ALTRINCHAM boss Neil Young is confident his side can compete with the National League North’s big boys this season.
The Robins dropped back into step two this term and Young said on his appointment this summer that the division is now the toughest it has ever been.
Alty have had an early opportunity to gauge the level of competition they will face as they seek an immediate return to non-league’s top flight as they have faced Darlington, FC Halifax and Harrogate Town in their first three games.
Damien Reeves’ stoppage-time equaliser at Harrogate on Saturday ensured the Robins have drawn each game 2-2, with strike partner James Lawrie scoring the opener in each one. Alty face another of the league’s big spenders on Tuesday night as they host AFC Fylde and Young insists they aren’t fazed.
“We’ve played three of the so-called bigger teams in this division, in terms of budget and ability of players, and nothing’s been too daunting for us,” he said.
“In each game I think we’ve been the stronger team, and that’s with a number of players playing out of position – and we’ve still got lads trying to get up to speed. The resilience of the team, the effort and commitment, is something for me to be proud of. The lads never give up.
“The travelling support really got behind the team and gave the lads a fantastic ovasion when they came off. We’re not happy that we’ve only got three points from nine but I think they appreciate the effort and commitment of the players.”
Young had to field a patched-up side at Harrogate. Summer signing Tom Hannigan has been ruled out for six weeks with a knee injury so Alan Goodall had to fill in at centre-half.
Sam Patterson and later substitute Simon Garner had to do likewise at left-back, and Young has been trying to bring a centre-half in since last week.
“It’s about getting the right person,” Young added. “I’ve spoken to other managers and there aren’t a lot of centre-backs about.
“What I don’t want to do is keep throwing loanees at it. I think we’ve got a good group mentality and that team spirit is building so I don’t want to upset that by throwing players at it who are not really going to improve us.”
Fylde played their first game at their new Mill Farm ground on Saturday and a crowd of 1,365 watched them come from behind for a 1-1 draw with Brackley. The Coasters won 1-0 at AFC Telford on the opening day but didn’t have a midweek game last week.