We are still secure in the playoff places despite slipping to two consecutive defeats after such an excellent unbeaten run. The fact is we are still eight points ahead of Plymouth with ten games to go so we need to refocus for the game at the weekend.
Despite heading into a third match in a row against a team threatened with relegation, I am certain the manager will be emphasising to the players that we are facing teams that are fighting for their lives. Writing in his column for the Rotherham Advertiser, the gaffer was keen to keep things positive:
‘It’s a home game for them, we’ve lost a couple on the spin, and they’ll see it as a chance. The lads have still been brilliant for me. We`ll massage their egos a bit, shown them what they`ve been really good at the last few months and go there to try and win.’
The loss against MK Dons was a major concern because of the poor defending. I was confident of a win when we went a goal up. Our opponents hadn`t won since December, and it seemed very unlikely that a comeback would be on the cards. Yet we conceded three for the first time since November.
Against Rochdale, the lack of application was equally worrying. We should have had a goal through Wood if it wasn`t for a poor piece of officiating, but it would have papered over the cracks of a poor display against another struggling team.
Dale were just more up for the game than us, winning tackles, and counterattacking with pace and purpose. For sure, Keith Hill`s tactics were right on the money, but we were playing a team who had won just twice in the league in the last three months. They were definitely more confident coming off the back of their win against Walsall, but that should have concentrated minds more to be up for the game.
I shouldn`t be too negative though. We are in a great position, I just want to make sure that our minds are right for the trip to Sixfields. Hasselbaink`s side will be up for the match, and it will be a tight affair. They are on a run of three consecutive draws and will want the win.
I`m hoping for a good response tomorrow after a couple of setbacks. The players should be 100% focused on securing a top six finish. We can`t afford a drop in form at such a crucial stage of the season.