Macclesfield Town Manager Sol Campbell was gripped with a sense of déjà vu after the Silkmen were pegged back to a 1-1 draw with Crawley Town on Saturday.
Macclesfield took a deserved lead five minutes before half-time when Harry Smith directed a superb header past Glenn Morris, but Crawley struck late on to snatch a point for the hosts and deny the Silkmen from gaining some valuable ground on the teams outside the relegation zone.
Campbell remained in positive spirits after the draw, but insists his side must be more clinical in the final third if they’re going to lift themselves out of the relegation places.
“The first couple of minutes they put us under pressure before we got the range of passing and our depth of turning and twisting.
“Then we got back into the game, pushed that little bit higher and we didn’t allow them to have too much space in the midfield and then we started getting into the game.
“Reece hits the post, I don’t know that happened but it happens, it seems to be happening a lot with us.
“Then we finally get the goal which is great, we put them under a bit of pressure and Harry Smith with an excellent header, back to the other side of the goalkeeper and we thought it was a really good time, just before half-time.
“Second-half obviously they pushed and they tried to look for the equaliser but the main thing for me is that we had opportunities to kind of extend the lead and put ourselves in a really good position to shoot or cross, but our last third play wasn’t really up to standard.
“The amount of time we had on the ball, we just kept on picking the wrong options.
“For me, I’m being positive. I’m always going to be positive but I think the guys have to get over that hump, over that mental block of being at the bottom for such a long time.
“Sometimes that can give residue. It’s almost played through, they are believing that they actually can win games, hold onto games and get out.”
The Silkmen grew into the match following a few tense exchanges in the opening period of the game and were unlucky not to have doubled their lead heading into the break.
And Campbell admitted that his side will be working hard to discover that killer instinct in front of goal.
“I think for us now, we’re getting into the positions and I’ve said we need to see these games out and extend our lead.
“We’ve had the opportunities, and good opportunities, to extend our lead and we didn’t do it.
“So we’ve got to look at ourselves so that when we do get into those sorts of positions, we pick the right position, we pick the right shot to give us the best possibility of scoring a goal or crossing to someone in a decent position so that he can get a tap in or a good chance.
“That’s what we need to start doing more, especially with the time and space we had today, I was really disappointed with the use of ball in the last third.
“We didn’t make the most of the opportunities that we had. We didn’t make the right movements and we didn’t really test them.
“But the amount of play we had, open play we had, around their 25 yards and in around their box, we just didn’t utilise our time on the ball.
“We could have really used it much better.”
Macclesfield were dealt a blow when January acquisition Zak Jules was forced off with an injury after just 27 minutes, having made just his second appearance.
Stelios Demetriou replaced the centre-back and the Cypriot enjoyed an impressive debut, slotting in alongside Fiacre Kelleher at the heart of the defence, an aspect of the Silkmen game that Campbell was pleased with.
"Zak's had a tweak on his hamstring. Maybe coming back for his second game, something he’s not played for a while, so maybe a little bit of fatigue has crept in there, I’m not too sure but hopefully he’s not too serious and maybe he won’t be out for long.
“Stelios came on and that’s his first game. He’s come on and he’s had to get into gear. When you’ve not played for such a long time and you’ve come into this type of game - it’s fast, you’ve got to be ready, he needs to get up to speed obviously.
“He showed some good touches, some good headers, defensive headers as well. He just has to get sharpened up really.
“Kelleher for me has been fantastic since I got here and he keeps on getting better and better. He’s been leading the line, winning his headers, passing so Kellers has been doing really well since I’ve came here.”
Harry Smith notched up his fourth league goal of the season with a sumptous header, and Campbell couldn’t heap enough praise on his towering striker.
“It was a great goal, I’m pleased for Harry. He’s a very important player for us, he leads the line really well. Harry is a fantastic player and we’re so glad to have him and he links up well with Willo, and I’m glad for him to get another goal.
“It means more confidence for us and for Harry as well, so it’s good.”
The 438-mile round trip south down to West Sussex is a daunting trip for any football fan, and Campbell believes the support his side have consistently received is an absolute credit to the club.
“For the travelling fans it’s a hell of a long way so for the fans to come and support the lads, it’s always important to have them and getting behind the team - we all really appreciate that!”