Phil Parkinson admitted Altrincham were on the wrong end of "a gulf in class" after they were given a 4-0 drubbing by Vanarama National League title favourites Sutton United at The J.Davidson Stadium on Saturday.

Alty’s third straight defeat was far and away their heaviest of the season, and there were no excuses from Parkinson as he reflected on a display of strength and power from second-placed Sutton, who are just one point behind leaders Hartlepool United with three games in hand after the most emphatic of victories.

“It looked very much like a full-time team against a semi-professional side,” said the Alty boss. “You look at their organisation, desire and fitness, and the condition of their players compared to ours, and you have to say there was a gulf in class.

“I have to be honest and say I was expecting a few of these this season, but full credit to the lads, this is the first one where I have had to say, hand on heart, we were well beaten.

“We were our own worst enemy at times, with the goals we conceded, and we have addressed that in the changing room.

“But there’s no getting away from the fact that it was a 4-0 game. They showed real quality in executing what they are good at, which is being direct. It’s not often I give a direct team some credit, but they were very good at it.

“We have to accept that, as a part-time team, this is likely to happen now and again, but that is why we are trying to change things as a club and give ourselves the best chance of playing and competing at this level. It is imperative we are at the highest level in non-league football.

“We have more than held our own this season, but we know there is some fine-tuning to be done and there is an issue over not scoring enough goals. It is very difficult in the changing room at the moment, because we are not used to losing games like this.

“But we will strive to keep progressing. There’s no going back now. There may be some turbulent times along the way, because of the level we are playing at, but this club will keep going forward.”