Brett Williams may be the bookies’ favourite to be Vanarama Conference top scorer this season, but it was strike partner Josh Scott who took the plaudits as Aldershot Town swept to a comprehensive opening day victory at the ESS.
Scott set-up the first two goals - for Williams and Jordan Roberts - and then scored the third himself as the Shots got their season off to an impressive start against newly-promoted Altricham.
And it was a performance which drew much praise from relieved boss Andy Scott, who kept faith with the former Dagenham & Redbridge striker despite the return to fitness of summer signing Dan Fitchett.
“He’s shown that he’s fit and can really torment sides," his namesake boss said. "The third was a really good goal. I want him to get the reward for all of his hard-work. He was instrumental in us staying up last year and he’ll be key to where we finish this year.”
Boss Scott now turns his attentions to Thursday's televised trip to Eastleigh but is just delighted to get off the mark on the opening day.
“There are definitely some reasons to be cheerful this year. It’s always good to get off to a winning start and we knew this was going to be a tough game. We were going into the unknown a little bit but I thought we played some really good stuff and looked pretty comfortable."
Despite the visitors enjoying early periods of pressure, their promise was largely unfulfilled. Left-back Adam Griffin hit the first shot of the season but the hosts were very much in the ascendancy in the opening quarter, and built upon the 10 minute lead given them by Williams.
Forbes launched a counter-attack from deep, and after Williams got a lucky ricochet to maintain possession he swapped passes with Scott to race through behind the defence and finish with ease across Coburn.
Steadily, however, Altrincham were allowed back into the game. Steven Gillespie and Damian Reeves were themselves a burgeoning partnership without finding the extra quality needed to beat Phil Smith, and, after the dangerous Jaydon Gibbs drew a strong save from Coburn, Scott created the second goal.
Bursting down the left, he showed fine awareness to pull the ball back for Roberts, arriving like a train, to side-foot into the net from eight yards.
Gillespie’s dipping 22-yard shot was superbly tipped over by Smith and Altrincham were again made to pay after the break. On 51 minutes it was Molesley, who seconds previously had seen a long-range drive blocked, providing a devilish angled cross which evaded everybody until Scott tapped in at the far-post.
Thereafter, though, came Sinnott’s crumbs of comfort. Two half-time substitutions galvanised his team into a resurgence and the impressive Nicky Clee raced onto Gillespie’s precise through ball to finish with equal precision beyond Smith. Gillespie then lifted a shot just over the bar and, albeit briefly, Altrincham had hopes of a thrilling comeback.
Kyle Perry’s arrival provided a rambunctious focus up front but Aldershot Town were stung into a response. Coburn parried Scott’s fierce effort at the near-post and Joe N’Guessan, latching onto Lathrope’s disguised free-kick, shot inches over.
Ultimately, Altrincham’s fightback ran out of steam, as N’Guessan created the game’s final chance – a stinging shot that was again well saved by Coburn – yet both managers took encouragement from an afternoon which suggested that their mutual ambitions of progress up the pyramid have solid foundations.
Aldershot: Smith; Gibbs, Wilson, Oastler, Barker; Molesley (N’Guessan 69), Lathrope, Forbes, Roberts (Fitchett 76); Scott, B Williams (Derry 90). Subs: Thomas, Tonkin.