Steve Kinniburgh says his Corby Town players need “that fire in the belly” if they are to make a push for the play-offs in the Evo-Stik League South.
The Steelmen finally returned to action for the first time since New Year’s Day but suffered a fourth defeat in a row as they went down 1-0 at Belper Town.
Caretaker-manager Kinniburgh handed debuts to new signings Peter Dearle, Jake Bettles and Ashley Robinson but Corby were unable to find a goal for the fourth successive game as a Lee Williamson goal in the second half proved to be enough for the hosts.
Corby, who are now two points off the play-off places, will now prepare for a return to Steel Park next weekend when they host second-placed Frickley Athletic.
And Kinniburgh insists his players now have to “have something about them”.
“We have got to look at the bigger picture now and say it’s four games without a goal and we can’t keep a clean sheet,” Kinniburgh said.
“Now, the boys on that football pitch are good enough to be higher up in the league and they are collectively a good footballing team.
“We have got all the attributes in there to be winning these kind of games and we had six, seven, eight, nine chances with five or six of them in the first half where we have got to score but we didn’t.
“They had a spell in the second half for 15 to 20 minutes and we came into it at the end but again we couldn’t score.
“But in those 15 to 20 minutes we have to take more responsibility on the pitch.
“We were on top of the game, we haven’t scored but we have to be able to see it out. They had their spell and got the goal.
“It’s the same things over and over. We know where the problems are.
“On paper, the group is good enough and they are doing a lot of good things but we aren’t scoring goals and we aren’t keeping clean sheets and that’s a big issue.
“Over the last 15 games we have put ourselves in a position to be shot at and now when teams are doing that, we have to deal with it better.
“We have to keep on with the play-off push but if that fails over the next two or three weeks then we will need to have a look at the squad and start thinking about next season.
“Our first 10 games of this season were poor and we were second or third from bottom but we have re-galvanised it to have a play-off chase and now the boys have got to have something about them.
“They need that fire in the belly to really want those play-offs and I don’t think we have got that and it’s really annoying me at the moment.”