Altrincham are potentially 90 minutes away from Wembley after a weekend of confusion and controversy over the make-up of the National League play-offs.

After a 1-0 home win against Oxford City secured fourth position for Alty, and seemingly a home eliminator against FC Halifax Town last night, the whole play-off picture became shrouded in uncertainty when the National League announced the expulsion of sixth-placed Gateshead due to their failure to register proof of tenancy at their stadium for at least the next 10 years.

The league initially stated Gateshead’s scheduled opponents in the eliminators, fifth-placed Solihull Moors, would be given a bye to the semi-finals, a decision that stunned Alty, given the final standing of the two teams in the table.

As the highest-placed side, it was felt the Robins should have been the recipients of any bye, and the league appeared to concur later the same day when they issued another statement saying that, in fact, Solihull would play Halifax in an eliminator and Alty would go straight through to a semi-final away to Bromley this coming weekend.

So, the Robins are now heading to Hayes Lane for a 4pm kick off this Sunday, with the prize being a place in the final at Wembley on Sunday, May 5, and manager Phil Parkinson was adamant his side have been good value for a fourth-placed finish that has now yielded an unexpected bonus.

“It’s a magnificent achievement for us to finish fourth in the National League,” he said. “We had a mission when we arrived at the club, and it feels great when you get somewhere near to fulfilling it. I don’t want to sound premature, because we’ve got a really tough challenge in front of us, but we have worked so hard to get this far and we want to see it through now.

“You are defined by where you finish in the table, and fourth position in this league just underlines the massive strides we’ve taken in a short space of time. Whatever happens now, we can all be proud of that.”