Notts County boss Neal Ardley labelled next Saturday’s home game against Grimsby as a “must-win” fixture after the Magpies threw away the lead in a 1-1 draw at Crawley.
Craig Mackail-Smith headed in a Matt Tootle cross to open the scoring for Ardley’s side after eight minutes, but Ashley Nathaniel-George had Crawley level by the break and Ben Barclay was sent off for a two-footed challenge early in the second half.
Draws for both Macclesfield and Yeovil mean Notts are still two points from safety with two games to play and Ardley described the next match against Grimsby as “massive”.
“If we don’t get the result on Saturday, that could be it. We are trying to be brave,” he said.
“We’ve done that in the last two games without getting the rewards.
“After the first half I thought we would go on and win it, but after going down to 10 men it changed.
“But this is a great point, a massive point, and every game is pressure now.
“The mood is one of frustration but we have to recover quickly. Saturday is the most important match of the season. It is a must-win game and it’s massive.”
Crawley were seeking a third successive victory for the first time under head coach Gabriele Cioffi after back-to-back wins at Yeovil and Exeter ensured a ninth season in the EFL.
Italian Cioffi was quick to admit this was not one of their best performances.
“We can’t hide – we were a bit flat,” he said.
“For sure, it was not one of our best performances. But you have to look at the position and the challenge of a tough opponent. They came to get a point.
“We were in control of the game and had our chances, but in the previous game (3-1 win at Exeter) we were more clinical.”
Since Cioffi took over from Harry Kewell in early September, Crawley’s results have been inconsistent, but the 43-year-old stressed he never feared that they would drop out of the League.
He added: “We are where we deserve to be. Did we underachieve? Yes, but we must not forget where we started.
“We started the season with a different manager but I never feared that we would drop out of the league.
“Our last two games will have a bearing as to what happens in the summer. Let’s finish with heads up and then plan.”