PHIL Parkinson has backed his table-topping Altrincham team to show steel as well as style in their quest for an instant return to National League North.

Alty's slick passing game has made them firm favourites for promotion from the Evo-Stik Premier but has not prevented doubts being expressed in some quarters about their ability to cope with heavier pitches, as winter bites, or opponents who favour a more physical approach.

Parkinson was having none of it, though, and had the perfect response, in the form of 14 clean sheets from Alty's last 19 games.

"The amount of times we have stood firm and seen games out surely speaks for itself," said the Alty boss.

"How many clean sheets have we had this season? You don't do that if you are physically weak, so that goes against what some people seem to think.

"It's very frustrating from my point of view, but it's great as well, because it just gives me the fire I need to motivate my players.

"We don't always win the way we want to, because we want to play the perfect game every week.

"That is what we strive for. We are not always going to achieve that, but it's nice to see my players are able to use their initiative and game-manage things out.

"It's good they can play ugly when they need to, because those are the qualities winners have.

"We need to continue that. It will get more difficult as we go along, but we need to maintain that momentum and keep showing the resolve that has served us so well up to now."

After extending their long unbeaten away record in the league with impressive wins at Farsley Celtic and Stafford Rangers, Alty have the chance to make the most of home advantage, with five of their next six fixtures being at The J.Davidson Stadium, starting against Warrington Town on Saturday.

Meanwhile Alty, whose game at Stourbridge last Saturday was postponed an hour before kick off, have loaned midfielder Laurence Taylor to Trafford.