ANGRY Peter Jackson confessed today he's got "a lot of thinking to do" as he aims to keep Town in the Division III play-off hunt.
Jackson knows this is his biggest week since returning to the McAlpine hot seat, with leaders Oxford United travelling north on Saturday and more disciplinary woes on the horizon for Christmas.
Nathan Clarke became the eighth Town player sent-off this season in Saturday's disastrous 4-0 drubbing at Macclesfield, which left Town with the worst away defensive record (27 goals conceded) in senior football in England and Wales and the second-worst in Britain (East Stirling, at the foot of the Scottish Third Division, have yielded 29).
Clarke will now miss the holiday games against Darlington, Bury and Doncaster.
That's a vital spell in which Jackson hopes to re-shape Town's challenge for the top seven after a seventh defeat in eight away matches and a run of only two wins in 11 games in all competitions.
Jackson's focus at the moment is on the Oxford game and he has hammered home a harsh message to his 10th-placed side.
"The supporters travelled in big numbers on Saturday to back this fantastic football club and spent good money in the process, but we let them down badly in a display which was simply unacceptable," said the manager today.
"Only Anthony Lloyd can hold his head up from a performance we can take nothing out of and there have been some harsh words said to the lads.
"It was a really frustrating and upsetting performance on Saturday and we need a vast improvement against Oxford in what is now a very, very big game for the club.
"The second half, in particular, was embarrassing and I can offer no excuses whatsoever, which hurts me a lot.
"Our fans have been brilliant, but I know they might start to lose patience with any more performances like that and we have to re-group straight away.
"If our away form had been even half decent we would be very well placed in the play-off positions, and I really can't explain why we are so poor away from home."
Jackson restored Efe Sodje to the starting line-up against his old club and brought skipper Rob Edwards into midfield, but Town conceded goals to Matthew Tipton (2), John Miles and Chris Priest.
On Clarke's dismissal, Jackson added: "There was one striker and three defenders, but Clarkey never got a shout and I don't think we can complain. It's disappointing and sometimes in defence away from home, we don't look like we've got off the bus."