EXPERIENCED defender Steve Yates today made a passionate plea for fans to help Town make another top-table challenge this season.
The 34-year-old defender - recalled for the wins against Hull City and Port Vale - believes Town are as good as anyone in Coca-Cola League I when producing their best.
And he has hit back at critics who were writing off manager Peter Jackson and emerging young players after the August Bank Holiday defeat at Doncaster.
"We have come in for a fair amount of criticism and I don't think it's right," said Yates, ready for another derby against Barnsley on Saturday.
"Support should be about getting behind the lads, not giving stick to people who are giving absolutely everything for the club. We work our socks off for the fans and, as an older member of the side, I don't like to see the younger lads upset when they read silly letters in the paper having a go at them.
"I said so many times last season that the team spirit and work ethic we've got here is second to none, all these lads want to wear a blue and white shirt and play for Town and nothing has changed this season.
"They all want to give everything they've got and they don't deserve to be upset. They deserve everyone behind them because, as the team have shown in the last two matches, when we perform like we are capable of, not many teams can live with us."
The siege mentality among Peter Jackson's squad has been key to helping them recover from that miserable defeat at Doncaster to blow away Hull and Port Vale in sensational style.
"The lads are all firmly behind each other, working together and determined to do as well as we can," added Yates.
"We are not looking for praise all the time, we are just looking to work hard for the club, to try and get three points as often as we can and to get all the support which can be a massive help.
"In the last two matches we've kept two clean sheets and scored a lot of goals, we've shown what we can do with the effort we put in, and we've got to look to go on from here."
Dropped for five matches, Yates is determined to make the most of his second chance at the heart of defence as Paul Hart's Tykes come to the Galpharm.
"I know I'm coming to the end of my career, but I'm keen to encourage the young lads, to do my best in every game and to enjoy playing in this team," he said.
"It upset me not to be playing, but I'm not going to go away and get bitter about it because I'm really behind the lads, I want them to do well and I want anyone who goes into the team to do well.
"It doesn't matter how old you are, though, as a professional if you still think you are good enough to play the only place to be is in the first team.
"The Reserve team is for bringing on the youth in my opinion and helping them to progress through the ranks. At my age you might as well play for the Dog and Duck as for the Reserves. The first team is the place to be."
Town Reserves were playing Grimsby at Blundell Park today in the Pontin's Holidays Division I East.