beautiful technique and he needed pace on it as well,” he explained.
“Billy Turley is a fantastic keeper and he was flying across his goal because I think he had an idea of where it was going.”
Alty hit the woodwork four times in the first-leg and star striker Damian Reeves was not without chances, leaving Sinnott encouraged by his team’s attacking play.
“On a different day Reeves might have had a couple but it’s important that we create,” he said. “If we create on Saturday and have the end product that will do us good.”
And Sinnott admits stout defending by Alty’s backline proved just as valuable in bullying Brackley’s hardened frontmen.
“The whole back stood firm with support from the men in front of them,” he said. “The Brackley boys are big physical lads and Scott Leather and Luca Havern stood up and played them well.”
Altrincham will play either Halifax Town or Guiseley in the final should they progress, with the other tie finely poised at 1-1.
Picture courtesy of GR Photography, with thanks.