Mansfield Town skipper John Dempster admitted the side need to play more football if they are to get out of trouble.
Fans have been critical of their side playing too many long balls, but Stags did keep the ball on the ground much better at Plymouth last weekend and ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Southend United, Dempster said: “The gaffer and the coaching staff have spoken to us about our quality on the ball.
“When players play too direct, we are not following orders the way we should have done at times this season.
“We have to take responsibility for keeping possession, quality on the ball and distribution. If we can improve on these it will make a massive difference.”
As one of the three central defenders, Dempster took last week’s stoppage time equaliser at Plymouth personally.
“It was a cringing blow,” he said, “Some of the performances in front of me and the back three were fantastic and that makes it worse in a lot of ways.
“We probably deserved the three points and it was a real body blow.
“Plymouth looked like they had maybe given up and were not throwing the kitchen sink at is. We were keeping the ball well and were in their final third for the last 15 minutes. It is is part of being professional and street-wise to slow it down.
“I spoke to a Plymouth senior professional afterwards who was really complimentary about how we performed and couldn’t believe where we were in the table or how well supported we were for such a long journey.
“There were a lot of positives to take out of it, but there is no hiding from the fact that we were disappointed to concede so late on.
“We have go to stop conceding so many late goals. It is definitely a mental thing a lot of the time. Towards the end of a game you are going to be more tired and concentration can lapse, which has been the case.”
He added: “From the play-off places down to the bottom, it is a fine margin and if we can improve on things we can quickly shoot up the table.
“We have a tough month ahead. We play three of the top six sides so it is massively important we pick up points this month and kick on again in March.
“Southend are one of the better sides we have seen this season while Bury have got a new manager and started picking up points. So they will both be a massive challenge for us. But we seem to have turned a corner slightly in the last couple of weeks.”
Fifth-placed Southend are now eight League games unbeaten and have only lost once in the last 15 League outings.