A hard-earned point at Oldham Athletic reinforced Altrincham’s hold on a play-off place in the National League, but Phil Parkinson was under no illusions about the task ahead if they are to stay there for the rest of the season.

Without key midfielder Isaac Marriott, due to a one-game ban, Alty filled the gap with right-back Lewis Banks and led twice, through a Justin Amaluzor header and Chris Conn-Clarke penalty, before being pegged back late on in an enthralling 2-2 draw.

It kept the Robins in fifth place, with more than a third of the campaign completed.

But while he was delighted with progress so far, Parkinson readily acknowledged the challenge facing his side if the club’s promotion dream is to be realised.

“It was a massive blow losing Isaac, but Banko stepped in and did well, and I thought we were really robust defensively,” said the Alty boss after his side made it nine games unbeaten in the league.

“We’re at Boundary Park against a very strong Oldham side under a new manager in Micky Mellon whose arrival will raise standards and expectations even higher, but it has taken a wonder strike late on to stop us taking all three points.

“So, of course, I’m delighted with the position we are in, but you come to places like this and realise just how far we still have to go in terms of infrastructure at the club.

“We are getting loads of things right on and off the pitch, but just look at what’s here, the Joe Royle Stand along one side of the pitch and 7,000-plus fans in the ground, and it’s another level.

“The top teams in this division pretty much have two players of equal quality for each position, but it takes a lot of money and backing to be able to do that.

“We aspire to be in the play-offs, but when you look at the size of our squad, we have to hope we can get through the season without too many injuries.”