Chief executive Darren Royle has reassured supporters that promotion remains the primary objective for Oldham Athletic.

A poor start to the season prompted a change of manager in September and interim boss Steve Thompson set about moving the team up the table on a six-game unbeaten run.

There have been mixed results for new manager Micky Mellon, with a win at Rochdale then disappointing defeat at AFC Fylde followed by a recovery with a 2-2 comeback draw at home to Altrincham since his appointment last month.

A break from league action last weekend resulted in a first round FA Cup exit for the third season running.

But while top spot - and the only automatic promotion place - looks well out of reach sitting 21 points behind leaders Chesterfield, Latics return to National League action and Boundary Park on Saturday in the hope of bridging a four-point gap to the play-offs at home to Eastleigh.

"There's a lot of (external debate) about what is our objective this year and it's still to get promoted. It's got to be. We'd be mad not too,” said Royle.

"We showed (in the last league game) against Altrincham - a really good team - that we can match them and in large parts play better than them. We should have been 3-0 up probably.

"It's not often you get a visiting board apologising for decisions on the pitch.

"We take all the positives out of it that we played well and could have, should have won.”

And Royle was encouraged by the response to a poor display at Fylde.

"The performance (at Fylde) wasn't good, the players accept that, the management team accept that. Was it the formation? Was it the fact we played 20 per cent more of a game at Rochdale than they had played in minutes? We were leggy, tired. And was it that Fylde, who have beaten Gateshead since, are in a false position,” Royle added.

"If you look at our next four games on opposition points per game, averages how they're doing, we've got a tough four games in the league and with tough teams, as we did have with the first eight games of the season, so that's something to take on board as well.

"The players and management team I know don't accept it as a level of performance, but they clearly put some good things into place against Altrincham.”