An extremely disappointing Hayes & Yeading United performance saw a full 90 minutes pass before the home side could muster a meaningful shot on target, this effort seeing Scott Fitzgerald net a consolation goal after the visitors had struck earlier through Chris Denham and Colin Little.
Manager Garry Haylock was forced into one change from the team that held Stevenage in midweek, Dale Binns missing out with a dead leg, his replacement being Toby Little.
It was to be a rearguard action from United right from the off and with just three minutes played a free-kick from the right was played into the area by Matt Doughty, Altrincham skipper Greg Young rose highest to meet the ball only to see his effort clip the top of Simon Overland's crossbar and go over.
In the tenth minute the impressive Chris Denham received the ball in the middle of the park and moved forwards, Adam Green continued to back off and this just encouraged the Alty man to keep pushing on before hitting a shot from 20 yards that Overland did well to stop at the foot of the post.
Ten minutes later United did get into the visitors area, Danny Allen-Page flicking on to Robert Gradwell who tried to drive the ball back across the area only for Young to block the ball wide for a corner. Less than a minute later the ball sadly was in the back of the United net. Doughty played the ball towards the box, Sami El-Abd appeared to get a two handed shove in the back, this allowed the ball to travel all the way through to Denham who turned and fired past Overland from six yards.
Once in front and already in command of the game, the visitors went off in search of a second. Ram Marwa part cleared an Altrincham attack, the ball being superbly controlled by Matty Crowell who instantly hit a volley that flew just wide of Overland's goal. A minute later it could have been so much worse for United when Denham was once more allowed space to run forwards, this time he attacked Green in the area and as both players tumbled to the ground referee Mr Atkin pointed to the spot. Doughty stepped up and aimed for the top left only to be denied by a superb save from Overland as he pushed the ball around his upright.
Despite this let off, United still could find nothing going forwards while the visitors from Cheshire kept up the pressure on an overworked United defence. Four minutes before the break Crowell drove a free-kick past the wall, Overland did well to stop the kick with Chris Senior sliding in to attack the loose ball, a free-kick being awarded for the challenge that was to lead to the United keeper's half time substitution.
In stoppage time Young again got his head to a corner from the left, this time his effort was just wide of the upright.
Overland's injury in the first half led to his being replaced at the break by Delroy Preddie in the United goal and it was not long before he was in the action as a bouncing ball in the area fell to Dale Johnson who tried an overhead kick that Preddie plucked out of the air.
Less than ten minutes had passed in the half and Preddie was again required, Tom Kearney sent the nippy Senior through but Preddie was quick off his line to save at the striker's feet. Alty Substitute Colin Little then touched off neatly to Senior but his drive from just inside the area cleared the bar.
Little and Senior were at it again soon afterwards when the former latched onto some loose control from Marwa to play his partner through, he opted to try to lob Preddie from 25 yards but managed to clear the goal without worrying the United stopper. Nine minutes remained when the visitors effectively sealed their victory as Little received a throw and turned inside the area before firing past Preddie into the bottom corner.
The ninetieth minute arrived and United finally got a shot on target. A Toby Little corner from the left was played out to Green, his drive from 20 yards was controlled in the area by Scott Fitzgerald who turned and crashed the ball into the top corner of Coburn's net.
In stoppage time the unthinkable almost happened as United were just inches away from snatching a draw you could never have imagined minutes earlier. Again the catalyst was a 20 yard effort from Green, this time a sliding Marwa was just inches from connecting as the ball continued wide of the far post.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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United Man of the Match: Matt Ruby.