Arbroath boss Dick Campbell is sure his “big players” will produce the high level of performance he expects from them in today’s crunch League 2 game at Cowdenbeath.
The veteran manager made a rare public expression of exasperation with his side following last weekend’s last-gasp home defeat to Edinburgh City.
Campbell was far from happy that his team had passed up another opportunity to overhaul league leaders Forfar who lost at Montrose – even a draw for the Red Lichties would have propelled them to the summit.
Now, though, he is determined to get back to winning ways at Central Park as the League 2 campaign edges to a nail-biting conclusion.
He said: “Last week’s game was a strange one to say the least. We had over 70% possession but didn’t have a shot on target.
“However, we were still just a few seconds away from going top of the table before they scored their late goal.
“That’s two or three times now we have had good opportunities to go top and we haven’t taken them.
“I was far from happy afterwards and it is the first time I have had a pop at my players in public.
“I gave them the Monday off from training but I certainly made sure they knew what I thought on Wednesday night.
“To be fair, the younger ones of 20 or 21 are playing out of their skins at the moment and it is some of the senior players who need to up their game.”
He added: “However, I am sure I will get a big response from them when we travel to Cowdenbeath on Saturday.
“They are fighting for their lives at the moment but we also have a huge incentive to win.
“We have achieved what we first set out to do this season by securing a play-off place but automatic promotion is still well within our grasp.
“Normally, I would have named my team by now but I still have some thinking to do. However, Josh Skelly is out for the season after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury.”
Meanwhile, Cowdenbeath manager Gary Locke is delighted that his players have listened and learned during his short time at the club as it has set up the chance for the Blue Brazil to avoid slugging it out for senior survival.
Locke’s arrival last month has seen the Central Park side give themselves a chance of avoiding the pyramid play-off and a victory over visitors Arbroath could lift them off bottom spot.
The players have been praised for their reaction with the former Hearts, Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers boss saying: “We have not had a lot of time with the squad since we came in but they have listened and taken on board what we are looking for them to do.
“There is a good group here and I agree with the former manager Liam Fox that it is difficult to understand why they are in bottom place.
“In our final three games we have the top two and Elgin as well so it is a tough run but two of the games are at home and we need to make that advantage count.
“I am targeting three wins and will look to start that off by beating Arbroath.
“They have their own targets to hit and own pressures to deal with. We are going into the game with confidence as we can reach out and touch the teams above us now.
“We need to keep that going especially as Clyde and Edinburgh City are winning games as well.”
Striker Kris Renton who netted in last Saturday’s 3-0 win at Stirling is out through suspension with Locke saying: “Missing Kris is a big blow as he has been our best player recently but he has picked up too many bookings.
“The rest of the team have done well and are playing in a style that we want as managers so someone else will get the chance to shine.”
Kenny Adamson, Brian Ross and Matthew Rooney are all out due to knocks.