Mark Morsley has urged his Needham Market side to bounce back quickly when they host their relegation rivals VCD Athletic tomorrow (3pm), writes Alex Moss.
The Marketmen saw their eight-match unbeaten run come to an end at the weekend, as they suffered a 3-2 home defeat to Enfield Town.
Recent victories away at leaders Dulwich Hamlet (1-0) and Staines Town (2-0) had seen Needham climb up to 17th in the Ryman League Premier Division table.
However a lacklustre first-half performance, followed up by conceding two goals in three second-half minutes, resulted in the Marketmen tasting defeat for the first time since November 3.
“If you put in a poor performance you always look to the next game to put it right,” said Morsley, whose side dropped to 19th on Saturday.
“My message to the players will be exactly that. We let ourselves down last week and it needs to be a better performance against VCD on Saturday.
“Every game is an important one for us in this division, and VCD are on a good run of form as well so it’s going to be a tough game.”
Like the Marketmen, VCD have hit some form in recent weeks to boost their chances of survival, and head into this weekend having taken an impressive 13 points from their last five league outings.
Tomorrow’s clash at Bloomfields is one of three games featuring two sides in the bottom seven going up against each other, with bottom place Lewes hosting Farnborough (22nd) and 21st place Brentwood travelling to Leatherhead (18th).
But Morsley admits his sole focus this weekend will be on the fortunes of the Marketmen, who can climb back up to 17th if results go their way.
“We’ve just got to keep getting points on the board,” the Needham boss said. “50 points was the target we set to stay in the division and we’ve just got to keep chipping away at that.
“We’re up against a team on Saturday who will be in the mix fighting for survival, but it’s a game which we will need to be up for if we are to bounce back.”
Morsley’s 50 point target is almost certain to be enough to ensure the Marketmen’s place in the Premier Division next season, with there being just two occasions in the last 30 years where a team has been relegated with more than 50 points to their name.
In 2002-03 Chesham United were relegated into Division One North with 52 points, while at the end of the 2007-08 season East Thurrock United were deducted a point and were relegated with 50 points.
Based on their 25 league games so far, Needham are projected to finish somewhere between 51 and 52 points, although a defeat on Saturday against VCD would see that figure drop below 50 points.
The Marketmen have several injuries in the squad ahead of the weekend, with defensive duo Keiran Morphew and Joe Whight (both groin) likely to miss out.
Sam Nunn is expected to start for the first time since returning to the club, while Regan Pelling is also out injured.