Goals in each half from Damien Reeves and Robbie Williams were enough to send Eastwood to defeat at Altrincham on Saturday.
Blue Square Bet North
Damien Reeves 3
Robbie Williams 72
EASTWOOD TOWN 0
by Andy Cope
Altrincham goal machine Damien Reeves took just three minutes to set the Robins on their way to a comfortable victory over a dogged Eastwood team.
New manager John Ramshaw couldn’t have been dealt a harder start to his tenure and judging by the fact he started with five in midfield, he too recognised the need to stop the service to the striker.
However, it took just three minutes for Reeves to get his name on the scoresheet.
The impressive Nicky Clee seized on a loose ball and delivered a dangerous cross. Reeves, with his back to goal, brought it down and swivelled in one movement, hitting the ball low and hard past the unsighted James Severn.
At this point most Badgers fans feared the worst, but the visitors rallied from the early setback and started to see a lot of the ball without threatening the Altrincham goal, and when they did, nobody could apply a quality finish.
In a game spoiled by overzealous officiating, Alex Troke delivered an inviting free-kick across the face of the goal that went marginally wide in the 19th minute.
At the other end, Clee was tormenting the Eastwood defence, and Gavin Caines was lucky to escape a card when he appeared to have felled the winger in the box, however TV footage later revealed minimal contact was made.
Eastwood were looking comfortable for the most part but Altrincham occasionally managed to get around the back, although a combination of luck and good defensive work kept them at bay.
Connor Brown produced a great stop to deny Clee at the far post as he ghosted in on a cross that flashed across the goal, and Shaun Densmore then set up Clee on the edge of the box but under pressure from several defenders he screwed his shot well wide.
Eastwood’s first shot on goal came in the 31st minute and was courtesy of a set play. Steve Istead was bundled over 25 yards from goal and Troke’s shot beat the wall but was straight down the throat of keeper Stuart Coburn.
Although Eastwood were having 50 per cent of the ball in midfield, all the chances were going Altrincham’s way.
Moments after Troke’s shot, Reeves picked the ball up outside the box and hit a well-struck shot forcing Severn into a good save.
Reeves then ghosted in onto Clee’s through ball, clipping the ball over the advancing Severn but it hit the underside of the bar and Aaron Mitchell cleared the danger.
Eastwood had the first chance of the second-half after Jake Sheridan and Jason Bradley combined to set up Josh Burge but the midfielder rushed his shot, sending it high into the late afternoon sky.
The second-half pretty much resembled the first with Eastwood seeing a lot of the ball in midfield but doing very little in the final third.
Captain Paul Riley bravely stopped Mark Lee’s goal bound volley following a corner as Altrincham continued to create chances, and Lee went even closer to extending the Robins’ lead in the 60th minute.
Picking the ball up 40 yards out he advanced a few yards then sent a sizzling shot that clipped the top side of the bar with Severn scrambling.
With the introduction of Jevaise Christie, Eastwood finally started to look like they could get could get something out of this game, forcing three corners in succession but each one coming to nothing.
Sensing a comeback Altrincham upped their game and scored a second to put the game beyond the Badgers.
Sam Benjamin was penalised for handball out wide and with the defence getting themselves into position, Shaun Densmore whipped in a low cross for Robbie Williams to flick past the keeper.
It took Eastwood 80 minutes to produce their first chance from open play. Istead delivered a telling cross and Christie managed to get in front of the defender to head straight at the keeper.
But that was to be as close as the Badgers got and the three points were safe for the home side.
Eastwood: 1 James Severn 2 Connor Brown 3 Paul Riley (c) 4 Aaron Mitchell 5 Sam Benjamin 6 Gavin Caines 7 Steve Istead 8 Alex Troke 9 Jason Bradley 10 Josh Burge 11 Jake Sheridan Subs: Jevaise Christie, Jarrod Westcarr, Daniel Elliott, Lavell White, Jake Want (GK)
Ref: K Mattocks
Best Badger: Sam Benjamin