Joint-manager Anthony Johnson is demanding a response from his players when Ramsbottom United travel to face fellow promotion hopefuls Mossley in Saturday’s crunch match at Seel Park.
Despite their midweek defeat at Cammell Laird, Rammy are firmly in the promotion hunt and occupy the final Evo-Stik League Division One North play-off place.
And with fixtures against Trafford and Skelmersdale United to come, Johnson is looking for a return to form against the Lilywhites in a game he bills as crucial.
“Getting beaten by Cammell Laird on Tuesday night makes our game against Mossley pretty much a must-win game,” he said.
“Securing a play-off position is in our own hands – we’ve got four games left and four wins would give us 85 points if we win them all and we would definitely get in with that.
“The one stumbling block is the teams we have to face as they are genuine six-pointers although our upcoming opponents, especially Mossley and Trafford, will be thinking the same.”
Johnson and fellow joint-boss Bernard Morley were left fuming by United’s second-half performance in midweek, which saw Tony Sullivan’s Lairds overturn at a half-time deficit.
And the former Clitheroe striker is hopeful the manner of the defeat will act as a wake-up call for his players as the end of the campaign draws near.
“We were disgusting second-half on Tuesday and it was probably the worst 45 minutes since Bernard and I have been in the job and we let the lads know afterwards,” he added.
“One thing about us is we’ll always out-work the opposition but Tuesday night we took our foot off the gas and we pretty much got battered in the second-half.
“We had to leave with our tail between our legs and there were a few home truths told.
“It might give us a kick up the backside after coming off the back of three wins – the lads are chomping at the bit to go again.”
But it was not all doom and gloom this week as two Ramsbottom players were named in the Evo-Stik League Division One North team of the year.
Former Blackburn Rovers youth captain Gary Stopforth and 29-goal Lee Gaskell both made the cut, with Johnson delighted to see Rammy receive recognition for their season’s exploits.
“It’s a massive achievement and it says a lot about our football club that we’ve got two players in that team,” he said.
“And to be honest, without being arrogant I felt we could have had one or two others in there.
“It’s a belting side and to get two lads in there goes to show what we are doing as a club.
“Their great performances over the season have got them in there.”
Blue Square Bet Premier
Stockport County travel to Kidderminster Harriers knowing only a win will be enough to keep the Hatters in the Blue Square Bet Premier.
Anything but a win will see Ian Bogie’s side slip further down the footballing pyramid, only two seasons after the club dropped out of the Football League.
Hyde – guaranteed safety despite defeat last weekend – host Lincoln City at Ewen Fields, with a point enough to secure the visitors survival for another season.
Blue Square Bet North
Altrincham continue their push for a play-off spot when they travel to bottom of the table Hinckley United.
United have won just two games all season and went down 8-0 when the sides met at Moss Lane earlier in the season.
Elsewhere, Stalybridge Celtic visit Harrogate Town, while relegated Droylsden host Oxford City.
Evo-Stik Premier Division
FC United of Manchester host Worksop Town at Gigg Lane while Ashton United head to Chorley.
Evo-Stik League Division One North
Curzon Ashton – currently outside the play-offs – entertain seventh-placed Clitheroe as New Mills play Harrogate Railway Athletic at Church Lane.
There is a Greater Manchester derby at Moor Lane as Salford City and Radcliffe Borough go head-to-head, with Trafford playing host to Prescot Cables.