Ripon City assistant boss Dan Metcalfe has urged his strikers to sharpen up their act to provide the club with an early Christmas present.
City face what could become a season-defining spell before the festive period with three matches against sides lingering alongside them at the bottom of West Yorkshire League Division One.
First up, City travel to Dewsbury-based outfit Thornhill who fell beneath them at the weekend to prop up the division on goal difference.
It is the first time the bottom two clubs have met this season and the victor will gain much-needed momentum to their relegation fight, according to Metcalfe.
“A win is vital,” the player-coach said.
“We already knew it, but after we got beat 3-1 in the league (against Old Centralians) the other week, we were making it harder for ourselves to get out of the relegation zone.
“The next three games are crucial. Hopefully we can get nine points and generate some momentum.
“If we can get three wins out of three games, that would be absolutely brilliant.
“If we get beat, it would be a big confidence blow to all the team. But the players are still feeling positive about things. It’s just converting that on to the pitch and getting the goals, because we haven’t been creating the chances.”
City were dumped out of the League Cup 5-0 on Saturday but put in a promising display against a Carlton Athletic side flying high in the Premier Division.
The Reds had parity with their in-form opponents for a long spell of the first half and conceded only once before the break.
However, the home side’s class shone through in the second period and they ended any hopes of a City comeback soon after the break.
“We weren’t miles from them in the first half,” added Metcalfe.
“They probably weren’t playing up to their top level but we were certainly on even terms.
“The first goal came at a bad time for us and knock us back.”
Boss Micky Baldwin should have goalkeeper Matt Shaw and captain Ryan Barker available for the trip to Thornhill.
Strikers Paul Abbott and Danny Edmunds could also make a return, which would be a welcome boost following their link-up in the 3-2 win over Featherstone Colliery last month.
On the club’s problems up front, Metcalfe added: “We have got young lads who are a bit inexperienced. They’re probably more like wingers than your old-fashioned striker that is there to finish the ball and make those runs in the box.
“If a striker was to come knocking on the door, we would have to consider them.”