AFTER such a fine performance in the FA Cup 72 hours earlier, Altrincham fielded a much-changed starting eleven for this Cheshire Senior Cup tie last Wednesday.
Six teenagers , including two current youth teamers, began this game, along with a mix of first-team regulars and fringe players.
While it was therefore not totally surprising that Alty lost to a well organised Congleton Town side, the manner of the defeat was a big disappointment. Given the chance to force their way into first-team contention, nobody really took his opportunity.
Altrincham actually started quite brightly but they fell behind in the seventh minute, when a defensive mistake led to Jack Graham scoring a fine goal from left of goal. The Bears doubled their lead on the half-hour mark with an exquisite chip from Michael Koral.
The Robins imrpoved in the second half but lacked any sustained fluency in their play. Congleton showed them how to finish, eleven minutes from time, when Graham scored his second goal.
Alty did have the ball in the Congleton net no fewer than four times in this game but were ruled offside on each occasion. And Congleton rubbed salt in Altrincham's wounds in added time, when they won a penalty and Smith duly completed his hat-trick.
The Robins continue their spell of cup games with an FA Trophy trip to Worcester City this Saturday, followed by an FA Cup Round One replay at Moss Lane against League Two side, Burton Albion, on Thursday night (7.45pm).
ALTRINCHAM: Reid, Densmore (capt), Leather, Doughty, Grimshaw, Ofori, Lacey, Riley, Watmore, Mitchley, Brooke. Subs: Lawrie, Reeves, Richman, Clee, Moult.