LEE CLARK has called for his Town players to show bravery as they fight for a place in the League I play-offs.
Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic stretched the Galpharm team’s run of home games without a win to six and left them three points off the coveted top six places.
And Clark, already thinking about an Easter schedule which takes his seventh-placed side to Wycombe on Saturday before Oldham visit a week tomorrow, said: “You have to be brave enough to perform in front of your own fans and cope with high expectations.
“It should be a dream to play at a stadium like ours in front of big crowds, and you have to be able to handle it. For some reason, in the last few weeks it’s become a burden.”
Town appeared to have made the breakthrough when Jordan Rhodes headed his 20th goal of the season in the 53rd minute.
But on-loan Sheffield United midfielder Kyel Reid levelled within five minutes.
And Clark, forced to leave Antony Kay out of his squad after the midfielder reported for the match showing symptoms of a bug, admitted: “Having got in front, we failed to do the right things.
“We should have carried the game to Charlton, pushed on and turned the screw to try and go two up.
“Instead we started to sit back and invited them back into it.”
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Clark added: “I can’t question the desire, commitment, workrate or passion of my players, but in this game we were lacking spark and energy.
“The tempo of our pay wasn’t high enough, we didn’t pass the ball quickly enough and our decisions were average.
“The only plus was the number of crosses we got into the box and the number of efforts on target.”
Charlton chief Phil Parkinson, whose side remain six points ahead of Town, said: “When you look at the fact we have come here without Deon Burton and Nicky Bailey – our two top scorers – it was a pleasing point.”