In-form winger Alex Newby has given Altrincham the ideal start to the New Year by agreeing to extend his loan stay at The J.Davidson Stadium for a further month.
A key component in Alty's emergence as play-off contenders since his arrival from Colchester United just over three months ago, Newby further endeared himself to Robins fans just before Christmas with a spectacular last-minute free-kick equaliser that secured a valuable point away to third-placed Bromley.
An even sterner test of their play-off credentials awaits on Saturday, when a Barnet side currently posing the biggest threat to title favourites Chesterfield in second position visit The J.Davidson Stadium, but they will go into it boosted by being able to call on Newby's goals and guile for the rest of this month.
The Barrow-born winger, who has scored five times in 15 league appearances for Alty, was originally due back at Colchester a couple of days ago, but, as he reflected on an environment that clearly suits him on and off the pitch, he said: "One of the main factors for coming to Altrincham was getting back closer to home, and, on the pitch, everything has been going really well, so I'm happy to be here.
"Colchester to Barrow is something like a seven-hour round trip, so it's not a journey I would recommend! While I've been at Alty, I've been able to get home a bit more and see family and friends, and I love living round here. The team have been performing to a high level, too, so it's perfect for me."
Newby made his mark with a headed goal just a couple of minutes into his debut in a stunning 6-1 home win over Ebbsfleet United on September 23rd and hasn't looked back since, retaining his starting place throughout a run of 15 league games.
"I want to keep performance levels high and keep contributing with goals and assists that make a difference in games, if possible," he said.
"When you look round the team, there is so much quality, but there needs to be, because the National League is a better standard now than when I played in it with Chorley four or five years ago. The gap between this level and League Two is smaller than ever."