Ilkeston FC boss Kevin Wilson has admitted he is uncertain as to where the Robins’ next points will come from if his side’s displays fail to improve.
A 2-0 defeat at home to Buxton last Saturday followed a similarly stale display against Matlock Town seven days earlier, with the threat of relegation still a very real prospect.
Play-off hopefuls Blyth Spartans come to the New Manor Ground this weekend, followed by title-chasing Chorley a week later, and Wilson believes his young team is going to have to knuckle down to secure safety.
He said: “To say there’s a doubt about where the next points might come from is a fair assessment, I’m not going to hide from that.
“As the manager, I take responsibility as I pick the team and expect to be criticised when we’re not good enough.
“People will say it’s because we pick such a young side, but were the two goals against Buxton down to inexperience? No, it was just poor defending.
“We need to keep going and keep believing.”
With regard to the Buxton game, which also saw a late red card for debutant Eli Bako, Wilson said: “When you look at it, they’ve had about three shots on target and two of them have gone in the back of the net.
“We’ve not defended properly. The first goal came after we initially put in a great tackle but then allowed the ball to fall to Hardy who scored, and we’ve let them in too easily for the second.
“To cap it all Eli’s then shown a lack of discipline but he’s a young kid and he’ll learn from it.
“We still haven’t been clinical enough in the final third as we created some good openings but didn’t convert any.”
There was also a debut for striker Rob Duffy, who has good experience in professional football but has most recently been at King’s Lynn, scoring in both games against Ilkeston this season.
Wilson added: “Rob has scored 14 goals for them this season and gives us another option. He did OK against Buxton but hadn’t played for a couple of weeks and it showed a little as time went on, which is to be expected.
“The philosophy of the football club is no different but we’ve brought Rob in on non-contract terms for a bit of experience as Gary Ricketts is 38 and can’t go on forever.
“You need experience but those experienced players have got to help the youngsters out which hasn’t always been the case.”
Regarding the upcoming games, Wilson added: “The pressure is on the likes of Blyth and Chorley but it’s all bunching up and getting tight at the bottom too so we have our own agenda. The pitch isn’t doing us any favours at the moment either but it’s the same for both sides and something we have to deal with.”