GRAHAM Heathcote launched an impassioned defence of Altrincham's approach on the road, after it came under fire from Mansfield counterpart David Holdsworth.

After seeing his side scrape a 1-1 draw with an injury-time equaliser, Holdsworth complained that Alty had "shut up shop from the first minute."

It was given short shrift by Heathcote, who saluted the way form team Alty made it seven League games without defeat, and said: "The lack of tactical nous some people display astonishes me at times. There are a lot of so-called up and coming managers around who think they know it all, but you soon realise they don't.

"I'm 56 this year and not exactly naive, and going into an away game with the philosophy that it's up to your opponents to try and break you down is one that has caused an awful lot of problems for a lot of sides. It doesn't just happen in the Conference, either.

"Some of the top sides in the country take the same approach into European games, and when it comes off, it is a triumph for tactical thinking. There are many ways to play a game of football, and you work out which is best for your side. It is called tactics, and while a lot of people think they understand that, it is clear many don't."

Heathcote was particularly scathing about Holdsworth's claim that Alty were arguing among themselves at half-time.

"I can tell you 100 per cent there were no arguments in our dressing room," he said. "All I told the players was: 'Well done, carry on the same way and they will get even more frustrated'. Mansfield need to understand they were the ones who nicked a draw in added time, not us.

"We are a very thin, exhausted squad, and because of that, we haven't done a minute's training for the past three weeks. That gives all the full-time clubs an enormous advantage, yet we went to Mansfield and ensured the game was played exactly the way we wanted.

"They were up against a bunch of kids at Histon on Saturday, but it was men last night - and they were found wanting."