Words John Edwards Picture Jonathan Moore
The unbeaten run may have come to an end at 10 games, but Altrincham still headed home from the south coast with glowing praise ringing in their ears from the team who finally got the better of them.
The general consensus at the Silverlake Stadium was that Phil Parkinson's side were unlucky not to make it 11 undefeated, and two key figures in the Eastleigh set-up freely admitted they had been stretched to the limit to secure a 2-1 win.
"They are a very good outfit," said the Spitfires' former Stockport County striker Scott Quigley, who scored one goal and made the other. "In fact, I'd say Altrincham and Gateshead, and maybe Chesterfield, are the top three footballing sides in the league.
"To be fair to them, they gave us a proper run for our money. The gaffer Parky has got them playing proper football, and you have to respect that. Credit to them for the way they are playing.
"We had to be patient and try to get to them on the break, but against teams like them, you have to be patient. They have got good players who can punish you, and they were probably a bit unlucky because they had a couple one-on-ones."
Alty boss Phil stressed pre-match that Eastleigh was always a tough venue to visit, but Spitfires assistant-manager Jason Bristow admitted that hosting the Robins was no easy task either.
"This was a great win for us because Altrincham are a very, very good team," he said. "That's not just based on their performance today. Look at their results over the last couple of months, and that tells you. They haven't lost many all season and have been on a great unbeaten run, and they put us under a lot of pressure.
"We were trying to find a way of stopping what they were doing and the space they were creating, and, in the end, it was resilience that got us through and over the line.
"They are very good with the ball. Their rotation is so good. They make a lot of space for themselves, and everyone wants the ball and is comfortable in possession. Leading up to the penalty (scored by Chris Conn-Clarke), we were coming under a lot of pressure. We were holding firm, but it was mounting, which tells you what a good team they are.
"We had to ride the storm, and it was a storm, so it's a fantastic three points for us. We were up against some really good players today."
There will be disappointment among the squad, shared by Phil and assistant Neil Sorvel, at the run ending, but as they look to launch another one, there could be no better pick-me-up than such clear and unequivocal recognition that they are up there in the play-off positions on merit.
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