FOR the second successive game at Moss Lane, the visiting team had its goalkeeper sent off in the first half and did not have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench.

On New Year's Day against Stalybridge Celtic, Alty had laboured to overcome 10-man opposition and barely tested an outfield player in the opposition goal, but nevertheless they secured a 2-1 win.

On Saturday, they made a much better job of the situation and ended up comfortable winners. After Damian Reeves had seen an excellent chip hit the crossbar in the second minute of the game, and keeper McGillivray had made a couple of excellent saves, the Robins took a 31st-minute lead when Simon Richman converted a close-range chance laid on for him by Jake Moult and Damian Reeves.

Seven minutes later, Reeves got past the keeper only to be brought down by him and Harrogate's number one was shown a red card. Midfielder Nowakowski went in goal and promptly saved Matt Doughty's spot kick - the fifth time Altrincham had failed to convert a penalty this season.

Alty did secure a two-goal lead three minutes after the interval. From Nicky Clee's corner, midfielder Carl Rodgers looped a back-post header into the net off the crossbar. But it was not uintil 17 minutes from time that the result was totally secured when Damian Reeves received the ball from a deflection and drove a low shot past Nowakowski from the edge of the box. It was the striker's 26th goal of the season in 27 starts.

However, Harrogate did not give up and won a penalty against centre-back Gianluca Havern, ten minutes from the end. However, Alty keeper Stuart Coburn made a fine save to preserve his side's clean sheet and help them to reach the play-off places for the first time this season. The win was all the more creditable for being achieved without injured forwards James Lawrie and Duncan Watmore.

Fifth-place Altrincham travel to sixth-placed Worcester City next week hoping to improve their promotion chances. TASC (The Altrincham Supporters' Club) is running transport to the game. It leaves the Vine in Sale at 10.30am, the Hare & Hounds at Timperley at 10.40am, Altrincham Leisure Centre at 10.45am and Moss Lane at 10.50am. To book your place please ring the club on 0161 928-1045.

ALTRINCHAM: Coburn; Densmore (capt), Havern, Hall, Doughty; Richman, Moult, Rodgers, Clee; Sinnott; Reeves. Subs: Reid, Leather, Lacey, Brooke, Mooney