Simon Weaver has delivered an impassioned rallying cry to his Harrogate Town players in a bid to arrest the dip in form that is threatening to de-rail their National League play-off bid.
A 2-2 draw with all-but-relegated Maidstone United on Saturday means that the men from Wetherby Road have taken just two points from a possible 12 and are now in very real danger of dropping out of the top seven with just five games of the regular season remaining.
The combination of Town’s own recent lean spell and Ebbsfleet United and Eastleigh both embarking on good runs has seen Weaver and his troops go from a position of strength with games in hand, to having just a three-point cushion between themselves and eighth place.
“If we’re to cement our place in the play-offs we’ve got to have cooler brains,” the Harrogate chief said.
“We’re not gonna do it and it’s going to fizzle out if we don’t show bravery, and I don’t think we showed enough against Maidstone.
“We look nervous on the ball. It’s screaming out at the minute that lads are nearly there but are anxious.
“We’re trying to manage the nerves. We know it’s new to them at this level so we try and encourage them and give them positive reinforcement all the time, but it becomes exhaustive.
“At the minute they [the players] are in protective state of mind and we’re not going to win by being timid.
“If we play tentatively, it’s not going to happen because Ebbsfleet and Eastleigh are doing well and Gateshead are a good team.
“At the end of the day, we’ve got to say it as it is and not live in denial.”
Weaver put Town’s mid-season dip in form down to an inability to keep clean-sheets, but now feels his players are failing to deliver at the opposite end of the pitch.
“We’re drying up in front of goal,” he added.
“There’s not enough quality in the attacking third. We are better as a football club than just lumping it forward to Mark Beck and hoping.
“It’s hopeful football. When we’re trying to construct it, people are hitting big diagonals out of play and we’re not being as patient.
“When we’re patient we can work it into an area. But when we work it into an area, we need a centre-forward who can execute the finish
“We’ve had one off Jack Muldoon’s back-side and a set-piece [at Barrow], we’ve had a penalty [against Maidstone] and another set-piece and we’ve surely got to be better than that.
“The way that we want to play has to deliver better than that, but it’s my fault, I pick the team, however I think we’ve all got to take responsibility and actually come of age now.”