PAUL Moore described Northwich Victoria’s second-half humiliation against Loughborough in midweek as ‘among the worst 45 minutes’ he has seen.
A 5-1 defeat against a direct rival to avoid relegation leaves his side three points adrift of a position of safety with two games left.
They could be relegated tomorrow afternoon if they lose to landlords Witton Albion and results elsewhere go against them but, similarly, a victory could propel them from the drop zone.
“We’re not out of it yet,” said Moore.
“But we need something special, we know that.
“We’ve key players to come back, so we’ll give it a good go. However, for now at least, survival is out of our hands.”
Vics will be boosted by the return after a suspension of captain Reece Lyndon and Stuart McDonald.
However Andrew Fitzgerald is ruled out by a ban.
Versatile midfielder Matty Clarke (holiday) is unavailable too.
The absence of Lyndon and Fitzgerald in midweek left Moore with only attackers to fill in as defenders.
His squad is restricted to 16 players by a registration embargo in place before he succeeded Adam Lakeland as manager before Christmas.
Coincidentally, his first game in charge was a 1-1 draw with Witton on Boxing Day.
The teams have enjoyed contrasting fortunes since, and Albion start tomorrow’s return still with an outside chance of being promoted to the Northern Premier League’s top-flight as champions.
For Vics, the aim is to still be in with a chance of avoiding a drop to the North West Counties League by the time they kick off at Spalding next Saturday.
Moore added: “After beating Sheffield last weekend, you could say our Jekyll and Hyde way came out in force [against Loughborough].
“We had five lads missing and, although you can use that as an excuse, our performance in the second half was no better than that of a pub side.
“All of our previous good work was undone in 45 minutes.”