Gary Caldwell has told his players to take their chances or risk losing their place after Chesterfield’s home defeat to Oldham.
The Spireites were unable to find a way past the Latics defence despite the visitors playing the entire second half with ten men.
Oldham’s Anthony Gerrard was shown a second yellow after the half-time whistle but Caldwell said it made it more difficult for his side.
And a frustrating afternoon for Chesterfield was compounded when a late Peter Clarke header deep into injury time gave Oldham the win.
Caldwell said: “I thought we did a lot right in the game. Our final third play needs to be better. We need to be more creative. We need to take the handbrake off.
“The players seem to be over-thinking. The confidence and the free-flowing football isn’t there yet but I can’t fault the players for their effort. They gave everything.
“I said at half-time that ten men would make it more difficult and it proved to be the case because they packed the defence and made it hard for us.”
He added: “First half I was delighted with a lot of things and just couldn’t get that goal. If we score that first goal I think we would have comfortably gone on to win the game.
“They were hungrier in both boxes and that’s something I said to the players. I hope they’re hurting. We need to stand up and be counted because both boxes are extremely important if you want to win football games and we didn’t do well enough defending the goal.
“We didn’t do well enough in the attacking box to score goals.”
Caldwell named three of this week’s five signings in the starting line up which also saw a return for Dan Jones for his first appearance since August.
“Every time you get the chance to play you have to take it because we have some strength in depth now in the squad,” said Caldwell. “I have the ability to change things so it’s a good thing for me and players have to grab that opportunity or they might not get another one.
“I’ve learned that there is still a long way to go. You have to be prepared for the highs and lows because it’s going to be a roller coaster from now until the end and this is a bitter low. It’s hard to take but we come in Monday morning and we go again.
“There’s a long way to go. I’ve been in this situation as a player and I understand it ain’t going to be easy and we’re not going to be able to just walk out of this position we’re going to have to fight and give everything we have to get out of this position and I have every confidence in the players that we will.”
And added: “It’s clear where we need to work. We need to be more aggressive in the final third and create more problems. We’ll work on that and there’s no worries because we have the quality of player that can score goals.”
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