PHIL Parkinson hailed an inspirational captain’s performance from Jake Moult after Altrincham made light of Southport’s standing as early-season promotion favourites with a stunning 3-1 win at Haig Avenue on Tuesday night.

After investing heavily on and off the pitch, Southport are expected to challenge for the National League North title, but they had no answer to a vibrant Alty side who went in front through summer signing Liam Goulding and wrapped up victory with superbly-taken late goals by John Johnston and Jordan Hulme.

While elated at a performance expertly marshalled by experienced skipper Moult, Parkinson still sounded a note of caution, ahead of Saturday’s trip to Spennymoor and a home game with FC United of Manchester next Tuesday.

"The lads were absolutely superb and thoroughly deserved the victory," he said.

"I take great pleasure in it, because we all worked ever so hard for it in pre-season and are reaping the benefits, in terms of physical condition.

"There is no doubt we can play, but to maintain those sort of fitness levels is phenomenal.

"Jake was just exceptional. It was a real skipper’s performance, getting in blocks, tackles and headers but also being outstanding in possession.

"He was fouled at one point but then nutmegged one of their players straight after. It was the complete holding midfielder’s performance.

"If the lads continue to play like that, they are going to be a real force this season, but they have set the benchmark now, and they have set it very high.

"I said this would be a benchmark game for us, and I couldn’t have wished for a better response, but we can’t get carried away after two games.

"We’ve had a great result and a great evening, and we will all enjoy it, as I hope our fans will, because they’ve turned out in numbers and given us great support again.

"But I really do hope people will keep their feet firmly on the floor and maintain a sense of perspective, because we are new to this division and there will be twists and turns."