DEFENDER Mike Flynn knows a win is crucial in Accrington Stanley's Conference clash with York tomorrow (Sat) to restore their pride after the humiliating FA Cup loss to Worcester City.
The Reds drew 1-1 with Conference North strugglers Worcester on Saturday at the Interlink in the fourth qualifying round before they were embarrassed at St George's Lane with a 3-2 loss on Monday - and lost the chance of an important £10,000.
And they desperately need to lift the gloom when they face fellow play-off contenders York who have had a strong season so far and are second in the league.
Flynn played in the first FA Cup game and was an unused substitute in the replay - and he knows how hard it has hit the players, management and fans.
"We knew last year the defeat to Leigh RMI set the club back financially and we had this drummed into us before Saturday and on Monday night how important it was to the club to get through to the next round," said the experienced centre half after Stanley were knocked out to lowly Leigh RMI at the same stage last year.
"I don't know why, but we managed to make an almighty cock up.
"You can't use tiredness as an excuse as we are full-time and Worcester are part-time and if anyone was tiring it should have been them.
"They had probably been to work on Monday and had two games in three days and it should have worked in our favour - but for some reason it didn't.
"I know it is an old cliche but for them it was their cup final. I think we must have underestimated them and took them a bit lightly and they were full of running and enterprise and they got what they deserved."
Stanley did race into a two-goal lead in the first 15 minutes but threw it away.
"At 2-0 up everything was going really well and the manager has justified his team selection by it looking like a good win," said Flynn. "But then, they got one back, we lost momentum, it all went in their favour and, in the second half, we never got going. The longer it went on, it just seemed a matter of time for them."
Flynn was disappointed to be left on the bench as boss John Coleman plumped for Danny Ventre and Michael Welch in the heart of defence.
"I was baffled as I played most of the early games when we moved up to second place in the league and the only game I didn't play in was Cambridge when we lost. Then I didn't play against Stevenage and we lost again but it is the manager's choice and he will live and die by his decisions and I accept that."
But the 36-year-old hopes to get the nod tomorrow when Stanley need to get back to winning ways in the Conference.
The Reds are in fourth place in the league while City, who were strugglers last year, have a two point advantage.
"This is the best fixture we could have had to bounce back with," said Flynn. "The worst fixtures would have been Forest Green or Tamworth away as we notoriously get beat against the lower sides. It is an important game and a great chance for us to put a bad week behind us by getting three points and moving back into the top two.
"They have had a massive change of personnel and have got rid of a lot of the older players like Steve Davis, Kevin Donovan and Paul Groves and replaced them with younger heads who have been released from league clubs and have a point to prove.
"It is not going to be easy as they will bring a lot of fans. It is massive as we haven't got a game the week after now so it would be nice to have a break with three points and in the top two and put an end to our little dodgy spell."
The defence has had some stick for the goals conceded - Stanley have let in 21 league goals this season.
"At Accrington we don't do anything by half measures, we do not have many draws because we are a team fully committed to going forward," said the defender. "It does mean we leak goals but that is not soley down to the defence. We are an attack-minded side and that means in spells we are exposed.
"If we win every game 3-2 or 4-3 everyone will be happy but we know the defence is a part of our game which we need to improve and we are desperate to rectify it. Every team in this division seems to be leaking goals, there are a lot of goals scored when you look at the results every week but we know we have to tighten up."
And he admits the side are keen to put a Black October behind them
"It could have been a great month. An LDV Vans win, through to the next round of the FA Cup and wins over York and leaders Grays and we could have been top of the table. It could have been special. But, on the other hand, we are now out of two cup competitions and if we lose our two games, we could be in mid-table so it is a crucial stage of the season."