Ipswich boss Paul Cook challenged his players to “step up to the plate” and prove their promotion credentials following a disappointing goalless draw at Rochdale.
The visitors, three points off the play-off places, failed to test Jay Lynch in the Dale goal and never looked a threat against League One’s bottom club.
In fact, Dale looked the side more likely to score in the second half, although they too failed to test Tomas Holy in the opposition goal.
“We hoped we’d win the game – we didn’t believe we’d win it,” said Cook.
“At a club like ours, coming to Rochdale, you have got to be better than that.
“We’ve got to believe we’re going to win, it should be a question of when we’re going to win, what minute are we going to score? That’s the sadness on the day, but, as we know, sadness can quickly turn to joy.
“Our lads haven’t really scored enough goals, we’ve huffed and puffed and we still did that.
“What we do have is a really honest group of players, but at times we are lacking quality and you’d expect us to have that quality at a club like ours.
“But, with eight games to go, we have still got a chance of doing it, but I’ve told them they have to step up. Now is the time, forget everything that has gone on, let’s step up to the plate.”
A couple of strikes from outside the area from Alan Judge were as close as Ipswich got to testing Lynch in the first half and after the break the home side improved and pressed the visitors back for long spells.
Matt Done almost squeezed home from a tight angle, while Jake Beesley was a whisker away from meeting Oliver Rathbone’s cross.
The point kept Dale within sight of safety – they are four points adrift – and manager Brian Barry-Murphy believes they can still turn things around.
He said: “We’ve had loads of games like this where we’ve played well and haven’t got what we felt we deserved and on this occasion I felt we defended resolutely, we were in the game throughout and looked the team more likely to win it in difficult conditions.
“I’m just really proud of the lads and the effort they put in to get a result at home.
“The lads are at a stage of the season where they want to perform to the highest level, but they want a feeling of getting results and this point will give us a strong base for the game at Fleetwood on Saturday.
“We’ve played four of the top six or eight teams in the last four games and we’ve been the dominant force in a lot of those games. That gives us a lot of encouragement as we push towards the next phase of the season.”