John Fleck admitted that defeat against Middlesbrough on Tuesday would almost certainly spell the end of Sheffield United’s play-off hopes following their defeat by Barnsley.
But the midfielder, who acknowledged the visitors had been the architects of their own downfall during a dramatic derby at Oakwell, insisted Chris Wilder’s side still believe they can claw back the four point gap between themselves and Tony Pulis’ sixth-placed squad.
United remained ninth in the table with five matches remaining ahead of Tuesday’s home game against their rivals from Teesside and Fleck said: “There’s no getting away from it, we’ve got to win now.
“Our aim is to get into the play-offs and this makes the next game, with Middlesbrough who are in and around us, even bigger now.
“It’s up to us. We just need to get back on track.”
Wilder, the United manager, described himself as “bored of saying the same old thing” after watching his team come from behind to lead 2-1 before surrendering their advantage during the closing stages.
United, who remain ninth in the table, entered the game having been held to a draw by Brentford and Cardiff City despite dominating both games over the Easter period.
“We heap pressure on ourselves,” Wilder said. “I’m not one of those managers who sees a completely different game to what 25,000 people see.
“I’ve run into a few of those recently.
“They (Barnsley) were better for the first half. The second and overall, we should be comfortably in the play-offs.
“The amount of chances we’ve had, the way we’ve taken games to the opposition. That’s quite baffling.”
“We’re a decent side,” Wilder added. “We want to become an exceptional side and they put teams to bed.
“I sincerely hope they stay in the division, I’m not trying to be a clever a**e about that, because if we don’t get out then these are great games to have.”
Barnsley moved to within two points of safety after goals from Oliver McBurnie and Tom Bradshaw cancelled-out efforts from Fleck and Leon Clarke.
Gary Gardner had earlier edged Jose Morais’ men in front.
“It’s frustrating because we probably should be well in there (the play-offs),” Fleck said.
“We need to take our chances and cut our mistakes out. There’s a belief we can get back in there.
“We all know what we have to do.
“It will take more hard work on the training ground but we can do it, we definitely can.”