Neal Ardley says Notts County need to make sure they get the basics right when they visit Carlisle on Tuesday night.
The Magpies were well beaten at Cheltenham on Saturday but have an opportunity to put things right quickly when they make the trip to Cumbria to face Sky Bet League Two’s seventh-placed side.
And Ardley says Notts firstly need to focus on doing the simple things – something they didn’t achieve against the Robins.
“We have to get back to basics and get those right because we didn’t on Saturday,” said the boss. “Maybe we’re going to lose games but let’s fight.
“The fans are entitled to see their team do that and see them scrap for every point and what hurt me the most is that they didn’t.
“You become helpless if your team does those things wrong. If they go out without the right intensity and are wishy-washy in what they do, it doesn’t matter what I do as the manager.
“That comes from within the players and needs to be a given, particularly because of where we are.”
With 10 matches left to preserve Notts’ status as the world’s oldest Football League club, Ardley has called on his side to make the most of Tuesday’s clash.
“Let’s not waste a game,” he urged. “We did that on Saturday so let’s not waste any more.
“Every match we don’t get anything from is another one slipping away and we need a certain number of wins and are getting fewer chances to get them.
“In football you lose games. You have to move on from it and not dwell on it for a long time or you take it into the next fixture and we don’t have time for that – the focus has to change quickly.”
Despite the challenge of a second away match in three days, the gaffer says there is no time for excuses and offered a welcome boost on the fitness of two key players.
“We need to go out there, give it everything and create our own confidence within the game by doing things right,” said Ardley.
“We shouldn’t be looking for excuses – we have to throw them out the window because saying that confidence is low suggests a lack of character.
“We have to get things right tactically, physically and mentally because it’s hard to win games, particularly when you’ve only won six all season.
“Jon Stead and Jim O’Brien will be in the reckoning because their knocks aren’t as bad as we first feared. They’re touch and go at this stage, though, so we’ll give them a fitness test before making a decision.”