Phil Parkinson urged Altrincham to tighten up defensively after their promotion play-off hopes suffered a jolt at Spennymoor on Tuesday night.

Spenymoor moved to within goal difference of sixth-placed Alty after cashing in on defensive lapses to win 3-2 and leave Parkinson ruing key refereeing decisions, as well as his side’s rare vulnerability at the back.

Alty were awarded two penalties – new signing Elliott Durrell converting the second after Josh Hancock’s earlier spot-kick was saved – but were adamant they should have had a third and equally convinced a second-half finish by Hancock was wrongly ruled out, following a lengthy consultation between the referee and his assistant.

"Josh didn’t look offside," said the Alty boss. "All the players were bamboozled by it, and that’s why they were ranting and raving. We should have had three pens as well. We are probably clutching at straws if we think the referee is going to give us three penalties away at Spennymoor, but everyone could see it was a clear handball.

"We’ve missed a few this season, so it’s an issue we need to address. Elliott picked himself up after being fouled and put his away well, so we’ll have a look at that in training.

"Overall, it’s a real mixture of emotions. I’m hugely disappointed at the result but massively proud of the team for the way they went at it right to the end. We looked great offensively but need to get it right in terms of concentration and decision-making at the back, which we have done for the majority of the season.

"Their first goal was a disgrace, and though it was a fantastic strike for their second, we gifted them possession. The third was a free header, so there are things we need to eradicate, which we will do. We are not at panic stations and will go again on Saturday.

"Full credit to Spennymoor for throwing bodies on the line right to the last whistle, but they were lucky – we should have got something out of that."

Alty are away to Blyth Spartans on Saturday.