DISAPPOINTMENT, frustration, anger, despair.

Alty fans have suffered all those emotions and more during their side's tumultuous campaign so far.

But on Boxing Day they experienced true pain for the first time.

A 2-1 defeat at home to bitter rivals Northwich was a new nadir for the Robins and the hurt will continue to linger for a long time yet.

If Alty had been undone by wretched luck or outclassed by a far superior side, the result would have been somewhat more acceptable. But that simply wasn't the case.

This performance lacked energy, creativity and, worst of all, guts.

Few of those representing the home team even deserved to wear the badge - they certainly didn't seem to do so with any pride.

Chris Senior's third minute opener should have been the start of something good. Instead it was all downhill from that point, Lucas Akins and Ryan Brown scoring the goals that shamed the Robins.

Woes were compounded by Senior's 77th minute sending off after swinging a punch at Luke Horrocks. The Vics man followed after retaliating with a headbutt.

One shining light, however, was Robbie Lawton. The stocky Scouser certainly didn't have his best game in an Alty shirt but his commitment to the cause was truly admirable.

Lawton left no blade of grass uncovered, no opposition player unchallenged and although there were others who could claim they gave it their all, he was the ultimate example of what derby games should encompass.

It is this attitude upon which any Alty revival must be based.

Defeat is so much more difficult to accept as it had seemed such an unlikely prospect during the early exchanges.

The game had barely got underway when Michael Byrne completely failed to deal with a speculative punt from Karl Munroe. The ball skipped off the top of his head and right into the path of Senior, who turned on the afterburners to leave Michael Welch chewing on dust and drilled the ball home.

Less than three minutes in and the Robins had a lead to defend. The only problem being that they have one of the worst rearguards in the league.

Alty wobbled, Simon Rusk firing a good chance over the bar, before collapsing 18 minutes in.

Nick Farquharson flicked Richard Battersby's through ball on to Akins and he quickly turned the almost non-existent defence to find the corner of the net.

It could have been so much different had Steve Aspinall tucked away a glorious opening just before the half hour mark.

But he could only blast over the top after being sent clean through by Colin Little's clever through ball. The rest is history.

Two minutes before the break Northwich won a free kick right on the edge of the box, harshly awarded after Aspinall had tussled with Farquharson. Brown stepped up, the wall parted like the Red Sea and he drove the ball left-footed into the corner of the net.

It never really looked like getting any better after the break.

Akins unbelievably spurned an easy chance four minutes into the second half, nudging the ball straight at Stuart Coburn after Danny Williams' cross had found him all alone five yards out.

Otherwise the second 45 minutes was a complete non-event.

Vics sat back and defended their lead. Alty lacked the necessary craft to break them down.

The Robins' one big chance came 15 minutes from time, but Little's venemous effort was tipped onto the bar by keeper Scott Tynan.

Then, as tempers frayed late on, Senior reacted to Horrocks' dangerous challenge on Lawton, throwing a punch at the Northwich midfielder. Not taking too kindly to this, Horrocks retaliated with a headbutt and both trudged from the field of play.

But that kind of fire didn't find its way into Alty's play and the game fizzled out frustratingly.