Morecambe boss Jim Bentley believes his side could have made a late run for the play-offs – provided they had at least one consistent goalscorer to call on.
That may appear something of a bold call given the Shrimps go into the final seven games of the season in 20th place, 23 points adrift of the top seven and with the third lowest goals tally (38) in League Two.
However, Bentley argues that his players have not had the rewards their performances have justified this season.
“We know where our biggest problem has been this season,” he said.
“We have drawn too many games and haven’t scored enough goals – and, in a lot of them, we have thrown it away, be it turning three points into one or one into none.
“We wanted to address that in January when every other club was signing players like Shaun Miller going to Crewe and Reuben Reid to Forest Green.
“Every other club was investing to get themselves out of trouble but we didn’t have that luxury.
“Gregg Wylde has contributed well since he came in on loan and his equaliser against Forest Green was massive.
“We have done well and we have been hard to beat but maybe, with one or two extra players in forward positions, we could have had an outside chance of the play-offs because the league is that tight.
“Scoring goals is where we have struggled; every club has invested in that area in January and has at least two players in double figures and one with at least 15 goals.
“We only have Kevin Ellison in double figures with 10, although Callum Lang is doing alright at the minute and is getting a few goals.
“Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do and that’s how you win games; we have come up short because we haven’t had an out-and-out goalscorer who can turn those draws into victories.
“Our performances have been pretty solid but we just haven’t been able to get the wins consistently that we should have got.”
Critics will, nevertheless, point to tactics and style of play as another reason why the Shrimps have been at the wrong end of the table this season.
While Bentley takes those observations on board, he also pointed out situations when points have been dropped through goals that were, frankly, unstoppable.
“Look at the Stevenage game when we were at home,” he insisted.
“We’re winning late on and then their lad (Fraser Franks), who I think hasn’t scored another one all season, does us with an absolute worldie and that’s the difference between three points and one.
“Crewe hit us with a wonder strike late on after Kevin Ellison had hit the woodwork twice, while we should have taken something from the home games against Swindon and Crawley as well as both games with Mansfield but, again, it comes back to not scoring enough goals.”