PETER JACKSON today assessed the away-day carnage blighting Town's FA Cup preparations and admitted: "The buck stops with me."
The McAlpine manager accepts his side are in the worst possible form before facing a huge test of character under the fiercest spotlight at Accrington Stanley in the first round on Sunday.
Last night's 2-0 LDV Vans Trophy exit at bottom club Carlisle United marked a fifth straight away defeat ahead of the live TV clash with John Coleman's fired-up Conference charges (1.00).
While Town have won six on the trot at home, their travel sickness is a major worry and Jackson did not attempt to duck the issue when he was back behind his desk today.
"With the away defeats we have had people are bound to question me, but I won't shirk and hide and I won't pull any punches ahead of what is a massive Cup-tie," he said.
"Our away form is awful and, as team manger, I take full responsibility.
"This job is a truly big challenge and we've got the home form right.
"If we can now pick things up away from home we know we will be challenging there or thereabouts at the end of the season but, after the last few results, it's difficult to find too many positives.
"That's disappointing, but don't expect us to go under. That's not what I'm about or what my players are about.
"We are better than our away form suggests, but I can't keep on making excuses week after week about it. The problem has to be addressed and, while our changes didn't work out last night, it will be addressed.
"It's no use people getting onto the players, though. I take responsibility."
Jackson said Town would prepare for Sunday as if they were facing Real Madrid.
"We have to," he explained, "because it will be a typical Cup-tie because of the surroundings, the TV there, the atmosphere, the tackles flying in and the old adrenalin flowing.
"This is Accrington's Cup final and we have to make sure it's ours as well. If we defend properly, we will go into the second round.
"I was positive with my selection last night and I'll be positive again on Sunday. A few questions were answered for us last night."
* Academy coach John Dungworth, director Gerry Murphy and staff will be guests of the Patrons in the Panasonic tomorrow (8.00).