PHIL Parkinson made an impassioned plea for unity after Altrincham followed up their first win of the season with their first league defeat on the road since January at Brackley Town on Saturday.

The goals flowed freely in a 3-2 victory over Alfreton a few days earlier, but they proved harder to come by in Northamptonshire, as Brackley went ahead in the first half and survived a John Johnston penalty miss to hang on for the points.

While admitting last season's play-off semi-finalists have yet to hit peak form, Parkinson backed them to turn the corner and insisted a united front would make it happen all the sooner.

"The players are devastated and are trying to find reasons why we haven't won that game," said the Alty boss, whose side face Darlington at home on Saturday.

"We are not quite getting the rub of the green at the moment, with things like the save from JJ's penalty.

"I'd never attach any blame to anyone brave enough to step forward and take one, but if it goes in, everyone goes away feeling different.

"It's the story of our season so far, but our front line is too good not to be scoring goals, once it starts firing on all cylinders.

"Brackley's keeper was busier than ours and their back line had to work harder than ours.

"Look how tired their players were, coming off, after giving everything to keep us out.

"That shows we are a big target now, and it's something we are going to have to live with.

"It demands 100 per cent from us every game for every minute.

"It is a tough league, but it will swing round and we will start converting chances, so the message is to stay on mission.

"It is massively important the players stick together, because seeds of doubt can eke in, but I won't allow that to happen.

"The special thing about this club is how we come together.

"It's important we don't doubt things or turn on each other.

"I know we will come good if we stay positive."