Whitby Town boss Darren Williams warned his side they face the very real prospect of relegation if they do not improve quickly.
The Blues have slid down the table after a poor run of form since the new year has yielded just two wins from 14 games.
Now they are only four points clear of the drop zone in the EvoStik League Premier Division with six matches remaining – and the Easter period will prove pivotal.
“We’ve got to be looking over our shoulders,” warned Williams.
“It just needs two or three teams to go on a run.
“You cannot afford to think it will be okay because teams like that get relegated.
“It’s not something I want on my CV and I hope the players don’t want it on theirs.
“No-one wants to drop down into the league below.
“A lot of people say it’s because of restrictions but we’re steady away and want to try to press on and move the club forward. Being comfortable in a division, you can lose people on the back of that.
“People want to progress and do better and better each year.
“We need to progress and move the club on and get promoted.”
Williams said the Easter games, which see the Blues at Witton Albion on Saturday (Apr 4) and home to fellow strugglers Frickley Athletic on Monday, could be a defining period in a season which promised a play-off charge as recently as Christmas.
“It’s time the lads woke up,” he said.
Williams felt his side matched table-toppers FC United of Manchester in the first half of last night’s 4-0 defeat, but was disappointed at the way the three first half goals were conceded.
“You cannot afford to concede sloppy goals against anybody because at 3-0, it’s game done and dusted although I don’t think the score reflected the first half,” he said.
“In the second half, they took their foot off the pedal and we gave up which was very disappointing.”