JOHN Barton praised the character shown by his players as they held on for a 2-1 victory against Stalybridge.

City spent most of the second-half defending after seeing their lead halved but prevailed for three precious points.

The result moves Worcester up to 12th in the Blue Square North table, a point behind Saturday's opponents but with a game in hand.

Barton, who will stand down as caretaker boss, along with Phil Stant and Paul Carty, as soon as City appoint their new manager, said: "I think it was more than a test, it was an extreme test.

"Whatever way you want to look at it, we look at it from the point of view that we were under the cosh.

"We continually gave the ball away and brought the ball back on to us but held firm in the end.

"We are looking for positives to give to the players. They dug in and showed a bit of guts and character that allegedly were missing a few weeks ago.

"I'm not saying that we've put it back into them but they've certainly got those characteristics in their locker.

"We are delighted to get to the winning post. We crawled over it as opposed to sprinting, but never mind.

"In the end I didn't know whether we were going to close it up or, from a good position, see the game out comfortably.

"They never used to do it when I was here before so I was quite used to the end! Stalybridge looked more comfortable in possession than we did.

"But if you sit back and analyse it, nearly all their attacks or good situations were from mistakes from ourselves so they worked off our mistakes and I think we caused our own problems."

Barton, though, admitted the three points came at a cost with Danny McDonnell and Mark Danks going off injured and five players picking up yellow cards.

One of those bookings was a fifth of the season for Chris Smith and the skipper will now be suspended for the FA Trophy third qualifying round trip to Guiseley on Saturday, November 24.

Barton said: "The bookings piled up and Chris is missing now for the Trophy game but it was a great result. I am delighted for everybody, but it's come at a bit of a cost."