Altrincham launched their 2024 programme of home fixtures by turning on the style in a game Phil Parkinson described as a benchmark for his side’s play-off credentials against third-placed Barnet at The J.Davidson Stadium.

Reflecting on a 3-0 defeat at The Hive in early-September, Parkinson knew the return fixture would provide an indication of progress to date, and he was delighted with the way the Robins cruised into a 3-0 lead before conceding two late goals for a 3-2 win.

“I thought it was a really entertaining game, one we classified as a bit of a benchmark after our defeat at their place,” said the Alty boss.

“I wanted to see how far we have come since then, and I think we answered a big question by demonstrating that we are moving forward and that we are in better shape than earlier in the season.

“The scoreline makes it look like it was a close game, when it wasn’t at all. They were well beaten, and a much wider margin would have been a fairer reflection of the 90 minutes.”

Colchester United winger Alex Newby has extended his loan until the end of January, and he celebrated by opening the scoring inside the first minute after being set up by a quickly-taken free-kick by Chris Conn-Clarke.

“We are always telling the players to think quickly, and Chris certainly did that,” added Parkinson, whose side are away to Kidderminster Harriers in the FA Trophy on Saturday.

“Alex has played pretty much every minute of every game since joining us, so that suggests he has done exceptionally well during his loan spell.

“This month is going to be a real test for us, with away games at Chesterfield and Southend after the tie at Kidderminster.

“There are so many games coming up, but all I’m thinking of for now is Kidderminster on Saturday.

“We are desperate to win that one, because we really want to progress in the Trophy.”