Dave Jones says Hartlepool United’s players must start to believe in themselves.
The boss takes his team into a vital five-day period this week with back-to-back home games.
Pools face fellow strugglers Crewe Alexandra at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium tomorrow night, ahead of a visit of another promotion-chaser on Saturday, high-flying Exeter City.
Jones saw his side frighten Colchester United on Saturday, only to lose 2-1 at the Weston Homes Stadium.
It was the fourth straight away defeat, but Jones said Pools can start winning if the players have the self-belief.
“I’m a bit angry with them at the moment because they are so close to it, but they have to believe it,” said Jones.
“I am not questioning the effort of the lads at all.
“What I will say is they’ve got to believe in themselves more.”
Pools were undone by two second-half goals from the U’s.
Kurtis Guthrie headed the play-off side in front in the 63rd minute with Chris Porter doubling the advantage a quarter of an hour later from the spot after Guthrie had been fouled.
Nathan Thomas netted his eighth of the season in the 82nd minute but Pools could not find an equaliser.
Jones explained that he saw plenty to encourage him that results will come in the final 13 games of the League Two programme if Pools maintain the quality of football, but find an end-product.
“I think we dominated for long spells, but when you do that you have to score,” he said.
“We got into some great positions, but that final ball kept letting us down.
“We need to take a bit more care and show more quality.
“Everyone says that’s what players lack at this level.
“But I’ve said to the lads after the game to change that perception.
“We can’t get in those positions and not make the most of it.
“In long spells we’ve played a Colchester team pushing for promotion off the park.
“We limited them to few chances, it’s so frustrating for us,
“We’ve got the ability but we just have to believe in it.”
Pools now look a cut above the team that lost without trace at Mansfield Town three Saturdays ago.
They have shown in matches against Plymouth and Colchester that they can match sides at the top end of the division.
“I now see a team that has a pattern, a way of playing,” said Jones, “If the players take more care and have a bit more belief, the results will come.”