Halifax coach Richard Marshall has conceded his side probably have zero margin for error if their ambitions of a top four Championship finish are not to slip away ahead of Sunday’s home game against Whitehaven (3.0).
Fax have have a 50 per cent record after 12 rounds and currently sit four points shy of fourth-placed Featherstone in sixth spot.
And while the table is tightly packed as the second half of the season gets underway, Marshall is well aware that his side’s succession of near misses against the teams around and above them - the latest in last weekend’s chaotic 22-14 reverse at leaders Leigh - on the ladder has left them with work to do.
“I don’t look at the table or the fixtures too much, because it just becomes a distraction; if you win games, the table takes care of itself anyway,” said Marshall, who has named the former Elland amateur Ed Barber, who is currently on trial at the Shay in his initial selection, although it is unclear whether he will play.
“We’re better off spending our time and energy looking after the small things within games that make the difference between winning and losing.
“But without going through all the possible outcomes, I think we’re already getting to the point where it’s not going to be in our hands unless we go on a long winning run.
“We certainly have to win the games against the teams below us and immediately around us and then try and pick off some of the sides in the top three as well.
“I will say this though; even though we didn’t get the win last week, the players are going into Sunday with a lot of confidence.
“The way we played, competing against a full time team for 80 minutes, has convinced them we can beat those teams.
“They’ve been very upbeat in training this week and hopefully we’ll see the results of that on Sunday.”
The major talking from last weekend’s fixture was the rash of red cards - two for each team - and the lengthy brawl that erupted at the Leigh Sports Village with 10 minutes of the game remaining.
The consequences for both sides will become clear at next week’s RFL disciplinary hearings, with Marshall taking a realistic view.
Fax’s Steve Tyrer, Dane Manning and Andy Bracek have all been charged with striking offences, along with Leigh’s Jamie Acton and Kurt Haggerty.
Leigh centre Tom Armstrong will also appear on a head butting charge after being sent off a few minutes earlier, but Fax prop Mitch Cahalane, who was sin binned during the brawl, has not been summoned.
“They are pretty stringent on players running in, and rightly so,” said Marshall, who is well aware any suspensions would rule players out of the Summer Bash derby with Bradford at Blackpool the following week.
“We didn’t initiate it, but at the same time we weren’t blameless for the way it developed.
“We will stand our corner though because there were a lot of mitigating circumstances in the build up that the referee missed.
“It could hurt us though; we need all our best players against Bradford.”
Marshall is expected to field a largely unchanged side this week, although he did suggest he might “tweak” his line up.
“Scott Murrell and Luke Ambler both picked up knocks at Leigh and if they’re not fit, they won’t feature,” said Marshall.
“We wrapped them both in cotton wool at training this week, but they’re both keen to put their hands up and play.”
One player who definitely will not feature is the young hooker Keith Holden, who has been released after making just one appearance this season.
“It’s been difficult for Keith; Ben Kaye and Ryan Maneely have been playing so well and he’s been travelling to training without getting a game,” said Marshall.
“I’m disappointed he wanted to go, but at the same time we had to be fair to him.
“I’m sure he’ll pop up somewhere else at some point.”