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Alty boss: "Our keeper kept us in the game first half."

David Noble defended his patched-up squad on Tuesday night as the energy-sapping nature of the National League schedule took its toll.

Traveling to high-riding and full-time Altrincham for their seventh game in 24 days and their fourth on the road this month, the Stones were extremely good value for the lead given to them by Charlie Barker and could have been further in front. In fact Alty boss Phil Parkinson felt his keeper Ethan Ross prevented his side from having a mountain to climb.

However, the punishing nature of the schedule, the fourth long trip north in less than a month and the absence of four international players combined to see the Stones overrun in the second half as their three-match unbeaten away run came to an end.

"The first half was pretty pleasing and we deservedly took the lead," said Noble. "We went in 1-1 and that was slightly disappointing as that wasn't a fair reflection, but then we had a bit of a collapse after half-time. Yes, we have tried bodies and tired legs but you are not tired a minute into the second half [when we conceded the second]. There were a couple of things I didn't like tonight. We made some individual errors but that hasn't happened too many times under me, so I'm not going to be too harsh because of the effort they are giving me. We don't need people down – we need them up."

Defender Mason Barrett:

"It's a tough one to take as the first half we looked strong. We beat their press as they struggled to get out and they went backwards. It was a drastic change in the second half and I don't know what went wrong. We looked so good, but we can't dwell too much as we've got loads of games coming up. We can put it right on Friday."

Alty boss Phil Parkinson:

"We knew it would be a tough first half which is how we found it as we've watched their games. It was as poor as I've seen us. Ethan Ross should have got man of the match as he kept us in the game. That's what a top keeper does. That gave us a platform. We got a goal against the run of play. It was a lifeline. And then we found the groove in the second half."

• Pictures by Jon Taffel

Get to know your new Manager

Meet David Noble and his management team tonight for a Q&A session in the Main Hall at The Vale. This event will start at approximately 7.30pm, after the club AGM concludes.


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