Charlie Brown urged his Ripon City players to “pull their finger out” this week and not to wind down their West Yorkshire league season.
The Mallorie Park outfit welcome lowly Otley Town this Saturday and “have to get a win” to resurrect their hopes of matching last season’s efforts.
Brown’s boys remain in the hunt for a fifth-placed finish in West Yorkshire Premier, which would equal last season’s exploits under former boss Paul Vincent.
But the gaffer said his players must take their eyes off the upcoming Whitworth Cup semi-final and concentrate on their league form.
City have hit rough terrain in their recent form with just six points out of a possible 18.
And Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at home to their challengers for a top five berth, East End Park, left them needing a slip-up from their opponents to reach their season goal.
Ben Jones had given City the lead with a tidy finish before the visitors levelled on the stroke of half-time.
Daz Simpson tucked home a second-half spotkick to return the Red and Blacks’ lead but Park scored two late penalties, given for handball, to steal three points.
Brown said: “We had a really good squad of 14 players out but it was a little bit flat. I don’t know why.
“It was like an end of season game. Both sides looked like they just wanted to get the game out of the way.
“We weren’t in any bother and should have had the game wrapped up at half-time, but we were guilty of being complacent in front of goal.
“The disappointing thing was that we should have put the game to bed.
“Both late penalties were a little bit harsh. When someone blasts the ball at you from one yard out, you are not going to get out the way.
“It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth, but we have to look at ourselves first.”
City’s Whitworth Cup semi-final against Knaresborough Town has yet to be rearranged following the postponement at Harrogate Railway’s Station View ground last month.
New signing Nick Cressey should return to the fold for Otley’s visit but Ally Wilson and Ashley Atkinson are unavailable.
“We have to pull our finger out because you don’t get easy games in this league,” said Brown.
“We have not performed well for a few games and really dropped some poor points.
“The problem has been, players focusing on the cup semi whenever that’s going to be.
“We have to get a win. Saturday was another good opportunity to push for that top four. Now we have to look for fifth.”