WREXHAM manager Denis Smith has called on supporters to rally round his beleaguered players after they crashed to their eighth home defeat of the season on Saturday.
Visitors Chesterfield took the points in a dour 1-0 victory that increased relegation worries for the Dragons' boss and his team, who left the field to a storm of jeers and derision from the frustrated fans.
But Smith issued a defiant message and called for unity ahead of another potentially difficult match at Port Vale tomorrow evening.
"Everybody says Chesterfield are out of it now and we are in it, but that's not the case," he said. "Come April, if the results have gone the same and the positions are the same, that's different.
But at the moment there's still a long way to go.
"But it's frustrating and everyone is going to be miserable and down. I've got a game on Tuesday and I've got to get people up. I need everybody with us, rather than against us, but unfortunately people want to turn against us because it's easy to knock.
"The hard bit now is for everybody to be positive and to pull together. I've got to make sure everybody is pulling in the same direction because if they are not life gets difficult.
"But all the knockers are rubbing their hands with glee and saying they were right all along. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell them where to shove it."
But Smith admitted his side were second-best on the day. "Of course it was a poor performance, especially in the first half when we played as badly as we have done for some time," he added.
"But you have to give the opposition credit and they made us perform poorly. They were man against man; they pressed us all over and they made it difficult. Then we get a silly ruling on the goal which makes it doubly difficult.
"They've got two players in offside positions right in the centre of the goal and the officials say they are not interfering with play. But the defenders take their line from the last forward and the two men were offside.
"The linesman admitted that but they haven't turned and joined in so the lad who's run from deep is not offside. But if the people are down the centre where the ball is played, then I think that's interfering. It's all down to interpretation."
The Dragons' boss made no excuses, despite losing goalkeeper Marius Rovde and full-back Shaun Holmes to long-term injuries. "We hit the woodwork twice and people have been saying we need to play badly and win. We proved today we can't do that but we needed a break and we didn't get it.
"We've got a lot of lads in their first season and they are under pressure but they have to learn to deal with it. Some do, some don't and I thought my two centre-backs were absolutely superb so I've got little bits, but not a lot, to work with.
"In the end, I can't go out there and play for them. I'll try everything I can and I'll do other things but in the end the players have got to do it. Unfortunately for them, if this had been a one-off as far as the result is concerned, if we'd won the previous two games as we should have done, everyone would say it was not so bad.
"We've struggled in the past few games to create as many chances as I would have liked but we've controlled the pace of the game. If the two that hit the woodwork had gone in, we'd be saying we played awfully but we won 2-1.
"Marius has done his hamstring and I would imagine he's going to be out so obviously I've got to decide between David Walsh and Kristian Rogers. Shaun Holmes may have broken his toe, so we'll have to wait and see on that. Unfortunately, those sort of things go against you because those were two substitutions I had to make and were not ones I wanted to make.
"I wanted Carlos (Edwards) on and it was going to be the last throw of the dice. I was just going to put him on when the goalkeeper went down. But I'm not going to blame that on the result. I would never take anything away from the facts and I won't hide behind those sort of things because it was a bad performance."