Simon Grayson has urged a big response from his Preston North End players this week to the frustration of the missed opportunities against Port Vale and Gillingham.
Last week’s two draws from winning positions saw their lead in second place cut to a single point by MK Dons.
We have put ourselves in a position which is harder than it should be
The Lilywhites have three games left, starting with Notts County at Meadow Lane tomorrow night.
Winning all three would see them promoted irrespective of what Milton Keynes do.
PNE boss Grayson told the Evening Post: “We discussed aspects of the Port Vale game in the dressing room straight afterwards, talked about what we need to do better.
“They are all honest lads who will have a go, what they have done is made some poor mistakes and not seen games through.
“We have got a big game on Tuesday night followed by another big one against Swindon on Saturday.
“The significance of the games increases as you get nearer the finishing line and know what we need to do.
“We have put ourselves in a position which is harder than it should be – we should be still a lot more points clear of third place but we aren’t.
“What we do know is that we are a position where if we win three games, we get promoted.
“We don’t seem to be doing things the easy way but things are still in our own hands.”
MK Dons did not let up in their pursuit of North End on Saturday, beating Leyton Orient 6-1.
But for PNE, there was the bonus of Swindon losing 1-0 to already-relegated Yeovil, a result which leaves the Wiltshire club seven points behind in fourth place.
Grayson had the players in for a Sunday training session to start preparations for Notts County – that was scheduled prior to the Port Vale draw.
He will have a full squad to select from – Jermaine Beckford and Scott Laird played at Vale having been injury doubts.
Both had limped off during the Gillingham game.
Said Grayson: “Scott and Jermaine got through the Port Vale game having trained last Thursday.
“We didn’t have any fresh injuries from Friday night, just disappointed minds and bodies because of the way the game panned out.”
Grayson could be tempted to tweak the line-up at Notts County to freshen things up and to try and plug the gaps which led to the dropping of points last week.
Reflecting on the Port Vale game, he said: “Our game management has to be better.
“We want leaders out on the pitch to take responsibility, to decide to take the ball into the opposition half and squeeze the other team.
“As a team we need to force the issue, stop the opposition from playing and being too comfortable.
“At Port Vale we got too open and stretched.”