ALTRINCHAM were relegated from the National League after a 3-0 final day loss at Braintree Town, who sealed a play-off place.

Two first-half Michael Cheek goals sealed the fate of the visitors, who needed to win and hope that other results went their way.

Mitch Brundle added a third after the break, securing third place for the Essex side and setting-up a semi-final play-off tie against Grimsby Town.

Alty finish 22nd, five points adrift of safety, and return to the sixth tier of English football after two years.

Unsurprisingly, Altrincham made no changes to the team that thrashed Welling last week, whilst Braintree brought in Matt Paine for Taylor Miles following victory at Wrexham.

Neil Tolson’s side faced tougher competition this time out though, and were lucky not to go behind early on when Cheek’s close-range volley scuffed wide.

The former Chelmsford City man should have done better, but he made amends on 16 minutes, meeting Simon Akinola’s shot at the back post after good work from the 23-year-old won the ball off James Lawrie.

It then could have been two, but Mitch Brundle’s header flashed across goal after Tim Deasy, who struggled with injury throughout, flapped at a high ball.

News of goals in favour of Alty’s relegation rivals spread to the travelling fans as the half went on, and a miserable half was compounded four minutes before the break when Cheek doubled his tally.

Brundle broke down the right, and his chipped ball found the unmarked attacker whose scuffed finish was enough to beat Deasy again.

The Iron continued to be the aggressors in the second half and Brundle should have added a third from close range, but he headed the impressive Sam Habergham’s cross wide.

He would yet get on the score sheet though, finishing from close range after being found by Akinola, who did much of the work jinking past the hapless Gianluca Havern in the box.

Any hopes of a memorable comeback were over from that point on, but the visitor’s would not have survived the drop even in the event of a turnaround.

For Braintree though, their campaign continues and are now just three games away from earning a historic place in the Football League for the first time in their 118-year existence.


Braintree Town (4-3-3):  King, Long, Phillips, Fry, Habergham, Brundle, Paine, Davis (Miles ’74), Woodyard, Akinola (Sparkes ’78), Cheek (Marks ’65).
Subs Not Used: Clemira, Cardwell
Booked: Paine
Goals: Cheek (16, 41), Brundle (63)

Altrincham (4-4-2):  Deasy, Griffin, Leather, Moult, Havern, Lawrie (Richman ’52), Rankine, Reeves, Ginnelly, Sinnott, Holness.
Subs Not Used:  Heathcote, O’Keefe, Williams, Savill.
Booked:  Moult, Rankine, Griffin

Referee:  Ollie Yates (Staffordshire)
: 1803

By Ashey Thornton-Jones at Avanti Stadium

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