Bootle manager Brian Richardson was left disappointed in the showing last time out but with a large chunk of the season to go, the fate is in the players’ hands.
The Bucks were easily dispatched by Leek Town as the play-off chasers went in at the break worthy of their two-goal lead.
It meant that their winless November continued after defeats to Stalybridge Celtic, in the FA Trophy and at home to Glossop North End.
Richardson notices a worrying trend in his matches where his side takes too long to find their feet in the battle and by that time find themselves chasing the game.
But the next run of fixtures isn’t kind to them but he is using it as an opportunity for his players to stake their claim at the level they’re playing at.
“We were very disappointed in our performance. We felt we started poorly, we lost both our full-backs and it made a little bit of difference the way we shaped the team up and it probably didn’t work,” he told Off The Park.
“I thought they were a good; experienced side, we just didn’t see at the races that day, we seemed to be watching the game go by.
“We did well second half, we rallied, it’s becoming a little bit of a habit where we’re not starting quick enough and we’re letting the game go by, it’s a habit we’ve got to got get out of.
“We’re almost looking at teams, weighing them up and by the time we’ve weighed them up we’re normally a goal down – we’ve got to go a little more on the front foot in games.
“There’s a hard run of games running up, the club are going to want to do well this year and next year, they’re an ambitious club. The next half dozen games against teams higher in the league, there’s some tough games and that’s without Kidsgrove and Kendal but you’re looking at that to say to your players ‘what have you got?’ It’s a challenge for the players to show they’re at the right level.
“We’ve played 15 games, we’ve still got 25 to go so there’s still plenty to play for. We’ve got to assess that, we’re coming up to Christmas, we’ll be just over half way I think even then you’ve got half a season left.
“A lot can depend on teams, our teams often do well after Christmas, wherever I’ve been. I feel as though we can look forward but I do feel the next seven will definitely tell us what level do you want to be in the playoffs, yes we do, we’d like to get in the playoffs this year but we’ll know better by Christmas by that.
“You can’t do anymore that play against sides in the playoffs and say how far are we, then you’re either not far or way off that’s when you’ve got to make decisions.”